When my writing first left the relative safety of WordPress for the great untamed wilds of The Huffington Post, I was elated. The first post hit big and I eagerly sat down that afternoon to read through the rapidly appearing comments.
And for every comment that made me feel good about myself or sorry for someone else, there were two that seemed to be personal attacks. Soon, the excitement I felt about being published was replaced with a sense of discomfort and malaise.
Yet I kept reading. For months, I dutifully read every comment, every review. I carefully weighed each criticism as though it was coming from a known and trusted source.I tried to answer each barbed question and address each complaint. I grew increasing anxious and melancholy.
And then finally there was one comment that broke me open. A stranger claimed that my ex was right to do what he did because I was always nagging and we never had sex. When he referenced the children (I have none), I finally realized it – he was talking to his ex wife, not to me.
Yeah, I can be a slow learner.
It finally registered that I was the problem. Not these anonymous internet commenters. But me.
I was acting as my own worst enemy.
It’s not always easy to recognize when you’re sabotaging yourself. Quite often, the initial injury does come from some external source. And then we remain focused on that even while we are ones choosing to keep our hands in the fire.
Set Limits For Yourself
Part of my problem with the early comment-reading is that I was allowed myself to become consumed, perspective lost and obsession triggered. In an act of kindness to myself, I limited my exposure to a few times a month and only on days when my confidence was high.
If you have a certain habit or behavior that is causing you distress yet you’re not willing or able to give it up completely, begin by setting boundaries for yourself. Decide how much is too much and stay well within those limits.
Watch Your Internal Narrative
When you’re acting as your worst enemy, you often verbally abuse yourself – “I’m not good enough to succeed at this.” “I can’t do that.” “They’re so much better than me.”
Would you talk to another loved one this same way? So then why are you using these words against yourself? Here are some tips on how to edit your personal narrative so that you’re treating yourself more kindly.
Be Alert to Your Fears
Self-sabotage is often achored in fear. We would fail because we chose not to try than fail because we tried and discovered that we were not enough.
It’s okay to admit you’re scared. It’s not okay to allow that fear to control your life. Be aware of those areas where fear is dictating your route and work to regain control of the steering wheel.
Accept Your Locus of Control
Always wanting things to be different is exhausting. Strive to classify struggles in your life as inside or outside your locus of control. If it’s something you cannot change, either let it be or work to alter your response to it. Anything else is simply you beating your head against the wall. And we know how that feels.
Have an Awareness of Your Assumptions
When a friend fails to call you at the regular time, are you the type of person who assumes they were busy or do immediately think that something must be wrong – either with them or even more likely, with you?
If you fall into the second camp (which I think we all occupy at times), pay attention to these stories you tell yourself to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Are you allowing yourself to get caught up in the details of stories that may not even be true?
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
What are the situations, people or actions that make you feel good? Which are the ones that make you miserable?
Which do you spend more time with?
Your answer may surprise you. When we’re acting as our own worst enemy, we often sadistically subject ourselves to situations that bring more pain than pleasure. And social media has made this even more commonplace.
Be Careful What You Nurture
Your energy is finite. Spend it wisely. Whatever you nurture, grows.