No one is a bigger supporter of myself than I am.
No one is a bigger saboteur of myself than I am.
Self-sabotage is a subject I’ve wanted to tackle in this column for a while now—but let’s face it, it’s kind of a downer of a topic. Who wants to read about someone (or even from someone) who drags himself down? What’s more, how can you take seriously self-improvement advice that’s coming from a guy who admits he systematically interferes with his own advancement?
That’s a very good question. And the answer, which eluded me until recently, is this: who ever said you should take me seriously?
I’m kidding—that’s not the answer I meant. (Though it has a point.)
The real answer to why my nearly life-long efforts at self-sabotage don’t completely undermine my credibility as a student of self-improvement is quite simple: I’m awesome.
Not kidding this time. I really am awesome, and my awesomeness—and my ability to acknowledge it, which is part of the awesomeness itself—is what has allowed me to make forward progress over the years. And I’m thankful that awesomeness-acknowledging part of me exists, because right next to it is this guy:
“Forward progress? What forward progress, Lance? You and I know better…and the facts speak for themselves. You’re all talk, and bad habits, and big dreams that don’t amount to squat.”
Hard to believe, I know. But yes, there is a part of me that uses the word “squat” as a form of measurement. And, my awesomeness notwithstanding, that part of me is kind of a jerk. It seems to revel in my failures and setbacks, so much so that it has created all sorts of self-perpetuating ways for me to keep failing and being set back.
A goodly amount of these “Not-So-Simple Life” pages have been dedicated to exposing those very ways, whether it’s procrastination, intentional overwhelming, counter-productive multi-tasking, or fear of success…and the list could go on.
If you’ve read a handful or more of my columns, you’ve probably noticed yourself that no one’s more in my own way than I am. If I didn’t know that myself 31 columns ago, then I certainly should know it by now. I mean, I just said it, two sentences back. I can’t be that dense, right?
Luckily, the answer to that is “Right!” I am in fact not that dense. As you already know if you read about my list of resolutions from when I was 22, I’m actually surprisingly self-aware, especially when it comes to my faults. (Or at least I was when I was 22.)
Therein lies the delicate dance. Lance is self aware, but also oblivious. Lance pushes forward, and Lance pushes back. Lance is awesome, but Lance somehow manages to not get very much done. Lance refers to himself as “Lance” to illustrate a point, and Lance thinks he sounds like a jackass for doing so.
And on it goes—my biggest booster and my biggest detractor, my strongest supporter and my slyest saboteur. My two most well-developed muscles, competing daily for dominance in my thoughts and actions.
It’s funny—not “ha ha” funny, more like “What the &%@!?” funny—that I have known about this other self-destructive side of me for so long, and still have let it survive (or thrive, depending on who you ask).
I identified procrastination as a problem as early as middle school, some 25 years ago. Then when I was 22 I came up with a whole list of bad tendencies that needed squashing. More recently, I’ve been calling myself out on various flaws and foibles in this very column for over a year now. And still, the self-destructive jerkwad side of me rears its head every single day, and plays the same old tricks, which I somehow continue to fall for—sometimes consciously, sometimes not.
Then the strong and awesome side of me rallies the forces within, hopefully gaining some ground—and if I’m lucky, coming up with an inventive way to outwit the self-destructive jerkwad. (Who, to be honest, is pretty awesome in spite of himself. I don’t want to say I admire the guy, but you gotta give it up—he’s done a great job keeping me down. And I’m not an easy person to keep down.)
The battle between my supportive and destructive sides is a much closer match than I’d like it to be. I’m not worried that the destructive side is ultimately going to win—not usually, at least—but it would be nice if I could get the scales to tip a bit more decisively in favor of the booster side.
It’s just hard to outwit yourself, I guess. I mean, that dude is smart! It’s like he knows my every thought. Sometimes I’m not sure how to get ahead of him.
Wait—who said that? Was that booster side or destructive side? Who goes there?! Identify yourself!
Sorry…I get a little paranoid sometimes. But no worries—it’s just me. And if I can’t trust him, who can I trust?
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