A pattern of self-destruction is one that secretly plagues many of us. I know I’m prone to it. I’ll throw the whole damn baby and the bath water out the window if someone tells me I have to wait for permission.
Dr Julie Garner shared a framework that changed my life.
Getting stuck phase
We all have goals.
Some people have the goal of climbing the corporate ladder. Other weirdos like me have the goal of paying bills forever through online writing.
No matter the goal, there’s always a phase where you get stuck.
Where what you’re doing stops working. Or where progress falls off a cliff out of nowhere and you have no freaking idea why. If you don’t get unstuck then a downward spiral starts.
Frustration then sets in.
You get pissed off. It’s easy to shout at randoms on the internet or blame third-party’s who don’t give a crap about you for the problems they cause.
The frustration can quickly escalate to anger. Anger isn’t sexy. Most of us unconsciously run from angry people. Positivity feels instinctively better so we go hang with wherever that exists instead of playing with angry people.
As the frustration fuelled by anger escalates, more people abandon the scene of your crime. This leads to loneliness.
The loneliness makes everything else feel worse.
Impatience becomes the leading cause for failure. You end up wanting results before you’ve earned them. 5-year goals become in-the-next-5-minutes goals.
The doom loop continues.
Finally, you can’t be assed anymore.
The fight inside is over. Now you just want the pain to F off. So you do what many married people do and settle.
It’s not bad, but it sure as hell isn’t good either. Accepting you’ve hit peak results becomes the driving thought inside a head that’s slowly becoming dead to the idea of progress.
The blinders get fitted to your vision. You stop seeing opportunity. This shuts off possibilities. “That’s just the way it is,” you think.
This is where your brain gets creative.
It starts coming up with convincing arguments about why you can’t have what you want.
“The government is screwed.”
“It’s because they’re privileged and I’m not.”
“They just got lucky.”
“One day I can do it, I tell ya.”
These justifications reinforce the brick wall that has formed around your potential. It’s easier to make silly excuses than it is to try again, get rejected, or even fail.
I stayed in a lifeless job that made me feel dead because of this
The extreme end of this pattern causes many people to work painful jobs they hate deep down.
I worked in banking which tore away at my self-worth. Even though I’d been an entrepreneur before and failed, I was too scared to admit it.
I told myself:
- You can’t write on LinkedIn. It’ll get you fired.
- You can’t have a side business. If the boss finds out he’ll fire you.
- You can’t run a business full-time. It’s too risky. You’ve failed way too many times before.
- Your family will say “I told you so” if you try again and fail like last time. They may not even speak to you anymore.
- The market is saturated. What makes you special? Nothing. Nudda.
Meanwhile, the leaders I worked with told me the opposite. They thought my potential was wasted working in banking.
They didn’t understand why I didn’t write full-time or start another online business. They thought I had a highly creative brain that needed more than spreadsheets and sales calls to keep it alive.
I’d settled for a dead-end job in an industry I didn’t care about, working for a salary that hardly paid my bills. Then I justified this existence with useless evidence that was anecdotal rather than backed by facts.
The solution to the pattern of self-destruction
This pattern is one I’ve seen play out in people I’ve coached for the last 9 years. It brings me to tears when I see it about to destroy its victim.
The solution I’ve found involves the following:
- Understand what this self-destruction pattern is.
- Get help when you get stuck. Try a different path.
- Dare to do new self-learning. Learning creates new dots in your brain that can present a new picture of possibility.
- Get around new people. Sometimes your network can become the walking dead. One idiot after another reinforcing your self-destructive behavior so they can stay safe and keep you down at their level.
- Don’t lie to yourself. Always be honest with yourself and take personal responsibility for what happens, even if the source of fault was an act of god.
- Never settle. Never let second-best be good enough.