I like watching thrillers. A good thriller does a great job of playing on your fears. It takes you on an exhilarating ride full of twists and turns at every corner.
You also find yourself guessing, second-guessing, thinking, anticipating, reading between the lines, doubting the actions and motives of the characters, trying to find who the enemy is. More often than not, a good thriller or a murder mystery will surprise you with who the real antagonist is.
Our lives are a lot like those juicy, action-packed thrillers. They’re full of interesting twists and turns and just like a good movie, we sometimes are battling the wrong enemy till the end.
What if, you are indeed battling the wrong enemy? Have you ever thought that maybe you’re fighting the wrong fight?
Maybe the things you think are holding you back were actually not to blame?
I grew up in a family where the elders around me never really admitted they were wrong. I grew up in an era when vulnerability wasn’t something people easily accepted. Growing up, I was taught to be tough, to not show my weaknesses because the world is a harsh place and people will take advantage of me!
I am sure a lot of you can relate. Read on if you can…
I was never told to take ownership of my mistakes so I learned what I could by watching everyone around me. Whenever I was caught doing something wrong, it was always because of someone or something else.
Bad grades were because the teacher couldn’t teach very well.
Not coming in proper uniform to school was attributed to the washing machine not working properly.
Doing badly in group assignments in college was due to non-cooperating group members.
Showing up to work late because of the traffic jam.
Missing my deadline on a delivery was because someone at work pulled me in to fight a fire.
Walking into a meeting late because my last meeting ran over.
You probably see the theme there. Most of you possibly relate to it as well. We like playing the blame game.
Most of us have a victim’s mindset and not a player’s. For a victim, everything is someone else’s fault and nothing is under their control. Every obstacle is a problem instead of an opportunity.
Every time we suffer a setback, we think
What did I do to deserve this?
Everybody is out to get me.
If only I had more time.
If only person X would cooperate.
Most of us would rather blame and complain. We think that our path towards greater success and growth is filled with all these external hurdles that constantly slow us down.
But what if that is not the case?
What If You Are Battling The Wrong Enemy?
You don’t realize and a lot of you probably won’t agree, but here are some things that are not your enemy and don’t deserve the fight but are usually the suspects we question the most!
Time is never your enemy. You not having time is just a result of it not being a priority. If something is a priority, you will make time for it. Time never stops anyone from doing anything nor does it wait for anyone. You are the one who needs to recognize that unless you make it a priority, you will never have the time.
Time flies by or it stands till. It is either wasted or invested. You choose how you use it.
Circumstances aren’t stopping you either. A lot of people have found success despite their circumstances being against them. A ton of us are fighting daily irrespective of our circumstances. Some choose to leverage it while others use it as an excuse for their limitations.
The truth is, circumstances can be created, destroyed, controlled, mitigated, manipulated or most importantly — changed!
Similarly, people are not out to get you. Everybody’s life is a shit show and we all are trying our best to survive. Who has the time to really prevent you from prospering? Nobody is sitting with that as their number one agenda item and if you think they are, then you are mistaken.
You get to choose who you surround yourself with. Of course it is never easy to find the right kind of people or to even get rid of the ones you don’t want in your life but doable once you make up your mind.
Nobody can force their way into your life and you can’t force anyone to be a part of your life either. If the people you are surrounded with, always undo the good work done by you, then maybe it is time to look for a new tribe.
Our jobs aren’t stopping us either. If anything, it is empowering us to pursue our hobbies. If you hate your job and want to move to something better, you are more than welcome to.
The way I see it, nobody can stop you from walking out on your existing manager and company. If you hate it but are still sticking with it, then you are the only one responsible. The internet has made it even easier for us to take our skill sets wherever we like. Not doing so then is a personal choice.
Finally, relationships. I have found so many people putting the blame on the quality of their relationships or just on the other person in the relationship without trying to do something to improve it! If it is really that bad, you always have a choice to walk away or end it.
I suffer from this myself a lot too and tend to forget from time to time that I have a choice here and I am willingly a part of this.
If you are letting your relationship stop you from pursuing something, maybe it is time to set the right expectations.
If you constantly find yourself in a battle against these things, then you are really trying to run away from what might be the real issue here — the real enemy. You are not willing to take responsibility, have the hard conversations and make the hard choices in your life.
You Sleep With Your Real Enemies
The real enemy isn’t time, circumstances, people, your job or your quality of relationships.The factors holding you back and the enemies that you really have to fight are your worries, your mindset, your fears, your habits and your language.
According to research, a staggering 85 percent of the things we worry about, never happens. These unfounded worries keep us from moving forward.
You worry too much. You spend a lot of time thinking about what might happen instead of spending time working with what is in front of you. You create these imaginary roadblocks even before you can start tackling the problem
Worrying too much doesn’t help our mindset. I am sure all of us have this constant battle going on in our heads, questioning our every move, trying to tell us that we are not doing enough, being self-critical.
Do you remember what you were worried about three months ago on this exact date? How about six months? A year? You often end up creating this alternate reality where everything you are worrying about, is bound to happen and in the process, you miss what actually is!
