Photo cred: LisaBPhoto
We all become conscious, at some point in our lives, of ways we can sabotage our physical well-beings. When it comes to sabotaging our emotional well-beings, and even our financial security and stability, things seem to become more complicated.
Brilliant individuals are sometimes incapable of motivating themselves enough to change their lives or gravitate toward the ideal. They tend to become problem-oriented rather than solution oriented, boxing themselves in with an almost unwillingness to compromise. They may set impossible goals instead of practical ones.
Maybe someone convinced them they didn’t deserve success, or they convinced themselves based on how someone made them feel about their competency or their judgment. Either way, these old tapes keep playing in their heads, telling them they can’t accomplish anything, can’t succeed, can’t win, and there’s not enough to go around. In this predicament, we fear success as much as we fear failure, because they are two sides of the same coin. We keep that coin as a reminder that we don’t trust ourselves with the dreams we cherish or the plans we’ve made.
We tell ourselves we don’t deserve success any more than we deserve money. Perhaps once we get our hands on the latter, we don’t manage it well. I’ve been there. I can attest to the fact that when you finally realize you do deserve these things, you’ll likely find yourself working your tail off, accomplishing one goal after another. We have to be rid of whatever that little voice is in our head that says we can’t do it, and we’re not good enough, and that all this is impossible. We can, we are, and it’s not.
We get into this pattern of self-pitying victimhood. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that we’ve been a victim of something or someone, or expressing anger about it, and shedding tears. We have a right to our grieving process. But sometimes we get use to the payoff—attention, pity, praise, the temporary ego fix. So instead of becoming solution oriented, we become more and more problem oriented, more and more likely to want an audience of sympathizers. And we get stuck there because solving problems would take that attention away and whatever else we get from being constantly burdened. It’s not that we don’t deserve to be comforted. It’s that we don’t move forward. We don’t get better.
This pattern normally goes hand in hand with excessive worry about people and things. Social media is a perfect example, because it mirrors life. I have seen people in a pattern of deactivating accounts only to resurface in a matter of days. Sometimes it may be that they legitimately need a break, but very often it’s because expectations are not being met. People are not responding to them in a way they could perceive as favorable. They’ve made assumptions about what people think or what someone meant, and after a considerable amount of time wasted on obsessive worrying, they take a drastic action to disengage. When they come back, it’s because they need to try it all again. They have too much riding on acceptance. It’s all self-defeating because we create unrealistic expectations, and we tend to assume wrong. Comparing and assuming tends to cause more mental anguish than is warranted or bearable. All we can do is be who we are, our ever-improving version of that.
Many stress about their looks, their bodies. Perfect is boring, and there is beauty beyond someone else’s chosen ideal. Beauty does, indeed, come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and people will have all sorts of opinions on what looks good. In fact, I realized at one point, that I never cared if someone didn’t like the hair color I chose. I knew how I wanted to look. I would never consult anyone about it, not even my significant other. So if we are trying to satisfy ourselves rather than appeal to every single person on the planet, we should set the standards for ourselves not appease clothing designers, the model industry, or the men who rate women on AskMen.com. Because when we’re finally okay with how we look, imperfections and all, we exude the confidence we need to get oh just about anything. And if that’s not enough, we get to focus more on being the best human we can be. When we finally love who we are, we learn to respect ourselves and treat ourselves better.
While it’s normal to want attention and approval, it’s the excessive, almost desperate need for it that can destroy us if we let it. People take unnecessary risks for the fix without realizing. They may trust the wrong people, throw caution to the wind, make excuses for bad behavior, cling to people who have repeatedly demonstrated the harm they’re capable of inflicting upon others. We don’t even realize that the payoff is attention we craved, validation we needed, admiration we couldn’t resist. Because it comes at just the right time, and creates such a bondage that we continue to crave it from a dangerous source.
Sometimes it’s less extreme. We try to be generous with people regarding our time, our attention, our praise, but we do this with relationships we don’t honestly want to nurture because we want to be nice. I find that when people want to be nice or perceived as nice, they immediately have expectations and create obligations. Then, on top of the resentment about doing something they don’t want to do, and the expectations or obligation that likely won’t be met, they go from ‘nice’ person to fire-breathing dragon in a matter of seconds. So what happens next is far from what they initially intended. People get hurt.
Well, it’s okay not to want to be friends with everyone. It’s okay to feel emotionally exhausted and want to have only genuine relationships. It’s okay to walk away when you’re not feeling it, not trusting it. It’s okay to save that overflowing generosity of spirit for those who matter to you. You can still do nice things for others along the way if you want. Quite simply, it doesn’t have to be like wearing a thorny crown while carrying a cross over your back.
