We’re often led to act against ourselves by an undetected weakness that goes before us — trying to pass itself off to others — as a strength. This is secret self-sabotage. It sinks us in our personal and business relationships as surely as a torpedo wrecks the ship it strikes. Learning how to stop this self-sinking is the focus of this exercise. Let’s begin by gathering the higher insights we’ll need to succeed.
Any person you feel the need to control or dominate — so that he or she will treat you as you “think” you should be treated — will always be in charge of you… and treat you accordingly. Why? Because anyone from whom you want something, psychologically speaking, is always in secret command of you.
Any action we take to appear strong before another person is actually read by that person as a weakness. If you doubt this finding, review the past interactions and results of your own relationships. The general rule of thumb is that the more you demand or crave the respect of others, the less likely you are to receive it. If you’ve ever tried to raise children, you know this is true.
So it makes no sense to try and change the way others treat you by learning calculated behaviors or attitude techniques in order to appear in charge. The only thing these clever cover-ups really produce is yet another source of secret inner conflict, which, in turn, only fuels further self-sabotage. Besides, what you’re really looking for in your relationships isn’t command over others — but over yourself. So what’s the answer?
Stop trying to be strong. Instead, start catching yourself about to act from weakness.
Don’t be too surprised by this unusual instruction. A brief examination reveals its wisdom. Following are ten examples of where you may be secretly sabotaging yourself while wrongly assuming you’re strengthening your position with others.
- Fawning before people to win their favor.
- Expressing contrived concern for someone’s well-being.
- Making small talk to smooth out the rough edges.
- Hanging onto someone’s every word.
- Looking for someone’s approval.
- Asking if someone is angry with you.
- Fishing for a kind word.
- Trying to impress someone.
- Explaining yourself to others.
Let’s look at this last act of secret self-sabotage, explaining yourself to others, and use it to see how we can transform what has always been the seed of some self-sinking act into a conscious source of self-command.
The next time you feel as though you need to explain yourself to someone (other than to your employer as it may concern his or her business affairs), give yourself a quick and simple internal test. This test will help you check for and cancel any undetected weakness that’s about to make you sabotage yourself.
Here’s what to do: Run a pressure check.
Here’s how: Come wide awake and run a quick inner scan within yourself to see if that question you’re about to answer — or that answer you’re about to give, without having been asked for it — is something you really want to do. Or are you about to explain yourself because you’re afraid of some as yet undisclosed consequence if you don’t?
This self-administered test for inner pressure is how you tell if your forthcoming explanation is truly voluntary, or if you’re on the verge of being shanghai-ed again into an unconscious act of self-sabotage. Your awareness of any pressure building within you is the proof that it’s some form of fear — and not you — that wants to do the explaining, fawning, impressing, blabbing, or whatever the self-sabotaging the inner pressure is pushing you to commit.
Each time you feel this pressurized urge to give yourself away, silently but solidly refuse to release this pressure by giving into its demands. It may help you to succeed sooner if you know that fear has no voice unless it tricks you into giving it one. So stay silent. Your conscious silence stops self-sabotage.
(Excerpted from Design Your Destiny.)