When You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

We’ve all heard that phrase a lot and perhaps it has applied to us at various times in our lives.

How is it possible that we can become our own worst enemy?

What’s wrong with becoming our own best advocate?

As I write this I am returning from Philadelphia where a good friend of mine is battling cancer. He has not only mastered the art of being his own best advocate but has advocated for others every day of his life.

Only speaking in positive terms about himself and his potential.

Not allowing negative thoughts or words to come out of his mouth or occupy his mind.

I witnessed it as he built a Dale Carnegie franchise through exemplary human relations. 

I saw him set goals for himself that did not allow a negative thought.  In other words, my friend would not waste his time contemplating failure – just stoking his own fires until he achieved success.

In fighting his illness, he will not talk of the possibility he may die and perhaps that’s why he has lived with cancer for 10 years and counting.

We cannot control what other people say or do to us. 

But we can control what we say or do to ourselves.

So, for one day only, try to be your own best advocate – all day, all night, at work, at home.  See how it feels.

Our worst enemy is accepting the negative thinking of others, not the positive potential that can reside in all of us.

Don’t be a victim of your own mind.

In the words of Roderick Thorp:

“We have to learn to be our own best friends because we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies.”

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Overcoming Shame

Have you ever heard someone say, “shame on you”?

That is perhaps the worst thing anyone could say to another human being.  And yet, it is uttered even to children routinely all the time.

Dr. Marilyn J. Sorensen says “Unlike guilt – which is the feeling of doing something wrong, shame is the fear of being something wrong.”

Shame is used to control others and if you’ve been on the receiving end of someone who is trying to shame you then you also know they are really trying to control you.

Chip away at our self-confidence.

Make us fearful.

There are four ways to successfully deal with shame:

  1. Accept your faults only as long as you can name an equal number of virtues.
  2. Avoid becoming co-dependent to another person.  Co-dependent people earn their name because they rely on others to validate that they are good.
  3. No one gets your permission to act in a verbally abusive way.  Shut it down immediately.  Separate from the person abusing you.
  4. Love of self is the antidote for shame.

In the radio industry, I know of many good and dedicated employees who have been laid off due to recent corporate cutbacks and they are not even allowed to gather their belongings and say goodbye.

This is true of radio personalities who have spent decades entertaining the station’s audience and with whom their name is synonymous with the station’s call letters.

They leave with only a box of belongings in their hands often gathered by someone else.

Often, these victims of poor management develop temporary and, yes, even a permanent loss of confidence as they are literally shamed out the door.

My advice to them is always the same:

“Shame kills self esteem.  Love of self kills shame”. 

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The Pro Golfer Who Panicked And Won

28-year old PGA pro golfer Charlie Beljan had a meltdown at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic in Lake Buena Vista, FL last Friday.

His throat tightened and his heart went into rapid heartbeat.  But he eventually played on for 5 hours carding a 64, the second lowest score of his rookie season.

Beljan then fell to the ground fearing a possible heart attack and was taken to the hospital where he had tests and spent the night hooked up to machines and still in his golf clothes.

When the tests came in, Beljan found out he suffered a panic attack and was released Saturday to continue playing in the event.   As he returned to the course, Beljan was crying on the practice range fearing that he would have another panic attack.

He had been under a lot of personal pressure.  Beljan had to place in the top ten not to forfeit his eligibility to remain on tour.  He married in the beginning of the year and his wife gave birth to their first child in September.  This was not his first panic attack.  He passed out on an airplane forcing an emergency landing with what turned out to be a panic attack a month before his son was born. 

Remarkably, Beljan won the golf tournament panic attack and all.

Made $846,000.

And qualified to play next season on the pro tour.

In the end the way Charlie Beljan won the battle with anxiety – at least long enough to win the event – was to understand that he had to live one day at a time.

Golf is a game that is played best when it is played one hole at a time.

For those of us facing anxiety and stress in our lives, the winning formula is living one day at a time and letting go of the stressors that plague us.

It’s a battle that often ends up making us feel like champions when we rise to the occasion.

As Milan Kundera says,

“The source of anxiety lies in the future.  If you can keep the future out of mind, you can forget your worries.”

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Dealing With Disappointment

When we’re disappointed, we often get mad at ourselves or angry at others.

This hurts us emotionally and actually physically weakens our immune system which is why when we’ve experience a great letdown we get often then get sick.

Here are some ways of dealing with disappointment in a positive way that is kinder to ourselves and others:

  1. Remember that no one gets what they want all the time.  It’s like a batting average.  If you bat .300 you’re still going to out 70% of the time.  Adjust expectations to fit reality.
  2. Replace anger with gratitude.  Gratitude is like aspirin.  It cures many things. Taking out anger on others often forces them to rebel.
  3. When you disappoint, a simple heartfelt apology is very effective.  When you’ve disappointed yourself, forgive yourself and move on.
  4. Beware of denial.  When we deny our disappointment, it will get worse and those around us will keep their distance.
  5. Disappointment is temporary.  It can have a positive effect by making us appreciate 100 times over when things meet our expectations.

Alexander Pope said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”

Keep expectations low but keep motivation high.

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Avoiding Thanksgiving Turmoil

At the most stressful time of the year, Thanksgiving occurs. 

It’s the busiest air travel holiday and millions of people return to family gatherings in the hope that a Norman Rockwell holiday will result.

I know people who spend months trying to come up with “excuses” to avoid a family disaster at Thanksgiving.

Others accept the invitation but make themselves miserable up to and including turkey day.

Next week, I will share with you the one thing that will guarantee gratitude and love even in the toughest situations.  It works like a charm.

But one week out, it is helpful to remember that great expectations are not always possible with dysfunctional families, petty jealousies, marital problems, missing children spending the holiday with the other parent, sibling rivalries and even darker issues that sometimes affect families.

Yet gratitude is always possible once we grieve for the family we do not have.

I think this advice from Dr. Ana Nogales is very positive and uplifting at holiday time:

“After acknowledging what may be missing in our family relationships, each of us can then focus on the positive. Perhaps you had a good relationship with one of your relatives in the past, and you are working things out so that things may get better in the future. Maybe there is one family member with whom you have a special connection, with whom you feel free to be yourself. Or perhaps you have created a “family” with trusted and beloved friends, a group you feel more “related to” than the family into which you were born”.

Focus on being thankful to avoid unpleasantness. 

Feel free to forward this email and share with your friends.


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