By Brian Kane 1/19/2011,
My late Grandpa Fred had many sayings. Some were funny. (Lemonade in the shade is as big as a baby elephant’s asssssssk your mom for 10 cents to by a glass. A dinner-time prayer: Here’s the bread, here’s the meat, why the hell don’t we eat?) Some were serious. (Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone. To the more laconic: You are your own worst enemy). The last one always stuck with me. Why would you be your own worst enemy?
When we are born, we are a clean slate, for the most part. We haven’t really had our hearts broken, gotten let go from a job, had a loved one die, been told we were stupid, ugly, nerdy, et-cetera. The problem is not when we are told these things, it is how we react to them. If we react negatively and store those ideas about ourselves in our minds, they can create blockages that prevent us from being who we really are. They can prevent us from being happy.
During a recent meditation, I sought to answer why it is that I often expect the worse to happen. Some have called me paranoid, neurotic, skeptical, cynical. The truth is that the more I want something, the louder the inner voice of doubt speaks up, often with ridiculous assumptions and scenarios. The simple answer is that I should be able to handle anything. No matter what happens, I must remain hopeful and optimistic. It’s easy to be depressed and doubtful. And that is why some people chose that path. It is harder to be optimistic, but the payoff is much larger.
I’ve been my worst enemy many times. I used to think I just had really low self-esteem, but the problem is a bit more complicated than that. For me, as I am sure for many others, being self-sabotaging is a way to avoid failure and the pain that it can cause. Moreover, we often avoid situations that caused us heartbreak in the past. I am reminded of Paul Simon crooning: “I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died. If I never loved, I never would have cried,” in the song “I am a Rock.” The character he is depicting with song, finds solace in his books and his poetry: But how can one survive by being a lonely, morose recluse? I am not sure you can.
Over the past few years my view of people has changed dramatically. For instance, in 2008 I met a woman (we’ll call her Courtney) who is blindingly brilliant. She attended a prestigious college, did well for a couple years there, but then dropped out. Her reasoning was not quite clear, but she stated that most of it had to do with not being on good terms with her guidance counselor. I believe it had more to do with her self-doubt, which led to drug abuse and self-mutilation. Her reasoning for that had to do with many things, including the way she was treated in high school (she was harassed for being a minority at her school and often physically and psychologically abused ) to her father dying when she was only in her 20s. These are definitely some tough things to endure, but like I stated earlier, it is not what happens to us in life that determines who we are, it is how we choose to react to those hardships. Of course there is always a time of grief and sadness in life, but what happens in our lives can either make us bitter or better.
I’ve also met other people who aren’t so smart. They aren’t so talented or attractive. Yet they are living happy, successful lives and fulfilling their potentials. This is because the quality of life we experience is almost certainly affected by our attitudes. Whereas my super smart friend, Courtney, has actually been homeless, partly due to her being her own worst enemy, some of the people I have met recently who were not given as many gifts, are living happy, healthy lives.
All in all, at least half of the success you will experience in life has to do with attitude. It was Woody Allen who quipped “80 per cent of success is just showing up.” Being brave can be tough, but hardly anyone who is successful did not take chances.
Many of the aforementioned ideas are not new to us. They seem so basic. Yet many people opt to avoid situations that make them vulnerable. Whether it’s giving a presentation in front of your boss, or asking a girl or boy out on a date, applying for your dream job and on and on, most of us have been our own worst enemies, making excuse after excuse for not being the person we really want to be.
So how does Yi Ren Tai Chi and QiGong and meditation fit into all this? For me, the best way to break through my internal blockages has been to observe them from an objective view. This can be accomplished by quieting the mind. I have become much more self aware by studying QiGong. This process has not always been easy. I have come to many plateaus over the last year and one half that I never thought I would advance from. Currently I am very aware of my blockages and the unnecessary fears they have created in my life. Because of my Ego and proud-nature, I used to repress my problems. However, I have been very humbled by the teachings of Dr. Sun and Brendan Thorson. The first step I had to overcome in order to make personal progress was to be able to take criticism. I have become much better at not taking constructive criticism/advice personally. Now that I am privy to my problems, I am confident I can surmount them and live a fruitful life. I am confident that I will one day be my best ally…