What’s your “crutch” in relationships? All of us have one (or more). It’s any person or thing (e.g. friends or loved ones, bad habits, or material possessions, food, isolation, sex, a personality trait…etc., etc.) that we “over-depend” on to get around hard effort or to avoid disappointment. How much different and better would your life and love be, if you had only God to rely upon and no one or nothing else?
“The first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.”
— Walter Anderson, Parade magazine
The old saying goes, “What has the most power to hurt us is the very thing we were certain would help us.” No doubt the one who made that observation was intimately aware of the fact that we all love our “crutches.”
To achieve something as gigantic as your relationship goal, means you’ll need to know what it’s like to take a nasty fall or two. More importantly, you’ll need to know just how possible it is to get up and get moving again. Our crutches–emotional, psychological, relational or material–rob us of that valuable life lesson.
Naming the self-sabotaging dependencies you’ve acquired over the years is a necessary step for those intent on achieving their biggest goals in life. You’ve got to know what, over time, you have learned to lean on so heavily that it has weakened your will and stalled your momentum. Otherwise, you’ll go on thinking you’re progressing under your own steam, when in reality you’re only being carried along, wholly dependent on someone or something that’ll wear out–or leave you hanging–when the heat is on.
To identify your crutches, throw them down and yell “Hallelujah, I can walk again!” is by no means a simple task. We’ve dressed up our favorite crutches so that they look like virtues, or even blessings. It may be a supportive friend or lover, a trusted mentor, a fresh new credit card, a rich old aunt, endless excuses or your uncanny ability to make others feel guilty enough to do for you what you really could do for yourself. Whatever it is, it’s what you instinctively rely upon when you become frustrated or impatient en route to what you treasure most.
Notice how your crutch initially appeared to be as handy and helpful as a guardian angel. Completely deceived by its comforting promise to remain at our beckon call, we never even notice when our “angel” slithers away on its belly.
Take a rigorously honest look at who and what you’ve over-used, as “life insurance.” Though your well-worn crutches may seem to be so perfectly molded to your contour that you can hardly distinguish your own strength from that of your crutch, you must learn to walk without it.
Forget about instant perfection here. Attempting complete recovery by cold-turkey withdrawal, all in a day, is the quickest way to build terror, not self-reliance. Instead, make an oath to yourself that you will not seek the comforting, stabilizing assistance of your crutch as quickly as you have in the past. Weaning yourself from a beloved crutch is best attempted in stages–and with the help of someone else who knows you in and out. It starts with a willingness to tolerate increasing levels of painful struggle before you fall back on your safety-net.
TODAY, make a list of at least 10 “strengths” at your disposal, which you consistently employ to accomplish challenging goals. Look at them objectively (unemotionally) to determine which really are personal strengths, and which may be things you habitually rely upon to avoid the risk of failure or disappointment.