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6 Insanely Common Reasons You Are Becoming Your Own Worst Enemy
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Practical Tips for Productive Living
Written by Marc Chernoff // 93 Comments
NOTE: This post has been updated with brand NEW information and moved to here:
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You all are invaluable. Thanks for giving my days a boost. The world would be a better place if everybody got these in their inboxes.
@Ice; I send you a hug.
For me, it all boils down to #4: “Sometimes you have to try to do what you think you can’t do, so you realize that you actually CAN.”
This is probably one of the best articles I’ve ever read. It hit the nail on the head!
The belief about hope as you put it, is one of my greatest “hurdacles”, which I too am overcoming. Belief, hope, and faith, all very powerful, and I’m overcoming using those “super-powers” in a negative way.
Great post, one I’ve kept saved so I can constantly give my attitude a check now and again. I’m definitely getting your book.
Wow what an eye opening article; I think 5 out of 6 of these ways I am an enemy to myself. At least I can recognize this and start taking steps to heal and love myself now, thank you!
Loved this post and all the comments. I have come to realise that if my “doing” does not come out of “being, then I am not achieving anything!! Sometimes it’s good to be a couch potato as long as I am consciously choosing to do that. I’ve tried lots of “doing” and when it is not aligned with my soul, it is a total waste of time. I read this somewhere “Don’t grit your teeth and clench your fists and say “I will, I will I will”. Relax and take your hands off, submit yourself to a higher energy and let life be willed through you.” It seems that it is only when we do this that the outer world aligns with who we are and events happen spontaneously. Let go of letting go and let God work through me.
Jah love says
Thanks a lot for sharing. A great and encouraging message at the time I’m stepping through grief. Guess you’re heaven sent.
I really got interested in Mindful Meditation (Jon Kabat-Zinn) when I had breast cancer and I was so frightened of the pain that would happen to me or that I might die, that I could barely put one foot in front of the other. Remembering to focus on the “right now” and realize that it’s fine right now–and to relax and enjoy that. My daughter calls that fear “pre-grieving”. Just worrying about something makes you grieve it’s loss ahead of time–not time well spent.
The other points are more like my evil parental super-ego that they didn’t trust me and were sure I wouldn’t be successful–though I had clearly been. Yikes, parents have such a lifelong impact. I’m glad I was a better parent and didn’t parent from what was done to me. I studied and learned and our kids are so amazing and pretty happy and self-confident! It’s truly a wonderful gift to give. I still struggle, but I’m glad to have stopped that craziness in our family.
Jutta O'Brien says
Everything you and Angel have written here has helped me tremendously in the darkness and pain of the past year. I have been through many years of counseling and none of it has every come close to making this much sense. I too, agree w/Gillian’s comments.
I did have a question, though. What kind of sabbical did you take Marc, and for how long? I only ask b/c my spouse and I are separated. After more than a year of marriage couseling he decided to move out for 3 months to “shake things” up bit. This was endorsed by my spouse’s personal therapist.
Thank you again for everything you’ve done for me.
I guess #5 speaks the most to me. When I’ve let myself be vulnerable, I have always paid a price for it. I keep a wall up now from fear.
This was such a helpful post, thank you so much Marc and Angel for your never-wavering inspiration and for bringing so much light into my life=)!
Wonderful post.Thank you Marc and Angel, may God continue to give these great words of inspiration to inspire the needy, those who are heart broken, people who have lost hope and those who face challenges of fear, rejection and self doubt. I was there, but thanks to your posts I am living my life now with peace knowing that I am the one to create my own opportunities and happiness. I am the one to celebrate my success, forgetting my failures and mistakes, and trying to correct them because nobody is perfect.
5. Your resistance to being vulnerable.
Without vulnerability, we can only go so far.. whether it’s business or relationships..
When people hide, I call that a “surface” relationship cuz they aren’t willing to go deep.
