A harsh truth, but the truth nonetheless, that as human beings everything we do we do for a reason.
We calculate those reasons even in our smallest choices because we don’t do anything with out a payoff.
This makes sense when you think of how hard you work for the payoff of a promotion or a raise, or when you practice a sport with the hopes of becoming a master.
But what about when you binge eat, gossip, don’t communicate with your partner or accumulate un-necessary debt? The dirty little secret of your psyche is that you wouldn’t do those things unless you got a payoff either.
When we hurt ourselves, self-sabotage and damage our ability to evolve we are doing it because something about that behavior is feeding a need within us.
On a base level you already know this, because you know everything you “should” be doing to have the life you want. If it were about knowing what behaviors you should take then this would all be irrelevant. You know you will get a negative result from many of your repeated behaviors and yet you find yourself drawn to them like a drug. That’s because those behaviors are drugs; you are feeding a pleasure center in your brain.
So the real question you must ask yourself is, “What need am I fulfilling with that behavior?” It is not as obvious so it may take a few minutes to filter through the excuses but it’s in there…the small but defective desire that has been ravenously eating up your potential.
When we eat too much we know we are not doing something good for ourselves but we are often feeding a need for comfort, distraction or ritual.
When you gossip you tell yourself it’s because it’s interesting, but usually you are using it to feel more important than others; you’re feeding an insecurity.
When you don’t communicate with your partner and knowingly create a wall in your relationship it’s easy to blame them but often you are just trying to create a new problem to deflect from a larger one, or you find a sense of supremacy in your silence that feeds an insecurity or desire for attention.
When we continue to put ourselves in unnecessary debt we are often used to the sensation of scarcity and are creating that environment on purpose, or we are using money as a way of proving to ourselves that we aren’t good enough, or we purely don’t feel whole and are using things to fill the void.
The list goes on, but you get my point—we do what we do for a reason. The reason doesn’t have to be good, and is often twisted and self-defeating, but as you have experienced, it is also strong and demands attention.
What is the behavior that you regularly engage in that only hurts you? Figure out what need that behavior is fulfilling. Once you know the need you can have empathy for it and yourself for the misguided ways you have been trying to heal yourself.
Because that is exactly what you have been trying to do—you are always in the process of trying to heal yourself.
Many people are deathly allergic to something like a bee sting, for instance. When the body is stung it sends histamines to help heal the situation, but in a dramatic overreaction the body sends way too many histamines and ends up creating a fatal situation. It wasn’t the sting that was fatal; it was the body’s reaction to the sting.
That is exactly what we often do to ourselves. The need you have is not fatal, it can be healed, but the way that you are going about treating it can have a fatal effect on your life, killing who you could be.
The great news is that once you’ve identified the behavior, the need, and the why behind it, you can begin to write a new prescription for yourself. You must create a new replacement behavior or activity to address what your soul is telling you needs help.
You can’t stuff down an insecurity, a fear, a trauma, or a lack of self-worth; these issues demand to be addressed and they will creep into your life in ways you won’t see coming if you don’t look them in the eye and ask them sincerely, “What do you need? And how can I give that to you that will work for both of us?”
Life is too short to fall for your own tricks. If you can wrap your mind around the understanding that everything, and I mean everything, you do is done for a reason then you can lead a life based on what is real.
If you prefer to tell a story about how things have been done to you, how you get nothing out of it, how you’re just a victim then you will continue to lead a life where things will be done to you. You’ll get nothing out of it and you’ll be the perfect victim that your psyche is trying to create.
You are bigger than your sub-conscious. It is powerful, but it cowers at your feet when you’re brave enough to ask it what it’s up to.
What are you doing that hurts yourself? What need is that behavior fulfilling? Where did that need come from? And how are you going to fill it that works for your life?
Start asking the tough questions, so you don’t have to live a tough life.
Learning to Make Friends with Ourselves: Pema Chodron video on Maitri.
How to Actually Love Yourself. Like, Actually. For Real.
The best approach:
Author: Roni Elissabeth
Editor: Travis May
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