I’m friends with a large number of incredibly brilliant people. But I’ve noticed something through the years: even the most incredible minds among us get stuck in thought loops and habit patterns that lead to self-sabotage.
Why is this?
Because we’ve grown accustomed to thinking as opposed to feeling our way through life. Because from the time we’re young, we build our sense of self (and security) based on the rightness of our thoughts as opposed to the wholeness of our beings. Because we know everything about how it should be. Because we are living among “perfect people”.
Ways Smart People Self Sabotage
We believe we’re supposed to have the right answers, right now.
Our minds are impatient. We’re wired to reason our way to relief. Once we learn to listen deeply, however, and engage our whole awareness, we realize that we have all the answers we need and can effectively utilize in this moment. As we align our minds with our hearts, we become increasingly comfortable NOT knowing the answers and come to trust in life as an inherently supportive process.
We underestimate the value of our uniqueness.
When we look around and no one else is like us, we begin to think we’re better off conforming than risking ridicule by showing up in all our quirky uniqueness. It is precisely this uniqueness, however, that attracts the kind of people we WANT in our lives and places us on the path that feels right for us.
We fall prey to perfectionism.
We’ve been taught that being smart means presenting as perfectly as possible. This keeps many of us from putting much of ANYTHING out there (much less our truest selves) for fear of being found out for all our “flaws.”
“Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough.”
We think ourselves out of taking chances.
Because we are smart, we can easily talk ourselves out of just about anything. Arguments that keep us within our comfort zone (at the expense of our joy) may be convincing, but rarely lead us to the sense of fulfillment we seek.
We try to right the present by overthinking our past.
Though reflection and story sorting is essential to growth and healing, many of us get so good at making sense of our past that it detracts from our present. Spending a greater percentage of our time in the present moment through mindful awareness increases the quality of everything we do.
We attempt to avoid pain.
Our culture teaches us that pain is bad and to be avoided at all cost. The truth is that pain is an inevitable part of our experience and essential for growth and healing. By facing painful situations, allowing them to teach us what we’re meant to learn and letting them pass through us, our fears of being hurt have less and less power over us.
We’re vague about what we want in life.
Our lives are so full of options that it’s easy to live in a state of constant indecision. By learning to silence the noise around us (and within our busy minds) we become more clear about what it is we really want, which is an essential step toward creating lives we love.
We apologize or make excuses for our awesomeness.
Because every version of brilliance is unique and therefor easily labeled as weird or socially unacceptable, we try to fit in by dumbing ourselves down. Being fully ourselves can even seem like a burden to others, depending on whether we were validated for who we truly are when we were young. To apologize for who we are, however, is to apologize for being a piece of the universe. No gift so invaluable as this needs justification.
We take things personally.
Nothing anyone does is really about you. People’s reactions to you are based on their limited awareness and emotions. Taking things personally is a way we distort our sense of importance. We are important, just not based on whether or not others approve of us.
We believe the myth of failure.
Failure is not a fact, failure is a judgement. When we think we might fail, we hold back our greatest gifts for fear of finding out we’re worth even less than we thought. By thinking of failures, instead, as powerful game changers or essential life lessons, we can choose to gain from them and keep going, better equipped.
No matter how confusing our culture makes it seem, your unique brilliance is exactly what the world needs. In fact, it’s the ONLY thing the world needs from you.