We will all have to find the peace in our inner selves eventually. We have to be happy as we live – we are healthy and are able to work and enjoy that precious gift that its called life. So many people who used to be beside us don’t have this privilege today.
Genius Marc! Thanks for this great post, its really inspiring. Answering your question, I’m my own worst enemy, doing what I want to stop. It hurts, after I continue to do what I vowed never to do. Joyously I read one of your posts and there’s a point there… “you ultimately become what you repeatedly do,” “what you do everyday is more important than what you do once a while,” “what you focus on grows stronger in your life.” Honestly, these points recalled my lost self to the main VERSION of myself. And from then I can stop and start what I want to do… Thanks once again for this wonderful inspiration.
I completely believe this to be true. Nice article.
People aren’t necessarily “people” in the sense that we’d like to believe. We’re creatures of habit, and our habits are notoriously hard to change once they’ve gained momentum.
Like a plane that has already lifted off.
Free will is executed consciously, but since most of us aren’t necessarily conscious, we’re always on autopilot.
It’s a delicate balance. To get somewhere, you must trust yourself, but trust yourself too much and you’ll fall into contentment and right off the path.
I’ll keep these points in mind. Thank you.
I’ve always been told I’m a victim of being my own worst enemy. It’s truly a flaw I possess. Over the years I have learned to more easily forgive myself for my mistakes and flaws, but it’s still something I wrestle with. It’s a constant dialogue going on where I compare myself to people and things that I deem better than me. I’m probably not aware of how often I do it. I need to consciously bring gratitude and focus positively.
Marc, yes that’s the part that hurts the most.
You have quite simply opened my eyes.
…and Angel has too.
Wow, this is so true – especially in regards to self-limiting beliefs. I need to give myself a break and really believe in myself.
@Vincent: We can completely relate to the process of always striving for the next big thing. You have to take time and remind yourself of how much you’ve accomplished. I’ve found it helpful to monitor numbers to measure the real impact and still appreciate your success while still reaching for the stars. =)
@Remy: Your mother is a very smart woman. The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. Your friend thought it was OK to say “so the teacher practically gave away free marks to you,” because you yourself didn’t believe you did your best and you expressed those feelings. I highly doubt if you told your friend, “I studied really hard for that test and I really think I nailed it,” that she would have expressed those comments. Food for thought. You are often much better than you think. Don’t be your own worst enemy. =)
@Herman: Great, honest question. Now that you know what makes you happy, indulge. For example: You know you have a great friend, so spend more time with them. You know you have a great home, have some friends over for dinner. You know you are healthy, spend some time enjoying an outdoor activity. You get my point. Take some time today and indulge in what makes you happy.
@Mary Woolson: Great addition!
@the other side: You are absolutely right, to each their own. But as Mich said the point here is to not be stagnant. You’ve still got to get off the couch and purse dreams and real life experiences. =)
@David Rapp: Great insight, thank you! Now listen to your wife and take your own advice! =)
@Michelle: One day at a time, that’s how. Regardless of our age we never stop learning, including learning more about ourselves.
@Josefina: May you see and appreciate the magic! Thank you for sharing your personal story. =)
@Mary: Welcome to the community and thank you for the positive feedback.
@Marilyn: Your daughter was spot on. Reminds me of this quote by Bill Keane, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.” Enjoy it!
@All: Thank you for sharing your personal stories and feedback, which again reminds us that we are not alone. Let’s all work on being our own best friends rather than our own worst enemies. Cheers! =)
I try to change every day, but I keep falling back into my old habits. I try to change my mindset, I tell myself that I’m different, that next time I’m going to act differently, but eventually I do the same thing. It saddens me a lot. I keep believing in myself, but I think that somewhere in my subconscious there is this little voice saying: “If I have tried so many times and have failed so many times, can I really change?”
