If I could say something to my 21-year old self it would be this. "You are a freaking writer. Sit in front of a computer and TYPE!" Unfortunately, time travel has not been invented yet and my 21-year old self had to live his days with the ignorance that he was indeed a writer.
His train of thought went like this:
"I don't have experience in writing."
"Because I do not have experience in writing, I do not know how to write."
"Because I do not know how to write, I am not a writer."
"Because I am not a writer, I have no right to write."
"Because I have no right to write, I'll just do something else instead."
And so, the 21-year old self spent many years doing something else aside from writing, things that did not bring him closer to his dreams. I made myself my own worst enemy and I didn't even know I did it.
Pinpointing out the things that push us away from our true path is easy because we've been wired to attribute to external factors the events in our lives. We blame the weather, the traffic, the intermittent Internet connection, or the lack of time for our failures and shortcomings. I blamed my childhood and teenage days for the lack of writing opportunities they gave me. I blamed the absence of writing how-to books in our house for my rookie writing skills. I blamed the college direction thrusted upon me because instead of writing paragraphs, I was made to write software programs instead.
If we're not pinpointing things, we're pinpointing people instead. We blame the weathermen, the traffic enforcers, the repairmen, or even our mothers for not miraculously adding more hours to a single day. I secretly blamed my father for his talent in drawing that brought the expectation that I should draw instead of write. I secretly blamed my mother for not knowing my dreams and aspirations and the absence of support for what I really wanted to do. I secretly blamed a former friend who was so good in writing that insecurity grew inside me, like a strong and sturdy tree.
While we point fingers to things and other people, we do not point a finger to ourselves. It's hard to believe and tough to admit that we are the root of our failures and shortcomings. Hence, we choose not to do it.
It took a lot of discomfort and servings of humble pie before I surrendered to the fact that I had been my own worst enemy throughout the past years. I realised that no matter where I went, no matter what I did, and no matter who chose to help me, I would never win the battle because I was ignoring the main enemy - myself. I suppose it's a rite of passage anybody who chooses to change their life must go through - the revelation of the big bad boss of life's game. Once identified, I could then fight the main enemy. What I gained from the it are the following:
- I stopped looking for validation from other people.
- I learned how to listen to my inner voice.
- I learned to quiet my inner critics.
- I learned how to get up faster after every setbacks and disappointments.
- I learned to look at things from different perspectives.
Those were just a few of the benefits the awareness of being our own worst enemy brought to me. It may vary from person to person. What's more important is the mindfulness we'll obtain. Once we are aware, we can actively fight it. We can prevent ourselves from turning into our worst enemy. But how?
Practice positive affirmations
One time at the gym, I had to increase the weight of the dumbbells I were lifting. Fear struck me because I was so used to lifting the same old weight and I believed I couldn't lift anything heavier beyond. When it was time to do it, I failed. I couldn't lift it. The next time around, I conditioned my mind to believe I could lift the heavier dumbbells. Guess what happened? I lifted them.
What we think, we become. Our thoughts turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. If you think you are not good enough, then that's how you will always feel - that you are not good enough. Instead of feeding your mind dirty thoughts, feed it positive and supportive words instead: "I'm worthy", "I can do it", "I will make it through this", and "I am brave" to name a few. When your mind becomes accustomed to positive thoughts, it will learn how to default in a positive state and reject negative thinking.
Be careful with your associations
I used to hang out with people who loved complaining about everything under the sun. Guess what I used to do too? Complaining about everything under the sun. I used to hang out with busybodies who loved gossiping about other people's lives. Guess what I used to do too? Gossiping about other people's lives. I cut them off my life, faced the other direction, ran, and vowed to never look back. Guess what happened next? Complaining and gossiping no longer interested me.
Some people have no clue how their associations affect their thinking. There is a lot of truth to the adage "Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are". If you are surrounded by pessimistic people, you adapt their mentality and you become pessimistic too. If you are surrounded by optimistic go-getters, youlearn their behaviour and it becomes your own. Be careful in picking the people who play important roles in your life. Remember, you don't have to settle with the wrong kind.
Find motivation and inspiration
I must admit that I love reading motivational and inspirational quotes and stories whereas I used to not care about them before. What I get from reading them is positive energy. They're food for the soul. They help fight off the fears and doubts that would try to persuade me to turn away and forget about trying to accomplish my dreams.
The influence of people who are achievers and good examples plays an important role in our lives. We admire the characteristics of those who inspire us and we try to emulate them. Their great examples remind us that we can also accomplish the things that they have done. Pick good role models who possess good traits and have accomplished a lot of good things. Pattern your behaviour and life with theirs and someday you'll be joining their ranks.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
During a vacation, my family and I went to Boracay, Philippines. One of our activities was the underwater helmet diving. I went first, and walked down the ladder from the docking station out at sea with a big, open helmet on my head. As I immersed myself under the water, panic consumed me and I began to lose my breath (well, I thought I was losing my breath). Thinking I was going to drown and die, I went up the ladder and to the docking station. It took me two more tries before I successfully stepped foot on the ocean floor and experienced what they called the helmet diving. A year later, I went back to Boracay with a group of friends. Helmet diving was part of our itinerary. Since I did it already a year ago, I went first once more and had no problem going down.
Author Susan Jeffers wrote a book called "Feel the Fear ... and Do It Anyway". With the book, she helps readers understand fear and how it works so they can move on away from it. Going by the title alone, we get the concept that to eliminate doubts and conquer fear, then we must do IT. You lose your fear of the water when you learn how to swim. You lose your doubt in your ability to ride a bike when you learn how to ride a bike. I lost my doubt in my writing skill when I began writing and kept on practicing. It's as simple as that.
Going in the direction of our dreams is a fantastic quest. There will be obstacles, difficulties, challenges, and tests along the way. But the greatest battle we will ever face is the one inside of us. No matter where we go and no matter what we do, we cannot afford to be our own worst enemy. How can we be truly at peace when there's inner turmoil? And how can we be totally rid of enemies when we nurture one that's within us?