Self-Sabotage and me…and maybe you…?

stop-self-sabotage-subliminal
So, he loves me. I’m still wrapping my head around that actually, and everyone knows I have a huge head so this is going to take awhile. But he loves me. He actually said it. And I actually believe him. Now that he’s said it, my job is to NOT do what I have done in every aspects of my life – to NOT self-sabotage this wonderful thing that has entered my world and illuminated the dimness I existed in for much of 2012 as I healed from a lot of emotional trauma. That is what this blog is about – self-sabotage.

Self-sabotage should be my middle name. I’m damned good at it. I have a PhD in self-sabotagery, top of my class, summa-cum-laude-of-fucking-my-own-good-fortune-up. It has been one of the things I have done with amazing consistency throughout my life. The worst part of all is that I can’t even say that I didn’t realize I was doing it. Sure, at first I didn’t quite get how I was my own biggest obstacle. But even after I came to fully understand all the ways both big and small I sabotaged myself, I continued to do it.Self-sabotagery is a liar. It is a thief. It has told me things about myself that were totally untrue, and robbed me of much that was given to me.

self-sabotage-icon

Self-sabotagery has never let me exist in a moment of pure unadulterated enjoyment. It has never let me close my eyes and breathe in joy when it has surrounded me, not even for a nanosecond. Some would say this has meant I’ve always strived for excellence and that I’ve never settled for less than that. They would say this has meant I’ve never rested on my laurels and accepted sub par anything. I guess that’s true to a small degree. But let me be very clear – more often than not it has meant me picking apart things that were just fine as they stood in my life, usually ruining them forever. It has meant me not appreciating my accomplishments and never finding even a moment of peaceful contentment in anything I’ve done. Self-sabotagery has caused me to find more dissatisfaction in my life, in myself, in my relationships than anything. I have torn down many things that could have been successfully built upon if I had been willing to leave them intact and allowed them to grow. I have destroyed relationships I could have salvaged and made whole and good had I been willing to be more accepting of the flawed humanity we are all blessed AND burdened with. I have pushed when I needed to rest, and I have pressed when I needed to fall back. The minute I have ever been happy with ANYTHING or ANYONE in my life, the awful little self-sabotaging voice came into my head with whispers of “is this good enough?” “can’t you do better?” “you can’t possibly be okay with just this?” or worst of all “yeah its great, but are you SURE you deserve it?”

When my self-sabotagery isn’t squarely focused on my unrealistic desire for and pursuit of perfection, its next target is my self-worth, or lack thereof at times. I self-sabotage because I’m always feeling unworthy of whatever joy, pleasure or success happens to cross my path. When blessings, good forture, or pure good luck show up, I feel like I didn’t work hard enough to get it, or that there were others more deserving, or that I simply am too awful a person to have something good happen to. In any moment in my life when I felt happy, or more importantly, AT PEACE, I was always feeling like my happiness wasn’t something that should be a part of my life. There was always something more I needed to do, or someone out there I cared about who wasn’t happy that I needed to be concerned about or caring for. I wasn’t allowed to be happy until everyone and everything around me was in total and perfect order, and set into that total perfect order by me personally. – then PERHAPS I could have a moment of glory. The idea that happiness just might happen to find its way to me due to some grand random shift in the universe wasn’t even something I could entertain.

And as a result, I have always not seen good, just bad. I’ve always seen the troubles, not the triumphs. I’ve always seen the dark, not the light. I’ve always commended myself for being a “realist” because I recognized the bad, the troubles, the darkness. I’ve been proud of my unwillingness to see and acknowledge sunshine when it showed up in my world. Self-sabotagery never allowed me to evaluate anything I ever did in a positive way. It always showed me what I hadn’t said, hadn’t done, hadn’t handled, hadn’t addressed. It never allowed me to appropriately feed myself positive reinforcement. It would only let me feel I had somehow sold myself short, and because of this I was not worthy of whatever success I had achieved.
My skillful self-sabotage also kept me from taking chances. It always told me I wasn’t capable of the things I wanted to try. My self-sabotage made my comfort zone a really great place to be, and it always made sure I would never want to leave it. It adorned it with people who “loved” me, people who “lovingly” encouraged me to not take unnecessary risks, to be safe and secure and practical and reasonable in every aspect of my life. I can’t even say these people were mean to me – quite the contrary. Often they treated me very well and made sure I was very much comfortable with my decision to maintain my safe place of being and safe way of living. And though I may have been secure, I certainly was not happy. How could I be, when I had not taken a chance on being happy, only on being safe?

YOU ARE YOUR BIGGEST OBSTACLE

I pushed away people who loved me because I felt I didn’t deserve their love. I pushed away opportunities offered me because I felt I wasn’t ready to tackle them. I pushed away friends who wanted to be there for me because I was independent and didn’t need anyone. I pushed away family because I felt they wouldn’t understand my strange and unorthodox life as an artist and a creative person. I pushed away lovers whose only crime was that they wanted all of me, not just the crumbs I offered. All of it was self-sabotage, all of it. All of it was me, my doing, my fault, my responsibility.

