Quick. Identify the error in either of the following two stories, and you qualify for a lifetime “Stay out of jail” pass.
Juan was short. His sentence was almost up. We were sitting in the day room in the county jail one evening. The subject turned to his upcoming plans for life after his release in a few months. “I really need a job,” he said. “If I don’t find one, I may have to go back to hustlin’. I mean, man, all I know how to do is sell drugs.”
Pete hadn’t really been thinking much about what he was going to do when he got home. One thing he was sure of…”I’m ditchin’ my baby mama,” Pete assured me. “I’m taking my daughter and finding another woman who don’t use. As long as I’m around my baby mama, there’s the temptation to use. Gonna find me a lady who don’t get high, so I don’t do that no more.”
OK, time’s up. Did you find the error? Locate the mistake in each story? These are both true stories, and if you missed the mistake, let me help you out. It’s the mistake of drinking the “if” Kool-Aid.
In story #1, Juan has made hustling an option. “If” he doesn’t find a job soon, he says he is going back to hustling. What that means is that sooner or later, he will. Whenever we make something an option, we leave the door open to saying it’s alright to do, even when we know it’s not. As long as it’s an option, he might even do it as an income supplement if he gets a job and it doesn’t pay what he wants. Making anything an option makes it a probability.
In story #2, Pete is making his recovery from addiction dependent on a “new woman.” “If” he finds a woman who is clean, he will stay clean. Now his recovery is dependent on someone else. He has handed over his ability to make decisions to someone else. He is other-directed, and “if” the new woman ever decides to use, Pete will be back in his addiction.
You got to drop the “ifs.”
It is an error to have hustlin’ as an option, if you want to go straight. It is a mistake to have your recovery depend on someone else, an other. “If’s”, “options,” and “others” will take you out. Making a decision as to what you are going to do and find people who support it…but it must be your decision.
By the way, Juan made another mistake…he said he only knows how to sell drugs. I disagree. He knows how to sell. He just had a bad product that got him popped. He can sell other things, from energy to Amway, to cell phone minutes to Traci Lynne (don’t laugh, he won’t get arrested).
So I told you if you find the mistakes, you qualify for a “Stay Out of Jail” pass. That’s right…if you find them and correct them for yourself. No “buts,” “ands,” or “ifs.”