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15 Ways You’ve Unwittingly Become Your Own Worst Enemy

Why is it that we’re so obsessed with stunting our own growth? Sometimes it seems like we’d rather self-destruct than bring our goals to fruition.

We all have more potential than we could ever imagine, and yet we’re so focused on our flaws and our shortcomings that we unwittingly steer further away from our best selves.

We craft narrow images in our minds about what we think will make us happy, and then even when we get it, we quickly become dissatisfied. Our thoughts become stuck on these destructive loops and our blind hearts choose lovers with the cruelest intentions. It’s almost as if misery is our leading desire.

If we can’t love ourselves, can we find love with someone else? If we don’t respect ourselves, can we be respected by others? If we continuously chase ourselves into a ditch and leave ourselves there to be melted by the stale morning sun, does this permit others to give us similar treatment?

Sometimes we treat ourselves worse than our greatest enemy would. But the abuse comes in waves so subtle it often goes unnoticed. We speak the language of self-criticism fluently, but to us, it’s not even criticism, it’s conversation. It’s a conversation we have with ourselves over and over again.

“I’m not good enough.”

“I can’t stand the way I look”

“Why can’t I just be normal?”

We all have these thoughts from time to time, but just remember, you are not your thoughts, just as you are not your past or the labels of someone else’s choosing. You are whoever you decide you want to be in this very moment.

Don’t allow yourself to be your own victim and instead be on the lookout for these fifteen ways you might habitually try and harm yourself.

1. You compare yourself to others.

Do lions compare themselves to cheetahs, complaining they’re not fast enough? There’s so much beauty in our differences, and even if you view some of your differences as inferior, I assure you you’re not looking at the whole picture. Rather than compete with others, compete with yourself. Doing so will surely lead you to a better You.

2. You insult yourself and pick apart your flaws.

If you don’t look like one of those models featured on a magazine spread, you’re one of a kind—cherish that. It’s becoming more and more rare these days. Plus, when the outer self starts to resemble an elderly human, what will be left? Focus more on all that doesn’t age and you will find your beauty, and it will be timeless.

3. You don’t forgive yourself.

For whatever reason, it’s easier to hold lifelong grudges on ourselves than it is our archnemesis. Go easy on yourself. You’ve survived splintered hearts and shattered spirits—surely you deserve another chance. We all make mistakes, but what matters is how you turn those mistakes into all-powerful lessons.

4. You judge yourself.

This is something we do all too often. We do it when we look in the mirror, when we say the wrong thing in conversation, or when we hear the sound of our own voice playing back on a recording. You wouldn’t associate with a friend or acquaintance who constantly picked you apart and made you feel bad about yourself, would you? So why do it to yourself?

5. You tell yourself you can’t do it.

How many times have you told yourself you couldn’t do something and then you not only did it, but you absolutely knocked it out of the park? When it comes to our goals, sometimes the only thing we’re lacking is a belief system. Use yours as a superpower rather than a fatal weapon.

6. You cling to your past.

When we hold onto our past, we unconsciously imprison ourselves there. Learn to let go of what was so you can embrace all that is. The past makes a habit of pulling us out of the present. Trust that it happened exactly how it was meant to and you’re probably stronger because of it.

7. You hold on to toxic people.

Have you heard of the expression “hurt me once, shame on you; hurt me twice, shame on me”? Toxic people tend to keep us trapped in cycles equally as toxic. There is so much power in letting go because it creates space for someone or something that aligns more closely with who we are.

8. You don’t know how to set boundaries.

Beware that saying yes to everything can morph you into a doormat. It’s okay to say no. Recognize your worth and determine whether or not other people recognize yours.

9. You maintain impossible expectations.

We all do it. We assume we will receive several mouth-watering job offers the second we graduate college or that by the time we’re 30, we’ll own a four-bedroom house and be happily married with our second child on the way. It’s a nice idea, but ideas rarely pan out the way we think they will. Trust that the path you’re on now is the right one.

If you live your life for the sake of ticking boxes, all this will accomplish is looking fabulous on paper and that’s about it. What makes any milestone special is all it takes to get us there. Take your time and savor every moment. As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it.”

10. You believe possessions will make you happy.

Unless it’s glued to you, it can be misplaced or taken away. Why allow your happiness to be determined by something so provisional? Your most prized possessions in this lifetime will be intangible but priceless.

11. You overindulge.

We live in a society of addicts. We overeat, overspend, overwork. Moderation is the key to healthy living, so if you want to start being more of a friend than a foe to yourself, practicing the art of balance is a great place to start.

12. Your mind is stuck on a loop of negative thoughts.

Most of our thoughts are repetitive and useless, so try not to take them too seriously. Meditating for just 15 minutes each morning might help subdue both the rambling and the negative self-talk. It’s a great way to escape the confines of our mind and become more present, even if only temporarily.

13. You worry about things you can’t control.

Have you ever not gotten your way and then realized the outcome was far better than anything you could have imagined? Thank goodness we don’t always get our way or else we could end up on a path that’s all wrong for us. Trust that things do happen for a reason. The better we get at surrendering, the better we get at allowing blessings to flow effortlessly into our lives.

14. You procrastinate on your dreams.

If there’s an inspired action you can take today, then don’t want for tomorrow to take it. These perfect moments we wait around for are nothing but a figment of our imagination—they simply don’t exist. Start pursuing your passions now, even if a single stroke of a paintbrush is all you can commit to your glorious masterpiece. Otherwise, waiting may be the only thing you ever do.

15. You forget to love yourself.

When was the last time you did something nice for yourself, like cook up a healthy soul meal, do some yoga, or read a book by your favorite author? A huge part of loving ourselves is also taking care of ourselves both mentally and physically. We often forget to nourish the temple of our spirit, just as we forget to be kind to ourselves.

Perhaps we should love ourselves with the wholeness we would for another and we will attract only those who have the capacity to match it.

About the author
Fluent storyteller, memoirist and lover of prose poetry Follow Valerie on Instagram or read more articles from Valerie on Thought Catalog.

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