Saying Good-Bye and Letting Go


Over the years, I have become a master of letting go and saying good-bye. I’ve done it with a wide variety of loved ones, possessions, places, projects and events; even books, movies and ‘things’.

Here’s what I’ve found: Even after I’ve made the initial decision to let go – a process in and of itself – the final ‘good bye’ – especially when its necessity is a result of something sudden or shocking – can be quite challenging. I take the challenge because I need closure. Closure is vital for me… probably for you, too. And that final good bye… that’s one powerful way to get it.

Knowing that I’m going to get a whole lot more of whatever it is that I resist has me consciously working to accept the way it is – however it is. I don’t have to love it; I just have to get it. When we fight the changes, resist the way it is and ignore the need to let go… BAM! We’re stuck with it forever. Yes, it’s another one of those muscles to work out, but so worth the effort!

There have been times when I’ve had to release and rerelease (sometimes multiple times) before I’ve truly let go and am ready for my final good bye. I’ve found that rituals and ceremonies help – even if they are short and informal. Turns out it’s not weird at all, ceremonies and rituals are more human and far more ubiquitous than you can imagine.

In fact, recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. I love ‘em! Even the simplest of rituals can be extremely effective tools in the letting go process. Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – actually alleviate grief, and rituals performed before taking on high-pressure tasks – like speaking in public – can actually reduce anxiety and increase confidence. What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work. True story, check ‘em out…

When Morgan, my terrier, was about to be ‘put down’ I held her lovingly in my arms but I didn’t cry. It was only weeks later – when the carpet she’d destroyed was being replaced – that I broke down and cried like a baby. “Take the stupid carpet back”, I screamed, “I just want Morgan back!” My ‘good bye’ took the form of my screaming that she meant far more to me than carpeting ever could!

The Watts riots ended and we celebrated (a bit apprehensively) with prayers. It was over, that was good – but we lost so much. Praying together felt good.

The World Series was over and the Cubs finally won!!! After the shock came the joy and celebration – we toasted our good fortune.

I hadn’t smoked for over three years before my ‘just one – just this once’ became a habit renewed with a vengeance. Then, seven years from the day I first quit (easy to remember ‘cuz it was on my birthday), I decided to say good-bye to cigarettes for good. I took what was left of my last pack, tied it up with a pretty pink bow, and presented it to my two adult children as my gift to them. Together we created an impromptu farewell ceremony; breaking each remaining cigarette and throwing them into the trash. Bye bye…

When my father died, we all helped to bury him. It helped that I had had months before his death to ‘be’ with him and then hours in the hospital to hear that he loved me and to say my good byes. But it was throwing the shovels of dirt on his coffin that made it all so real so final and so complete.

Mark was killed in Viet Nam. His body was never found. I never got to say good-bye.

Whenever my ‘ex’ and I threw a party – which we frequently did – there was always the traditional ‘post party assessment and appraisal’. When the last guest left and lights were out, we reviewed the evening – who was there and how it went. It was our way of saying, “the party’s over it’s time to call it a day”.

As I packed up the last of my personal belongings and carried them to the car, I looked around at the parking space that was no longer really ‘mine’. The moving van had left almost 30 minutes before and, though I knew I could still beat them to my beautiful new home in the desert, I did want to get a move on!  I wasn’t prepared for the rush of emotion as I took one last look around the place I’d called ‘home’ for the past 5 years. Moving to the center of the empty room I ‘thanked the space’ and took a few moments to remember… I whispered, “good bye townhouse formerly known as mine” and Sandye left the building

The movie ended. I clapped, picked up my purse and sweater and headed for the door.

We have endings all the time. Happy endings, sad endings, sudden endings, inevitable endings, endings that offer us relief and some that send us into a tailspin of stress, shock and upset… and, in every instance, we have rituals for saying good bye.

My good-bye rituals always include an actual “good bye”.  I like to use my words…

And now, because this is the last of the Motivate and Activate blogs (at least for a while):

I close my eyes and remember some favorite ‘call moments’. And then I say aloud:

This blog’s for you. I love you. Good-bye for now…



How Do You Know When ‘The Party Is Over’?


