I’ll be the first to admit, I get in my own fucking way all the time.
- It takes me forever to finish an article (due to the self-inflicted judgment, shame, and self-rejection), so I have hundreds of uncompleted drafts and article ideas others may never see.
- I have so many unfinished projects (because of my overwhelming anxiety and perfectionism) and often mentally beat myself up for not finishing them.
- I am terrified of going after different contracting opportunities, applying to various job positions, and negotiating for better benefits (due to my fear of rejection) so I settle for positions I’m comfortable with, instead of going after better (more intimidating) opportunities.
- I either dive in too quickly or want to bail when it comes to relationships (because of my fear of abandonment), therefore I struggle building healthy romantic relationships and feeling content.
The truth is, we all do this. We find ourselves in certain situations and wonder, how the F (again, capital F, in case you missed it) did I get here (again)?! Why does this happen to me?? I am a good person God darn it!!!
Well, we can blame the cards we’re dealt with (or worse, ourselves) and remain stuck in this Sisyphus cycle of (self-)torture OR we can take responsibility for the role we play and the choices we made that lead us here. By doing so, we give ourselves the chance of breaking out of mental and psychological prison sentences. No matter how difficult you may think it will be, I hope you can see how liberating reclaiming ownership over your life can be!
You are not doomed to repeating the past (due to semantic behaviors) and can make the necessary choices to change your life!
Stop being a victim
Learning to hold myself accountable for how I spend my time and the choices I make have made a tremendous difference in my well-being. This includes both recognizing the good things (taking time to be grateful for the many blessings in my life and appreciate how much shit I’ve overcome) and the bad things (destructive behavior patterns, toxic relationships, and reactivating to my trauma wounds, all of it). This shift in perspective and extreme ownership has granted me a heightened sense of self-empowerment.
Book recommendation: Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. SO, let’s break out of our outdated behavior patterns so we don’t end up repeating the same mistakes, relationships, and setbacks.
To be clear, I am not advocating for blaming yourself for everything that went wrong in your life. This includes, but is not limited to, abuse, assault, your parents’ divorce, or even that ridiculous mistake you made years ago that still haunts you at night. Many things are out of our control and if it was in the distant past, beating ourselves up for it still won’t change it (no matter how much we want it to). This is not about self-blame but self-responsibility.
What I’m referring to requires deepening our self-awareness regarding our choices, actions (and also, reactions to others), and how we confront our adversities. Doing this allows us to objectively evaluate the role we play in our lives and our capabilities to get what we want. It reminds us we are the main character in our own lives. The one who has the power to make the necessary decisions to direct the story. This can increase our chances of achieving our goals, rather than act as a supporting character, who simply reacts to everything and everyone around us.
Life consists of challenges and hardships. It’s how we proactively face these challenges and reclaim control over our circumstances that reflects our capacity for self-actualization and success.
We have control over our lives, healing, and Personal Development Journey (PDJ). With great intention, compassion, and consciousness, we can optimize our reactions in difficult moments and break destructive behavior patterns. We have the capabilities to correct our societal conditioning, heal our trauma wounds, and rewrite outdated (and limiting) narratives. All of which holds us back, consciously and subconsciously, from getting what we want.
It’s not going to be easy. Frankly, it’s really annoying, difficult, and even lonely addressing these issues because you’re constantly reminded of the work you still have to do, how others failed you, and how you could have done a million things better. That said, the best thing about knowing you are the one who’s been getting in the way of your own process is that you are also the one who can make the biggest difference in your own growth.
Learning to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and reactions when we didn’t know any better breaks us out of a self-destructive cycle. As adults, we know better (or at least, we have access to the tools, resources, and support to know better, like therapy!). This time, we can make difficult decisions that are more aligned with our intentions, sense of self, and goals.
The more practice, patience, and healing (again, therapy will help with this) we utilize, the better we can move forward to building a conscious lifestyle, pathway to success, and strive to be our better selves.
Overcoming our victim mindset can be challenging but absolutely possible when we pivot our perspective. Instead of asking yourself, “why is this happening?” or “why does this keep happening to me?”, ask yourself, “what can I learn from this so I don’t find myself in a similar situation in the future?” and “what was the role I played in this situation up until this point?”
Book recommendation: Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
For many of us, this one’s going to be super challenging, uncomfortable, and feels totally unnatural. This is ironic because our feelings are instinctual and psychological responses that lead to physical sensations. All of which is to say, it’s the most natural thing we can experience and our emotions (and consciousness of them) is what makes us human!
Many of us were taught to suppress our emotions and compartmentalize them with no intention (or knowledge on how) to process them at a later time. Not only do we not know how to label nor understand our emotions, we oftentimes judge them and ourselves for feeling the way we do. This harbors guilt, shame, and self-hatred because we don’t know what to do with our emotions.
Without a safe space to explore our emotions or a support system to validate them, we are improperly equipped to manage our feelings. We end up bottling them up until we psychologically and/or physically can’t handle it anymore. This can result in self-destructive and sabotaging behaviors as we default to what we’re familiar with and simply react (sometimes, uncontrollably) in unfavorable situations. This is made worse when we’re exposed to trauma, abusive behaviors, and/or unhealthy models of self-expression.
