Do You Have an Achilles Heel?

In the classic myth, Achilles’ 5-foot-8-inch body had only 3 inches of weakness in his heel, and yet those 3 inches became his downfall.  In a similar way, many of us treat our weaknesses as if they are the sole measure of our attractiveness, self-worth and value.  We let our insecurities convince us that those “3 inches” (of hairline, waistline, emotional hypersensitivity, etc.) are more important than the whole of our body, mind and spirit.

A good way to discover your Achilles Heel(s) is to carefully consider each of the following:

  • I generally feel good about myself except for…
  • I feel proud of my body and appearance except for…
  • I feel satisfied with my achievements in life except for…
  • I avoid losing my temper except for…
  • I am usually not intimidated by people except for…
  • I feel I am easy to get along with except for…
  • I have good common sense except for…
  • My marriage/love relationship would be more fulfilling if only…
  • My sex life would be more satisfying if only…
  • I’d be more successful if only…
  • I’d be able to slow down and stop trying so hard if only…
  • I’d be able to deal with people more effectively if only…
  • I’d be a much happier person if only…
  •  I’d feel my life had more meaning and purpose if only…

Most responses to the above questions fall into the following five major categories:

“I’m afraid of getting hurt again.”  (“I want to feel close but I’m afraid.”)

“When I look in the mirror, I’m never quite satisfied.” (“I feel uncomfortable being seen in a bathing suit; My skin has too many blemishes.”)

“I can’t stand criticism.”  (“I can’t stand disapproval—especially from someone I love.”)

“I’m always feeling tense and rushed.”  (“I can’t take a break until everything’s just right; Between my job, kids and spouse, there’s no time for me; My mind never seems to stop worrying and churning.”)

“I wish I could be happier.”  (“No matter what I do, I’m never quite satisfied; I thought I’d be happier once I got married/divorced/found work/quit work/had kids/the kids were grown; I though by now I’d have outgrown my insecurities.”)

The challenge of your Achilles Heel is to learn to appreciate yourself exactly as you are, including your weak spots and vulnerabilities.  Instead of tying up your energy in self-hate and criticism, you would then be free to support yourself in learning new habits.

The good news is that by discovering your Achilles Heel and coming to grips with it, you can make your self-defeating behaviors less automatic—and more quickly and easily resolved.  Making peace with yourself is a gift you deserve for being courageous enough to admit that to be alive is to be vulnerable.  Your peace of mind, your love relationships and your moment-to-moment vitality may be at stake.

Source:  Making Peace With Yourself by Harold Bloomfield (Ballantine Books)

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