Riffing on the subject of mentoring which has been part of my practice these last thirty years:
At the individual level I see few lost causes. I do see two huge factors:
Firstly individual self sabotage is the prime human motivation rather than self interest. And unpicking self sabotage needs understanding and help. Holding up a mirror to the self sabotaging dance steps to teach a new dance.
What are the major individual self-sabotage steps? I have done all of these myself. In no particular order:
- Failure to mindfully attend to what is going on in our lives, to actually pay attention: instead we engage in massive attention deficit inducing flickering and displacement activity
- Conflict aversion: denial of or repression of conflict instead of surfacing it and dealing with it creatively. The conflict can be internal or with others
- Failure to un-install behaviors, attitudes, inaccurate self-esteem and other false views/damaging behaviors, our parents, schools or whoever installed for good or bad reasons in the past and which now act as demons plaguing us and preventing constructive creative living
- Choosing deeply damaging partners in our romantic or friendship lives who often press the buttons that active the demons mentioned above
- Failure to admit our mistakes and learn from them without blame
- Failure to ask for help in fixing all of this from someone who after checking them out, seems likely to help the journey. In my experience less than 20% of therapists are any use for this, so choose well and move on when they are not fit for purpose.
And secondly, and a group variant of the individual self sabotage, we unerringly construct dysfunctional organizations that encourage organizational political game playing that defeats the organizations goals, rather than growing the human potential to deliver what the organization is for: be it a corporation, a health care system, a university or school system, a military or a non-profit. Absence of procedures to surface and creatively deal with conflict is a major part of this problem and political game playing is the toxic alternative to appropriate conflict handling.
Of course the two are related in that self-sabotaging individuals will play stupid political games as part of their self-sabotage and organizations will pick and promote the self-sabotaging games players thus making the culture of the organization self-sabotaging…
I spent my professional career on both issues and rarely do these problems get solved very often in ways that stick. Our civilization likely depends on changing this.