No B.S Friday: There’s a good reason why we’re afraid of success.
Why do we sabotage ourselves?
It’s funny isn’t it? Why do we do it? Why do we trip ourselves up just as we’re about to cross the finish line? Why do we become an enemy of our own success?
Why would we do that? It doesn’t make sense.
But we do. We do it all the time.
I’ve got a theory. And look this is a blog not a psychology text book, so don’t mark me down for incompleteness, but I reckon it’s definitely part of the puzzle.
And the best way I can describe it is to think of a builder building a house. That builder refuses to move on to doing the plumbing, because plumbing doesn’t involve hammers and he really loves hammers.
In fact, he thinks he’s a hammer.
Ok, maybe that’s not as crystal clear as it seemed in my head, but let me break it down.
Often, we fixate on certain challenges in life – finding the right place to live, finding the right career, finding the right romantic partners, whatever.
We tell ourselves that once we ‘tick these boxes’ we’ll be happy. We convince ourselves that happiness lies on the other side of ‘achieving something’.
To achieve that something we develop a whole bunch of tools and strategies. We can call this the ego – the ego is the part of the mind devoted to identifying and solving problems, and taking charge of the tools and strategies at our disposal.
And so the ego is out there doing it’s thing, and then one day, we come very close to ‘ticking one of our boxes’.
We find a job that seems too good to be true. We find a partner who puts a big tick in our box. We find the perfect house.
At this moment, it seems to me, the ego gets very alarmed.
Because once you land that perfect whatever, one of two things will happen.
Either that thing will be the perfect thing to make you perfectly happy, and you will be sorted – you just don’t need the ego any more. You’ve got no more work for it to do.
Or, you will land that perfect thing, and then realise that it doesn’t actually make you as happy as you thought it was going to. Endless happiness remains elusive. Life goes on. New reasons to be sad and dissatisfied quickly emerge.
And at that point, you realise that your ego has wasted your life chasing after a mirage. You realise that your ego has no power to make you happy – that happiness comes from within, from having a right and loving relationship with yourself.
Either way, at this moment, the ego knows that it’s facing an existential threat. There’s a very good chance that once you achieve this ‘thing’, you will realise that your ego is actually just getting in the way.
So what can it do?
I mean, it can’t let you achieve the thing, right. That potentially means death.
The only option?
The only option here is to sabotage your success, so you keep on believing that the key to happiness is achieving the thing, and that the ego is the right man for the job for navigating you towards the thing.
Maybe it’s like the army general who is afraid of peace. They devote their whole lives to winning peace, while knowing that if peace actually came, they’d be out of a job.
I think it’s like this.
So watch this – watch for those times where you seem to be on the brink of everything you thought you ever wanted, and all you want to do is run.
That’s not you. That’s your ego clinging on for dear life.
Don’t lose sight of the job, just to hang on to your tools.
Just breathe through it, and allow it to unfold.