Villians may make the story, but let me ask you - what happens when YOU'RE the villian? It is possible to sabatoge yourself and self help experts and gurus will be the first to say that very often, the only thing we fight more than other people is ourselves.
It's true that we can fall into bad thought and behavior patterns that can sabatoge our own best efforts. In fact, this is a topic I'm pondering for my next book. The idea I'm working on is about a woman that compromises her integrity While she does struggle with other people and there will be a clear antagonist that will aid her in this endeavor, the true enemy is herself. The real battle is in how her thoughts and perceptions influence her actions and attitudes. And, in my classic fashon, it will turn toward mystery with a supernatural creature (I'm considering a djinn), a way-out-there-where-the-hell-did-that-come-from turn of events and, of course, a twist somewhere. Geeze, I hope I'm not becoming my own worst enemy by becoming cliche or (gulp!) predictable after 4 books. Hmm, it might be time to mix it up a bit. We shall see.
I feel this is a good theme to run with because I've seen it over and over, not only in other people but in myself. We all have tendencies that work against us, and the devil loves to use them. Fear is a pretty universal one that we all struggle with. We get scared and that pushes us in all kinds of places we don't intend to go: Stagnation, laziness, complacancy - heck, I call fear "the devil's shovel" because it's a handy tool he uses in us to dig those ruts we find ourselves in.
Our emotions can also get us into trouble. Whether we realize it or not, emotions are learned. YES THEY ARE! When we have an emotional response to something the first time it happens, we tend to continue to have THE EXACT SAME RESPONSE every time it happens after that. They can become conditioned. For example: You have an annoying friend that tends to call you every Tuesday at 3:00. Tuesdays are busy and you tried to explain that but they don't get it, so after the first 2 calls you grow annoyed with them. So how do you feel the third week when the telephone rings at 3:00? You get annoyed, right? Before you even pick it up, you associate a 3:00 call on a Tuesday with that person that annoys you, and just the sound of that phone ringing at that time makes you angry. Maybe you wise up on Week #3 and don't answer but you're still angry when the phone rings. How dare them, you think, without even answering this week - but still, you're mad because they made you mad the last 2 weeks. So we do learn many of our emotional responses.
Another way we sabatoge ourselves is through wrong thoughts. This falls into that same pattern where we learn emotional responses. We do something and one or two people have an unfavorable response to it, so we avoid it in the future because "that doesn't work out." This is something I struggled with a lot when I went through my job transfer. I was at my former place a long time, so when I moved I tended to assume the people at the new place would have the same reactions and attitudes as the people at the old place. For example, the former place where I worked didn't think much of my writing. They didn't like it and even told me that it wasn't company related and to keep it out of the office. So when I moved I assumed my new colleagues would feel the same. I had to fill out a "dual employment" form when I got my book contract for Blurry, so I turned it in as quietly as possible. Imagine my surprise when my boss called me in her office and asked me to tell her more about my writing! She loved that I was doing it. In fact, it turns out that many other people there have "side ventures" and the agency regularly featured these on their internal website - they even featured me when Blurry was released and shared the link to my Amazon.com profile. (In fact, they sent out an email earlier this week asking if anybody had news or accomplishments to report so they could celebrate it at our employee appreciation picnic in a few weeks.) I was absolutely shocked by how enthusiastic and supportative my colleagues were, especially when I spent so many years in a place where I was ordered to keep it quiet. It took a while for me to get used to that, but it also made me realize the other areas where I had wrong thoughts. Even after 2 years I still struggle with that and have to stop and tell myself "remember, they aren't the same people and don't see things the same way. Be fair." Thank Got I realize it and am working through it.
Yes, there are many ways we can be our own worst enemy, and we really have to guard against that. Sometimes we even project our own faults and reactions on others - but this entry is long enough, so let's save that for next time!
