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
I tripped over the uneven sidewalk on my block a month ago, twisting my foot twice trying to prevent the fall. I couldn’t flex my foot without feeling pain. I went home, got in bed, put ice on my foot and fell asleep. Then the building’s central fire alarm went off.
The sheer volume of that alarm is horrifying.
I got dressed in a panic, unable to lay my foot flat, and hobbled down three flights. A frail silver-haired woman carrying a birdcage appeared to be doing just fine and offered help. By the time I reached the bottom, everyone had wanted to help.
I thought the incident would have caused more damage, but the next day, my foot seemed better. I figured if I could hobble down three flights to flee a fire or an ear-shattering alarm, I didn’t need to see a doctor or get an x-ray. In fact, I should continue working out, cooking, cleaning—all the things my OCD tells me cannot wait. (As an aside, my ex-boss said she loved hiring OCD people because they get things done if it kills them.)
The thing is I am always saying you can’t get to the solution of any problem and stay in the solution until you accept the problem. But I didn’t want this inconvenience, this foot injury thing. Summer had arrived. Aside from that, I had deadlines, goals, plans. I said, a few times, this is a bad time for this to happen as if there are good times for it to happen.
It turns out, the pain from a stress fracture typically settles in after a couple of days, but the recovery process is just beginning. If you don’t take care of the injury, it gets worse.
I made the appointment.
An x-ray showed a fifth metatarsal stress fracture with the bone still in place. I didn’t need surgery, but they saddled me with this very expensive and hideous CAM boot.
They also gave me greasy Pain Stat cream. I don’t know how much that cost, but it is very messy, slippery stuff. I didn’t like it.
No one encouraged me to stay off the foot. In fact, the physical therapist said, “Hey if you’re comfortable walking twenty blocks, walk twenty blocks.” No one said anything to me about shoes either. Maybe they thought I would figure it out for myself, but I wasn’t thinking clearly in between all the stress and denial.
It doesn’t take long to figure it out. Walking around the neighborhood with legs of two different lengths and one heavy boot is not good. It throws your hip out of whack, and when you get home, everything hurts—calves, other foot, hip, back, everything but the foot in the boot. I started looking in my closet for shoes to match the height of the boot. I had nothing like that. I threw out my sneakers months ago when I moved. I never wore them.
My chiropractor said the imbalance consequences are common while being treated for this type of injury. She confirmed that the shoe you wear on the other foot, preferably a sneaker, must be the same height of the CAM boot. She also suggested Arnica Gel instead of Pain Stat. It does the same thing without the grease. She further explained that when something like this happens, it causes inflammation throughout your body. You have to eat things that are not inflammatory. So throughout the ordeal, you eat right, rest, ice, be gentle with yourself, and take good care of those other parts like your back. You must send lots of love to your body—TLC.
I went back to the podiatrist and told him about the imbalance problem. Well, they had a solution for that all along but never mentioned it. How do you like that? They gave me an adjustment for the other foot before I left. It was a flimsy rubber thing to put over a shoe. They didn’t seem to care what shoe I put it on or whether it was a close match, and it was another $50. I could have bought another pair of shoes.
I did buy sneakers, and then the boot was comfortable as long as the sneaker and adjustment gadget were on the other foot. That made it even. You feel kind of like a monster walking down the street and a little slow, but nobody’s going to mess with you.
After weeks of compliance, the foot only bothered me when I took the boot off—muscle atrophy.
I got to replace the monster CAM boot with a small ankle/foot brace after only three weeks. My foot was back to normal except for the atrophy. Considering, too, all the footbaths and “physical therapy” they keep giving me without asking… this little mishap was costly. That’s a good incentive for me to pay attention and watch where I am going.
I know that a fifth metatarsal fracture is not the worst thing that can happen to someone. In fact, it’s very low on the list of awful things that can happen. I hope it never happens to anyone reading this, but if it does, I hope sharing some of my mistakes will help.
I’m a happy camper now.
It’s funny, though, realizing what you’d taken for granted—like when I’m listening to music, and I want to dance. You begin to do it, forgetting. Soon I will, though. Be ready.
© Copyright June 12, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission. e/mail