I Am My Own Worst Enemy
“Let yourself be loved, because ‘The opposite of love is indifference'” – The Lumineers
We all experience those moments of self-loathing, unrelenting frustration that stems from our own hands. We also seem to hit a wall every now and then, question the road that we’re on and maybe have a quarter and/or middle life crisis. It’s not entirely inexplicable.
Indecision, self-doubt, lack of confidence or motivation are all byproducts of our inner villain. We don’t need to demonstrate a Dexter-complex to know that we can be the number one cause of our own failures and downfalls. Fortunately, there’s a solution: we just have to be aware of this monster inside of us, understand its game plan and overpower its demoralizing voice:
Sometimes, I purposely don’t let myself feel happy, because in some twisted way, I don’t feel like I deserve it. I feel like if I’m happy for more than 2 seconds, some evil in the universe will rain on my parade and laugh in my face for that reason: I am my own worst enemy.
Our critical inner voice is formed from our early life experiences. Without realizing it, we tend to internalize attitudes that were directed toward us by parents or influential caretakers throughout our development. For example, if our parent saw us as lazy, we may grow up feeling useless or ineffective.
The word sabotage may seem too strong when considering how we might treat ourselves but I really believe that it’s accurate for some situations. We do sometimes sabotage our own success or happiness. It’s just a fact. We subconsciously set into motion certain actions or words that we have a hunch will stop growth from happening and then we may be surprised when we don’t see our hopes come to completion. It’s a vicious cycle that some people sadly never orbit out of and find a path of true breakthroughs.
The question at the heart of it all is why? Why would we intentionally, albeit subconsciously, hinder our own lives? There are several possible underlying faulty beliefs.
1.) I Don’t Deserve Good Things:
If in our heart of hearts, we don’t think we deserve to reach our weight loss goal or have an authentic loving relationship, we will do things that make sure we don’t receive these gifts. Many of us grew up with parents who encouraged our growth and the development of a solid self-image but for every child that was raised in an encouraging home, I believe there are more who did not. If we were not brought up to believe we deserve goodness and can achieve it, then we will unknowingly sabotage our adult efforts. We have to come to a deep understanding that we were made to live a fulfilling life and it is our duty to give our best efforts towards that goal. Otherwise, we live with a nagging sense that happiness and personal growth are for other people but not us.
2.) I Will Lose Loved Ones If I Change:
As a counselor I often hear people talk about wanting to make significant personal changes in their lives but they are very concerned about how those around them will respond. This is a real challenge for many people. If we go back to school and better our career, we may lose touch with current co-workers or if we decide to take an honest look at our dependency on alcohol, there is a high likelihood that our social circle would need to be altered in maybe some significant ways. We all know on a gut level that as we make radical or even semi-radical changes in our lives, things around us will shift and not all loved ones will be happy with the new us. I find this really sad honestly and should serve as a red-flag that perhaps some of our relationships don’t have our best interest at the core.
3.) If I Try And Fail, I Will Wish I Had Not Tried At All:
To me this is probably one of the hardest of the self-sabotaging thoughts to identify and therefore hard for us to correct. We lie to ourselves and say that of course we want success in life so this concern is often buried way below the surface and requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves if we are going to pinpoint it as a reason for self-sabotage. This fear plays out in a manner that looks like minimal efforts when better efforts were possible. It looks like taking the slightly easier road all the time rather than going full speed into personal growth. Basically, it looks like laziness, half-baked efforts and slothiness (I think I just turned sloth into a verb but you hopefully get my point). Chronically giving less than our best efforts is the name of the game. We often see this in teenagers who are afraid to put themselves out there and maybe not meet the mark even after having tried really hard. This same thinking follows people into adulthood too.
Whatever the reason may be that we find ourselves being our own worst enemy, there is one simple solution to this trap and that is start taking those thoughts and compare them to a positive view. One of the best exercises is to challenge ourselves to repeat the following:
“I will stop criticizing myself. I will stop sabotaging relationships. I will stop believing lies that I’ve created. I will stop being content with feeling sad/depressed. I will stop worrying about what everyone thinks.
I know this isn’t going to be easy and I’ll probably mess up a lot, but changing how I do life is going to take some time. Changing how I operate in relationships is going to take work.
If you feel like the only person who’s holding you back is you, don’t let yourself get in the way of reaching your fullest potential. Don’t let yourself dictate what you can and can’t do.
Get out of your own head and embrace yourself and life.
Love yourself and love others.