So now that life has seen fit to bring me someone willing to love me with an open heart, an open mind and an open spirit, which is all I ever wanted, how do I not self-sabotage? How do I keep from shutting down, turning away, pushing him away, doing all the things I’ve done all my life that have kept me from really being close to anyone.

The most important thing I’ve done is that this time, finally, I am standing still.

she-believed

I’m always busy. Always moving. Always doing something, and looking for the next ten things to do. Always thinking, analyzing, calculating, measuring, estimating and re-calculating as I’ve gotten new ideas, input and information. With him I am learning to stand still. To not think. To not analyze. To not examine. I am learning to just be. And not just with him – I’m slowly teaching myself to apply that lesson to every part of my life. When I don’t think, I don’t have time to think about whether I deserve what I have. I just enjoy what I have. When I don’t analyze, I am not picking apart the fibers of what I have. I am just admiring what the fibers make when they come together. With him, it means not always thinking about why he is who he is, or how he came to be with me, or what he thinks of me. It has meant learning to let things be, let them lay, let them breathe. It has meant truly embracing the idea of not trying to fix things that aren’t broken. For me it has also meant embracing the idea that not everything is broken, and I’m not always the one who should fix things IF they are broken.

It has meant a certain level of acceptance, EVEN IF I see things that need improving. It has meant learning to inhale and exhale deeply, to the bottom of my soul so I can fully deliver life-sustaining oxygen to every part of my spirit. It has meant resting, looking up, looking around, looking into the eyes of everything surrounding me and seeing it without constant evaluation and critique. Stopping my self-sabotage has meant learning to make my spirit still, quiet and unmoving instead of allowing it to constantly bounce around from thing to thing, finding fault recklessly and moving on, leaving my discontentment in its wake. Stopping my self-sabotage has meant being slow – slow to blame, slow to assume, slow to conclude, slow to react – IF I chose to do any of those things. Because it was perfectly okay not to.

self defeat

And as I move more deeply into my current relationship, I am finally stopping myself when self-sabotage comes around. I am accepting his love, his care, his compliments, the look in his eyes when we wake up in the morning and his smile when I’m all dressed up to go out. I am not questioning why he feels the way he does, or why he treats me so well, or if he should. When the voice comes to my ears, I turn my head. And when I feel unable to fight it off, I tell him and he helps me with kind words and moral support, reminding me of the fabulousness that is me. I can’t say that I’ve got it all figured out, but I can say I am doing much better than I used to, and as a result even when I’m dissatisfied, I’m not totally losing faith in myself. I accept the temporary setbacks as just that, instead of letting self-sabotage turn them into permanent roadblocks. And most importantly, I am developing a strength in myself that I haven’t really experienced before.

Are you self-sabotaging?

Think about it…

Much love,
–Tula

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What I learned in February about giving and getting help…

I’ve started this blog entry about five times. I’ve had a lot on my mind, and a lot of different things I wanted to write about. But once I looked at every single thing I started writing, and I looked at every single thing that has been on my mind the past 3-plus weeks, it has all come down to some very key things: offering help, and accepting help.

ON OFFERING HELP:

helping hands
Typically, I am EXCELLENT at offering help, and with actually following through once I’ve offered. I’m not perfect, but I’m damned good. If I ever offer you help with ANYTHING I suggest you jump on it, because I’m just that good. There are a lot of reasons why I enjoy being helpful, but the main one is that I know how important it is to have good help. There have been times in my life when I needed help, but didn’t have it. I also appreciate that anyone would think I could be of assistance to them, so I’m always flattered when I’m asked for help. Finally, I am an excellent person to give help because I work as hard (if not harder) on other people’s work as I do my own. I never half ass anything I’m doing for someone else just because it is for someone else. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen people half step stuff because it was for someone else, and therefore simply not as important to them. My conscious won’t allow that. I’m extremely sensitive to the quality of whatever work I’m doing, and I’m a hard worker. I’m good at giving help because I am very good at analyzing people and situations. I can quickly figure out what is necessary and what isn’t. And generally speaking, most people have a decent enough opinion of me so they trust my words and/or actions.

BUT because of these qualities, I am learning to be more strategic about the help I offer to others.

