Self Attack Is Why You Are Miserable And Unsuccessful (And What To Do About It)
The cycle of perpetual self attack and failure has the following 5 phases:
Imagine the worst
Step 1: When we fail at something, which we all inevitability do, Mr. Inner Critic wakes from his short nap to give us a lashing.
We are told how we are stupid, lazy, fundamentally flawed, and will never be successful.
Step 2: This bombardment doesn’t feel great. So, in an attempt to seek refuge from this, we deflect the criticism away from us and on to life itself.
"Our entire life (or life itself) is just rotten and horrible."
Step 3: To further solidify this conclusion, we let our imaginations run about every horrible thing that has ever happened to us (or often has happened in the world), and who is to blame.
Now that we are whipped up in to hating every last thing about being alive, our good old buddy dread sets in.
Step 4: With our energy drained, feeling dejected and defeated, everything we are “supposed to do” now seems infinitely more difficult, stressful, and unbearable.
Step 5: As a result, we are driven to escape and distraction.
Video games, TV, porn, drugs, social media, anything that might even temporarily pull us from the black pit of despair we’ve thrown ourselves in to.
But this pursuit inevitably leads to more self attack, because we don’t do the things we are “supposed to do”. Or we do them poorly, don’t prepare for them, avoid them, etc. And with one more example of "taking the easy way out" (as far as our critic is concerned) we further reduce our self esteem and self respect.
Back to step 1.
The few of us who have deemed this cycle unacceptable, usually only manage to stop it at step 3, by just weathering the attack on us and our life.
And while this is a slightly better system — we no longer try to burn the world down around us nor as often fall in to the deep black pits of self destructive behavior — it still gets us nowhere near actualizing our potential.
The only way to forego this death spiral is to develop the tools to stop it at step 1 — catch the self attack before it can reverberate in to the horrible feedback loop it inevitably creates.
Some tools you can use are:
- ANT therapy
- ACT Therapy
- CBT Therapy
- Limiting belief reframing
Further, we can stop much of it at step 0 , by proactively setting reasonable expectations, so we can constantly succeed rather than constantly fail.
While impossible to maintain perfectly, this can eventually greatly reduce self attack in the first place.
The two best methods I've found for this are:
- small, reasonable but consistent goals (incremental improvement systems)
- “Fear setting”
It is natural to feel angry and ashamed of this cycle. But you must remember: there's nothing fundamentally wrong with your brain.
You've just been modeled or taught ineffective ways of using it (or received no instruction at all and simply took the path of least resistance).
The truth is that every great creative endeavor in human history came from a brain like yours.
What if all that energy and time you spent ruminating over everything horrible and inadequate, was instead spent creating and producing?
How much impact could you have?
You have the horespower.
You just need some place to direct it, and some tools/skills to keep you on track.
It’s hard work to develop these, but it can be done. And it is absolutely worth it.
The first step is literally: to take one, small step.
Not a giant, unsustainable life change. Just one, tiny, reasonable, doable step toward a life you could love.
What small step with you take today?