5 Easy Self-Destruction Strategies That Will Kill Your Confidence Before Breakfast.
According to the Law of Conservation of Energy you can’t create nor destroy energy. The only thing you can do is to convert it from one form of energy into another.
What this means is that if you eat 6 chocolate chip cookies you will not be able to make that energy disappear. Fortunately, if you climb ten flights of stairs, you will be able to turn it into some other form of energy. Everything in our known universe obeys this law.
With two exceptions.
1. Quantum physics allows for temporary violations of this law. Every once in a while, a virtual particle appears out of nothing, proving that it is possible to create something out of nothing. Along with the virtual particle, another ‘negative’ particle is created with a property completely opposite to the aforementioned virtual particle. The two particles will then collide at the speed of light to destroy each other. In reaction to that, for just a brief moment, the time will warp itself to create a wormhole that cuts through the time-space continuum. It seems there’s an exception to everything, even the universal laws of physics.
2. The other example is the energy of human potential. It can be destroyed. As simple as that.
This story argues that people are a little bit like subatomic particles. We have the power to create or self-destruct our potential by the means of self-confidence.
Destroying self-confidence will open up a wormhole that magically sucks our potential back into nothingness.
But, unlike quantum mechanics, things don’t just happen to us, we let them happen.
I won’t bother you too much with how this happened to me. It doesn’t really matter.
Each story is personal. The pain cannot be measured; no matter how big or small, it always hurts completely.
It behaves a little bit like gas, in that, even a trace amount of gas permeates the space until it reaches every corner of it.
Confidence works the same. When you lose it, no matter how big or insignificant the reason may be, the feeling of doubt takes over your entire self.
There will be no aspect of your life unaffected by it. Any attempt to compare ourselves to others is therefore, by definition, futile.
But, just for the context, here it is:
I was laid off from a job after 18 years of a successful career. By all accounts, I was at the peak of my performance, doing the job I liked and being considered top in my class. The work I did was outstanding and, to this date, used as a case study to showcase best in class thinking. However, my success threatened some people. One person in particular, who used organizational restructuring as an excuse to justify my termination.
Many people were laid off at that time. I was not the only one, but my case was personal and unjust. I knew it, and everybody else knew it. And yet there was nothing anyone could do to reverse it.
Two and a half years have passed. I am still hurting.
I truly believe that losing confidence is a form of an autoimmune disease. According to the medical definition, autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system turns on itself and attacks the body’s own cells and tissues. A bit like those ‘negative’ quantum particles. When we suffer from a lack of confidence, we create ‘negative’ versions of ourselves to banish any remaining crumbs of positive self-perception into non-existence. Ironically, the stronger you are, the harder you’ll fight against yourself. And I was as strong as it gets.
Here are my five all-time favorite self-destruction strategies I have perfected over many hours of self-pity. Use them with caution as they may cause unexpected happiness.
I’m Serbian. I never thought that was important, until it was. We are a small nation in the middle of the Balkan peninsula not really known for anything in particular. We are not powerful, not rich, and not (too) hard working. We don’t have resources, no big seas, or high mountains. The only thing we have in huge excess is pride.
A lot of it.
So, when I was told my role was terminated, the Serbian gene kicked in. I clenched my teeth and put on a brave face. Because as I learnt growing up, the only thing worse than hurting is to show you are hurting.
There is a lot of satisfaction in being proud. However, what I didn’t know, is that there is infinitely more damage in suppressing how we really feel.
People are biologically wired to avoid pain. When we experience (unexpected) negative emotion, we close ourselves down to stop the pain. Call it a pride, strength or whatever glorified high-ground B.S you want to use. However, the truth is; by closing down, our emotions get trapped in.
You may think you’ve won at first but just wait until the rot starts putrefying from within. It’s like a toothache really: you can numb the pain, but you won’t get rid of it without opening the cavity. Believe me, there is nothing dignifying in emotions. If you really want to stop hurting, be prepared to get yourself dirty because, the best way out is never around but only through.
In Greek Mythology, Pandora was the first woman created by the gods to punish humanity for the Prometheus’ theft of fire. According to the myth, Pandora opened a jar releasing all the evils on the humankind leaving only hope inside before she closed it again.
Some believe that hope is a blessing given to people to cope with all that evil. I believe hope is the greatest evil of all.
After being told about my situation, I was in denial for the longest period of time. It felt like being trapped in the Inception loop waiting for someone to finally wake me up. The deception was real, yet the phone call never came through.
The first sense of relief came after I gathered the courage to tell my 9-year-old daughter that I was not going to the office anymore. The sentence that killed hope was my first step towards freedom.