Is the fat lady singing? Did the curtain close? Did you hear the final bell? Has Elvis left the building? Are the lights are out? Truth is, in our hearts, we know when the party is over, but sometimes we just don’t want to leave!

There are beginnings and there are endings. We like both to be ‘happy’, don’t we? Well, sometimes they are and sometimes, not so much. The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step… and ends with the last. It’s easy to identify the first step, right? But after that any one of ‘em could be last. How the heck do we know when to quit? (If you’re thinking that maybe you should have determined that BEFORE you took step one, BAM!!! You got it. Hang with me, though, we’ll get to that.)

Whether we’re talking about a relationship, a job, a work of art, a business or a project – whether it was fun or not – whether you reached your goals, or not… stuff ends. When it ends and how it ends – that’s what matters. That’s what determines how you feel about it as it ends and when you look back on it.

It’s like cooking fish… You should probably stop cooking the fish when it is just shy of done or it will overcook – and it’s probably time to call it quits just shy of having to call it quits (aka when it’s no longer a choice; not your decision).

And, my friends, herein lays the brilliance of having a plan and goals. Backed with a commitment to succeed, your plan and goals are your roadmap and the destination for the journey. You know where you are going and you have a plan to get there. I mean, seriously, how will you know when you get there if you don’t know where you’re going? And how will you know if you’re lost?

When Motivate and Activate was launched in November of 2015, I made a one-year commitment to writing a new blog and leading a one-hour, group coaching and conversation call every week. I wanted to “reach the masses”, and I wanted to eliminate everything that might block people’s participation. So, I made it inexpensive ($50/month). I scheduled the calls midweek and after dinner so that they wouldn’t interfere with anyone’s work, date night or family dining time. ‘Sharing’ was optional. All of the calls were recorded so, if missed, they could be listened to at one’s leisure. See, I had a plan.

And, along with my trusty Wing Woman Extraordinaire, Tracy, we set goals. We would consider the program to be a work in progress until we had at least 50 members. It was fully expected that 100 people would be enrolled by the January of 2016… and that we’d have to split into segments and add more weekly calls so people would have a chance to get some one-on-one with me. I had visions of special interest groups, live workshops and gift cd sets.

Short version… that didn’t happen. The ‘fish fried’ for six months without the anticipated numbers, but my commitment was for a full year – and I couldn’t/wouldn’t abandon those who had enrolled. I had followed my plan and, although I LOVED the journey, I never reached the destination. Elvis had left the building. My heart told me the fish was fully fried.

Was the program a failure? NO WAY! It was awesome and I’d be thrilled to do it again. (In fact, I will, when I can figure out how to monetize it.) Did I quit? NO, I took it to completion. Did the party end? Silly question, all parties end. But, to answer the question: SURE, the party ended… but that didn’t make it any less of a great party!




I, Sandye Linnetz, on the approach of the 67th anniversary of my birth, am hereby officially tendering my resignation as a grown-up.

I have decided that instead of living my life as an adult, I would prefer to live the life of a 6-year old again.

I want the world to be new every day!  I want to go to McDonald’s and think that it’s a four star restaurant.

I want to splash in fresh mud puddles….and run through raindrops.

I want to look into the mirror and see a Princess.  Pour tea from an empty pot. Let my imagination take me everywhere.

I want to think M&M’s are better than money because you can eat them…and think peas are the medicine to cure anything.

I want to go hiking and exploring and search for “instresting” things.

I want to tap dance in the middle of department stores and sing along, at the top of my voice, with every song I hear.

I want to smile at strangers who look nice and have someone hold my hand when I cross the street.

I want to lie under a big tree and eat icy cappuccino bars with my friends on a hot summer’s day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple… when all you knew were colors, smells, community helpers and the beginnings of the multiplication table, but that didn’t bother you, because you didn’t know what you didn’t know and you didn’t care.  Besides, Mommy and Daddy knew every answer to every question you could possibly ask, anyway. All you knew was to be happy because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.

I want to think that life is fair.  That everyone is honest and good.

I want to believe that anything is possible and that miracles do happen. I want to wear magic shoes.

