“I just can’t get out of my own way.”
If I had a nickel for every time a client said this, I’d probably just have a lot of parking meter change, because the price of a dollar has dropped significantly since this phrase first originated.(Which, as near as I can tell was with Mark Twain in 1809.)
But, I digress.
I hear this expression often, or some version of it, wherein a client identifies herself or himself as their own worst problem. Every time I hear someone say this, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a professor in college.
As I was preparing to graduate and panicking about not having a plan, I told him that I was my own worst problem.
"Ah," he said in that wise way that feels so frustrating when you're that age. "But you're also your own solution."
It’s been 18 years since I had that conversation with him, and while I thought he was full of it at the time, I’ve also come to realize that…shock of all shockers…he was right.
Hey Mr. Finnegan, if you’re reading this, you were right.
I have gotten in my own way plenty of times over the years, mostly with negative self-talk. Once, when I was in my twenties, I talked myself out of a MFA program that I was already enrolled in at the University of New Mexico because I was sure that my writing wasn't good enough.
Even though I was already there.*
Sometimes it's not just talking ourselves out of action items, it's finding ways to self-sabotage our efforts, without even realizing that we are doing so.
It’s easy to hyper-focus on self-blame. It’s easy to find fault with everything that we do, but also to assume that the solution to whatever problems we are experiencing lies with some wise old sage at the top of the mountain.
I’m totally open to going to see said sage. If you know of one.
I feel like if we did find that wise woman (yes, I'm going with a woman here), she would probably give us some frustrating answer like "the solution lies within you."
It is so easy to believe that we are our own problem. It's much more difficult to believe that we are our own solution.
But you are. You are not your problem. You are not in you're own way. You are your own solution.
*In my case, this is one of the ways that depression can really mess with you. I was in the throws of a significant depression, and couldn't see how anything was going to get better.