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Why Am I My Own Worst Enemy? (Complete Explanation)

By Tiffiny J. Fambro | Confidence

Jun 29
Sad woman sitting alone near window

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There have been times in my life when it felt like nothing was going right. Every time I worked to take one step forward, life would push me 3 steps back. I couldn’t figure out why things weren’t working out. Why was my life so hard?

I finally came to this conclusion: IT WAS ME…

I was the one making my life difficult- I was my own worst enemy. And I’m not alone. I talk to countless women who tell me similar stories about getting caught up in the same cycles of bad relationships, financial difficulties, career issues, and family drama over and over again. But they can’t seem to figure out why.

Part of being your own worst enemy is that you sabotage your success. No matter how close you get to your joy or your peace, you find a way to derail your progress, pushing you back into old unhelpful habits, relationships with negative people, and toxic negative beliefs.

My Own Worst Enemy Meaning

A big reason women find themselves trapped in the cycle of being their own worst enemy is that they were never taught to understand, love, accept, trust, respect, and choose themselves first, or at least not as much as they should.

Here’s the thing- if you feel like you fit that description, it’s not entirely your fault. You may have developed negative beliefs about yourself or how the world works during your childhood development. These beliefs can be so ingrained that you often unconsciously make decisions that stand in the way of your happiness.

We usually engage in these self-limiting habits at a time in our lives when we are getting close to achieving a big goal or finishing a significant life milestone. It’s during these times when the fear and anxiety show up, and we begin to do things that sabotage our success.

Self-sabotaging behaviors are often a coping mechanism for childhood neglect, past traumatic events, relationship issues, low-self esteem, and a negative self-image. However, engaging in self-sabotaging actions creates stress and keeps you stuck.

Examples of Being Your Own Worst Enemy

There are many ways that you can sabotage your life and be your own worst enemy. However, we will discuss only a few.

Traumatic Romantic Relationships

Romantic relationships can be so beautiful when you are with the right person but they can be a nightmare with the wrong person. A few signs of being in a relationship with the wrong person are:

  • someone who uses you for your attention, time, and resources
  • someone who only pays attention to you when they feel like someone else is in the picture
  • someone that shows you affection only when they needs something.
  • someone that physically, mentally, emotionally or verbally abuses you
  • someone who is possessive or tries to control you.

When you allow people that display these types of behaviors to keep coming back into your life, you are being your own worst enemy.

Putting Other People First

The way we put other people first is by over-giving and being over-responsible. If you are over-responsible, you may find it difficult to ask for help even when you desperately need it. Or you may feel like you are a burden to others and try to be the strong one all the time. You may also take responsibility for other people’s actions, or feel guilty about having boundaries.

When someone does something for you, you may feel the need to double or triple their efforts, and so you over-give. Unfortunately, doing that makes the other person uncomfortable, sabotages your chances for a mutual relationship, prevents you from living in line with your values, and makes you feel underappreciated.

Putting others first stems from a place of low-self esteem and self-worth. When you over-function, over-give, and over-compensate in your relationships you are teaching people to expect more from you and give less. People then feel you are unimportant, so they overstep your boundaries, do less, abuse you, take advantage of you, and leave you questioning your own self-worth. This is yet another signed of worst enemy behavior.

Not Standing Up for Yourself

Standing up for yourself is about taking responsibility for your own dignity and honoring yourself. Unfortunately, when you avoid confrontation or any conflict you end up hurting and inconveniencing yourself. Some many times this is out of fear of what may happen if you confront someone for overstepping your boundaries, so you suffer in order to keep what you perceive as peace.

Each time you pass on an opportunity to stand up for yourself, you are self-sabotaging. You are doing precisely what the other person wants: backing down and allowing them to hurt you. The more you enable this behavior, the more you give people permission to cross your boundaries, disrespect your wishes and degrade your confidence. You want to be respected but you get in your way by not standing up for yourself. This is worst enemy behavior.

sad woman
Sad afro-american woman portrait isolated on background

Hiding Who You Are

Have you ever found yourself pretending to be who you are not to gain someone’s favor, keep a job, or avoid scaring a romantic partner? When you pretend to be someone your are not or pretend to like something you don’t, you don’t allow people to get to know you. This inturn opens up the door for accepting their behavior based on who they think you are or going along with circumstances that you don’t agree with. The worst part is you can’t put up a pretense forever, so you still end up losing.

Depending Too Much On Other People

You don’t trust your abilities to accomplish anything on your own successfully. You feel you need to involve another person in everything you do. The self-doubt and lack of confidence in your intelligence and strength make you over-depend on others. The moment you face a challenge, you reach out for help. You may even ask for someone’s opinion on how to drink water!

