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Backbone, Not Wishbone

One of the my clients made a comment that keeps running through my head. It goes something like, “I’ve got to stop wearing my wishbone where my backbone ought to be.” Profound, huh? I couldn’t have said it better. How many of you spend your life, like the old song says, “wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’”? Oh, did I forget eatin’? Conversely, how many of you stand up for and go after what you really want?

In part, it’s natural to wish that unhappiness would simply go away on its own or that another person will change so that you’ll be happy. However, that only happens in fairy tales. Wishes have little to do with dreams coming true. If they did, you wouldn’t seek wisdom from my blogs. What creates change is lots of hard work until you reach your goals. So many of you have been emotionally hurt, even traumatized, that it can be hard to feel empowered. You don’t want to say or do things to wound others as you’ve been wounded. You don’t believe you have the right to happiness or success. You cling to the familiar, whether it hurts or not. So you secretly keep wishing for change, but do little or nothing to get it—a case of mixed feelings if there ever was one.

You remind me of a writer friend I knew who day dreamed all the time about getting published. She wrote erratically, and rarely sent out her (beautifully written) pieces. I know she wished with all her heart to get published, but how could that happen when what she wrote rarely lifted itself off the page and transported itself to an agent or a publisher? I understood: wishing was a safe activity. She didn’t have to face rejection or failure. She didn’t have to put her writing on the line to see if it was any good (and it was). She lived in the protection of a cocoon woven of wishes.

If you’re like my old friend, you will need to put some backbone (and since we’re talking body parts, a hefty amount of elbow grease) where your wishbone is. Backbone means advocating for yourself, putting your needs out there, letting other people know your expectations of how you want to be treated (and how you don’t), and standing tall because you are deserving and aim to get all the best that life has to offer. You needn’t be obnoxious and full of yourself to assert yourself. You needn’t yell, bully or best others. Instead, you mostly have to give up childish wishes that your life will change without lots of discomfort and humongous effort. This new approach may sadden or frighten you. That’s okay. Take it slowly and shed your wishes in one area at a time. Start with eating, if you like, and accept the fact that no one—NO ONE—can improve your relationship with food but you. Remember, think backbone, not wishbone!