Have you ever noticed how just when you finally make a decision to change something important in your life, it suddenly seems like everyone around you wants you to stay the same as you’ve always been?
Maybe you’ve finally decided to quit smoking. You know it gives you bad breath, is horrible for your health, and your kids are sick of your second-hand smoke. So, you’ve made the commitment. Bought your Nicoderm patches. Have a plan outlined.
Then, what happens? Your friends who still smoke show you no remorse about offering you cigarettes, smoking in front of you, and basically, putting down your efforts to improve yourself… perhaps even taking bets on how long before you’re back with them in the "smoker’s lounge." Why do they do this? It’s called "sabotage." Dr. Phil’s new book, "Self Matters," is a great road to self-discovery and has an entire chapter on what transpires in typical "sabotage."
There are many reasons that our friends or family try to sabotage our success … sometimes consciously and sometimes not. Basically, change is threatening and when someone rocks the boat, by introducing change, there may be a ripple effect to others. They may think, "If you stop smoking, maybe I’ll have to stop too and what if I fail?" Instead of inner self talk of "I Can’t," saboteurs turn it upon us and say, "YOU can’t!"
Saboteurs come in one of four different types: 1) The "Overprotectors," who are trying to keep us from failing and getting hurt, thus try talking us out of beginning something to begin with, 2)"The Power Manipulators," who want to keep us under their thumb, 3) "The Levelers," who don’t want us to become better than they are and thus try to keep us at their level or lower, and 4) "The Status Quo Seekers," who may hate how things are but find the known safer than the unknown, no matter how miserable the known might be.
This past year I experienced many major changes in my life and was totally blindsided when some of my friends sabotaged me. After returning from 6 months of living and working in Mexico, (my "running away from home episode," which helped me re-discover who I really wanted to be and was the most wonderful gift I have ever given myself,) – one of my closest friends met me upon my return with an onslaught of verbal abuse! You would have thought that I had stolen her boyfriend, destroyed her business, and totalled her car all in one fell swoop! (I did none of the above!) I was totally confused, crushed, and dismayed that she was telling me how terrible I had been for leaving her while I went off to "find myself."
It is only now that I understand her behavior. I didn’t fit into the "niche" she had me pegged in anymore. She and some of my other friends didn’t know what to "do" with me, since I had changed and the "new me" was threatening to them. It took me awhile to realize that the most important thing was to be true to ME first and my friends and family, second.
So, when you are assessing the direction you choose to take in your life, remember this: no one else walks in your shoes but you. No one else can understand what makes you tick, what life you live behind closed doors, or what fills you with passion. With that in mind, you must be true to YOU first and foremost. Your true supporters will be in your corner with you, whether they agree with you or not. Look for them and hold onto them tightly – they can help you through the tough times!
If you are getting ready to take a step outside your box, whatever that may be, just know that there are saboteurs out there and they may be disguised as loved ones. You can choose to ignore them, keep them, or leave them behind, but know what your intention is and stick to it! Living "outside the box" is exciting but the path there isn’t always easy!
Mary Jo Fay facilitates a seminar entitled "Power Out of the Boxx," in Cozumel, Mexico each month and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (303) 841-7691.