I’ve often referred to ‘that douchebag in your head’ in various blogs, Facebook posts and podcasts.
What I’m referring to here is, essentially, the voices in our heads that continually chatter to us about everything that’s negative in our individual worlds. Why we can’t do this and shouldn’t do that.
There have been times in my life where I’ve been absolutely crippled with all this stuff. Listening to this douchebag, believing every word he says and allowing him to keep me stuck.
I would try to keep going. And listen to all the YouTube talking heads telling me that strong people just “hustle harder” and “never give up”.
But I’d always seem to find a way to sabotage everything and maintain my ‘stuckness’ and unhappiness.
Things didn’t start to change until I actually fronted up and looked at what was going on in my head.
There were so many voices saying so many things about what I should and shouldn’t do and tying me up in a world of confusion that saw me just completely frozen.
From dealing with this myself and talking to many others about it, I’ve found there are a few ‘common’ douchebags in our heads. Ones that show up time and time again saying the same things for many of us. In essence, we all seem to have several ‘douchebags in common’.
So in this post I just wanted to identify these and talk through some ways both I and people I’ve helped have dealt with them.
I’m not sure there’s anyone out there who hasn’t thought this at least once in their life. But it’s all too common to have this douchebag continually running around screaming this in your ear.
Where it leaves us is in a constant state of putting stuff off into the future. Because in the future we will be good enough at some point. Only, that point never seems to arrive.
We just continually keep loading ourselves up with degrees, qualifications, experience and fiddling around procrastinating with anything we possibly can in order to justify delaying doing ‘the thing’ we really want to do or be the person we really want to be.
This thought also brings about somewhat of a nonsensical situation. We feel like we’re ‘not good enough’. But then this begs the question… Not good enough for what? Success? Happiness? Love?
Really? We’ve all been through varying amounts of various ‘stuff’ in our lives. But I guarantee you are good enough to receive any and all of the success, happiness and love we desire.
Otherwise, when will you be ‘good enough’? How will you know when you are? It’s like running a marathon to find that some fuckwit forgot to paint the finish line. So you just go on some epic Forrest Gump style run hoping that one day someone will come along and paint that finish line for you.
But it all comes back to and is rooted in our self-worth. Or, more specifically, how we tend to measure our self-worth.
For me, the mistake we make is tying our idea of self-worth into our performance and the results we see in our life.
If everything isn’t perfect and we aren’t performing better and better and better each day in any and all areas of our life, then many of us ultimately come to the conclusion that we are not worthy. That we are not good enough because we didn’t achieve ‘this goal’ or beat ‘that person’.
And it leaves us in a position of continually needing to justify our own worthiness to ourselves by beating others and winning and being the best. Then, if we don’t see this in our lives, we just assume we ‘aren’t good enough’. We don’t see evidence of us ‘winning at life’ and so assume we aren’t worthy of winning, or maybe even existing at all.
We’re told growing up that you must do well in school. You must pass your exams. Go to university and/or get a ‘good’ job. Progress in that job.
It’s ingrained into us, inadvertently I might add, by society that we must achieve to be worthy of being a respectable and upstanding member of the human race. So we chase and chase in a desperation for satisfying that desire to be worthy.
The ‘fix’, if you will, comes with the awareness that our self-worth does not have to be tied to our performance if we don’t want it to. Just the very fact we exist and that each individual is having this experience we call life is exactly what is required for each one of us to be worthy and ‘enough’ for success, happiness, love and whatever else we desire.
Your existence is proof that you are worthy of existing. And existing is simply an opportunity to cultivate our desires.
This is another common one that I and so many others I know have experienced. The dreaded voice that causes us to become obsessed with needing to get ahead and be better than everyone.
I suppose, in that respect, it ties into the previous point quite well.
I call this whole thing the ‘leadership game’. Playing this game that causes us to constantly look around and compare what we’re doing to everyone else in our life, job, career, industry, business, family, social circle and whatever else.
Of course, some might say this is healthy. It’s where competition comes from. And competition drives us to provide ‘better’ services, be ‘better’ people, perform ‘better’ at work and live ‘better’ lives.
But it also creates potential for two different kinds of people.
Either we get the person who becomes obsessed with winning. They must win at all costs and will literally step all over anyone else in their way in order to get there. Think Gordon Gekko (or a watered down version of him).
Or we get the person who just becomes deflated by it all. They compare what they’re doing in their lives to the people around them and end up frozen and unable to move for fear of it all being wrong or not believing their ability to climb over the next person.
Whichever way we go, I would argue it’s not the most optimal way of thinking if we want to create a big old bag of zen-like inner peace and happiness in our lives.
All that ends up happening is we concentrate on what everyone else is doing. We fight to stay ahead of the pack. We desire (maybe even secretly) to keep up with the Joneses. And we only feel successful and content if we get to the front of this fictional game we’ve created in our minds.
A huge issue with this way of thinking is… when does it end? At what point are we actually going to turn around and accept that we’ve made it to ‘the front’ or ‘the top’ and everything is now groovy?
Truth is, this place we’re all striving to get to is so murky and unclear that we probably wouldn’t be able to recognise it even if we did somehow get there. And then we would be so wrapped up in fear of losing that place that we probably wouldn’t allow ourselves to enjoy it anyway.
It’s all very exhausting.
What I would suggest is that we start playing a game all by ourselves. A game of just one… YOU!
No “I need to get the top or it’s not worth it” or “he/she is better than me so there’s no point”. Just full on refusing to even walk out onto the playing field and play this pointless game with everyone else.
As I write this, it’s generally accepted that either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are the best football (soccer) players in the world. Does that mean every other footballer looks at these two and just doesn’t try because they can’t get to their level? No, of course not. They’re just as worthy of extracting all the success, happiness and joy from the game as them.
So just head out there and play a game of your own. With your own rules. And one that serves your own happiness and peace of mind without having to compare everything you do to everybody else around you.
Yes, this is that douche in your head that always worries about what people will think of you.
I’ve talked about this whole ‘judgement thing’ a lot recently. But it’s such a big player when it comes to freeing ourselves to live life the way we want.
First of all, however, it’s important to understand what’s actually going on here.
Most people think that they’re fearful of receiving judgement on their actions, behaviours or whatever else. A common phrase might be “don’t judge me” or “are you going to judge me if…?”
But when we actually look closer, it’s not the judgement itself that we’re fearful of. It’s simply not getting the judgement we don’t want.
Truth is, we, as humans, are sort of liking ‘judging machines’. We can’t help but judge each other on who we each are and how we behave. And that judgement can result in what we would term ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ reactions.
So, in actual fact, it’s not the act of receiving judgement itself that we’re worried about or fearful of. It’s simply not receiving the judgement we want that’s really at play here.
Right now you may be thinking about how that’s kind of interesting to know or realise. But what’s the point? What difference does understanding this subtle variance make to anything?
But by coming to this realisation, it enabled me to see how somebody else’s judgement of me actually doesn’t have anything to do with me. It’s to do with them.
When we stop focussing on getting people to either judge us positively or not at all and accept that we will be judged, it can take a bit of the load off.
It’s much clearer to see that everyone else is free to judge based on their own experiences, values and backgrounds. And that any judgement we do receive belongs to the other person and not us.
It’s theirs, not ours. And we’re free to be, do and act in the way we truly desire without the need to focus so much on what everyone will think.
So these are just a few of the mina players when it comes to the ‘douchebags in our head’ that hold us back.
Of course, there are probably much more that various different people get.
But these are what I’ve found to be three of the most common. And I hope discussing them here helped you.