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Excerpted from Everyday Enlightenment by Dan Millman. Copyright © 1999 by Dan Millman. Excerpted by permission of Time Warner Publishers and Time Warner Bookmark.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Low self-worth also influences actions, generating tendencies to sabotage your own efforts, so that things just don't seem to turn out well. You may feel unlucky at times or feel as though God is punishing you, when in reality you are only punishing yourself."

Dan Millman, Everyday Enlightenment, Part 6

The Simple Source of Self-Sabotage

If self-worth had no impact on your actions--if it were contained within the feeling dimension alone--its only power would be over your moods. Sometimes you'd feel worthy (a pleasant feeling) and sometimes not (an unpleasant feeling). And that would be that.

However, low self-worth also influences actions, generating tendencies to sabotage your own efforts, so that things just don't seem to turn out well. You may feel unlucky at times or feel as though God is punishing you, when in reality you are only punishing yourself. You do this through behaviors of which you aren't fully aware. Or, like the alcoholic who knows he drinks but doesn't view it as a problem, you may be aware of your behavior without acknowledging its destructive impact.

I have never known anyone who wasn't affected at some time or in some way by self-sabotage or subtle self-destructive behaviors in the arenas of money, relationship, education, or career. The question repeats itself in different forms: How high will you rise? How good can you stand it? To help eliminate any covert tendencies to sabotage your own efforts, let's examine the simple but profound source of self-sabotage. We need to make this mechanism conscious, so let's look at how it was formed and how it operates.

Your Internal Scorecard

One of the most important steps you can take to improve the quality of your life is to become aware of how your self-assessment has shaped your existence and how you can transcend whatever rating you gave yourself.

To understand the roots of low self-worth and the source of self-sabotage, we need to examine a universal dynamic that applies to you and to every individual in every culture on earth. In order to fit into society, your parents (or caregivers) taught you what was considered right and what was deemed wrong.

If you behaved well, you earned your parents' approval and were rewarded with positive attention. If you behaved poorly, you received their disapproval and were punished with negative attention. Thus, when quite young, you learned the two prime moral directives: If I am good, I am rewarded. If I am bad, I am punished.

In an ideal world, these rules would be absolutely fair and consistent. In the real world, however, your parents didn't always notice misbehaviors. Even if they did see every misdeed, they might have been too tired or distracted to respond consistently to your actions.

But there was someone who saw and noted, without fail, every single misstep you ever made. You did, and you still do. Not only that, you also saw and recorded every negative, hateful, petty, envious, spiteful, or cruel thought and feeling that passed through your mind. Thus began your issues with self-worth.

Remember the two rules: If I am good, I am rewarded. If I am bad, I am punished. Your parents, however, didn't always do the punishing. So you end up punishing yourself--sometimes for the rest of your life--in the form of self-sabotage or self-destructive behaviors.

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