I knew from the way she was looking at me that I was in for it. One eyebrow cocked up, her eyes narrowed as she started to speak. Oh, did she speak. She, a very dear friend of mine, called me out. Royally. The diatribe started with – “Why do you insist on sabotaging yourself?” On to – “Stop giving me your damn excuses about not having time to write and start telling me why you insist on selling yourself out.” Then – “Thank the heavens your talent far exceeds your confidence and need to play it safe!” Finishing finally with – “You need to take it to the next level and stop looking for all the reasons why it isn’t a good idea.”
A comeuppance she gave me – and I love her for it.
I love people who lay truth on me. I love people who care enough about me to tell me when I am screwing up. I may not want to hear the truth but I always need to hear it. It may make me angry. However, I have learned that when someone tells me something I have been neglecting to tell myself and I get angry – they are probably right. I’m not angry at them, only at myself.
I love people who make me think.
She made me think. A lot. She brought something out into the light that on some level I knew I had been doing, I just didn’t want to own it. She knew I needed to see it, to hear it said out loud or I would continue on like an ostrich with my head buried in the sand.
Setting our own selves up to fail. Repeating actions over and over and expecting different results. Repeating unhealthy behaviors. Going back again and again to people who hurt us. Not taking chances. Not trusting ourselves completely. Playing small when we know we have what it takes to go big but allow the fear to keep us safely on the side lines. Cheating ourselves because it is easier than either taking a chance or stepping outside our comfort zone. Giving in to our doubts, our self-loathing and not shining as brightly as we possibly can because we almost fear the good more than we fear the bad. The act of living becomes a day to day habit. We grip routine and hold it tight. It’s known. We are unhappy, unfulfilled and lonely. We take two steps forward and three steps back. Over and over. Again and again.
We are locked in a power struggle with ourselves and instead of coming out victorious, we sabotage the things we know we need to do in order to move on, move up and totally embrace who we are and what we want from this one life we have.
Why do we do this?
As much as we blame the world, circumstance or history on why things are the way they are, the question remains; “What are we doing to change them?” Often times, we start off strong, ready to make the necessary changes in our lives in order to achieve what we want, only to sabotage ourselves and go back to square one – defeated. We can come up with a multitude of excuses, this happened or that, but the black and white truth of the matter is – we didn’t want it enough. If we did, we would move mountains to accomplish our goal. If we wanted it enough – nothing could stop us for long. No fear, self-doubt or setback strong enough to knock us down forever. We would get back up and keep going. Every single time. We wouldn’t go forward only to go backwards. We would make a conscious effort to build our confidence on the way, with each minor achievement. Instead, we don’t even allow ourselves to get to that point. We sabotage ourselves in a myriad of ways and come up with fancy excuses to cover.
That is a hard truth to swallow. Believe me, I know. As I write it I can feel myself getting angry and the excuses are quick to the tip of my tongue. But, I quell them. Because I know, deep in my gut, that if I stopped self-sabotaging, I could reach levels I have only dreamed about.
I need to get out of my own way first.
After so many false starts, I’ve watched a dear friend of mine finally overcome her debilitating shyness and lack of self-confidence so that she could enroll in college at the age of 30. Watching her pull her shoulders back and face her fears has been awe inspiring. Hearing the determination in her voice, the strength behind her words when she declares that she will accomplish this, regardless of the obstacles, fires me up for her. I know how hard she has struggled in the past. But piece by piece she has built a foundation on which she will build the life she deserves. Nothing is going to stop her now. Because, she believes. Believes in her worth, ability, and, for the first time ever – herself.
I have another friend who keeps going back to a guy who treats her like crap. He is selfish, arrogant, demeaning and immature. Yet, she keeps him in her life. When I asked her why her response was that she didn’t want to quit. She needed to keep trying to make it work. She has never quit anything in her life.
When I said to her that yes she has, she looked at me challengingly and demanded to know when. So sure of the fact that she wasn’t a quitter. I looked at her in the eye and point blank told her that she had quit on something so important, valuable and amazing, it hurt my heart for her. She had quit herself. By sabotaging her own happiness, self-worth and heart by letting this man stay in her world.
She had determined his worth was more than her own. By silencing her voice, by giving into his bad behavior again and again, she quit on herself.
We quit on ourselves. All the time.
We allow people to hurt us. We cheat on diets. We lie to ourselves that we are happy, when our heart and soul know the truth. We silence our voices when we need to speak up and shy away from greatness because we do not trust our ability to shine. We continually travel the boundaries of our comfort zones because different is scary. The threat of failure is scary. The world is scary. We may get hurt. We may not succeed. We may end up alone. This or that could happen. We compare ourselves to others, people who seem to be “doing it” and feel ashamed because we have not. We sabotage ourselves before we even start or worse – after we take those first tentative steps.
We give into our fear. We give in to our obsession with playing it safe. We second guess ourselves to the point our feet become concrete and we retreat back into the darkness. We continue to allow people to hurt us. We continue to make the same mistakes over and over. We continue to feel the emptiness that lives inside our soul and dream about doing something about it, and then, we talk ourselves out of doing something about it.
Look for the ways you sabotage yourself. Listen to your inner voice. The one you silence on a regular basis. Honor it. Don’t make yourself a victim of your own demons. Fight them. Your strength will come. Your confidence will grow because you will realize you gain nothing by selling yourself out. You are worthy. You are capable. Know it. Embrace it. Live it.