I’ll say this. The more I become aware of how people think (thanks to social media), I tend not to want to meet any more people or reconnect with people from the past. I’m happy to avoid everyone outside my window… even while loving to hear them all out there—the comforting humdrum. Isolating can be a peaceful, healing thing, but it can also be another way of self-sabotaging if we don’t check it. I’ll admit, I have to push myself to get out there and deal with the world as it is, on its terms. Whether I like it or not, it’s necessary. I’ve had to accept that I’m not always going to be comfortable, and I’m not always going to be safe.
I still believe, though, we have to take our time getting to know people, especially when we are very empathetic. Because while we can recognize serious issues people have, our compassion for what they’re dealing with can override any need to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, we have to because these people can hurt you and will do so again and again. We need to pay attention. We need to be careful. We have to stop tolerating disrespect under the guise of being noble and humble. That only creates a perception of some superior self that is false. Yeah, we want to be the nice guy, but if we are real with others, we become something better than ‘nice’. We are kind.
I’ve come to believe that one of the best things we can do in life is heal the vulnerabilities that make us susceptible to all this self-sabotage. Once we find the courage to seek answers, then acknowledge, accept, feel, cry and release anger, we heal, we learn, and then we grow and evolve. It’s an ongoing thing that just keeps getting better. We deserve that.
Of course, life would be so much easier if we could make a habit of staying in the moment and being fully present in that moment. We wouldn’t be worrying about what happened yesterday or an hour ago, or what’s going to happen tomorrow. I have to remind myself constantly, but it works particularly well in moments of crisis and panic. A wise friend taught me to stay in the solution. Think about what you can do at that moment, not what you can’t do. Control what you can. Amazing how that helps.
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Obviously, there is a stigma when it comes to narcotic addiction. So when a drug addict gets sick or overdoses, it’s easy for some to distance themselves or conclude that it happens to specific groups comprised of losers. I’ve often heard the line that it’s a lifestyle choice, or God punishes the “bad” people. Those who believe that tell an entirely different story when they are the victims of some tragic fate.
What a holier-than-thou world it’s become.
As far as I’m concerned, the only bad people are those who deliberately and repeatedly harm and destroy others.
Seriously, I wish people without any addictions and those who claim “other” addictions would stop acting so smug and being so callous. How about gratitude when we’re not afflicted with something or another?
Everyone has weaknesses.
Some who readily toss others in the “loser” category tend to forget the long list of known addictions. They may be familiar with the most obvious ones—alcohol, over the counter medications, gambling, work, food, smoking, caffeine, internet, etc. I remember the sanctimonious politicians who never thought much about their sex, fetishes, and porn addictions until caught with their pants down. Many people readily accept codependency and its’ related addictions to ego, attention, approval, people pleasing, perfection, and drama. Then there are the adrenaline junkies, the exercise fanatics. People become obsessed with plastic surgery, crime, sugar, television, video games, greed, lying, even isolation. The list goes on and on, which means most of us are addicted to something or another at some point in time. It is all about the obsessions that cause dysfunction in our lives because obsessions impair judgment and distort perception.
One might say, well I don’t hurt anyone doing what I do, and drug addicts hurt “innocent” people. First, you may not even realize that your addiction has hurt others. And yes, there are drug addicts who endanger lives. There are also non-drug addicts who do that, and there are drug addicts who don’t intentionally seek to harm anyone.
For the most part, people with addictions are innocent, too.
Why look down on anyone who is suffering?
And, yes, they are suffering. Those of us who have fought to save a loved one or have lost a loved one know this heartrending struggle too well. Whether it is physical or emotional, they are in pain—quite often agonizing pain.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a “primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.” Many people still reject this theory while others see it as more of a personality disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is not only a complex disease but also a mental illness.
I believe it is all of these things.
But even if someone can dismiss the facts and theories, there is one thing that’s difficult to dispute if you’ve had any involvement with addicts or addiction. They have a common denominator. They’re often trauma survivors.
I’m sure the whole mental illness aspect makes some people uncomfortable, too, even though it is a broad spectrum with different degrees of functioning levels. It’s easy to shun and deny, and that only creates more problems.
The Kim Foundation cites that “an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older or about one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.”
I’ve heard someone say, God’s perfect love casts out fear and almost in the next breath go on to condemn another person out of fear.
Well, I say this. Whatever is behind addiction, people die intentionally, accidentally, and from related diseases, and they are often denied in death the acceptance, understanding, and unconditional love they may have also been denied in life.
Among that group of individuals, we’ve lost some of the kindest people who ever lived. I know I have.
Featured image by Roya Ann Miller
© Copyright May 9, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.