I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again.

I want to live simply.  I don’t want my day to consist of rushing, paperwork, computer crashes, money worries, politics, gossip and illness.

I want to play in the sunshine and have naptime with my trusty teddy.

I want to enjoy trees and flowers and mud and worms and soaring birds and shells and sticks and rocks and lady bugs. I want to play dress-up.

I want to play – side-by-side – with my grandchild and godchildren and nieces and nephews and almost-relative-type kids as they grow and flourish and discover life!  I want to dance at their weddings and play with their offspring.

I want to “be” with my mother, my children, my family and my bestest friends… giggling, laughing, sharing, loving and being loved. I want lots of really fun playdates!

I want to exercise my creativity, my brain and my body.  I want to doodle and scribble; to make stuff! I want to learn new ways to put words together and write my name in big block letters and do collages. I want to go running, listen to loud music, splash in the tub, play games, shop for toys and eat with my fingers.  I want to travel by boat and plane and train and car and visit cool, new places and old friends…and none of it alone!

I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, justice, a kind word, truth, peace, dreams, love, creativity, imagination, mankind and G-d.

I want to play “make people MAGNIFICENT!” and share the gifts I have and my joy for living.

So….here’s my cell phone.  Take my ipad, my lap top, checkbooks, my wallet, my car-keys, my credit cards and my files. I am officially resigning from adulthood.

And if you want to discuss this further, you’ll have to catch me first, cuz, “Tag! You’re it”!

Oh, wait. I don’t have to resign… I already do all of this cool stuff!

Sandye Linnetz, this is your life!


P.S. Except for the parts about McDonald’s and the M&Ms…these are my goals for the next 67 years, too!

Let Go And Let The Miracles Happen



This isn’t one of those gooey diatribes on “if you love something, set it free”. This is about what is possible when you let go of your attachment to an outcome… when you detach yourself from the picture you painted of the way it ‘should’ be and let the way it is – right now, in this moment – be exactly just right! This is about letting go of the if onlys and what ifs and embracing the IS… with all the joy and gratitude you can muster up!

Let me share a story with you…

The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.

Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready.

As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window.

“I love it,” she exclaimed, with the enthusiasm of an 8-year-old hugging her new puppy.

“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room – just wait.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged… it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it.

It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.

I’m practicing to be her when I grow up! Her level of non-attachment is inspiring. Her joy and satisfaction is not about the circumstances of her life, it is about what she makes those circumstances mean… and she makes it ‘all good’. When life gives her lemons, she celebrates ‘the shipment arriving at her lemonade stand’!

I have a client who has been pretty much estranged from his semi-adult son for years. On a coaching call with him – about a year ago – I could hear that something was ‘off’, so I asked him what was going on… His son, he told me, had called (a rare occurrence) and, using language that would embarrass a truck driver (apologies to all truck drivers) told him to fornicate himself to death and never never never even attempt to make contact again. “It’s my son. My only child and he hates me. What can I do?”

My advice was simple: Keep loving him. Expect nothing from him. Send him a short, simple and very clear text. Tell him that you love him… you always have and you always will – no matter what. Let him know that you will sadly honor his request. And let him know that you will always be his father and be there for him – if and when he’s ready.

It took a while, but my client relaxed into the role of ‘absentee father’. He continued to send simple cards at holidays and birthdays (just signed love, your father who will always love you) – no emails, no letters and no calls.

He chose to love his son no matter what the circumstances of that relationship looked like… and relaxed into the way it was. Letting go of the way he ‘wanted it to be’ and detaching from his ‘story’ about the way it was ‘supposed to be’, my client had literally opened up the space for a miracle. Then, last week – after almost14 months of silence, the prodigal son called.

There was no mention of the previous call. No arguing. No anger. The conversation ended with: “I’ll call you next week on your birthday, Dad.”

Here’s one of my favorite aphorisms from Werner Erhard: “Life is a rip off when you expect to get what you want.  Life works when you choose what you got.“


Are you a SEEKER or a FINDER?


