My Brain is a Jerk Sometimes, Like Tonight

Over the last couple of years, I have developed an obsession with personal development. It probably stems from my work in the enneagram which probably stems from relentlessly searching for a way to fix my anxious monkey mind. I am trying to do my inner work so that I can be better than I was yesterday, whatever \”better\” means, or at least FEEL better than I did yesterday, maybe be more joyful, less nervous, more grateful, less angry. That kind of stuff.

For the last several weeks I have been working through a personal development program through Mindvalley called Lifebook by Jon Butcher. The basic idea is that you take every important area of your life (he has 12 categories) and think deeply about what you believe about that category, what your ideal vision for that category is, why you want your ideal vision and what strategies you might use to get there.

I\’ve worked through my health and fitness (probably the one I struggle with most) and waded through the love relationship category and even took a shot at the Parenting section (a category I have no real experience in). I feel like I\’ve done a decent job at figuring out what I want in all the categories (which I\’m proud of, considering I am extremely ambivalent and notoriously indecisive.

Today, I opened up my videos to see the category my heart dreads: Career. Ugh. The one I knew was coming, but the one I can\’t bear to look at. I made it through the 1st quarter before I had to stop.

The first part of each category is all about what you believe about it, and Jon tells you to pick empowering beliefs, which I can normally do with ease and relative honesty. Yeah I guess I believe that, put it on there! For some reason, though, in the area of career, my normal ability to find positivity vanished and all I could think about were my actual, real-life, ugly, negative beliefs about career. Now, it is totally possible that tonight is just a bad night for me, maybe I\’m moody, maybe my job has just been a drag lately, etc. So, take what I say here with the knowledge that these feelings could very well be transient, floating thing (and hopefully are), but for whatever reason, I feel a strong desire to think them through and write them out and perhaps offer a glimpse into my brain for those of you who might find it beneficial, like if you ever think these things, know that you are not alone.

I honestly believe that I\’m not really good at anything in particular, or if I am good at something, it doesn\’t fill me with joy. Yes, I\’m good at my job, but there\’s this part of me that totally discredits it. My brain will tell me that anyone could do this work and that it\’s not even interesting work. My brain tells me that I don\’t really have any worthwhile talents that set me apart from anyone else. My brain tells me that I will never find a fulfilling career so why even bother? My brain tells me I am not good enough to do anything that I really loved. My brain tells me I am incapable of loving any job or ever being fulfilled by my work.

Shut up brain. You are not making this pleasant for me. Why do I feel so disengaged? Why do I feel like there is no purpose? Why do I feel like no matter what I do, I am incapable of having a successful career? What am I missing here? Why am I sabotaging myself? It\’s super annoying.

I think that trauma can come in all sorts of forms and various levels of severity. When I graduated from high school I got a part-time job at Panera Bread and it was awful. I was horrible at it. I was too nervous about everything. I couldn\’t multitask very well. I always felt like I was in trouble and maybe I was. My brother had been fired from there weeks before I started, so they might have been extra mean to me because we were related. Not to mention that it was the summer: all my friends were gone, my parents were in Maine, I was preparing myself to move out of the house for the first time ever. I would come home day after shitty day and cry because I was so miserable. I felt so awful at my job and then my brain piped in: \”If you can\’t even do this, you won\’t be able to do anything.\” And no matter how much I try and convince myself that\’s not true, there is a part of me very deep down that really does believe that. It was a horrid job and a horrible summer. I had never felt so incompetent in my life. This has always stuck with me.

Not to mention the other times I was verifiably \”not good enough\”: to be in a play, to get accepted into UT as a freshman, to get into a doctoral program. It probably doesn\’t sound like it right now, but I\’m actually really great at failing to achieve. I\’m more practiced at accepting disappointment with a smile on my face and my head held high than to actually follow through with my dreams. But that comes at a cost and that cost is the belief that it doesn\’t matter how hard I try, I will never get to do what I want and, so, to cope with that fact, I have in many ways blocked out wanting anything at all.

It is hard for me to think about what I want to \”do\” because my belief in myself is so negative that I don\’t even want to want anything. That will only lead to heartbreak. I play it safe and work within the confines of what I think I can reasonably do well even if I don\’t always care about it and hope that it will be enough to motivate me to get to work the next morning.

I hope that someday I will look back at this post and reflect on how far I\’ve come, but tonight, this is where I am and knowing that I sabotage myself out of following my dreams (or having dreams altogether) is beyond annoying.

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