Are you your own worst enemy? Or your best friend? As much as you wish it were the latter, deep down you know the former is probably closer to the truth. Don’t feel bad because you’re not alone in that club. I’ve been there and sometimes find myself slipping back into it, too.
Unfortunately, we think that being our own harshest critic is a positive. That it is a realistic way to live and it allows you to be prepared for the ideas and opinions of others. More importantly, it requires no effort. What you overlook here, though, is that your perceptions and beliefs have a major hand in creating the life you live. While you may not be conscious of it, you have to actively choose to turn off autopilot and steer the vehicle.
Let’s take a look at the signs suggesting that you are your own worst enemy.
• The Wrong Trust
Do you tend to trust the opinions and ideas of others more than you trust your own? If so, it’s a sign that you’re your own worst enemy. Rather than thinking (or standing up) for yourself, you just nod along. It’s important that you learn to trust your instincts. You shouldn’t fall in line with the opinions of others just because they seem confident or forceful. You have your own thoughts.
This doesn’t just apply to opinions on superficial things like movies, food, or even politics. You also need to trust your own instincts when it comes to your perception of your relationships, your career, and even your own identity. If someone offers an opinion on those things that disagrees with your own, speak up.
• The Wrong Values
Are you someone who places more value on the comfort of others? You don’t want to speak your mind because you’re afraid of alienating others. You hold back from getting things off your chest because you don’t want to upset others. You’re making yourself anxious by valuing others over yourself. You can speak your mind constructively, but it may require practice. However, your inability to do this is setting you up as your own worst enemy.
You may need to work with a coach or counselor to learn how to value yourself over others. But it’s something you must do. While there certainly may be instances where someone else should come first, if you’re making a habit of putting others and their comfort or desires ahead of your own, you’re not doing yourself any favors. You deserve to be heard, to be respected, and to be comfortable.
• Unrealistic Demands
Do you place unrealistic demands on yourself? Do you fall flat on your face and wonder why you keep failing? The two are related and your inability to recognize this is holding you back. You don’t need to guilt and shame yourself for failing to meet impossible standards. Go easy on yourself.
Perfection is an impossible goal. And even if perfection isn’t your demand, it’s possible to expect more than you can reasonably do at this time. It doesn’t have to mean you’ll never accomplish it. It just means you might need to set some smaller goals that allow you to get the skills, time, or other resources you need to meet that currently unrealistic demand. Be honest with yourself and be willing to take a step back and take smaller steps forward. You’ll find a lot more success and happiness by doing so.
• Identifying With Your Thoughts
Do you identify with your own thoughts and feelings? Do you fall into the trap of buying into the role(s) you are expected to play in the lives of others? You identify with these temporary things and you overlook the core of who you are as a person. You can’t identify with a feeling, they’re temporary. You can’t identify with how others view you. Whom do you believe you are?
Thoughts and feelings don’t last. Not only do they not last, but you can actively change them. Never identify with them as truth just because they exist in this moment. This is an area where meditation can be really helpful because it can help you learn to observe those thoughts and feelings without identifying with them.
• Waiting for a Savior
Are you waiting for someone else to swoop in and save you? This often manifests in endless complaints with no clear want or desire to make a positive change. Why find a solution when you can loudly suffer and draw attention to your victimhood? It might not be your fault per-say, but it is your problem. Only you have the power to make the necessary changes to take control of a situation.
If you’re waiting for a hero to rescue you, you’ll always be waiting — and you’ll always be miserable and frustrated. If you truly want to stop being your own worst enemy and start being your own best friend, stop waiting for a savior. Be your own savior and rescue yourself from whatever it is you think you need to be rescued from. Not only will it happen faster, but you’ll feel more satisfied having saved yourself.
• No Acceptance
Do you try to police yourself into doing, acting and being better? Do you tell yourself this is a positive thing to do and it’s only about improving yourself? While there is nothing wrong with progress, it’s equally as important to accept yourself as you are. That doesn’t mean that you’re giving up on growth. Policing yourself will only create fear and while your intention may be different, the manifestation is inherently negative.
Instead of trying to force yourself to eat healthier, work out more or harder, go to bed (or get up) earlier, or whatever else it is you want to change, try accepting who you are and where you’re at. Accept that this particular stage is perfectly fine and your life would continue to be perfectly pleasant if this never changed. Once you can accept that, then you can acknowledge the ways in which change might make it better, making you more willing to do the hard things while also making it easier to forgive yourself when you backslide.
Sometimes we self-sabotage ourselves because the opposite forces us to focus on something we’re neglecting. For example, you have an opportunity that will lead to a larger salary. You refuse it because having more money means you can afford to go out and do things. The truth of the matter, though, is that you’ve lost touch with your closest friends, you’re socially awkward, and you will be forced to face up to your loneliness. This is an extreme example, but we are all guilty of self-sabotage to varying degrees. We think nothing of holding ourselves back in one area of life because we’re too scared to address an area being neglected.
Stopping self-sabotage requires being willing to face your fears. It means getting in touch with yourself, admitting the fear even exists, and then confronting it in order to move beyond it. This can be incredibly difficult so it’s important to know that if you struggle with it, it doesn’t mean that you’re continuing to sabotage yourself or that you’re a failure. It just means you need to keep trying until you do succeed.
Being your own worst enemy makes life unpleasant. Being your own best friend makes it a lot more fun. There’s no switch you can flip to go from enemy to friend in a moment, but with time and practice, you can make the change and live a much happier, more satisfying life with a voice in your head that you don’t mind listening to.
Wendy Miller is a Single Mom Coach & meditation teacher. She helps moms use mindfulness and meditation to create the life they really want. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. You can also sign up for her newsletter where she offers more insights, tips, tricks, advice, and information to help single moms find purpose, creativity, passion, and peace.
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