There I sat, cross-legged on a pillow in the living room of a new friend, with a dozen or so other ‘new friends’ talking about A Course in Miracles. He asked us what we wanted. A woman near me told us all that that was a hard question. He laughed and asked again.

The answers started coming at him fast and furiously… love, connection, peace, joy, spirituality, purpose… With each response people smiled and nodded and added more. Having heard most of the things on my list already mentioned, I said ‘a peanut butter and jelly sandwich’. People laughed… he smiled gently at me and asked, “What will that get you?” Ah ha! I wasn’t trying to be a smart ass and he sensed that, so he asked me to say more. It didn’t take me long to realize that it gave me comfort and security. Heads nodded furiously… they wanted comfort and security, too.

Interesting, he said, that we all know exactly what we want and we all want the same things. He went on. “Where can you get all those things?” Without any hesitation we simultaneously pointed to ourselves. “Oh, so you even know where to get what you want. And when can you get it?” The word NOW resounded like a chorus – as if we’d been rehearsing that answer for years.

“You all want the same things. You know where to get them and you even know the best time to grab them. So what’s stopping you? Why aren’t you living a life with all of what you want right now?”

Simple. We were ‘seeking’. I know for myself, that I was still scurrying around looking for evidence that those things even existed. Maybe, if I could prove to myself that they were real and available, THEN I could reach out and grab some. For many of us the seeking is the best part of the game. Personally, I love being a detective. Besides, if I found all I was looking for, the game would be over, wouldn’t it? Then what?

Finders don’t need to collect evidence; no proof necessary. Finders have no doubt about whom they are, why they are here or what is available. And here’s the cosmic joke: When we transform from seeker to finder we will finally be available to participate, consciously and wholeheartedly, in the greatest gift we’ve been given (get ready, joke coming)… which is the life we are already living right now!

Try this on: Give up looking! Pay attention (I mean REALLY notice!) all that stuff that’s all around you – right here; right now. You don’t have to become a spiritual sage (unless that floats your boat), but imagine a life free of the seeking; a life of natural knowing. (Cuz, hey, if I understand it correctly – and I think I do – all that good stuff is true, anyway!).

What if you gave up the struggle and insecurity of trying to ‘find’ and ‘become’ and just let yourself lean back into the universe and ‘be’, instead.  Can you imagine being the best you possible, living your highest potential for the good of all (pimples, warts and all), just because you’re in love with life and committed to sharing the joy?

Seek and ye shall find? Find and you can stop seeking!



“If Only I’d Known…” Forsaking Feedback Is Foolish


It could have been as simple as asking, “How am I doing?” and then adjusting to the response, but I didn’t do that. No one complained and there was more than an occasional compliment, so I just kept on being as I’d been and doing as I’d done. I’m a firm believer in that old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and I didn’t notice anything that was broken.

If I eat the wrong things I get ‘feedback’ in the guise of a stomachache or extra tight jeans. If I screw up on my computer I get an error message, so I know I have to do something different if I want to get my result. There was no error message from the ‘head office’ and I didn’t think to ask how the producer thought I was doing. No one took me aside to offer any suggestions about my work and no one criticized me. In retrospect, maybe assuming that meant everything was ‘hunky dory’ wasn’t in my best interest.

I was ‘co-starring’ on a cable TV show. I’d been ‘Sandye Stewart’ of the ‘Family Fun Store’ on the original Shop Television Network. Every day I worked with Pat Boone, Juliet Prowse, Richard Simmons and literally dozens of famous folks from Miss America to Soupy Sales (who I ‘shuffled’ with on national TV). My hair, make up and wardrobe were ‘handled’ and I had the use of a chauffeur driven limo when I needed it. Oh, and I was pullin’ in some major bucks!

After almost two years on the show my contract was not renewed. Whaaaaat? I didn’t love it there – it was pretty boring most of the time – but not renewed???? What had I done to deserve getting dumped? And how was I so blind-sided in the process?

I understand that others see me differently than I see myself – at least I ‘get it’ on an intellectual level. And, I guess it follows that others also see what I  ‘say’ and what I ‘do’ with a different perspective than mine. Maybe if I’d known that the producer thought I came across as too short, too ‘smart’ and too Jewish (Really? I wasn’t about to do anything for him about that!), I could have worn risers in my shoes, requested bigger hair and dummied down my delivery.  Maybe I could have saved my career with heels and smaller vocabulary. Who knows?

