Self 21 May 2018
If the question were asked, “Who is your worst enemy?", some of us wouldn't have to look any further than the mirror. “You are your own worst enemy" is a maxim for a reason. Many of us have developed self-sabotage habits we don't even realize are short-circuiting our own lives and goals.
When one reaches a "certain age," as I have (in my 60's), it's becoming a lot easier to spot some behaviors so obviously destructive for the actors. While I've been guilty of many of these things earlier in my own life, I now have a much clearer perspective on how your own actions will often prevent you from reaching your life's goals. See if any of the points below resonate with you:
1. You're Not Setting Long-Term Goals For Yourself
You wouldn't get on a train unless you had a destination, would you? So why let your life move along with no direction? Sure, goals can change, and it's okay if they do, but if you start out aimlessly wandering through your career and personal life, it can often lead to a less than happy result. Cruises to nowhere might be fun, but not when you're cruising to your future. If you don't plan and visualize your future, you may be leaving it entirely to chance.
2. You're Not Running Your Own Race
Do you know why horses wear blinders? Because they get distracted by things either in their side or rear views (their eyes are on the sides of their heads) and lose sight of where they're headed, whether racing or working. While your eyes are conveniently positioned in the front of your face, it doesn't stop you from being distracted from your goals when you begin comparing yourself with those around you. Negative self-talk: “Let's see. She' s my age and already vice president at her company", or “She's already married with a house and two children and I don't even have a significant other." So what? Maybe your life is taking a different path. After all, we don't all desire the same things. So, put on your metaphorical blinders and live your life for you, and you won't be tempted to relinquish your own goals and stray from the path you really desire!
3. You're Basing Your Career Choices On Salary Alone
Don't make salary your only benchmark for success. Unless your one and only goal in life is to live on Fifth Avenue and dine at Masa several times a week, look at the whole picture before you jump into a position. If being wealthy is your only goal, then go for it, but be aware that you may have to make a trade-off and abandon your own passion. Sometimes you can have both, but that scenario is a little rare.
A friend of mine took a “dream job" with a famous designer. She had to be on call 24/7 and was expected to jump when asked and then her only question could be “how high?"
4. You Don't Know “When To Hold 'Em And When To Fold 'Em"
While this is a well-known poker phrase, it's relevant for life too. Sometimes you take a job for the long haul, such as a start-up. Maybe you'll take a job with a company in the early stages of an enterprise, and you must be prepared to be in it a while before you see the spoils of your labor. I'll bet those that joined Marian Ilitch early on are glad they stuck with it. (She and her husband founded Little Caeser Pizza. She now ranks tops on Forbes' richest self-made women list.) The same goes for those who took a chance with Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, etc. But just as any financial advisor will tell you: “Some holdings are for long-term goals. Others are for a quick turn-around." Learn to spot the difference.
If you see great things from the entrepreneur you're working with, stay with it. You may be on the ground floor of a major success. However, if you see your boss losing momentum after a certain amount of time, maybe it's time to consider moving on. If you've gone as far as you can in your job at a well-established company, talk to your boss, and if there's no room for further growth, decide if you like your job well enough to stay in it for 20 more years or you want to spread your wings.
The same holds true for your personal life and relationships. Case in point: my dear brother was engaged for 14 years! Yup, that's right. He was never ready to take that final step. Unfortunately, his fiancé didn't get it and she hung in there. When she finally broke it off, he quickly met someone else, moved in and was married before the door closed on his ex. Dragging one's feet isn't the only sign your relationship isn't going anywhere, but I think we'll sometimes close our eyes to the obvious signs. If marriage and a family are what you want in your future, you shouldn't spend all your time with someone who eschews this lifestyle. And if settling down isn't on your long-term menu, don't spend too much time with someone whose goal it is.
5. You Are Using Booze Or Food As Rewards Or To Fill That Empty Spot In Your Life
All of us need perks and positive things in our lives. But you must be aware that booze is a very short-term fix—as is food. The consequences of both can be drastic.
