My kids had me watch this video and belted out the lyrics with gusto never seen in any other forum, including church. Unfortunately, the tune is so catchy that you find yourself singing it, even when you don’t want to.
Are you singing the same old tune?
This song got me thinking–not about how sad it is that people die as the result of doing stupid things. Rather, it got me thinking about the dumb ways so many of us live.
Eating junk. Sure, it can kill you, but even worse, it makes you feel junky while you live.
Wasting time. I don’t think funny cat videos are a waste of time, but media of any sort that discourages us is a dumb way to live.
People pleasing. I’m not talking about being a simpering fool, but about doing anything simply because someone might get upset if we don’t.
Focusing on anything but the present. Fretting about something that’s already done or is 99% certain not to occur robs us of the joy of life now.
Being self-sufficient. We weren’t created to handle everything ourselves, but to need God and one another. We have so much unneeded stress and experience so little love as a result.
Do you want to live smart?
I know I do! In the new year, I want to make some changes. I want to eat more vegetables, take in more uplifting media, be more purposeful in what I do, focus on the moment, and rely more on God and others.
How about you? Do you have any other examples of dumb ways to live? How do you want to live smart in the new year?
The truth is, however, that even after addressing all of these potential rebel stumbling blocks, you still may not have the change you want. I've been there! In those situations, it's time for a Super Power solution.
One of my favorite changed rebel stories is that of George Mueller. More than a rebel, he was a conniving thief! He attended a prayer meeting with a friend with the intention of making fun of it later at the bar. But hearing the Word of God brought him up short. He continued to attend those meetings until he felt compelled to submit his life to Jesus Christ. George's life changed radically. But one thing didn't change; George was still very strong-willed. He ended up becoming an example of what radical faith can do.
In the same way, your inner rebel is likely to keep her strong will. God can use that strength to do great things. But perhaps like George, you need to hear the Word of God and you need to bow the knee to Jesus Christ and His purposes for your life. That's my prayer for you.
Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
Whereas brats rarely feel guilt, rebels are quite prone to it. After all, they aren't rebelling because they want to hurt people for the most part. They're rebelling because they feel they know best and refuse to be constrained by silly rules made by people they don't respect. A rebel will respond to the demands of someone on a power trip with intentional sloth. But give them someone truly in need and they will expend all their effort to help. Of course, the helpee is also much more likely to respect said rebel than the overbearing authority figure.
This is an issue to discuss with respect to getting things done because we intuitively know that guilt works to get our inner rebels moving. Their surprisingly tender hearts will often get them up and busy when nothing else will. The problem is we tend to abuse this strategy to the point that it backfires. Guilt is such a painful emotion for the rebel that if we heap it on, the rebel may just plug her ears and ignore us, even when the guilt is appropriate.
Here are some examples of the inappropiate use of guilt as a rebel motivating tool:
How can you stuff your face when there are millions of people who don't have enough to eat?
There are so many unemployed people right now who would kill to have your job and all you can do is whine about what you have to do
Think of all the infertile women who would love to have a child and all you can do is complain about how crazy yours are driving you
Instead, consider posing these guilt-free questions:
What need are you meeting with food that you could meet in more constructive ways?
Is there a way you could make your job more satisfying or are you ready to look for a new one?
When are your children easiest to be around and is there a way you could encourage that environment more often?
Guilt is effective with your inner rebel, but it should be used sparingly. Use it when your grandma is in the hospital and your rebel wants to finish watching all the episodes of her favorite TV show on Netflix before visiting her.
A good clue that you're using guilt to motivate is the word 'should' and its derivatives. What kinds of shoulds have you heaped on your inner rebel to no avail?
The first thing we are tempted to do when dealing with our inner brat is to give her some rules. Your brat procrastinated on that big project and you had to stay up all night getting it done? She hasn't taken advantage of that expensive gym membership even one time since January? She has been web surfing for hours while the laundry evolves into a leviathon?
You surmise that what your brat needs is some good old-fashioned discipline. From now on, she is going to be up at 5:45 a.m. so she can be at the gym first thing. She could have gotten away with working out three days a week if she had kept at it in January, but now that it's summer, she will be up and sweating every single day if it kills her. You don't care how tired she is after a long day of exercising, working, teaching, mothering, cooking, and housekeeping, she IS going to spend an hour working on long-term projects before she even touches the computer keyboard. And two loads of laundry must be washed, dried, folded, and put away each evening or she will not be able to read or watch TV. She'll learn, right?
The rebel that lives inside of each one of us revolts in response to rules. I have witnessed this time and time again in people I love who are more outer than inner rebels. Rules are quickly assessed as "stupid" and not applicable to them. As an outward rule follower myself, I marvel at their refusal to acquiesce, and deep down, respect them for it. Nine times out of ten they are absolutely right that the rule is wrong. If you listen closely, you will hear your inner rebel roar when you give them rules like:
Absolutely no fat, carbs, or sweets
Everything must be recorded and tagged in a to-do list
Every decent photo must be scrapbooked and journaled chronologically
Everything you eat must be weighed, measured, and recorded
Every goal must be written, shared, and broken down into mini steps
You must eat 9-11 servings of produce and drink 11 cups of water daily
You must adhere to the schedule laid out in 15-minute increments
Most people who struggle to make meaningful lasting change are dealing with an inner rebel who hates rules. Two case studies. The first is FLYLady. I wrote a Woman's Day article about her home organizing routines more than a decade ago. Although she was an immediate success, there were as many anti-FLYLady responders as there were fan girls. FLYLady's rule that women wear their shoes all day really raised a rebel ruckus. Groups of FLYLady adherents formed whose identity was simply that they refused to wear their shoes in the house.
