Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.
Last update: 15 November 2021
When we become our own worst enemy, everything starts to go wrong. Our thoughts are poisoned darts and we fall into the most ruthless and destructive self-criticism. Almost without realizing it, we build a wall that traps us; we begin to implement dozens of defensive strategies, in the belief that in this way no one can hurt us, but limiting our life to the impossible.
Before delving into the discourse of inner enemies, let's ask ourselves a simple question. When was the last time we made it worse to avert or defend ourselves from a situation?
This is how, for example, those who are afraid of being hurt in their feelings behave and decide to remain cold and detached, thus losing opportunities they will regret. Or those who let themselves be guided by excessive worry, by the worm of doubt, by paralyzing fear, only to discover that what he feared so much was not so serious and could even be wonderful, if only he dared.
If these situations are familiar to you, you know what it means to "shoot yourself in the foot", to live with strains that limit your steps and favor negative results. Believe it or not, self-sabotage is a very common attitude that we should learn to keep in check.
"Not even your worst enemy can hurt you as much as your uncontrolled thoughts"
Be Your Enemy: When an army of fierce opponents invade the mind
Marco started working in a new company. He is excited about his position, but at the same time he feels overwhelmed by worry; he fears he is not up to it. His anxiety about him and his need to appear efficient and productive are such that he immediately started working overtime and being very competitive. He focuses on his goals almost with the strength of despair.
This dynamic is causing two situations: the first is a bad relationship with colleagues, the second is that the management sees in Marco a person unable to work in a team. Finally, his fear of not giving the company a good image of himself has materialized.
How, then, do we arrive at this dynamic? What psychological processes drag us into such a common personal drift? Believe it or not, most of us have a small battalion of ferocious enemies in the mind, who are sometimes given too much power. The enemies are the following.
When you become your own worst enemy, an army of fierce adversaries invade your mind and hinder your personal growth.
Our inner enemies
- The first inner enemy capable of transforming us into our worst enemy is doubt. We are not referring to that occasional doubt that allows us to make deliberate decisions. We are talking about the continuous doubt that paralyzes, the useless one and that gradually leads us to immobility and a zero capacity to react.
- Excessive worry. This is, perhaps, our true "nemesis", a shadow that often haunts us, that punishes us by giving everything a terrifying shade, leading us to formulate, for every event or situation, a negative forecast.
- Indecision. Who has never felt indecisive? This feeling is completely normal if, over time, it is followed by an act of trust, a courageous gesture that cancels fear. If, on the other hand, indecision is constant, we find ourselves in an unhealthy personal reality.
- The need to always compare ourselves with others. Anyone who has already experienced it knows how useless it is. It is almost like wearing glasses that show us only people who are more successful than us, more skilled, more attractive, more competent. What is the use of seeing the world with this perspective? Obviously only to humiliate us and destroy our self-esteem.
Stop being your own worst enemy: how to do it
Becoming our best allies requires adequate inner work and we must invoke an often forgotten entity: self-love. This task, this delicate craft work requires the ability to operate in distinct areas, in precise dimensions of our personal growth. Here are some thoughts:
Identify unnecessary self-criticism
Imagine having a sensor, a detector of useless thoughts. Imagine programming it with this command: block all thoughts that begin with "you can't", "you won't get anything", "it's not for you", "better leave it alone", etc.
We then need to refine our detector so that it also blocks distorted thoughts like "if you have failed in the past, chances are you will fail now too".
What image do we have of ourselves?
Think about it for a moment and try to put it in writing: define yourself, describe the image you have of yourself.
Past mistakes or failures are human
Courage is not someone who avoids making the same mistakes; courageous is he who learns from them and allows himself to try the same undertaking again to obtain the desired result. Let us therefore try to see failures as something normal and even acceptable, as a means that will allow us to obtain more tools to face the future.
Last but not least, we assume a more intimate attitude with ourselves and above all, more affectionate. There is no point in hurting ourselves, closing doors and windows until there is no light and air. Life is full of possibilities, but we must feel that we deserve the best. We choose excellence and push our fears away.