A little feedback would have gone a long way in this case. None was offered, but perhaps more important, I didn’t request that any be given. Feedback is evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, performance (hmmm), product or process to the original or controlling source (in this case, me!). It might be praise or it might be criticism, but either way, it’s a gift that is given to someone to let them know how they’re doing.  There might be a clue about what can be done to improve, but that would be icing on the cake. First and foremost, feedback is a thermometer – a gauge of how others view you.

There’s only one way for me to gauge the impact I have on you … that’s making a request for the gift of your feedback. And, believe me, it is a gift – a wonderful gift – and it would be GREATLY appreciated. Some of you think I don’t care what you think about the blogs, the topics, the calls, the What Do I Say? What Do I Do? website or the face book group. Well, I do care. Some of you are kind and caring and don’t want to risk hurting my feelings. I can take it. And some of you just didn’t think about sharing your thoughts. I am sincerely asking you to think about it. Be the real friend – the one who will tell me when I have spinach in my teeth. Your feedback is crucial to my growth and success and I am sincerely interested in it. So… feedback, please.

Well Shiver Me Timbers, I’m SORRY!


None of us needs a lesson in ‘how to screw up’. We’re all very talented and productive in that area – at least I know I am. But, seriously, how many times have you ached to know what to say and what to do when it was clean up the screw-up time?

We’re not talking about accidentally bumping into someone, telling a little white lie or being three minutes late for a meeting. We’re talking about the screw-ups that result in majorly hurt feelings, big lies, more lies (or more and bigger lies), physical damage and broken promises. This conversation is about the things we’ve done – that we shouldn’t have done – and then covered up with lies and deception. The ‘act’ was bad enough, lying about it exacerbated it 100 times over!

I can’t recall any personal major transgressions or big lies I’ve told in the last decade or so, but that may have something to do with the double standard we all have about lying. When you lie it’s a big deal. When I lie it’s for a good reason and purpose… Give me a second; I’ll think harder.

Well, okay, there was that time I backed into a neighbor’s car in the parking lot of my apartment building, pretended it wasn’t me and didn’t leave a note on his windshield. But, ten minutes later this guilt-ridden car-crasher drove back, rang his bell and told him what I’d done. So I guess that doesn’t count.

Once I threw a big party and purposely didn’t invite a couple that should have been invited. When they mentioned the ‘slight’ a few weeks later, I lied. Flat out lied. Without thinking it through, I told them that I had sent an evite (in fact, a reminder, too), and never heard back from them. They probably knew I was lying (I told you I’m not very good at it.) and haven’t called me since…

Oh, and there was that time that I broke a date with someone (for what seemed like a better offer) and got caught in the lie. Guess that counts, he was pretty upset with me. We set up a coffee date to talk about what happened – a safe, neutral venue. There was no question about who screwed up. It was I (doesn’t ‘me’ sound better here even if it’s incorrect???). I broke a promise, told a lie and disrespected a really nice, totally innocent guy.  He was hurt and I was ashamed. Regardless of the outcome, I knew I had to clean up my mess.

We both felt much better by the time the check was paid. You’ve heard me say how much I love a good process and the clean up process I used was very effective. I call it the Pirate Process because only a scalawag would need to use it (after sabotaging, pillaging, plundering and/or high-jacking the respect and feelings of their first mate or crew). The Pirate Process depends on the use of the three ‘Arghs’ (Regret, Responsibility and Remedy) to adequately swab the deck and clean up a screw up. I was in full Pirate mode when I sat down with him and it worked. We are still friends and chat now and then, but by my choice (and mutual agreement) we’re no longer dating.

Acknowledging and expressing regret for what you’ve done, taking FULL responsibility for it and then offering to take some kind of action to remedy the situation, works pretty much every time. You may not have intended to hurt, but you can intend to make amends.  Aye –aye, matey!


