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Your Worst Enemy

September 5, 2013

In my last blog I wrote about your BFF (best friend forever), which is your PFC (prefrontal cortex).

This week let’s look at what may be your worst enemy—drumroll please—your self-image!

Surprised?  We’re told from birth on that we need to shore up our self-image and our sense of self, right?  Well here’s another one of life’s little paradoxes:  the more we try to firm up our sense of self, the more we may be concretizing some of our biggest limitations.

Here’s how it works.  If I hold a belief that I’m kind, I’ll never notice when I’m being cruel.  If I think I’m a good listener, I won’t see the eyes of the person I’m talking with glaze over.  If I believe I’m not judgmental, I won’t notice when I totally annihilate someone who I’ve decided is judgmental…see what I mean?

So here’s a suggestion.  Start each day with a clean slate.  As best you can drop your ideas about who you are (which are closely related to who you think you should be, or who you wish you were), and simply notice how you behave.  And then notice how others respond to your behavior.

If you look closely, your behavior will always tell you who you really are.  The good news is that once you see who you really are, then you can stop acting out of it, and decide who you want to be and how you want to behave.

Whether this left you totally confused or made some sense, please leave a comment with your thoughts.  They’re so valued.

Totally unrelated, here’s a u-tube video/song by One Republic that reminds me how I want to live each time I listen to it.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIC6upazD6c




  1. Dick says:

    I think the clean slate idea is sensible. It is one principle of the 12
    Step programs for “recovery,” stated thusly, “Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong (not as we would want to be), promptly admitted it.”
    Start each day not locked into a past behavior, but start fresh, making adjustments as we see fit.
    This is the power of living in the moment. Having a daily reprieve as it were, not condemned to stay in past behaviors, nor to fret over what the future may hold.

    • Robyn says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Dick. Yes, the awareness that each day truly is an opportunity for a new beginning seems like a great definition of freedom. Robyn

  2. Cathy says:

    Great post. I wrote an article for the Huffington Post last year entitled “Thank God for Cancer.” Boy did I get crucified by some people. The fact is, my ongoing battle with cancer isn’t fun, it isn’t easy and it wasn’t in my plan, but it IS and through it I have learned a ton, especially about shedding the toxic people and things in my life.
    So right on, sister.

    • Robyn says:

      Isn’t it crazy … when we (humans) get scared we’re certainly not at our charming best!!! We attack the thing that scares us, which soooo doesn’t work out in our best interest!! And it seems reasonable that your article scared them because it presented a different response to cancer than they expected. Obviously the Huffington Post thought you had something of value to say :). Robyn

    • Robyn says:

      Yes!!! The trick is that for me it can be a lot harder than it seems. I can be pretty married to who I think I am/wish I was! Thanks for the great summary. Robyn

  3. Jeannette says:

    Great thoughts, as always. FYI, went to watch the video and what comes up with the link has blocked content for copyright reasons. Could you find a different link and post? Make it a great day!

    • Robyn says:

      Jeannette, I checked and the link isn’t set up for phones. So you can either play it on your computer or pick it up on u-tube (One Republic, I’ve Lived). Robyn

  4. Beth says:

    This really spoke to me- “If you look closely, your behavior will always tell you who you really are. The good news is that once you see who you really are, then you can stop acting out of it, and decide who you want to be and how you want to behave.”

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Robyn says:

      So glad it resonated for you. It sort of gives self-awareness a purpose in a way. It’s not just navel gazing; it’s about creating positive change. Robyn

  5. Scott says:

    It’s been a while since I chimed in but this particular subject really hit home for me. This was one thing that Robyn really impressed on me that helped me out a TON in every aspect of my life. I learned, and continue to learn, that I’m not really ‘who’ I thought I was at least not entirely. Labels can be useful things, but they can also be dangerous things. Try to avoid using them, because I can tell you that it helps a lot. I just try to make a concious effort to start off my day, a conversation, a meeting, etc. with an open mind and no preconditions. Some days I’m more successful than others but it still helps to catch it when I remember to.

    • Robyn says:

      Always love your insightful comments Scott, and it’s great to hear that things stick and can be helpful :). I think you make a great point that it’s not just about our own self-image, we also limit others when we label them. Robyn

      • Scott says:

        Totally agreed. But more importantly, at least in my mind anyway, is that we limit ourselves. It’s an ugly circle. Because then, just being human beings, we can start thinking we’re a certain way or a certain type of person all over again. It’s really amazing how everything is so intertwined when you take a moment to think about it.

      • Robyn says:

        I’m with you…and when I think about it, and pay attention, it’s kind of amazing how easy it is to fall back into old behaviors. It’s fascinating to me that we never ‘arrive’–as they say, it’s all about the journey. And it’s so much richer when I’m paying attention! Robyn

  6. Cindy says:

    I just discovered the blog. I guess it was not getting to my inbox. Interesting topic. Practising acceptance and starting fresh each day is a great approach. Sometimes, the devil is in the details, so to speak. As much as we might wish to start with a clean slate each day we cannot help being influenced by a variety of factors such as past experiences, social conventions, or cognitve distortions that are largely flying below the radar. There are good days and bad ones…

    • Robyn says:

      Hey Cindy, glad you found it! Totally agree. Above all, no matter how self-aware we become, we remain human, vulnerable to and enriched by the context of our lives. Robyn

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