A second case study. Mark Forster developed a system of task management that initially thrilled his rebel forum. Tasks could be accomplished simply by intuition, when they "felt ready to be done." The only problem was there were still a number of rules in the system. Immediately, the forum members objected to the rules and began proposing alternate rules. More than two years later, they are still at it.
If you are giving your rebel rules, your inner forum is revolting against you! So what are we to do? Don't we still need rules to get our rebel in line? Rules work better for rebels when:
There are few of them. That's why trying to crack down in multiple areas backfires.
There is a really good reason for the rules you have. A rebel will immediately ask, "Why should I?" You better be ready with an excellent answer!
The rules aren't merely to please people. People pleasing isn't what rebels do.
The rules aren't extreme. Rebels still believe in common sense.
The rules aren't based in fear. Rebels aren't afraid of much, especially consequences that "might, possibly" happen.
I will give you a personal example of the Rebel Rules Philosophy in action. I would like to cook healthier meals more often. So today I noted a weekly menu on AllRecipes.com that was for grilled meals, complete with shopping list. I read one review that raved about this menu and I added it to my shopping list. My kids and the cicadas outside were very noisy at the time, but I could hear my inner rebel pitching a fit. She was saying, "You're supposed to grill EVERY DAY for a week? Really? Your kids are going to eat grilled zucchini boats? Uh-huh. And you're going to make a grilled dessert every night? That is just stupid!"
So rather than do what I would normally do and buy everything I need for the grilled weekly menu, only to let the stuff spoil because I don't cook it, and then wonder why I am so lazy, I listened to my rebel. I might grill once or twice this week instead.
What kinds of rules have you given your rebels that have been resisted? Are there any rules you've laid down that have lasted?
In my book, So You’re Not Wonder Woman, I describe the resistance to change as being the fault of our inner brat (a label borrowed from Pam Young). When I think about what brats need, my first thought is a good whoopin’! That’s where the brat analogy breaks down.
When our inner brat doesn’t do right, we often try to whoop her. We berate, punish, and lay down the law. That might work if we were really dealing with an undisciplined brat. However, my recent experience raising a strong-willed teen has convinced me that we are not dealing with inner brats, but inner rebels. Trust me, you do not want to whoop a rebel!
I realized that although I knew what to say and do with respect to the real life rebels in my life, I was not applying those same principles when it came to the rebel in me. After beginning to practice rebel-friendly principles for self change, I am enjoying increased productivity and peace. If you want to make important life changes, achieve your goals, and get things done, you need to learn how to relate to your inner rebel, too. In a series of upcoming posts, I will share strategies for getting along with your rebel so you can get great things done.
For the past several weeks, I have been leading a Bible study using my book, So You’re Not Wonder Woman. The most popular desired life change in our group is weight loss. One of the Wonder Women in the group said she ate to reward herself. And not only that, it seemed like food was the only really rewarding thing in her life. We brainstormed with her for calorie-free rewards and we prayed that God would be her reward.
We Need Rewards
But in thinking more about rewards, I realized I am in need of more of them in my life, too. Can you relate? I have been so enjoying using Things as my task list on my iPhone. I get great satisfaction from checking off my tasks one by one. While I look forward to checking off my tasks, I feel much less inclined to do the things I have to do every day that are checkmark-free (e.g., teaching, laundry, meals, clean up). In years past, I so desired a reward for completing some task that I grabbed a treat whether or not I was hungry. I no longer eat as a treat, but I’m hungry for rewards just the same. Strangely, my children don’t praise me for each lesson taught, every meal made, and every load of laundry folded. My husband, though often complementary, also can’t keep up with my voracious appetite for positive feedback.
Although it’s true that I ought to be content with God’s approval of my service, I find myself so frequently looking for a reward anyway. Unfortunately, the rewards I seek often draw me away from the schedule that I prayerfully developed to deal with numerous demands. The schedule works and when I don’t use it, I don’t.
A Better Reward
So I decided to try something simple this week. And it wasn’t a new brownie recipe! Though since I keep talking about brownies, here’s a guilt-free recipe:
I decided to add my scheduled activities and regular chores to my task list. Now I have things like “Make lunch and clean up” and “Give kids a bath” in Things to check off. Knowing that I can check it off and subsequently add it to my task log for the day encourages me. I may be disappointed by not getting to everything I had planned. But by recording even routine activities, I see how very much I accomplished anyway. Of course, I would like it even better if I got applause and whistles for each checkmark. Hm. I may be on to something here!
This method of rewarding yourself can be just as effective using any other electronic (the HomeRoutines app is great for this!) or paper task list of your choice. If you have a hard time getting through rush hour traffic, a boring meeting, or your kids’ bedtime routine, add it to your list and check it off with pride. Brownies are good, too, but add to the waistline and the weight of guilt for many of us.
As a fat-free alternative, checkmarks are a delicious treat. Try them and let me know if they suit your tastes.