The Curse Of The Self (Unplugged) Mark R. Leary
with Moe Abdou
Mark, one of the first things that has really intrigued me over the pastdecade, in particular for myself, is this whole notion of the relationshipwith my self. I have observed a lot of people, successful people, and thepeople who are on the verge of great success. One of the things that I’venoticed is that most people have almost an abusive type relationship withthemselves but try to have great relationships with others.
So, your title, The
Curse Of The Self
really intrigued me. I’d like to get yourperspective on why does the self, for most people, continue to be a curse orcontinue to be more of an abusive type relationship as opposed to the opposite?It really is ironic because sometimes we think of human beings as being reallysoft on themselves but you’re absolutely right, they are not. I had somebodytell me once that if they talk to other people the way they talk to themselvesin their own head, they would be sued for harassment. There is a lot of verynice people out there that don’t treat themselves very nicely.There are a lot of reasons I think why the self as a curse. One of them I think isour own insecurity in whether we’re doing okay or not. Because many of us feelthat the way to keep ourselves in line is to really hold our feet to the fire andto beat ourselves up when things don’t go well.Now, of course, you need to feel a little badly when you botch things up or youhurt other people but the question is, how badly do you need to feel. How self critical. How much do you need to push yourself. My sense is that the vastmajority of us, particularly professional people, push themselves far harderthan they need to. They are far more self critical than they need to be in orderto be maximally effective.I think that the first step is to develop a way to have a relationship withyourself that keeps you inline but without being punitive about it. It’s the waythat a loving parent would be in some ways. Yes, you want to treat your kid ina way so they behave properly but you certainly wouldn’t be as abusive tothem as many others are abusive to ourselves.
I think as children, you mentioned children, as children, it seems like wehave a really great perspective of the world maybe because we’re not fully developed yet. As we become fully developed and as we turn intoadulthood, we start to teeter the other way. We start to look at more thenegatives as opposed to the positives and we always seem to start withour self.