One of the truths about life is that you have no control over 90 percent of the things happening to you, yet you put more energy and time worrying about that 90 percent rather than influencing the 10 percent that you do control.
Why then do you build these monsters inside your head and let them murder your dreams?
Getting a control over your mind is not easy. In fact, one of the hardest things to do is to master your mind! Mental toughness is the difference between good and great.
It is the difference between thriving and surviving.
Over a period of twenty-four hours, thoughts flow through us every single second! Most of them are negative. Yes, you read that right! If I had a dollar for every time I thought negatively, I would be richer than 99% of people in this world!
As if this isn’t enough, your brain:
- Is Full of doubt
- Is Self-critical
- Is Distracted
- Makes assumptions
- Rejects change
- Values comfort more than hard work.
I am sure all of us have this constant battle going on in our heads, questioning our every move, trying to tell us that we are not doing enough, being self-critical. All this when we are not even at hundred percent utilization! Can you imagine how self destructive we will be when we reach that hundred percent?
We are designed to think with or without benefit. Sometimes it is just out of curiosity but the same thinking usually ends up having an opposite effect. It confuses us. Instead of giving us clarity, we now get into analysis paralysis zone, which can be a total time suck.
Whether we like it or not, we just can’t stop thinking, regardless of whether it adds value or not. Learning to recognize what kind of thoughts or events trigger negative emotions is a revelation. It allows us to take control of our reaction to it.
To this day, I remember very vividly when Wayne Rooney made his debut for England in the FIFA World Cup aged 19. I was 17 then but it did not stop me from thinking that I am wasting my life!!
Your brain is the biggest cause of your bondage!
Your fears feast on your brains when you don’t have the right mindset. They are given a free pass to run rampant all over the head.
Instead of focusing on the positives, you are paralysed by the thoughts of what might go wrong. Instead of having an optimistic outlook on life, you are constantly looking at it from a ‘glass half empty’ perspective.
You are so comfortable in your existing setup that you end up sabotaging any opportunity that might come to you, just because you are always worried the worst will happen, instead of asking ‘What’s the best that can happen’
Most of us come up with perceived hurdles which might not actually exist just so we can delay our own successes.
Most of the time we don’t even know we are afraid of our own success.
One of my favorite movies is Coach Carter there is a very famous quote in this movie (from Marianne Wilson)
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
Fear of failure is just a fear we made up so we can mask the fact that we are afraid of chasing our dreams.
I have found that I :
- Speak more about what I am planning to do than actually doing it.
- Second guess often.
- Find distractions to keep me away from the actual work leading to my goals.
- Procrastinate in the name of not having found my passion yet.
If you do the same then just like me, you are letting your fears assassinate your dreams.
When fear paralyses you, it is hard to accept or push for change. Your bad habits get magnified.
If you procrastinate, you will do more of it.
If you eat junk to deal with emotional and mental stress, you will do more of that when worried or stressed.
If you get angry, you will get angrier.
In other words, your habits of self destruction will magnify if your fears run rampant. I find myself binge eating and Netflix binging when I am emotionally down,
Even without the fears, we usually have a hard time changing our habits. We struggle to put processes in place that will discipline us and help us achieve what we want to.
In my case, I am still struggling to put pen to paper everyday. In somebody else’s case, it could be the struggle to quit smoking or to get up early.
Whatever the habit maybe, unless you change it, it will hold you back. It will be the enemy to your growth and success.
Your language influences your subconscious mind, which then determines the kind of thought process you have and the perspective you build.
The words you use often establishes your conditioning. It gives the people around you an opportunity to assess, judge or form an opinion (good or bad) about you.
And believe me when I say it can cost you dearly if you are not using the right words.
Felix Kjellberg (Better known as PewDiePie) — one of the highest earners on YouTube had his YouTube series canceled, was dropped from the Google Affiliate Programme and forced Disney to distance themselves when he was accused of using the N-word and antisemitism both in the month of January 2017.
Two and a Half Men fired Charlie Sheen after he made anti-semitic remarks about the creator of the show Chuck Lorre.
The list is pretty long.
Athletes are fined all the time. Most recent being Serena Williams, whose reputation also took a hit.
You can probably overcome the monetary damage but what about your reputation? What about the people you hurt because of your choice of words? How do you undo the damage your words did to a loved one?
It takes all but a few seconds to say something hurtful and ruin what took you 10–15 years or a lifetime to build.
Oh, and one more thing: Vocalizing our negativity releases stress chemicals in our brain.
Fight The Right Fight
Take a hard look at your life. How well are you aware of the real problem? What is stopping you from going after what you need?
You might want to rethink if you catch yourself telling people that you would do something but you don’t have time or your circumstances are not currently allowing you to do it.
If you really want to go after whatever it is that you dream for, you need to stop fighting the wrong enemy and start focusing on the actual one. Get out of the amateur fighting ring and jump into the pro league.
Work on your mind, habits, fears, worries and language instead of blaming your time, circumstances, relationships and the people in your life.