The second thing is: I want to be myself, to show my true self to the world openly and all the time, but I’m so different, original, and with my own creative ways, that I will be judged and misunderstood a million times. So I put on a mask, often. Maybe one day I will summon the courage to show my real self, but right now I prefer to be the way people expect me to be. Please don’t get me wrong: I’m myself, in general (you can’t just turn off your nature and be something different), but I would like to enjoy the total freedom of being who I really am without fear to get negative reactions from people.
Truly magic article.
“Living is about learning and growing through excitement and discomfort.” – engrave in to granite!
Sebastian Aiden Daniels says
I am my own worst enemy by not allowing myself to be vulnerable. It isolates me because I am unwilling to let myself be hurt therefore I am unwilling to ever become emotionally intimate with someone. It restricts a lot of my life and is something I am working on therapy.
Rae Ann says
Believing what others say about me to be my truth instead of just their opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and who knows how those are formed, what evidence or experience they use to draw their conclusions. Sometimes there is none, just envy and jealousy. Tough learning for me!
This article… wow everything you said is me right now. I am my worst enemy. Every morning this is going to be a must-read until I find myself, because I am drowning in my own misery. I thank you so much for this post.
Prefer Anonymous says
I sat in the office today really feeling like everything in my life is falling apart. I get up each morning and fight for something, yes something, because honestly I don’t know what that is anymore. I feel like Ive done well in my life thus far but have a huge empty space in my heart (so to speak). Everything I read here I know is true, it’s so true that it borders on harsh. I guess one of the biggest things in reality that really gets to me is finding genuine people. People who care about others. This seems to not exist at all which is really sad. Im trying to become more optimistic though. Unfortunately I need a psychologist just for a bit of “back-up” if that makes any sense? I realize by reading this article that you shouldnt feel sorry for yourself and I know I’m bordering on that now. I just really need someone to speak to for some closure. Unfortunately I have to pay R600 an hour for an ear to talk to. I truly do love this article though. It really puts a light on things that sometimes seem hopeless. Thank you for this.
Kind Regards from South Africa
I tend to downplay the exciting things that are happening in my life… so i don’t have to deal with it when they end.
I become my own worst enemy when I imagine someone else being my enemy, someone who never actually was my enemy. This is connected to #1, since this usually comes about when things don’t seem quite as good as they should, and #2, since I hold other people to an expectation of how they should be and get agitated when they stray from those expectations.
Actually, it took my boyfriend to point out that I seem to always need an “adversary”. He told me this after a half hour of discussing how my new roommate would NOT stop watching TV for three days straight. He got upset that we spent the entire conversation about this girl who he’d never even met.
“It seems that you always need an adversary.”
When he said that, my brain went all the way back to my first year of college. All of these people that drove me up the wall, people that actually wanted me to succeed in my life, people that just were irritating to me about this or that… At least one person at all times, since my freshman year, has been an “adversary”.
Why? Maybe it was how my stress manifested itself – by latching onto another person. That person would become the embodiment of my stress, and I hated looking at that walking reminder of my annoyance.
What’s strange is that it started with my best friend. The more people that I met in college, the more friends I made, the more that my ‘first’ friend seemed annoying to me. It got so bad that I ended up yelling at him in public because I couldn’t stand his voice.
I’ve come to realize that it had nothing to do with him. It had everything to do with me. For some reason, some awful reason, my stress latched onto him. I started avoiding him when I was really, really stressed. (That should have been a sign for me, had I the self-awareness to see it.) But it never got bad enough that I wanted to not be his friend.
This kept happening after college, too.
Got a year-long internship: Three enemies over the course of the year continuously. I always had one, and immediately when one left, another one would take their place.
Moving to the city: First year – a certain family who kicked me out of their house. I didn’t have a specific place to sleep that night, so they instantly became my enemy. Never mind that they had the full right to kick me out or that they didn’t really know me. Never mind that I actually had just enough money to afford a hotel room if I needed one. Never mind that they held onto most of my stuff until I could find a long-term sublease. They were the enemy in my head for five months.
