Are you fantastic at supporting, defending and promoting others, but find that you question, limit or self-sabotage your own interests (to some degree)?

This is a common dynamic among the good guys (and gals), who’s noble selflessness frequently hinder their own righteous paths, including their safety.

Get Out of Your Own Head

After my relatively minor experience with being on the bullseye end of the bulling spectrum, which I discuss in the opening chapter of my book The Opposite is True, I developed a deep empathy for those in need of protection from an early age. It became second nature for me to attempt to protect others when oppressed by a variety of tyrants in a broad set of contexts, including mean classmates, strict teachers, schoolyard scraps and later coworkers looking to conceal their inadequacies by belittling a colleague.

Strangely enough however, it was not my instinct to self-protect when facing similar circumstances. It was as though I had not given myself permission to defend myself—yet. Instead, I put up with the occasional badgering, pestering and minor physical assaults growing up, under a misguided fear of becoming like the bad guys if I fought back. However, when others were in trouble, I quickly stood in between the victim and the tyrant with little thought given to my own safety or potential embarrassment. Protecting others was easier than defending myself!

I eventually got past this self-imposed limitation through a deliberate effort to consciously think through the circumstances, a process—or mantra—I call “Assess, Adapt & Overcome.” The assessment part is the prerequisite that recognizes our subconscious constraints, like our fears or other emotional biases. Once the subconscious issues are extracted out of the fog and placed onto our conscious worktables with objectivity, we can subsequently see our psychological hindrances for what they are. Only then can we properly manage them by considering what they represent, what our objectives are and what motivates us.

If you’re driven by deceiving, manipulating and oppressing others, that’s coming from a place of weakness. If on the other hand, you are motivated to succeed so that you can earn and share an abundance of time, finances and strength to uplift others—then keep going! The key is to differentiate between emotion and logic, what I call Oil & Water.

In the Eye of the Storm

Emotion and logic, like oil and water, do not mix and are often confused with each other. I expand on this concept of Oil & Water in Pillar III of The Opposite is True, but to summarize for the sake of this Roundup Rag entry, remember that logic clarifies how to effectively and efficiently implement a decision. But emotion is the fuel that ignites any and every choice we make. It is therefore vital that we assess our options dispassionately before we execute action under misguided pretenses. Allow me to explain.

Haven’t you ever caught yourself giving others profound advise that you could have used for yourself in certain circumstances? It’s ironic, but it’s also a human “good guy” problem. When we are drenched in an emotional storm, we need an objective third party to provide us with their unclouded point of view. This is why we all need an unbiased sounding board in the form of a friend, colleague, therapist, book, or mentor, etc., to provide an umbrella or rooftop of clarity until the clear skies of objectivity can offer their insight.

A classic example is a friend involved in an unhealthy romantic relationship. The emotional love goggles cannot (or will not) see the uncomfortable reality under the torrential downpour of emotion. Similarly, when you offer your professional or personal expertise as an authentically motivated friend or colleague to another, they will benefit from your sound advice because they are too blinded by their own emotional biases (good or bad) from being at the center of their particular scenario!

A Sable Cloud’s Silver Lining

Let’s take this one step deeper. If you have been taught that you do not “deserve” success, you will unconsciously self-sabotage your accomplishments. The tricky aspect of this dynamic is denial—a self-imposed thought disease that prevents us from seeing and accepting certain realities because they are uncomfortable, such as betrayal from a loved one, deception from a business partner, or lies from a glib politician. However, once you cognitively recognize that your noble efforts merit your rewards—by the mere fact that you earned them—your subconscious self-sabotaging barriers will lose their power. The unfortunate part is best stated by Henry Ford, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.”

Until we learn to think instead of emote, our potential to do good—as the good guys ought—will be retrained by our conscious or subconscious emotions.

Take solace in the fact that most people assume others think as they do and are similarly motivated as they are. This is an egocentric bias which lacks the insight of deliberate empathy. The bad guys assume everyone is bad, because they see the world as fodder for their gain. The opposite is also true; however, and the naïveté of the good guys assumes others will not lie, cheat or hurt them—particularly people they think that they know well—because the good guys are not motivated to hurt others. This is classic denial! We all lack clarity when it’s us in the situation. But please remember, just because you are not sinister, does not mean the bad guys aren’t. You simply don’t think like them—but you actually need to!

Embrace the Blueprint

Avoid limiting your potential or self-sabotaging your success. Realize that human emotion can cloud judgement. But when properly refined through the process of objective thought, emotion is what fuels our life’s callings. Insist on thinking critically through difficult circumstances, so you can plow through any conscious or subconscious emotions that do not resonate with your good-guy purpose.

Allow the emotional grit and motivation you have collected throughout your unique life to be the selective fuel in your tank to get you to reach your North Star! Assess, Adapt & Overcome—in that order. The bad guys are a plenty, so your success is in high demand. Persist for society’s sake, as well as your own.