Has impulsively rushing into something ever bitten you on the butt, making you wish you’d pressed the pause button and evaluated the consequences first? Have you ever arrived late for an important interview? Are you dreaming of financial freedom while your credit card is melting from over use? Have you ever devoted yourself to the destruction of your liver by testing what you learned in chemistry class? Have you argued convincingly for your lacks and limitations – then wondered why your career is at a standstill? Have you ever blown a major business deal when it was almost in the bag; or are you investing vast amounts of energy worrying about a situation you’re completely powerless to influence?
Well you’re not alone. Navigating our way through life can be tricky. We’re rarely told where to find the User Manual or how to implement productive procedures. So that evil little Gollum who lies in ambush in our brain, all too frequently succeeds in sabotaging us.
But surely if we know we’re sabotaging ourselves, we wouldn’t do it?
That’s the problem you see. Just like the “real” Gollum, sabotaging beliefs hide in the Misty Mountains of your mind. Nobody means to sabotage themselves. In fact most of us don’t even know we are. That’s why we keep doing it. It can be very confusing.
Why did I do that, we scream with frustration after having fallen into one of our own traps again! This is because the vast majority of our emotional drivers are unconscious. This is also why we use excuses to explain away why we keep sabotaging ourselves.
Everyone can see they’re excuses—except us!
Here are some common signs your inner Gollum is calling the shots:
o Obsessive busyness and stressing over problems. This prevents you gaining access to that solution super store in your brain, prevents you seeing the bigger picture, and forfeits any power to change the situation that is causing you pain and discomfort.
o Fear-driven behaviors. Basing your actions and decisions on fear of rejection, change, abandonment, disapproval, failure—and even fear of success, cripples your ability to break out of this self imposed prison. Well worn excuses are usually the first clue.
o Impulsiveness. Our society is tailor made for allowing your inner toddler to hijack your life. The siren call of immediate gratification—no matter what the consequences, is just so irresistible. But as we all discover sooner or later the I want it all and I want it now philosophy has a price tag attached to it.
o Time and money excuses. When you’re focused on I can’t afford it or I don’t have the time, you can be swimming in a sea of opportunities yet be completely blind to them.
o Lack of self worth and confidence. If you believe you don’t deserve abundance or prosperity, you’re not even going to try to step out of your comfort zone and achieve a better quality of life. Lack of self worth makes you act small, because it’s safer.
o Confrontation and relationship conflict. If you repeatedly find yourself in personal or business relationships which really require advanced anti-terrorist training, or if you pre-empt rejection by being mind-blowingly obnoxious—that’s your saboteur at work.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. Gollums can be very creative.
And if you allow them to they will ruin relationships, play havoc with your health, sabotage parenting skills, derail careers and seriously handicap your potential for success and prosperity.
Since your behavior automatically aligns itself with your beliefs, it is these distorted beliefs that are the real reason you’re not making the impact and income you want to be making right now.
That critical inner voice epitomizes a destructive anti-self that has anything but your best interests at heart. It casts doubt on your abilities, and undermines your desires and potential. It fills your mind with critical self-analysis that withholds or distracts you from your goals.
How does this evil little Gollum get into our heads in the first place?
They’re commonly a result of mental and emotional programs that were installed during our most formative years. For example, if you were often called lazy, fat, stupid, or useless with money, the chances are high that you are still automatically behaving in a way that fulfills this negative nonsense. It’s the result of our (often distorted) interpretation of experiences as we go through life. If you’ve experienced a particularly painful “failure”, the chances are you’re avoiding the risk of going there again like the plague.
Yes, generally as adults, we consciously decide it’s a load of B.S. and consciously intend to change these programs. But all too often we ricochet wildly between what we consciously desire and our inner Gollum’s resistance to fulfilling that desire.
This can keep us stuck in a debilitating internal tug of war.
Think people who’ve spent their lives on one draconian diet after another in an effort to lose weight. People who actually seem to engineer failure, for whom it’s become a bizarre comfort zone; something they’ve become accustomed to—better the devil you know. Then there are those whose procrastination programs result in allowing minor challenges to become overwhelming (sometimes life threatening) problems again and again. We can be very creative about ways in which to self destruct—habits such as excessive drinking, smoking, doping, uncontrolled impulsiveness, anger or a multitude of others.
How often have you heard your Gollum whisper:
Oh my precious, go back, GO BACK into your comfort zone – it’s not safe out there!
And so you do, and your hopes, aspirations, potential and dreams remain stillborn, as you keep falling into the same frustrating traps.
But as Bilbo Baggins found there’s a way to outsmart him….
How do you do that?
By believing you can. By going where angels fear to tread. By getting angry enough at being manipulated, that no matter what it takes you will commit to the reprogramming process. When the Gollum says, you can’t do that, stand tall, put your hands on your hips, a smile on your face, gather your support troops and say watch me!
Trying to overwrite ingrained belief programs on your own is like trying to give yourself a good haircut. Remember, the reason you’ve been at the mercy of your internal Gollum so long is that it lives in a place you can’t see.
This is where criticism comes into its own.
Criticism is a very valuable Gollum-guide. If people are pointing out repeatedly that you behave in an irritating or destructive way, don’t get mad! Listen. Repeatedly is the key word here. If enough people are singing the same song about you—you’re so judgmental, defensive, over-reactive, impulsive, irresponsible, impatient, arrogant, always making excuses etc—you can be fairly sure that they’ve spotted your Gollum at work. You may not be able to see him. But that doesn’t mean he’s not there.
Criticism can be a positive wake-up call, enabling you to ask am I doing something I’m unaware of that is sabotaging me?
What about criticism that is just plain mean, bitchy and nasty? That serves a purpose too. It builds your immunity to bullying and disapproval, making you more resilient. A complaint can be a gift. Learn how to extract the value from criticism. While pats on the head are great, they seldom motivate change. High performers actually seek out and embrace criticism for this reason.
Use criticism productively. Understand the content and clarify the intent. Think in terms of solutions and positive change. Look for the potential to improve your habits and performance. Ask yourself whether the criticism is referring to an isolated instance or a behavior pattern.
You know how they say our worst enemies are often our greatest teachers? This is why. We may not like what they have to say, but if we listen, they may be shining a light into a dark cave in our minds, where that damn Gollum hides.
Do you need help to find and disarm your Gollum? Then click here.