So, there’s this thing. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time, perhaps even a very long time. I’ve been thinking about it, contemplating the various possibilities, the ultimate outcomes. I’ve been excited, ‘moved’ one might say, there has even been a touch of Brontë-esque longing involved. It’s all well and good I told myself, this is natural, this is how people behave when they anticipate wonderful events.
But then something shifted. As the time drew nearer, a strange thing happened this morning. I started to get a little, uh, defensive, even provocative, scouting out a chink in this shiny armour of splendour about to visit my life. I began looking at the situation from a different angle, seeing that actually what I’m about to do is really quite pointless. From a logical perspective – because all life-changing events are driven by logic – it’s not going to amount to much. There’s no way it could, don’t be a fool! In fact, this is gearing up to be one heck of a momentous and disappointing waste of time. Sure, things will go okay for a bit – possibly – but ultimately it’s not going to workout because it can’t. And if it did – on the off-chance – it would present a whole host of different issues, and frankly, I can’t be assed with those either.
And so on. And so forth.
It was at this point, most likely only a couple of minutes into my mental dissent and the symptomatic precocity it manifested, that I realised what I was doing. Even as I dug myself deeper into the hole – a text message here, a little scowl there – I saw I was setting the wheels in motion for that big Trojan horse of self-sabotage. This idea that if I deal with all the crap now, if I own it now, BEFORE it happens, wholly and fully aware, then I am ‘safe’. I am protecting myself from the real and inevitable disappointment that lays waiting. Because it is waiting, right? It has to be. Yes, though I consciously and clearly knew what I was doing, it still took mental brute force to snap out of it. I still wanted to be negative, because it was something I had control over. I still wanted to push people and things away, you know – just get on with it and speed up the impending and guaranteed car wreck.
So this my friends, this is why self-awareness is so key to everything we do. There was a time years ago when I wouldn’t even have recognised my behaviour as self-sabotage. I would have continued on for a lot longer, provoked myself and others, on and on until I got the reaction I needed, the reaction I created. Until I had fulfilled my prophecy and could move on thinking what a close shave I’d had. Phew, thank God I messed that up before it could go wrong!
Now, however, it’s different. Now, it still happens from time to time, but I’m able to catch it very quickly. And more importantly, in that moment I’m able to make a choice about whether I want to stop being a bit of a d*ck to myself and anyone else involved or, if I want to continue. As you can imagine, it’s really hard to continue – because no one likes hanging around with a d*ck, even if it’s yourself. So, if I can offer one piece of advice, should you find yourself repeatedly experiencing disappointment in your life, it’s this:
Listen to your thoughts when something possibly amazing and life changing is about to occur. Watch your behaviour, feel any levels of resistance or assistance you have within you and acknowledge the reality you are actively creating. Ask yourself, what am I protecting myself against, and is that any worse than the outcome of what I am replacing it with, by acting this way?