Beware the Insiders

"As long as you stand in your own way, what does it matter what other obstacles you face?" (Anonymous)

Politicians around the world these days tend to foment a fear of others. Fear the other party. Fear the outsiders who threaten our way of life. Fear the newcomer who wasn't born here, or doesn't look like us, or whose home doesn't smell like ours.

This "fear the outsider" mentality certainly gets attention, and votes, and it can have a big effect on public policy. But in terms of how the days of our lives turn out, the Outsiders are not the ones to worry about; beware the Insiders instead.

Insiders like self-doubt, for instance. How many times have you shrunk back in fear from asking for that promotion, or asking that person for a date, or attempting that new venture?

Insiders like self-judgment, for another example. I'd bet you've never called anyone more bad names than you have yourself. I'd also bet if you heard your children curse themselves after a mistake like you do yourself you'd cringe and cry.

Finally, let's fear an Insider like emotional reactivity. Our "buttons get pushed," and we fight, we take flight, we freeze, or we freak out. And it doesn't just make things worse; it actually creates the very outcomes we were hoping to avoid. But no one can push our buttons unless we've given them access to our remote control; no one can cause us to lose our cool without our cooperation.

The greatest obstacles lie within. Our greatest enemies stare back at us in the mirror.

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