Why for Some People, Nothing Ever Works.

Via Sara Avery
on Aug 1, 2012
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Some of the most brilliant people I’ve known have something awful in common. Despite being smart and talented and working hard at everything they do, nothing works for them.

It’s so confusing and frustrating when you look at someone who seems to have everything going for them and time after time, they fail at whatever they attempt. If you know someone like this, you may feel frustrated with them.

They’ve lived with this pattern so long that often, if you try and give them suggestions on how to move forward, they always push back. They can match you point for point as to why what you’re suggesting won’t work for them. Often, what you’ll hear is, “I know that works for other people. It just won’t work for me.”

Or maybe you identify with this pattern, yourself. If so, you may have even shut down your desire for anything good.

It’s just too painful to want good things to happen when you know from vast personal experience that no matter how hard you work, your efforts won’t pay off.

At the heart of this pattern is a great oxymoron.

It is the feeling that, “In order to survive, I have to prove that nothing works for me.” It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Who in their right mind would try this?

It’s good news, in a way, that this pattern has nothing to do with rational choice. Everyone’s survival mechanism is put into place before the age of two and a half, which is the age at which the rational brain begins to operate. So, by the time we’re actually able to make rational choices, the way we feel that we have to be to survive is already set.

Our survival mechanisms are absorbed from and in relation to our parents or other early caregivers.

In the case of this defeatist pattern, one might absorb it directly from a parent who has this pattern as “the way it is to be human.” Or, one might have a parent whose survival mechanism is to need to pick up the slack for everyone around them. This parent’s child would develop the defeatist pattern as a way to give the parent a lot to fix and take care of, so that the parent will feel in their comfort zone.

The part of our brain that stores this survival mechanism is what generates every moment of our lives, without our conscious effort or thought. So, for the person whose little two-year-old brain stores the feeling that to survive, they must prove that nothing works for them, they will keep finding themselves in situations that do just that—without any effort or choice.

I’ve seen this pattern show itself in every aspect of someone’s life, including career or achievement, health, relationships, and even the small events that make up someone’s day-to-day life.

One particularly vivid and interesting example was a client of mine who started telling me about her washing machine saga one day. The Maytag people had been out several times to repair her new washer and were finally going to replace it. They had never seen such a problematic machine. I told her that this defeatist pattern could extend even to the objects in one’s life, and she said, “So, is this why we’ve had to replace our microwave 12 times over the past five years?!”

People with this pattern often have a real challenge in trying to change it. Even when they desperately want change on a rational level, the same part of their sense of self that proves nothing works applies across the board, so their brain puts up strong resistance to the work I do with them. Even when I point out a big change to them, they’ll often argue either that it hasn’t changed or that it wasn’t the exact change they were looking for, so it doesn’t even matter.

But I have seen defeatists make big changes, and it is a wonderful thing to witness.

For example, my client with the failing appliances had been married for several decades. One night, out of the blue, her husband said, “You know, you are still such a beautiful woman.” It was the first compliment he had given her in many years. Another defeatist client had a job installing blinds that he said was going to be impossible because of time constraints. He called me in amazement after completing the job. He had finished in less time than he even had allotted for it and far more quickly than any job he had ever done. When I asked him what the experience was like, he said the only way he could describe it was that it felt like time had slowed down.

Are you someone who has dealt with this pattern of feeling that nothing can work for you, no matter what you do? Or do you have a close family member or friend who has? I hope that understanding that this is just a pattern of feeling that actually can be unlearned will give you some hope. Please share your thoughts or questions below!


Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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About Sara Avery

Sara Avery’s passion is helping people uncover the energy that creates their story and the uniqueness of who they really are. In 2001, she transitioned from her first career as an orchestral violinist to guiding people through the deep transformation of Quanta Change. Quanta Change identifies Learned Distress (the feeling that “there is something wrong with me” absorbed in the womb and early in life) as the source of non-well-being. This unique process works with your brain during sleep to permanently remove layers of Learned Distress, allowing your natural well-being to become the source from which your life is generated. Sara’s clients discover a new ease and joy in life that they’ve never experienced—in emotional, spiritual, and physical realms. One client said, “I’ve been seeking for 40 years, and this is by far the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.” Learn more on her website or read more from Sara on her blog. Or, connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.


2 Responses to “Why for Some People, Nothing Ever Works.”

  1. […] you think of your work self as being different from your real self? Do you sometimes make choices at work that cause you a twinge of conscience? When you get home and put on your jeans or sweats […]

  2. Jimmy says:

    I beat this pattern once and then returned, never to break it again (for now anyway). It's messed up–brutal. The way I finally did it was by forcing myself to become homeless. Let me tell you, you start breaking that pattern real quick.

    The best time of my life was the 8 months of repeated, forced homelessness (3 times–because the comfort of a mundane job does not break the habit) I finally gave in by returning to the domesticated world (which does not look domesticated at all, or sane rather, from the perspective of a 'free' outsider).

    There's a whole other world out there aside from just breakin these habits. It breakin the Matrix, and it's beyond what words could ever describe–its unreal.

    The only other thing that has ever worked for me, in a more realistic sense, is to throw yourself, arbitrarily, into a job (that seems a bit unattainable–but desired by you) and or a productive or slightly fearful situation that forces you to act without thought–this uncouples fear from immobility or doubt–if you build on this with momentum you can break the habit.

    The problem then becomes avoiding the pitfalls such as other people attempting to box you in and or pin you down. Usually people that want to feed off of your hard work. They want what they themselves should be working for on their own (codependents and or the dangerous "malignant narcissist" fit this character type)