Once I started working at a certain grocery store, my boss became my adversary, and I no longer hated that family. Just my boss.
My second year in the city: I moved in with a friend of mine, a friend who couldn’t get rid of his alcoholic ex. My boss was no longer the enemy – this pathetic alcoholic man became my adversary. That lasted most of the year.
My friend and I both eventually got him out of the apartment. Once a year had passed and the second summer came – and I hate to say this – my friend suddenly became my enemy. I just had to get out of there. Never mind he actually paid my rent and utilities for over a damn YEAR! He was there, and I didn’t have anyone else annoying me at the moment, so he became that person.
I moved out and got in a show. Suddenly, my director was the enemy. Once the show was over and I moved into another short sublease, my new roommates became the enemy. They were… Until today. Today, I realized that there was a cycle, and it had to stop.
It is a sick cycle, one that I’ve perpetuated for years now without even realizing it.
Thank you for this article. With this small bit of realization, I can now assess what’s wrong in my life and fix it.
Blessings your way,
Spot on, for sure. I am my own worst enemy because I doubt myself almost on everything. It was so easy to have a partner who helped me with this. Was able to supress my thoughts, and now alone, the self doubt is back. I need to get rid of this self doubt.
Thanks for another great post.
Life’s challenges sharpen your sword, if you accept the spirit warrior in you that can do it all. So is the making of a wise one.
My worst enemy is always my self-induced fears that deny love within me.
I love what you put out there. Always educational and inspiring. I have a close friend who is 6 for 6 on this. She is pretty negative, always looks at what is going wrong and has never left her comfort zone. She has never had an intimate relationship because she has never allowed it to happen. She is a habitual liar for fear that people will find out she is not perfect although everyone close to her knows she is lying. It is so sad. I have had to limit my time with her because any attempt on my part to coax her into being more positive has failed. I have to protect myself and continue to enjoy and appreciate life.
thank you, as always.
Thank you for this.
I have always let my mind overpower me. From the very beginning. I have had experiences that have pushed me in the direction of “I’m not good enough”. Just recently I have begun to change those thoughts and learn to be more positive but on occasion I backslide and it wrecks my day/week/world. I have had numerous bad relationships and have taught myself to think I’m not good enough for an amazing person. For a couple months I have been seeing/talking to a guy that has a pretty busy schedule and we live in separate towns. The days I don’t get a text for hours…. Mind tells me he doesn’t want me or again…. I’m not good enough. How do I keep myself from ruining what might be a good thing? How do I continue to be positive?
Thanks you for this post… I tend to downplay the exciting things that are happening in my life, so i don’t have to with it the when they end. This is something I need to stop doing.
Crissy Blake says
I am my worst enemy because I expect things to be a certain way and when they are not I start feeling sad and depressed. I am a positive person but I spoil myself a little and I am a bit impatient, I do not like to wait too long to get what I want.
I copied some of things you said so I can remind myself everyday to start appreciating things for what they are.
This is me on a nut shell. I am trying to make changes on these things in my life…I look back like how did I get so off track. Loved this post. 🙂
Thank you very much for this.
Maria Melo says
“Every morning when you wake up, think of three things that are going well in your life at the moment. As you fall asleep every night, fill your mind with an appreciation for all the small things that went well during the day. Examine your successes.”
I’ve been doing this for quite a few years now especially to aim for a good night sleep as I am very prone to insomnia. It works!
Thank you for this post!
Janny Bennett says
I wrote this poem a lil while ago…
I am my own worst nightmare,
There is no mistake.
I have no one left to fear,
So you better listen dear…
I share a day with Einstein,
They called him crazy to…
Hear the sirens calling,
As you realize your mistake.
I will walk softly,
Till i walk in your wake.
— J9 22.10.15
Anyways, I really like what you wrote,and it makes total sense.