The Watering Hole Blog

Head-in-Sand Syndrome…

Head-in-Sand Syndrome Sweeping Nation


head in sand.jpeg

Updated Feb 2, 2015

In 2010, I attended Brian Willis’ Calgary seminar, In Pursuit of Personal Excellence ($5500 was raised for the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund!). The seminar was outstanding; applying what I learned proved to be life-changing.

Brian’s message focused on the importance of changing our thoughts. His son, Jesse, also spoke at the seminar and focused his message on changing habits (please see Willpower Launches You on Your Journey; Good Habits Ensure You Arrive).

For when you change what and how you think – and then tweak what you actually do, the effects can be pretty amazing.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world

– Norman Vincent Peale

In T. Harv Ecker’s book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, the author maintains that we create our reality through the “Process of Manifestation,” where our programming (which is where our thoughts come from: our past conditioning) leads to our thoughts, which leads to our feelings, which leads to our actions, which leads to results.

So what, exactly, is Head-in-Sand Syndrome?

I think a good definition is found in this quote by Henry Miller: “Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful and evil can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength.”

In other words, Head-in-Sand Syndrome is denial.

So here’s a snapshot of what I learned from Brian’s presentation:

Five symptoms that indicate you may be suffering from Head-in-Sand Syndrome

1. You hear yourself continuously talking about doing things supposedly important to you but never get around to actually doing them (technical term: Procrastination)

2. You hear yourself telling whoever will listen (again) the many reasons why you aren’t doing what you really want to be doing with your life (Severe Excuse-itis)

3. You find yourself tackling the tasks that squeak the loudest but aren’t necessarily the most important to get done now (Ability-to-Prioritize Deficiency)

4. You catch yourself blaming anyone and anything (your boss, spouse, mother, the government, society, circumstances, etc) to explain why what could have/should have been is not (If-only Syndrome)

5. The five people in your life you spend the most time with tend to be negative (Energy Vampires)

The greatest risk of Head-in-Sand Syndrome is living an unfilled life

Ouch! Here’s a quick exercise: picture yourself at your own funeral…walk up to your open casket (or urn of ashes) and look in. Now that it’s all over, ask yourself: did you accomplish what you wanted to?

Miracle cures found for Head-in-Sand Syndrome!

Okay, the cures themselves aren’t really miraculous (they’re SIMPLE but not easy) – but the effects are.

Twenty tips to help remove thy head from the sand:

1. Commit to being better today than you were yesterday.

2. Ask yourself 35 to 40 times a day: What’s Important Now? (and be honest with the answer!). This will help you continually prioritize tasks. Our days are filled with dozens of choices, so it’s easy to quickly get off track from doing what is really the most important.

3. Shift victim-thinking (poor me) to victor-thinking (yay-me!).

4. Adopt a warrior spirit/winning mind attitude about your abilities

5. If you tell yourself you can achieve your goals – you will. If you tell yourself you can’t, you won’t.

6. Take your head out of the sand – yes it’s that easy!

7. Focus on the positive and what is working in your life/community/organization.

8. Praise the good; fix the bad.

9. Celebrate your successes.

10. Develop or contribute to a cause beyond yourself.

11. Create GOOD daily habits that get you moving in the direction you want to go…not just where the current of daily busyness takes you.

12. Stop making excuses! They only serve to create or reinforce barriers – real or perceived.

13. Just say no to procrastination. Putting off till tomorrow what needs to be done today is robbing you of the present and the future

14. IMAGINE what you can do with your life or what your organization can achieve. Sit back and dream about what excellence looks and feels like to you. Ask yourself: What is the POSSIBILITY?

15. Be very aware of your environment. Choose wisely who you spend the bulk of your time with. Energy Vampires will rub their negativity off on you and sap your energy.

16. Set goals and then break them down into manageable tasks with timelines.

17. Embrace the suck! Horrible things happen to wonderful people…the key is to accept what is and then change what needs changing. Build a bridge to get yourself/your organization from where you are to where you want to be.

18. Stop complaining about the same old things all the time. It may seem therapeutic to vent but there is a real danger in not dealing directly with the issue/s at hand.

19. Let go of the past…learn from it and move on.

20. GET OVER IT (whatever ‘it’ is)

Warning: If one’s head is in the sand, one’s tail is exposed

A final word of caution on the perils of Head-in-Sand Syndrome: if one’s noggin is stuck in the sand, this tends to leave one’s bottom rather exposed. As such, the greatest danger of ignoring the world around you – and the role you play in that world – is that, in the end, it only serves to leave you extremely vulnerable.

I learned this the hard way when my husband, John, died in September 2000. One day, I was my usual happy-go-lucky procrastinating self talking about my dream of becoming a writer, complaining about having to work at a clerical job instead of being able to write full-time – but rarely doing any actual writing.

The next day I was holding John’s hand as he succumbed to a brain injury. Two weeks later, I started to write my book, A Widow’s Awakening.

Trust me: that’s a pretty nasty way to get one’s head yanked out of the sand. Gently removing it yourself by taking time to figure out why you the think the way you do and then consciously changing your thoughts and daily habits is far wiser…and much more enjoyable.

“Success is a function of controlling how one thinks.”

Thomas J. Stanley, Millionaire Women Next Door

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the playwright of Saviour. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of theJohn Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, please sign up here

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