You don’t try to solve problems yourself before reaching out for help or feedback. The more you expect people to save you even though you aren’t in distress, the more you lose your ability to depend on yourself and be self-sufficient. In other words, you sabotage yourself by missing out on an opportunity to learn and grow.

This puts you in a position where rarely take risks or have exciting new experiences. Being over-dependent on people opens you up to accepting abusing behavior, micro-management, or disrespect.

Being a Perfectionist

If you are a perfectionist, you may not see yourself as such. Perfectionism is self-hatred. You may not know when to pause, take a deep breath, and rest, so you may often experience burnout. You always want to be perfect in absolutely everything you do. So you overthink and procrastinate until you do nothing, then blame yourself and assume you are a failure.

You engage in self-criticism and self-bullying when you don’t meet up with the lengthy to-do list you have written down or the excessively high standards you set for yourself. You don’t respect your body, bandwidth, and limitations. You set unrealistic goals for yourself and then beat yourself up if you don’t achieve them.

Making Decisions When You Are Emotional

Do you know how people say that making decisions in anger will ruin you? Well, the same is true when you are excited and afraid. You may bet away your life savings, scream at your children for tearing your journal, or call your ex-husband because you feel unsafe living alone. Afterward, you think, “What the heck was I thinking?” Chances are you were feeling lonely, and not thinking. Making decisions when you are emotional can rob you of creating clear, logical, fact-based plans that will help you move forward faster in life.

How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy

In order to stop being your own worst enemy, you must be willing to…

Be Your Own Advocate

Being your own advocate is about prioritizing your needs and making sure that you are well taken care of first. Before you say anything, let me add that having kids shouldn’t stop you from taking care of yourself. Your kids deserve a happy mother, and yes, they will understand.

There was you before your job, family, and friends. That means you should never abandon yourself or your needs in exchange for anything or anyone. You do not have a legitimate excuse to neglect your physical, mental, or emotional well-being. Other people’s thoughts, expectations, feelings, and wellness is their responsibility, not yours. Be willing to take care of your physical, mental and emotional and stand up for your own needs.

Recognize and Reject Distorted Thinking Patterns

How we speak to ourselves is sometimes so critical and demeaning. If we ever had anyone talk to us the way our inner critic does, they would be exiled from our life. Sometimes, we tend to be too hard on ourselves, which is counter-productive. Phrases like “you are not good enough” and “no one can ever truly love you” are evil thoughts you should reject.

Distorted thinking patterns are often the cause of self-sabotage. Negative thoughts may make you think you are a failure, overgeneralize, assume the worst, take things personally, ignore the good things in your life, or believe that your emotions reflect reality.

Because your thinking drives your actions, distorted thinking patterns cause self-sabotaging behaviors. Therefore, it’s crucial to become more self-aware to identify and stop negative thinking. Here is a list of distorted thinking patterns you should know to stop the negative thoughts that make you sabotage yourself.

Learn to Control Your Emotions

Aside from our thoughts, emotions can cause us to make bad decisions that may hurt us. While you may not be able to halt your emotions, it’s often possible to control your response to your feelings. In other words, you don’t have to react or act on how you feel. Remember that you are not a slave to your emotions. You can control your feelings and avoid getting in your way.

Practice Self-Love

Practicing self-love is vital to overcoming self-sabotaging habits. You may realize you don’t have a good self-care routine. You need to have a relationship with yourself that is based on self-love. It’s essential to have a self-care-based morning routine because what we do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Focus on meditation, exercise, podcasts, and journaling without distractions. That means no checking and replying to emails until you are done. Self-care activities reduce stress, self-destructive behaviors, and thoughts.

Get Therapy/Coaching

You may benefit from therapy and coaching. A coach can advise and point out unconscious self-sabotaging habits you may have. You will learn strategies and tips to help you cope and overcome negative thoughts and self-limiting beliefs. A therapist or coach can also help you learn how to manage and control your emotions.

Conclusion

Being your own worst enemy is the result of continuous self-sabotage behavior that destroys your life. However, when you are able to recognize these behaviors and quickly make necessary changes you can start healing and creating a life you desire. Overall the goal is to focus on achieving greater self-awareness, self-development, and improving your mental, and physical well-being. This will help to improve your mindset and help you gradually make changes that benefit you!

About the Author

Tiffiny has a B.A. in Psychology, and master’s degree in Public Health Education. She worked in consulting for over 16 years, as well as previously owning a fitness and health business. In her personal life, she used personal development, mindset and health strategies to go from being overworked in a demanding corporate career, emotionally drained in a toxic marriage, physically unhealthy, and depressed to becoming an award-winning figure level bodybuilding athlete and entrepreneur. As a women’s empowerment coach, she works to help women get clear on their goals, build confidence, increase self-esteem, take action on their deep desires and create a life they love

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