I'm Fine

Next to “I have read and agreed to the Terms and Conditions”, “I’m fine (sigh)” is the most often told lie in the English language. When I sense upset or illness, and hear someone say: “Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine.” The hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention and, I must admit, I go ballistic (at least on the inside).

Why do we people do that????

When I ask someone, “How are you doing (or feeling)?” I actually want to know. I’m even possibly concerned. It’s not a rhetorical question – so it begs a response – and it is an open-ended question, which, as anyone who’s ever taken an exam knows, requires more than a one-word answer! It’s an essay question fer cryin’ out loud! I’m looking for details here. I really want to know how you are.

I’m sure that for some people, “How are you?” is generally nothing more than an icebreaker; filler, a throw away greeting. But, for me, if I ask a question I actually expect an answer and some level of conversation to follow! If I wasn’t truly interested or I wanted a one-word response, I would have just asked, “Are you okay?” See? That’s a simple Yes or NO kind of query. No conversation expected.

Oh, and when someone asks me how I am, I tend to think about it and then give an honest, considered answer… “Kinda off today. How about you?” “Feeling great thanks, you?” “I’m exhausted! It’s hard to sleep when it’s so hot. How are you handling the heat?” “I feel great, thanks. I think it may be contagious… wanna catch some?!”

I love to surprise and delight people with a short but honest answer. Lord knows it’s usually unexpected. And regardless of what my answer is, I look them right in the eyes – the ‘ole human connection in action.

Sometimes, if I’m having a particularly rough day (Yes, even Susie Sunshine has ‘em), I say so and follow it up with: “It’s gonna take some doing to turn this one around. Your asking me about it sure helps, though. Thanks!” And, at the other end of the FINE spectrum, if I am having a tough day AND feeling grumpy, I have been known to either ignore completely or do an instant mega emotional dump all over their annoying, phony self-serving question. But, thank you, that hardly ever happens.

My favorite response is, “If I were any better I’d be twins!” People always smile and comment when I say that. Even just saying it makes me feel great. It’s a really happy comment, isn’t it? And I’m all about sharing the joy.

And, when I respond with “AWESOME, thanks! How about you?”(Which, by the way is my usual response.), I almost always get a big smile and a short, pleasant conversation begins…

Sure, I’ve occasionally gone down the path of throwaway question/throwaway answer. Really, who hasn’t? So, I guess I do understand at last a few of the reasons for the quick and simple “fine”.  Sometimes, when I’m in a hurry or a bad mood – or if I’m really preoccupied, I don’t even hear the question, so I don’t answer at all. There are times when, hey, I’m not sure how I feel. And there are times that I simply don’t want to talk about it or it’s just none of their business. Regardless, if I respond with an “I’m FINE”, you can be pretty sure it’s a BIG LIE… I’m not!!!

When comedian, George Carlin asked someone, “How are you?” and was answered with “I’m fine”, he said: “No, YOU are not fine. Your hair is fine!”


Every Lie Is Two

Years ago (many years ago) I went into business with a girlfriend. She was a force of nature – like a landslide. She was big, brash, blunt and – dare I say it? – ballsy! I thought those things would be assets in a business partner. Well, at least I did… until she became my business partner. Turned out she and I had very different ethics and values when it came to running a business.

She lied to one of our vendors about a problem they had caused for us. Yes, they screwed up, that was true. But we figured out how to work around the problem and all it cost us was a little extra legwork and aggravation. She, however, told the apologetic vendor that they had cost us a $1000 job and she expected them to cover it. They agreed.

When she told me what she’d done I was mortified – and I told her so. And that was when her justification process kicked in.  For the next few hours we ‘discussed’ the situation. I said it was wrong, unethical and a lie. She justified what she did by explaining that they screwed up and should pay for their mistake. They were a ‘big’ company and they could afford it. We could use an extra thousand dollars to fix up the store and put some of their money toward a new delivery vehicle. If we’d had a good delivery vehicle their screw-up wouldn’t have been so bad. We deserved a new one. She was teaching them a valuable lesson and I should be able to see that. Besides, she told me, they owed us for all the upset and running around we had to do because of them. It would make their company better in the long run. She knew what she was doing and it was the right thing to do.

