Your Own Worst Enemy

Here is what will hopefully be a quick but helpful post. To begin, I’m finally back in my office. Albeit, I’m battling the tiny bloodsuckers that the cats left behind when I moved them out to their “sanctuary”, but it’s a battle that I am slowly winning. It’s nice to be able to retreat into my cave again, rather than sit in the kitchen.

I’ve added a bit of ceremony to my writing as well. I went out and bought some nice candle holders, one in the shape of a Japanese styled lantern and the other an interesting vine thingy. When it’s time to write, all the lights go out, I turn my music on over the stereo, and light my candles. Other than the constant feeling of having fleas crawling on you even when they’re not there, and you’ve vacuumed the room four times that day alone, it’s quite the nice bit of ambiance.

The next change that I’ve made is a much more personal one. I recently turned thirty-one. While I haven’t had any crisis related to it, it has given me chance for pause. That pause led me to pick up a book that is in desperate need of finishing. A receipt from Quizno’s that I used as a bookmark during my first attempt at reading it dates back to August 8 of 2005.

Now, here comes the personal part, it’s a self help book, Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Under-Achievment. There is a part of me that doesn’t want to share this with anyone who might happen upon it, but the entire purpose of this blog is to share the ups and downs of writing, ALL of the process in hopes of helping others with their own pitfalls. In order to do that there has to be full disclosure on my part.

So here you go, I have an amazing amount of talent that I squander. That might come across as a bit conceded, but I can promise you that it’s not intended to be. A great many people have talent that they squander. And if you really think about it that might be why we are all stuck on revisions that never get done, or wade through excuses as to why we can’t do what we want. We have the talent, we know that we do, but we find reasons to avoid it.

Back when I first got the book I made great strides to bettering myself. I made it most of the way through the book with much diligence, but somewhere along the way I puttered out. I had too much going on and decided that the author would much rather I capitalize on what was presented before me rather than put it off while using the book as an excuse. Well, that eventually led to a relapse of my self-limiting behaviors. Here I am, four years later, a bit better off than I was before but still not realizing my potential.

I’m back to reading from the book everyday again and working through its lessons. I’m pretty well convinced at this point that it’s these self-limiting behaviors (SLB) that are keeping me from completing all that I should. I also see some of my own SLB’s in those I know. That’s why I’m sharing this with you.

See if any of these types sound familiar:

  • Floater/Coasters: Floaters are aware of their capacities, see opportunities, and often are even pursued by others, but they rarely act on their possibilities. Some are temperamentally hesitant and slow to join in, while others can appear to be emotionally withdrawn or indolent and lacking in ambition. But the chief characteristics of floater/coasters are their passivity or lack of initiative and their disengagement.
  • Delayers: Delayers make postponing major decisions and commitments their central life theme. Rather than avoiding actions with long term consequences, delayers indiscriminately delay all choices and commitments, great and small. Their lives come to revolve around actions they prefer to put off until later, so that they procrastinate, miss deadlines, and accumulate stacks of things they have not dispatched.
  • Stop-shorts: Stop-shorts are aware of their abilities, entertain ambitions, and make significant progress, but firmly hold back from fully reaching their goals. Their arrested progress is often related to a fear of completing a life step or of taking on some role or responsibility that will be the outcome of fully realizing an aim toward which they have long striven.
  • Self-Doubters/Self-Attackers: Self-doubters/self-attackers block their success by holding high standards they feel they can never possibly meet and for which they therefore seldom strive. But rather than rationalizing or blaming others for their lack of effort, they selectively attend to and mercilessly emphasize their own faults and failings to such an extent that they do not appreciate what they do accomplish. They are actually highly ambitious, but because they cannot tolerate anything but an idealized kind of perfection, they do not allow them-selves to enjoy partial success, thus reducing their incentives to try.

Whew! And that’s just some of the styles with descriptions lifted verbatim from the book. Sound like someone you know? Maybe your writer’s block isn’t just words bunching together in the traffic jam of your creativity. Maybe it’s actually you getting in your own way so that you can’t succeed. I think that is what my current problem is, and I for one intend to fix it.

I’ve added a new section to the right of the blog where I can place books that I discuss on the blog with direct links back to Amazon. If you’re interested in picking up the book and do order stuff through Amazon, use the sidebar link and Amazon will actually send me a tiny pittance of a thank you for sending them business. If you don’t use the link and just go directly to Amazon and then find the book, they’ll just make more money. So the choice is yours.

As of right now there are three books in the Amazon bar, the other two are writing books that I can’t do without. I think I might have even mentioned them before. If I haven’t mentioned them, rest assured that I eventually will.

Now then, back to the business of writing.  


Paige Bruce said...

This is an awesome post. Kudos to being willing to open up about yourself; I know it can be difficult, especially since you never know who is reading, right?

Even in just the descriptions you mentioned, I can see parts of myself in it, particularly in the first two, and you're right, these factors can really inhibit a person, whether in writing or otherwise.

Thanks for the interesting read!

chris-writes said...

I see myself in the last three.

Kudos on returning to the book. My recent birthday had me too questioning what have I done with my life and why am I not doing what I want to do.

Also good for you to have some form of writing ceremony. Anything that works to get you in the mood is good.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Congrats on the new writing space. We all need our cave, and we must have it looking like a creative environment that will inspire us.

damihjva said...

Oh yeah. I am definitely a "Self-Doubters/Self-Attacker" and a "Stop-short."

The horrible part is that since this year started, I've only gotten worse. Especially with the move and resettling. Now I can also add "Delayer" to that list, because I've used that excuse of not being settled in enough to write. "My routine has been interrupted." "My office is uncomfortable." "The kids interrupted a lot today." Sigh. Sometimes, I fear I will never overcome it.

David Noceti said...

For everyone mentioning that they can see them selves in one or more of the above, remember, it can be changed. In the end they are just habits. The same way wearing your watch on the opposite wrist might feel uncomfortable for a little while, a change in habit, with dedication, can lead to a new, better one.

And not to dampen anyone's spirits, but there are more that I did not list in the above, so you may have even more to deal with :o)

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