It is easy to place the blame for our life choices and the circumstances of those choices on other people, on our “less than perfect” childhood, and current situations that are outside of our control. While these things certainly have an impact on who we are and our future, we must be careful to avoid sabotaging our own future success based on blaming others or not taking ownership for our own “stuff.”
An important piece of life to consider is that EVERYONE has challenges. Yes, some people have a different level, or what may even appear to be unbearable or unfair challenges, but everyone has them. This is part of life and completely unavoidable.
Having said this, let’s break this down a little bit. What often happens is that we naturally get caught up in our own lives and experiences. Life gets busy and sometimes not so pleasant. So, we quickly forget that other people are going through things too, and that they are not always the direct cause of our unhappiness. This spirals out of control in our thinking and behavior, resulting in believing that we somehow live in a bubble and nobody could possibly be experiencing challenges, except us. Then we start comparing, and this leads to sabotaging our own efforts to face the challenge in a healthy way.
It is a dangerous place to consistently believe that if every time you face a challenge, that you must look outside of yourself to locate and name a source. We always play some role in our life experience, even during the seasons where things occur that are outside of our control. When we are challenged by something, we can choose to think in one of two ways: one, victoriously, trying to sort out ways to cope and endure through the challenge; or two, apply the victim mindset by throwing our own pity party and lavishing in blaming everyone and everything around us.
Instead of seeking an outside source for our challenges, how about turning our attention inward?
How about seeking an internal source for our frustrations and challenges?
What about taking a critical look at ourselves, what role or roles we have played in the madness?
Of course there are things that happen in our lives that are truly unfortunate, completely outside of our control. But, guess what? We still have an opportunity to demonstrate self-discipline in the ways we think and respond to the challenge. Victim or victor? Hmmm…
There are three common ways that we sabotage our own happiness and success, which impact all of us at some time or another if we are not intentional about our thinking processes during challenging times:
- We are simply delusional about life itself. If you think that life is supposed to be easy simply because you have done A, B, and C, think again. Fact is, don’t think again, it’s time to completely rewrite the entire script of thought. No matter what we accomplish, possess, or experience, life will always have its challenges. ALWAYS. Nobody is immune from these challenges, and if you think at any moment that you are, it is time to get it together.
- We think and behave in entitled ways. Similar to #1, if you think that you are “better” than a particular life challenge, or somehow above it, you will quickly be disappointed and unable to press through it. If you live life with a prideful mentality, looking down on people who struggle in areas that you think you “never will,” this is another sabotaging mindset. First of all, it is unnecessarily judgmental, and second, it is a negative way to approach life and the compassion we should be showing those around us.
- We forget the challenges we have already conquered. Time goes by so quickly, and before you know it, weeks, months, and years are behind you. This makes it very easy to forget the strong person you really are, that you have already endured so much, and you are fully equipped to get through the current challenge if you stay the course and do not give up. Take time to recall some of your previous life challenges and use it as motivation to encourage you through the current season.
The significance of identifying any sabotaging mindsets or behaviors in our lives is to be sure that we are not setting ourselves up for failure. If we sabotage something, this means that we are destroying it, and even further, we are destroying the opportunity to use it in the future.
Our sabotaging may be either unintentional or intentional as well. We have to learn to become aware of our thoughts and the things we CHOOSE to think of. We also have to learn to become aware of the things we CHOOSE NOT to think of. Our thoughts have so much power.
If we just accept all of our thinking, especially when it is negative, then we run the risk of not being able to identify sabotaging thoughts or behaviors. We will just assume that our attitudes and perceptions are healthy, when in fact they are potentially self-defeating and sabotaging.
We also must work to be more aware of being self-accountable. Blaming other people and circumstances for all of our challenges does not help us grow. While there are some instances where the cause of our challenges may be due to someone else’s actions or unforeseen circumstances, this will not always be the case and we need to sort out our role in the situation.
If anything, although we may have no control over our current circumstances, we do have control over how we think and perceive the situation, our reactions and behavior, and what we learn and how (if) we grow through it.
Growth and success comes from the process of reflection and progression. Growth does not come from a perfectionist mindset or position. Life is not about that. Tough seasons and unfair circumstances are part of our lives, and we must accept this, while learning how to adapt in positive ways and do our part to navigate the challenges.
We will not see the success we desire in life if we regularly practice self-defeating or sabotaging thinking and behaviors. We must rise about this negative mindset and into a more positive, uplifting, and encouraging attitude.