Reality Check: Strong, Wise, or Stubborn?

Bob’s the kind of guy who always seems to know what to do and is always ready to lend a hand. He’s strong, capable, and independent.

Then, Bob had a heart attack.

Did that change Bob’s life? Well, the doctors told him to slow down and take it easy. They warned him about overdoing himself. His wife warned him. His children warned him.

But what’s Bob do? Hang around and wait for somebody else to shovel the driveway, mow the lawn, rake the leaves? There’s work to be done!

Bob discovered that he can use his emergency nitro spray and keep on working even when his body yells, “Stop!” Bob figures it’s OK; nobody needs to know.

Everyone can see that Bob hasn’t slowed down; he’s rushing around like he always has.

So the folks who love Bob are afraid—they are afraid that Bob’s behaviours will kill him. Literally. And they don’t want that to happen.

However, no matter how much they nag, cajole, threaten, bribe… Bob does what Bob does. That’s our Bob, as stubborn as they come.

Why would Bob behave like this?

In choice theory terms, our “Quality World” is like a virtual picture album that we create for ourselves. It’s filled with pictures of people we love, things we want, and the values and beliefs we hold. It’s our vision of “how we want it to be.”

Based on what Bob is doing, it looks like his Quality World still contains a picture of himself as having the vigour of a 25 year old! However, reality no longer matches that picture. Continuing to behave as if it does could have mortal consequences.

Bob may perceive his picture as “all-or-nothing;” if he can’t work like he used to, then life is not worth living.

Or, Bob could choose to change his picture. If he replaces that strong, invincible picture with one that’s more realistic, he could live a long and satisfying life.

You can be strong and still ask for help with your shoveling. You can be capable and still take a breather when your body warns you with pain.

Physical ability isn’t the only kind of strength. Bob might look at the other satisfying parts of his life: playing with his grand-kids, being a companion to his wife, an advisor to his children, and recognize that being strong also includes being wise.

So, Bob, (and all your Bob-like counterparts out there) take a breath and ask yourself, “What do I want? Do I want to stay alive?”

Then ask, “Is what I am doing leading me to what I want?” Is the (lovable) stubbornness that I have exhibited all my life still working for me? Or will it ultimately take me away from everything I truly want?

Replacing an old Quality World picture with a new one isn’t easy, but it could help prolong Bob’s life. If Bob can modify his picture of strength to be a measure of his strength of character, rather than of how much snow he can shovel, he may change his behaviour. Do you think it’s worth a try?

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