This post is the fifth in a series on the ways we sabotage ourselves. Because self-sabotage so often lies in our blindspots, it is usually something we are unable to see in ourselves. The intent of these posts is to provide some insight into areas you may be letting yourself off the hook (read about the opposite of that approach here). You can read the fourth post here. In alignment with this month's theme on struggle, the fifth way of sabotaging ourselves is to get fascinated with the struggle of other people. Let's start by talking about a terrible show: Jersey Shore.
Did you ever watch Jersey Shore? Did you ever talk about it? If you answered no to either of these questions, spend a few minutes to watch a sample of what the show was about here on YouTube.
If you haven't ever seen this phenomenon before, then I'm sorry - now you can never un-see it. In reality (pun intended), millions and millions of people watched Jersey Shore, myself included. It's fascinating to watch the inevitable train-wreck that every episode inexorably lead towards. These were horrible people.
And it makes for great conversation too.
"Look how stupid these people are!"
"Can't they even see what they're doing?"
Aha, but you, the wise reader, know that this is actually a setup - maybe you're reserving your judgment of these cretins until you get to the end of the post (very clever, grasshopper).
This month's way in which we sabotage ourselves is by being righteous and pre-occupied with the way other people should be changing. This might be the most common way of sabotaging ourselves.
What I notice, is that when I'm preoccupied with the problems of people like the cast of Jersey Shore, I don't have to take a look within. In fact, I'm so much superior to the likes of The Situation (for one, I've got an actual name) that there's no reason I need to focus on my own shortcomings. At least I'm not completely consumed with my own image, have a drinking problem, and regularly create unnecessary strife and fights amongst my friends.
In german, the word for taking pleasure in the misfortune of others is schaudenfreude. It's a great term, without any equivalent in our language. When we busy ourselves looking over the fence at our neighbour's yard, we lose sight of the fact that our own yard has its fair share of problems.
Do any of these complaints sound familiar to you?
- "She's so crappy, she's constantly judging everyone around her. I wish she wasn't in my life."
- "He's such an ass-kisser - he doesn't ever do any actual work."
- "They're so inauthentic, I never know what to believe."
There's many more that we could point to, but what matters is that by focusing on other people, we neglect the opportunity that someone like this provides us.
People (and by people, I mean myself) hate this aspect of coaching. When they bring to our sessions an issue related to a person in their life, it drives them nuts that I ask them what insight that person might be providing them about themselves.
The fact is, everyone gets to behave exactly as they want. Although we resolutely hang on to the belief that we can change other people ("if only I just complain about them enough!"), it doesn't work that way. People don't change, unless they really want to (have you changed because someone complained about you enough?).
Being fully empowered in my life is really challenging (but don't look at my life, look at your own). Every time I have something negative to say about someone, there's an opportunity to look and see what gold is available to me in that moment. What is that person providing me? What about that person, can I currently not be with?
Some days? Some days I just want to be untransformed and victim-y. Some days, I just want to complain about someone, and be heard - ideally, told that I'm right ("Yah, that guy does suck!"). But I know that that doesn't lead to my greatness in the long-term. In the long-term, the focus must always return to myself. I must always look within and see what's available. I must look as deeply as I can, and find the gold that lies within the cast of Jersey Shore.
Who are the top five people you are currently holding something on? What do those people reflect in you that you cannot be with?