by Judy M McCutcheon MBA
We’ve heard it often said, ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer,’ but sometimes our enemy is just too close for comfort. Your worst enemy could literally be between your ears.
You know that voice in your head, I call it my blabber, the one that simply cannot keep quiet no matter how hard you try to silence it. The voice that makes you second guess every decision you make — the one that says you are too fat, too thin, you are not good enough, you will fail. The one that keeps replaying that one embarrassing moment over and over, until you really believe that you are a klutz. We allow our enemy to move in and take up residence, and since we can’t run from ourselves, we simply accept the lies it feeds to us and do things that are counterproductive to our true nature. We overeat, we drink too much, we are angry, we worry too much, we leave our dreams unfulfilled and the biggest one of them all, we procrastinate. It makes you beat up on yourself constantly and takes you down that long dark, lonely road of negative self-talk. It’s just outta timing if you ask me.
We all get in our way sometimes, but for some of us, it is a way of life. Why do we do it? Is it that we feel we are unworthy and undeserving of whatever is good on the other side of our decision?
I was having this conversation with a girlfriend, and I was trying to figure why do some women keep gravitating to a certain type of man, the ones that nothing good could ever come out of a relationship with them. We do it, and then when things go south as they usually do, we beat ourselves up and then go right back and do it all over again. I am wondering if that’s a consequence of our upbringing, do we have some ingrained feelings of not being deserving of anything that’s good? I remember meeting this guy several years ago, and as I was telling my friend about the relationship, it suddenly dawned on me that all I was doing was focusing on all the available reasons why the relationship will not work. I was systematically destroying my happiness. I don’t know if our self-sabotage is an automatic response because we have gotten so accustomed to destroying our happiness that when something good is about to happen, our subconscious goes into action to destroy it because it knows that is what we will do anyway. The subconscious mind will treat all the information it receives from the conscious mind as reality, whether it is so or not.
At the start of every year we set goals and make grandiose resolutions, then we methodically set about to ensure that we don’t achieve them. Exercising, keeping fit and losing weight are common goals that we set about never to achieve. We all know the health benefits of eating healthy and exercising, yet if we do make the effort to go to the gym, we head straight to KFC soon after our workout. We know we should be saving and funding our retirement, yet we find all the reasons why we can’t. We know that we should not be spending more than we earn, yet we lie to ourselves about our finances, and then we indulge in some serious retail therapy and then try to justify our behaviour. We know the importance of action to the achievement our goals yet still we procrastinate. We allow our blabber to repeatedly tell us that we can’t do what we say we will do, we allow it to tell us that’s too difficult, we allow it to tell us that even if we try, we are going to fail anyway. If we were to step outside ourselves for one moment, we would think that we are at war with a very dangerous enemy who is using language that is demoralising and dehumanising to destroy us. We are essentially intolerant of ourselves, we are harder on ourselves than we should be and we are very unforgiving to ourselves.
So what if you didn’t score well on that test, so what if you could have answered your interview questions better; so what if your partner left you, it’s their loss anyway — none of those things makes you less of a person, they do not make you a loser. You are the only one qualified to turn yourself into a loser; you are the only one who can act against your own self-interest. There is a phenomenon called the spot light effect, in which a person believes that they are being noticed much more than they really are. Lightened up a bit, don’t take yourself too seriously because no one else is. Become familiar with the 20-40-60 rule — at age 20 you think that everyone is thinking about you; at age 40 you don’t care what people are thinking about you, and at age 60 you finally realise what everyone knew all along, no one has been thinking about you.
People are very self-absorbed and busy with being their own worst enemy to take notice of you. So, learn to forgive yourself, challenge your self-sabotaging thoughts, and when your blabber starts with the negative self-talk, look deeper into what lies behind those thoughts, see if there is any rationale for them and check to see if they are based on facts. Ultimately a battle against yourself is a losing one, so become friends with yourself, learn to love and accept yourself for who you are, accept people for who they are and you will find that the world is a much kinder gentler place.
Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company. www.goblueinc.net