5 Reasons Why Being Your Own Worst Enemy Can Be Good For You

Garrett Hauenstein
Mar 26, 2015 · 4 min read

From time to time, we all stand in our own way. Whether it’s at work, in our personal creative endeavors or in our private lives, occasionally we engage in self-sabotaging behaviors that undercut the goals we’ve established for ourselves.

In my own personal life, I can recall countless times: In my professional life, I’ve been in heated meetings where the worst thing I could do is lose my cool and immediately draw attention away from the valid point I was making. So, of course I find myself shouting like a child while I watch any hope of persuading my audience disappear before my eyes. Back in my dating years, I was making a play for a girl who looked just like the actress Kirsten Dunst, my friend with much more dating mojo advised me, “whatever you do, don’t tell her she looks like Kirsten Dunst, she must get that all the time, say something else.” So, obviously, that was the first thing I said. Clearly, I didn’t get a date.

The source of this behavior can vary from simple carelessness, to emotional overload, to a subconscious belief that the thing we are working for we aren’t worthy of in the first place — thus, the subsequent failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It may seem intuitive that if given a choice, we would strike this behavior from our lives entirely and leave ourselves with only the perfect response or reaction in any given situation, but I’ve found, over time this isn’t always true.

I acknowledge that it is good to try and control impulsive reactions that lead to negative consequences, but what I’m driving at here, is that there are some positives to be gained from having these “negatives” comes to pass from time to time.

1) We learn to be forgiving of ourselves

Self-forgiveness is key to any healthy person. We will never be perfect and any person who tells you otherwise needs to take a long look in the mirror and see a therapist immediately. Like anything, the more something happens, the better we learn to deal with it. Learn to shake off the tough times but acknowledging the poor decision, understanding what you could (and should) have done differently, make amends where necessary, and get back into action.

2) We learn to be self-aware

Self awareness is a dying trait in modern society. Most people move around without any hint of an understanding of who they really are and what makes themselves tick. People move so fast that they are on to the next goal or life-milestone before they have given any thought to what got them to the last mile-stone. Taking stock of your own failings, especially the ones that came at your own hand will allow you a better perspective into who you are and how you can avoid the same failure the next time.

3) Inner-Conflict inspires creativity

The idea of being “your own worst enemy”, by its own nature, indicates that there is some part of you that stands at odds with another part of you. Or, said another way, a part of you that would choose Path A, and a part of your that would choose Path B. This conflict inspires all sorts of brain activity that brings about wonderful creative energies. The Yin and Yang, the Good Wolf and the Bad Wolf (which would you feed? Answer: Feed both) — all of these concepts that indicate that one cannot exist without the other and each inspire the other. Let them play off one another and see where the energy takes you.

4) It is an open window to your subconscious — take a look

Often times, the part of the equation you’re looking to suppress or control, is a glimpse into your subconscious, or how you would play this out if you had total control. In my own life example (above) in my business meeting, I was angry as hell and wanted to [metaphorically] rip everyone’s heads off. This ended up giving me some great insight into my own feelings about my job in general. If I had suppressed that and never experienced it, I’m not sure I would have been able to see that.

5) Sometimes it works out

Being “your own worst enemy” is very often an over-emotional response to a situation. But, sometimes this can be called going with your gut, which can be a very good thing. No one would argue that screaming in a business meeting is wise, but there are situations where you might decide a course of action is foolish based on pre-planning when in reality, going with your gut is precisely what you should be doing. Some time ago, I was in a job interview for a marketing position and I was asked “based on what you’ve seen of our marketing efforts now, what do you think?” Frankly, I thought they were garbage. In my head, I thought I should soften this because the man I was interviewing with had had a hand in developing these efforts, but I went with my gut and told him what I thought. It worked out and he agreed with what I thought.

We all need to find a balance in life, to find self-control and be able to forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. But we also can benefit from learning to see that not every self-sabotaging incident is wholly awful. Find the positive take-aways from your own worst moments and you’ll find you’re not doing as bad as you think you are.

    Garrett Hauenstein

    Written by

    Marketing Professional, Photo Enthusiast