Isolate What Isn’t Serving You

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You have to isolate what isn’t serving you before you can surrender it. But isolation is more difficult than it might seem due to the various psychological defense mechanisms whose function it is to maintain the status quo in the attempt to avoid undue psychic distress. Better to believe things are fine now and that therefore nothing needs to change than to accept that things aren’t fine now and that therefore the hard and anxiety provoking work of change must begin.

Often it’s precisely the unhealthy, destructive, deteriorative thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and relationships that get a free pass throughout the lifespan, that are consciously regarded as healthy, productive, and necessary. In this way the psychic distress that results from awareness of a problem area and the felt pressure to fix it is mitigated.

A visible example of what we’re talking about occurs in the context of addictions, where addicts regard their drug of choice as the best, often the only, good thing going for them in life. Through the use of their defense mechanisms they can’t or won’t see the direct and obvious connection between that drug of choice and their lives and relationships having fallen apart in myriad ways.

Most of us might not be addicts but we do share the same propensity for utilizing denial, repression, projection, and rationalizations in order to try to magically transform that which is destructive and unhealthy into something productive and healthy. This is especially true when that which is destructive and unhealthy in our lives gives us immediate pleasure and satisfaction.

What all of this has to do with isolating what isn’t serving you is that to do so you’ve got to consider not just those elements of your life that you’re repelled by but also those you’re attracted to. Specifically you’ve got to consider those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that, just like drugs for addicts, might provide some short-term happiness but always end up causing damage to you or others in the long-term.