Have you ever wasted an entire Saturday or Sunday trying to get over a severe hangover from drinking way too much the night before? A beautiful day can be wasted because of a couple of hours of “fun" drinking. While I'm far from calling for a revival of Prohibition, we must start self-moderating instead of self-sabotaging! If drinking has become your only go-to way to enjoy your weekends, it may be time to reexamine your social life.
The same goes for over-eating. Is an extra appetizer and dessert a reward for your week of hard work? Do you waive your usual selectivity and order anything you want regardless of its unhealthfulness? Uh Oh…shouldn't there be a way to celebrate that's more meaningful and less injurious to your health? While most of us need these splurges—both food and drink—occasionally, when it becomes a little too frequent, you are sabotaging yourself.
6. You're Becoming Obsessed With Tinder And Other Dating Sites
Granted, dating sites offer a way to substantially increase your access to dating partners. However, when talking with some of my younger friends, I'm noticing there's an over-abundance of dependence on meeting people on social media alone. But guess what? People did manage to meet and even marry before Match.com was even a gleam in a computer nerd's eye! Shouldn't online dating be more of an adjunct than the primary way of meeting people? Have we forgotten the art of socializing in person?
Another negative side effect of online dating is it often becomes a constant search for someone better. You might come home from a date and quickly go online to see if you've had any hits before you give a chance to the one you just left.
There are few perfect people out there (including you) so why not date one at a time, explore the possibilities, and move on from there. Failure to live up to an online version of one's self, half created by you and half by the other participant, can cause a disappointing meeting. While his description of himself didn't include his awkwardness or crazy laugh, you might be able to overlook these points if you hadn't imagined him to be some knock-out George Clooney type.
7. You've Fallen Into The Designers Only Trap
Having some basic good quality, well-tailored pieces in your wardrobe is a must. But, unless you're already rolling in the bucks, however, it isn't necessary to have high-end labels on every item in your wardrobe. By now, you must have developed taste and style of your own, so why not experiment with accessories at first, and try out a few discount stores and thrift shops. You'll not only save on currency, but you may find some unique items to supplement your wardrobe. Become familiar with this type of store and you'll soon find you develop an eye for finding pieces that will individualize your look.
You'd be surprised how some of these finds can fool people. I worked in a fashion company for the creative director who wore under-suit tank tops that cost $100. While these were expensed to the company as part of her wardrobe allowance, they didn't last any longer than a much less expensive version. I remember one time I wore a dress to work and threw a $3.99 see-through bolero over it. My boss raved about it and asked where I bought it. I think she was a little embarrassed when I told her it was from a little deep discount store on 34th Street!
8. You Buy Into The Habit Of Living With Labels That No Longer Describe You
So maybe you were a little “ditsy" in elementary school and your friends always referred to you as such. However lovingly it was meant back then, it doesn't mean you still identify with that label. While you might have been the class clown and you have a great sense of humor still, it doesn't mean you must regale your friends with a comedy act even when you're feeling down.
You can adjust the images people have of you by acting a little differently than you have done. This doesn't mean you're going to be phony now, it just means you should be aware if you're always behaving as everyone expects.
9. You Haven't Expanded Your Stable Of Friends
There's nothing like talking on the phone for hours with your BFF, or visiting during the year whenever you can when they're in a different location. Having a shared history with someone, whether from high school, college days, or former jobs is so comforting, especially when you're going through stressful or exciting times. Don't rely on those few trusted friends to be your only source of camaraderie though. New friends can offer new perspectives and networks to your life. Maybe next time your BFF is in town you can bring everyone together.
10. Your Picture Should Be In The Dictionary Under "Procrastination"
The last and one of the deadliest signals that you are sabotaging yourself is you are always procrastinating. Guilty! That's something I struggle with, and writing this article is no exception. Starting with book reports in grade school to not doing my wash until I can't close my hamper, I have the habit of putting things off until tomorrow. I am always working hard to change this and have made some improvement, but I still have a way to go. The adage, “Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today" should be etched on my own walls. If you find this a problem for you, let changing it be a priority!
This article was first published 9/17
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.