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We self-sabotage our efforts to do better by us, because we’re afraid

Posted Mar 10 2014 5:59pm


I've been in a monogamous relationship with myself for the past 9 years

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about life, is that despite how much we may want something and know in theory how good committing to that something might be for our lives and wellbeing, we can still end up backtracking on doing the necessaries to make it happen. We may recognise that we’ve been accepting crumbs, or that a situation is toxic, or that we’ve not been stepping up for and representing our own needs, expectations, wishes, feelings, and opinions, and then feel temporarily galvanised to do something about it. We make some decisions and initial changes with gusto, possibly make some big announcements, and then next thing you know, we’re back up to our old habits.

The reason why we undermine our own efforts is fear.

While fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat, that doesn’t mean that the fact that we feel afraid is representative of the existence of an actual danger or that what we’re being and doing is wrong. We feel afraid when we have to get out of our comfort zone, even though that comfort zone may actually be an uncomfortable ‘comfort’ zone and the unfamiliar that we’re stepping into could actually hold something so much more befitting of us.

Sometimes we are our own threat and we use the fact that we experience discomfort at having to break habits, at having to get closer to ourselves and learn and grow, as an indicator that there must be something ‘wrong’ with our choice.

Our feelings are instinctive responses, as in, they happen without reasoning and knowledge – it is up to us to listen to ourselves and to be willing to reflect, and to also get a sense of what is going on outside of us, so that the reasoning and knowledge can be provided. Feelings aren’t facts.

We must distinguish between real and imagined threats . It’s the whole internal versus external fear thang.

It’s also important to note that instincts rely heavily on intuition and instincts get out of whack when we habitually ignore ourselves and rely too much on external validation and dodgy assumptions. This is why it’s important to build a relationship with us before we devote a significant amount of energy to trying to build a relationship with someone else, because if we don’t, we will get into relationships for the wrong reasons and possibly with the wrong people, which will only take us even further away from our true selves and have the undesired side effect of pain, which will only exacerbate the fear.

We fear stepping up for ourselves and treating and regarding us with love, care, trust, and respect, because when we commit to doing this, we’ll have to do it tomorrow and going forward, and when that reality sets in, it can be damn scary. What, you mean that by owning my own and taking command of my life, I can’t keep living in the past and avoiding my feelings and responsibilities? Feck that!

When we make these big decisions, we’re declaring both inwardly and outwardly that we’re worthy and that we’re going to step up.

At first we feel quite bolstered by these declarations, and then as a reality sets in and we realise that if we’re going to respect ourselves and have some healthy boundaries today by telling, for instance, someone who takes advantage of or abuses us to jog on, that in theory, we’re declaring that we are now going to be someone who is going to have boundaries in 3 days, 7 days, a few months, a year and so forth. We fear that not only will someone confuse us in the future about our decision and inherent declaration (and we then fear that we may not be able to handle it at that time), but we also realise that we’re essentially agreeing to basically do this whole being a person who treats and regards themselves in a half-decent manner gig, for good. That right there is a commitment.

This is scary when we have beliefs that decent people are hard to come by and that it’s ‘tough’ to have boundaries in this world and basically tough to have self-esteem. We all find it easier to focus on stuff that’s outside of our control than we do to focus on what is largely within our control – us.

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl , The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more . Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on and Twitter – .

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