Hope is the life support, but it doesn’t support life. Because, unlike life, hope does not carry a consequence. No matter what, there will always be hope, right? Whether we like it or not, we need consequences to push against. It is in the act of going ‘against,’ that we transform ourselves from victims into creators.
So, if Hope comes knocking, keep the door shut. Or, Master Yoda would say: “No! Hope not! Do, or do not. There is no hope.”
The second law of thermodynamics states that the universe tends toward entropy and dissolution. Except for living beings. We fiercely resist it. To be alive means to be constantly trying to preserve order by learning how to control a surprise.
Until someone takes that power away from us. I sometimes wonder if we are still humans without our sense of agency?
There was nothing as devastating as losing control over my life. It was so central to my sense of being that without it, there was no I.
It wasn’t just painful, it was de-humanizing.
There was nothing I wouldn’t do to get it back. Any control really, just to feel alive. Even when it meant going against myself. Or maybe just because that was the only thing I could do.
I tried staying in bed and refusing to participate in life.
I tried compulsive cleaning, cooking, washing.
I tried controlling people I love until I damaged the most important thing I had.
I tried exercising myself to oblivion. I tried dieting until I would starve myself to death.
Just to prove that I can.
Until control became who I was.
But control was not the antidote to the helplessness I felt. Humility was. Humility to let go of control. Humility to feel helpless. Humility to understand that life breaks everyone. Unless you resist it, in which case it kills you.
It took me the longest time to learn this. Now, when I look around to see my kitchen sink full of dirty dishes it makes me happy. After all, who am I to defy the second law of thermodynamics.
4. TIME TRAVEL
A wormhole is a passage through space-time that creates shortcuts for the potential time travel. According to the quantum physics a wormhole is created when the virtual particle and it’s negative collide to annihilate each other. So, I wonder when we turn against ourselves, do we also open the wormholes through time and space?
I know I did.
Self-destruction is a strange phenomenon. It warps the space around you. Sometimes I see it as a tunnel that connects past and future, bypassing the now. When we wallow in self-pity, we obsess about the past and worry about the future. We don’t exist in the present. Today is just a blank space without meaningful reference, a moment in time we wish did not exist. A tasteless, odorless, colorless patch in time we are unable to touch.
Do I remember what I did in the past 2½years? No, not really. It is just one big amorphous continuum. Like a rupture in time.
Except when I was cooking. Cooking saved me.
It forced me to be present. Forced me to connect to my body and feel the world around me.
A brief moment in time to just be, without constantly striving, yearning, running.
Forget time travel, I wish someone would invent the time gravity machine: an anchor to the now that keeps us from wandering off. Because yesterday and tomorrow are nothing but constructs that we use to narrate the painful story of self. Today is the only time in which we can actually be. And that is the first step to healing.
What happened to me could have happened to anyone. At any point there is a chance of accident, malice, stupidity or simply bad luck. Life happens and nothing is forever. It’s as simple as that.
I was desperate to find a meaning in it to make myself feel better. But maybe there’s no meaning, no karma, no purpose or any of that New Age bullshit.
The only thing there is are the broken pieces and what we decide to do with them.
When I was laid off, many people tried to comfort me by saying I’ll do better, be stronger, and be happier. I knew I wouldn’t. I would just be different.
When you break, the world tries to fix you; glue back what’s broken to keep an illusion of perfection.
But I didn’t want to be fixed, I just wanted to be seen for what I was: shattered in million little pieces. Because imperfect is not the opposite of perfect. It's just a different kind of perfect.
And that in itself is worth celebrating. Like the work Kintsugi Masters do to repair damaged tea cups by fusing broken pieces with gold.
People often ask me if I would go back? Maybe I would, I don’t know. For sure I don’t hold any grudges. However, the only thing I know is that I am not the same person, and I wouldn’t want to repair what was broken.
What happened to me was in no way unique, but the scars I carry are. And they are the most beautiful part of me. For that I am grateful.
So, now what?
A friend of mine told me once a story of Batman.
Batman found his power once he embraced his fear of bats. His fear was the source of his power all along. He just needed a reason to find it.
When life cracks us open, often against our will, we get a chance to touch our core. The sacred place where we are the most vulnerable and are the strongest. There cannot be one without the other.
Because when you embrace your fear, you become invincible. No one can hurt you as much as you can hurt yourself. In that act, you take that power away from the world.
This is the moment your second life begins.
Jean Paul-Sartre famously said: “Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you”.
As for me, for the first time in life, I am truly free.
Even if it took 2½years of hell.
I know I would do it all over.
[I asked for my name to be shown on this post]