Several times in recent years, because I am a hard worker, a smart person and a person who is extremely loyal and motivated when I’m committed to something, I have worked harder on other people’s projects than they have worked on them themselves. There’s that old saying about how you can’t want something for someone more than they want something for themselves, and several times I have found myself wanting something for someone more than they wanted it for themselves, and working harder to achieve certain goals someone else claimed they wanted to achieve. I have found myself more invested in someone else’s dream than they were; I have found myself spending my time and talents on bringing someone else’s vision into reality because I believed in it and believed in them, and felt it would help my vision for the things I wanted to accomplish. But when it was clear they weren’t prepared to work as hard OR AS SMART on their dreams as I was, I should have fallen back on my commitment to it. That’s not something I’ve ever done well. But I am very slowly learning to value all of my considerable talents. I am learning what I am good at that not many people are good at. I am learning that my help is valuable and INVALUABLE because of all I am capable of – and because of that I need to be discerning about who I choose to help, and the extent to which I help. I hope that doesn’t sound too condescending…that’s not to say I don’t expect it to sound a little condescending because valuing my skill set means being appropriately condescending. But I’m learning to be better at evaluating the level of commitment a person has to something when they come ask me for help, and I’ve learned that it is okay for me to do this because once I commit to a project I am fully committed and I tend to go hard, and I owe it to myself, and the person asking for my help, to be wise about what I take on.

help me up

Conversely, I am also trying to learn how to disengage effectively with minimal damage and hurt feelings (if at all possible) when I have committed to something or someone that is not working the way I hoped it would. Honestly, that’s a hard lesson for me to learn. I tend to think I’m Superwoman sometimes because I’m genuinely good at a lot of things – I don’t always recognize and acknowledge my limits effectively. There have been times when I truly have had intentions to follow thru on this or that, but once I got in it and began working with the other parties involved, I found they weren’t as knowledgeable as they needed to be for me to effectively assist them, or weren’t as committed as they needed to be to what they wanted to make my efforts useful, or simply operated in a way that I wasn’t comfortable with or didn’t want to be a part of. Disengaging is hard for me because once I commit, I commit fully. Often I simply remove myself and withdraw without any explanation, which is truly unfair to the other person. This is a huge problem that I’m constantly working on – being more openly communicative when things are going badly, and facing those obstacles head on, especially when I am not totally pleased with something I’m a part of. I think for women especially these are hard lessons to learn – the whole “saying no” thing and dealing with things we don’t like without feeling like we’re being unnecessarily bitchy. But learning to value my skills set, being more discerning about who I allow to access it, learning how to disengage in an appropriate communicative way when I’ve decided I don’t want someone to have access to my skills set have been key lessons for me over the past weeks.

push for help

ON ACCEPTING HELP:
This has been even more difficult for me. Accepting help to me is akin to having all one’s wisdom teeth removed at the same time without anesthesia while lying down naked in the blazing hot sun covered in honey and being attacked by fire ants. Yeah, its that bad. The veneer of self-sufficiency has always been a key part of my persona. I always seem to have everything managed, under control, and well in hand. Its not as true as often as you might think. My most recent event is a PERFECT example of that. “The Eros Salon”, while it was a success for me in many respects, also taught me many things. One thing I did do was enlist the help of others to make the evening successful. I got hold of Lionel Lyles and gave him the task of handling the music, musicians and sound for the show. Once I selected my performers, I also gave him the task of rehearsing them – all I did was find space/time for them to rehearse. This was unprecedented for me, because typically I would have tried to handle all these things. Turning them over to Lionel was one of the best decisions I made for this event. Another thing I did was I got two people to actually run the show – Charles and Jermeka. They made sure we start and ended on time, that the length of people’s sets were adjusted if we needed to, they made sure food was warmed up and put out, and even brought on extra folks to help with the food and drinks. When I asked them questions about how the show was running they were able to get answers for me, and they kept everyone informed about the show’s progress. Again, these were things I would have worried about that I didn’t worry about thanks to them, things I would have tried to handle that I didn’t handle. Again, another good decision.

INSIDE THE LIVING WELL BW

“The Eros Salon” on February 14, 2012 @ The Living Well, Baltimore, MD 

Conversely, I didn’t delegate as much as I should have. I insisted on cooking for the show, and I had someone more than willing and able to do it, or look into catering options for me. I wish I would have let them handle the food aspect, because I spent valuable time I should have spent rehearsing, preparing for the show, and just generally focusing on myself on focusing on other things to prepare. As a result, I didn’t think my set was my best performance at the show. While I made sure everyone else rehearsed, I didn’t rehearse with the band, though I could have. I just didn’t, because I felt like other elements of the show were more important. I didn’t focus on my set like I should have, and got my set list to Lionel crazy late and last minute because I was handling other aspects of the show I could have left to someone else who was more than willing to handle it and capable of handling it. I should have delegated even more so I could make sure I was completely taken care of, but I didn’t. That is something else I need to work on. So for the next “Eros Salon”, those adjustments will be made.

SETTING UP THE LIVING WELL

Setting up for the event…

All in all February has taught me a lot…actually no, what it has done was really drive home certain lessons I had learned but needed to be reminded of, especially the reminders about accepting help, surrounding yourself with highly competent people who are committed to the goals you set, being positive but realistic, and not being afraid to tackle new challenges that make you completely uncomfortable. I am lucky in that I think I am finally getting these lessons down in my head. And hopefully the next Eros salon will be even bigger and better!

Until next time,
–Tula