I got you here because of the title of this essay. Plain and simple. It’s Psychology 101. If I title something in a certain way, you are going to click on the link. And lists, recipes and anything that promises a quick fix are top of the list of most viewed articles...
I’ve logged a lot of hours in the pain cave, both self-inflicted and at the hands of others. There is no end to the various ways I have entered the arena with the gladiator that is pain and suffering. Toe-to-toe I found myself constantly returning to this wrestle, to...
There are terms and conditions of the behaviors and patterns you participate in within your own self. We accumulate these patterns over decades of acting and reacting to our world in certain fixed patterns.
In this blog I will list the six sneaky (and highly common) ways people engage in self-sabotage and don’t even realize it. Remember, it’s our unconscious patterns that rule the roost. Start to observe the things you don’t even recognize as unusual.
Defense mechanisms are like your personal department of homeland security; they are taxed with the job of protecting your interior landscape from domestic threats of psychological terror. Defense mechanisms protect you from the intensity of your feelings. Their intentions are always in your best interest, despite the consequences of their tactics. And there are always consequences. It just how it goes.
I work in clandestine realms. Shadowy and furtive by nature, I orbit in the background, the underbelly of your mind.
You will not see me coming.
I’ve infiltrated the velvet ropes and I have free reign over your unconscious landscape. I roam pathways and corridors that even you don’t know exist.
You cannot hear me coming.
I am suspicious of change and progress. I detonate, undetected, as soon as I feel threatened. I live parasitically inside of you.
You will always be caught flatfooted.
My networks are savvy, tactical, and coordinated.
You will not smell, feel, or anticipate my presence.
I am relentless and I am unpredictable.
This is an inside job.
Do you know who I am?
I am sabotage.
There is power in the pivot. Momentum, agility, and instinct converge to create a (seemingly) sudden action that that has the potential to change the course of our life. Literally. The ability to pivot, to course correct, is an integral component of psychological wellness. To master this ability means to re-examine the meaning of failure, disappointment, loss, and self-doubt. Our ability to change our mind, to change our behavior is a critical component to our ability to adapt and adjust. This concept is at the heart of what psychologists refer to as resiliency. Also layer into this notion the idea of emotional agility and grit and you have the making of something profound. But also deeply difficult to achieve, maintain, and sustain.
We all know the overt and obvious ways that fear operates, such as phobias, panic attacks, and the like. But in this blog we are going to examine the covert language of fear. I want you to start to observe how fear is also a master of disguise. It cloaks itself in other more seductive costumes, like bravery, perfectionism, anger, arrogance, people pleasing, FOMO, and adrenaline junkies (to name only a few). Often the very parts of our personality we are most wedded to are simply efforts to compensate for, keep ourselves distant from, or otherwise control fear. And most of the time, because of the power of the unconscious, people are completely unaware of how these dynamics operate in their life.
What’s in there?
Only what you take with you.
I love this scene in Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back because I believe it perfectly illustrates the role of the unconscious in our lives. In this scene, Luke turns to enter a spooky and dark cave and what he comes face to face with is the feared (and unconscious) forces of darkness and anger personified by the presence of Darth Vader. In his vision, he enters in to battle with Vader and eventually decapitates him. The cinematic insinuation is that Luke has deeply unresolved issues related to his own core identity as a man and a Jedi.
What do I mean by the Myth of Specialness? Isn’t everyone special in his or her own right? It’s true. We are all special on a certain level. Everyone has a unique temperament and personality they bring to the world. This is what and how you impart your own unique set of influences and dynamics on the world around you.
I’ll point out the obvious right off the top: Perfectionism is often applauded in our society and I get it. I am someone who is steeped in the art of achievement and accomplishment. I speak that language, intimately, and I have been in the vice grip that is the pursuit of perfection at various times throughout my journey and in various domains of my being.
Anxiety moves in circular motion. Although you are constantly spinning you are never truly gaining traction and moving forward. Perpetual loops of speculation, avoidance, rumination, and worry will hold you hostage to growth and internal contentment.
We call it wisdom, I suppose. Wisdom doesn’t just come with the passage of time though. You don’t “age in” to being wise. It takes decades to achieve that type of interior transformative perspective on life.
I am constantly asked by patients, and now by readers, “Ok. But now what?” The insinuation being, “yes I’ve enjoyed the insight, but what can I do?”
What’s in there?
Only what you take with you.
I had been “seeing” Abby for about 7 months. We were getting to know each other as people often do in those early weeks and months of any relationship.