I'll close with a challenge - think about it. Are there any ways where you are your own worst enemy? Do you have thoughts or reactions that work against you? Think it over. It's worth it because really, these are easy things to correct. Often just stopping and realizing it is the path to breaking the pattern.
That's all for today. Happy Friday and I hope you have a great weekend.
I don't know about you, but I get frustrated with people that complain about their life all the time, but they do absolutely nothing to change the things that they complain about. Perhaps I'm oversimplifying things, but it seems that if you're truly miserable then you'd at least try to change the situation, right?
Well, I do but it seems I'm in a minority. It seems there are a lot of people out there that are comfortable with the ruts they're in. And I wonder, maybe, if they fear what it might mean to stick their necks out and pursue a change. After all, where they are might not be a "happy place," but it's familiar. There are a lot of people that fear change, and the unknown.
I know my recent experiences have shaded my perception in this area. I used to fear change too. Yes, I was one of those complainers. My former boss found it quite amusing, in fact, But if she could see me now, she wouldn't know me. I've found nothing but change around every corner for the past 2 years. I expect it now. In fact, now if it doesn't happen then I wonder what the hell's going on because something must not be right for things to stay the same for, oh, more than a little while. It's amazing how life and reality can beat the fear right out of you, and mold you into a whole new creation. I used to say "oh no!" to change. Now I say "so what?" It's pretty normal for me. And while I won't say that I'm fearless - yes, I do feel some anxiety over the unknown - I'm not frozen by it. I've seen my faith grow in proportion to the reality of my life and find myself much more flexible and less fearful than I used to be, even 3-5 years ago.
So I suppose that explains why I'm not very patient with complainers. I've been forced to adapt with change. With changes in my job. With changes in the family. With changes at church. With changes in my friends due to these transitions and losing 3 of them to cancer. Yes, I said I lost 3 friends to cancer. That was not a typo. And all in a period of 15 months while everything else in my life was looking like a clown's juggling act too. Maybe that explains why I was disgusted with hearing somebody earlier this week complaining about something bad that happened to them years ago - like over a decade ago. I was appalled. Either they have a very thin hide or their "life pain" file is at a low level that I envy. Life hasn't hesitated to beat me with a baseball bat from time to time, so I suppose I'm not very sympathetic to the delicate souls with low emotional resilience.
Honestly, though, I do think we get used to talking and talking and talking and not doing. I know I'm guilty, so I really can't point at the splinter in others' eyes when I have that log in my own. It's taken real life to show me that true value isn't in words, but in the actions that back them up. In fact, I was under a therapist for a while a few years back and one of the first things she told me is "don't listen to words, look at actions. People lie with their mouths, but they act on truth." Man, that got a lot of people in trouble with me. They did not appreciate that jewel of wisdom. But it also convicted me to look at the match between my own words and actions and lo and behold, I did see a rift. I've worked very hard over the past couple of years to be more mindful of this by ackowledging how I really think and feel, defining my true values and boundaries, and ensuring that my actions match my thoughts and words. It's not always easy because we live in a society that tells us to do whatever it takes to make others happy right now, and work around it later, but it's an easier way to live. And really, I believe it really makes having relationships with others easier too. I've noticed that my relationships have improved drastically since I was mindful of this. Of course, excercising discernment has also helped, but that's an entry for another day.
I guess I just wish that others were as honest with themselves and would do this kind of inner exploration. Look within and find the truth. When you complain, are you really unhappy? If so, you'll try to change it. Even the act of trying to change it will help make you happier because you know you're doing something, and doing something is always better than doing nothing. But if you aren't, then admit that you're temporarily frustrated, but that you still believe the benefits of whatever's pricking blood out of you now outweigh the frustration of piercing your emotions.
I think that in the end, it boils down with being honest with ourselves, and letting that trickle down into being honest with others. And that always leads to better and more stable relationships. Anything built on truth will last.
That's all for today. Happy Friday to you. I hope you have a great weekend.