When we’re triggered or highly stressed, we need self-soothing techniques to express ourselves through healthy outlets, such as breathing exercises, journaling, meditation, and physical activities (yoga, working out, running, etc). Without it, we are more likely to react uncomfortably when faced with discomfort, stress, rejection, and adversities. This can lead to us being socially shamed, punished, and/or isolated.
It’s unfortunate so many of us are criminalized for not being able to properly express ourselves when we were never set up to succeed in the first place.
Examples of these behaviors include (but are not limited to) punching holes in walls, crying outbursts, and other unexpected releases of emotion (and energy). Does not knowing how to manage their emotions excuse someone’s inappropriate reactions? No, not at all, especially when it’s violent or makes someone uncomfortable. That said, you never know what a person may be experiencing and this is why empathy is so important. So please, when you see someone having a breakdown, please be kind (and safe!).
This is why talking to mental health professionals is so important! They can provide resources and teach you tools to self-regulate. From breathing through anxiety attacks to tips on managing your triggers to creating a safe space to process your trauma. Mental health professionals, such as therapists, counselors, and psychologists, are all trained to help you. As well-intended as your friends and family members may be, they don’t have the same training, experience, and frankly, capacity to do so.
Ultimately, without building a relationship with your emotions, you are doomed to remain in a cycle of fuckery.
Start before I’m ready
As a recovering perfectionist and control freak, I like to be prepared (This is a huge understatement for those who know me personally). I like to know what I’m getting myself into. I ask a lot of questions so I can prepare as much as I can before walking into an unpredictable situation. As much as I love serendipitous moments and spontaneous encounters, I like to be mentally prepared for events, dates, projects, and definitely before agreeing to any commitments. So naturally, it takes me a long effing time to get started.
I know I’m not the only one who procrastinates and gives others (and myself) excuses to not do that thing I said I would do, then drag my feet when it comes to actually pull through. Why do we do this? Well, a few reasons. For me, it’s a fear of failure and not being good enough.
Due to my perfectionism and performance anxiety, I live in this damning narrative. I need to be prepared AF to increase my chances of doing an amazing job. Whether it’s the first time or every time, I feel a sense of pressure to surpass the needs and expectations of everyone involved (I know, it’s an exhausting mindset). If I am not as prepared, educated, or experienced as I would like to be (which is highly unrealistic, especially if it’s my first time doing something or a different experience than what I’m used to), I may not do a good job and it will reinforce the fear that I am not good enough (trauma trigger). Once I get a sense of that, it’s a wrap. I have failed and my emotional world feels like it’s crumbling (again, it’s exhausting but it is something my Therapist and I are working through. Is this a trauma wound for you too?).
Having expectations on what I needed to feel ready or who I needed to be to get started was holding me back. It prevented me from making any progress and enforced a lot of shame and self-rejection. Funny enough, I experienced the same results (in this example, emotions) I would have felt if I tried and failed anyway.
Whether I got started or I procrastinated enough until I was “ready”, I felt like I wasn’t good enough and hated myself for it… This realization, paired with the understanding how the idea of “good enough” doesn’t have to be a finite thing help changed my perspective of my end goal. The end goal for me isn’t to have a successful event, business, or an award. It’s building a global community of Strivers who want to better themselves and make a positive difference. It’s to help destigmatize uncomfortable topics, such as mental health, personal growth, sex, and relationships, due to their taboo and shame association, to allow people to better heal, grow, and learn about themselves and from others. It’s about empowering social entrepreneurs and community leaders all around the world with the technology, funding, and resources they need to solve complex problems and improve the quality of life for their communities. All these things I wasn’t born knowing how to do but I can learn, do my best, and continue to strive towards them.
It took me a while but this newfound compassion for myself, as I strive towards my goals, allowed me to take bigger steps towards my goals. I learned to trust myself enough to figure things out as I go, while still maintaining my curiosity and eagerness to learn. For many of the things we want to do, there are resources out there for us to learn from.
We can strive towards self-actualization, which in turn can help us achieve our goals, all while maintaining self-compassion, acceptance, and enthusiasm.
Many of us want great things in life. This can include having a family, a career in a field we are passionate about, multiple business ventures and philanthropic organizations, make a lot of money, travel, and the list goes on. Whatever it is, we have the capability to achieve them. Of course, every great thing requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and alignment with one’s self (self-actualization) to achieve them. With the power of the internet, social networks, and access to so many great resources, connections, and opportunities, we can empower ourselves to take the initiative to strive towards our goals and build the life we want.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Depending on our limiting beliefs and the socially conditioned narratives we have of ourselves, we get in our own way of doing the work and achieving our goals. By learning to stop playing the victim, embracing your emotions, and starting before you’re ready, you can take big leaps towards your own and break out of the self-sabotaging cycle. You deserve to get what you want. There will be plenty of challenges along the way. You shouldn’t be one of them 😊
I hope these three areas of focus can help you start to reflect on your habits, beliefs, and self-sabotaging behaviors that could be getting in the way. If it does, please approach with compassion and patience. Many of us experienced certain traumas we may not fully be aware of, let alone understand.
Please share what this article may have unearthed for you and how you can start getting out of your own way to achieve everything you want in the comments!