Her defense of what she did – the explaining and justifying – didn’t alter any circumstances or my opinion about the morality of what she had done. All it did was have me shake my head in wonder at her ability to find reasons for everything she did. She had actually convinced herself that, once again, she was 100% right. In her mind she was justified.

FYI, I called the owner of the ‘offending’ company and told him that, after discussing it, we decided that all they owed us was a refund for the materials that didn’t get delivered. He was thrilled…  and I no longer had a partner/friend.

In the years since that defining episode, I’ve met other justification junkies. You know the type. No matter what they do or say (especially if the morality of it was in doubt), they were ready, willing and able to share their ‘good reasons’ for having done it or said ‘it’. I’m referring primarily to the ‘unethical’ choices that people make. The problem is, justifying those choices makes it easier the next time a tough choice has to be made. We get better and better at justifying the more we do it. These justification junkies have justified themselves and their actions so much for so long that they are totally convinced that anything they do is right and necessary. You can almost smell the overwhelming toxicity spewing forth from their self-defense.

I know we all justify our words and deeds to some extent, and we all love to be right, but when someone steps that far outside the moral boundaries of ethical human behavior – and is able to feel ‘right’ and good about it… I say it’s time to cull the herd.


Trust me I'm a liar

This is not about a blog about the ethical or moral status of lying. It’s about teaching you to be better at doing it. It occurred to me that since we all lie… pretty consistently – even if for a wide variety of different ‘reasons’, we would all benefit from gaining a little expertise in that area. So, after combing the internet for ‘tips’ (since I’m not all that good at lying, myself) here’s what I’ve learned:

Don’t lie unless it’s going to get you something you really want. One could argue that sometimes a lie has merit; to protect a reputation, to prevent hurt to someone else, to win at poker, to ease tension, and so on, but it will always depend on the context and extent of the lie, as well as the legality/morality of what is being lied about. So, don’t try this at home, unless you have already dealt with your internal moral and ethical hurdles.

It helps to convince yourself that you’re telling the truth. Even if you’re delusional, it doesn’t really matter if you believe you’re telling the truth. Use your imagination to envision the lie, enacting it your mind as if it really happened. Do this over and over.

Speak generally – offer as few details as possible (unless you are absolutely positive you can remember them all). Say: Traffic was bad. Do NOT say: You should have seen the traffic, tons of cars backed up, I was standing still for at least 20 minutes, and then when we did start moving, we moved at a crawl for the next five miles… Say as little as possible.

When possible, make up a good story in advance and practice telling it. Writing out the lie can help to enhance your memory of it and to come up with a logical sequence of events to share.

Anticipate and rehearse your answers to their possible questions. Practice telling your lie using appropriate facial expressions (like holding back tears) and use the ‘real’ smile’ we talked about a few weeks ago.

Sprinkle in some partial, misleading truths – it’s hard to catch you in a lie if it isn’t a ‘whole’ lie.

Make eye contact and keep it… along with a neutral, relaxed posture.

Know your target – tell them what they want to hear.

Never change your story… in fact, bring it up again from time to time to reinforce it.

If you get caught, never tell the truth. Admit no wrongdoing!!! Make up another lie or tell a half-truth that isn’t quite as bad as the original lie and would have obviously forced you to make up that original lie. (You had no choice, did you?) If you can, decrease your responsibility and soften the impact of your lie by bargaining about your responsibility in the matter. (Who else can you blame?) The goals here are distraction from the real truth and keeping yourself out of trouble.

Blame the outcome as the cause: I dropped my stupid phone and it didn’t work so I couldn’t call – I was too upset – l and now I have to buy a whole new phone!

Add a small confession to your lie to reduce suspicion: I know I said I wouldn’t, but I foolishly called my ex just as I was getting ready to start on that work for you.  He really upset me and couldn’t do anything after that.

Combine your lie with the truth: Everyone was drinking at the party and when they offered me a drink I said “no” at first, but they insisted, so I decided to have just one small one. And that’s all it took. One little drink and I was totally drunk! What a lightweight, huh?