Huffpost GPS for the Soul

How To Not Sabotage Yourself

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By Sam Ferrigno for

Imagine that we actualize a dream: A mate to start a family with, a job that challenges and fulfills us or even a pair of pants that look halfway decent. The dominant voice in our head is neither the angel nor the demon on either shoulder; it’s the one in the middle, the neurotic love child of good and bad conscience telling us that yes we want those things but no we can’t have them. With all the right intentions, we often forbid ourselves from seeing them through and actually being happy.

To keep from cutting yourself at the knees keep these things in mind:

1. Don't apologize until you've done something wrong.
Things that warrant an apology are offensive remarks, being late or not offering the last curry puff to someone else before inhaling it. When you’re nervous because you’re not used to dating, or your hair isn’t reacting to the humidity very well, you’re in the clear. You can’t control the weather, and not being good at something the first time is an innately human trait. Don’t sentence yourself before you commit the crime.

2. Beware of enabling fiction.
An enabling fiction is something we tell ourselves to avoid taking responsibility for something. When you decide to not take the amazing job of your dreams in Chicago because you’ve become too attached to the coast-line, you’re creating an enabling fiction: You’re allowing yourself to avoid the responsibility of actually engaging your dream and realizing that, like every job, it will be difficult. Knowing the grit of a dream job is better than holding on to they fluffy version trapped in your head.

3. Expect to be asked for more.
The problem with doing something well is that people will want you to keep doing it. Eventually, they’ll want you to do it better than the first time. An old professor of mine was asked what he was going to write next the same week he published a book. All he wanted was to be left alone. “I just wrote a book, damnit!” he wailed. That’s the price of being good at something: People (especially your boss) will want more. The road to greatness is paved with requests for something better.

4. Know that you are going to fail -- and you should.
If you ever want to train yourself to avoid error, give yourself the chance to make it. If you do, the ensuing mortification will burn a failsafe into your mind. A party planner never forgets the silverware after his guests eat soup with their hands and and a soldier hits the ground faster after she’s shot the first time. Failure feels bad, but it will create callouses on you like a shield and armor.

5. Remember that we all came into the world with the same amount of experience.
No one is born better than you. When you meet someone who makes you feel (and maybe to no error of his own) of lesser quality, turn your gaze inward. Consider the possibility that your own life has given you experiences that his hasn’t. Realize that he also was born without a clue and that it’s possible for you to live up to whatever standard he has reached. Consider him a role-model rather than someone who is simply “better.”

For more on motivation, click here.

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