Self-Sabotage is, in it’s most basic definition, “the act of getting in our own way!” There are variations and psychological definitions that are deep and wide, but that is the simplest way to look at it.
Most of us don’t consciously realize that we do it. However, take a close look at your track record of behaviors and you’ll probably realize that it’s more common in your life than you think. The first step in solving any problem is the awareness that it exists, so following are a few of the most commons reasons why we harm ourselves in this way:
1. One very common trigger for self-sabotage is fear! It’s interesting how fear keeps popping up as the culprit behind a lot of our struggles in life, huh? When we begin to go in a direction that challenges us, or that isn’t our “norm,” it’s scary! What if we fail? What if we look stupid? What if we change our mind? What if we completely suck at it? It’s just easier to stop before we even get started. There’s no risk that way. We know it’s good for us, think we want it, and don’t realize that we’re creating beliefs or behaviors that sabotage our plans, but our subconscious protective instincts start to take over.
2. Another creator of self-sabotage is our identity. Identity is incredibly powerful! Our brains work to create or maintain the pictures that we’ve created in our minds of who we are. If we start to make moves to change that picture in any way, our brains will begin to produce the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors necessary to keep that picture our reality…even when it’s not safe or productive. For example, if we’ve identified with ourselves as overweight and attempt to change that, our brains will create the cravings, self-doubt, fatigue, etc., to keep us in our current form. This is why it’s so important to create a new identity in your mind when you want to make a change. Paint a new picture and identify with who that person is, how she feels, what she does, and how she thinks. Do whatever you have to do to make this shift. Your outcome depends on your ability to retrain your mind.
3. Similarly to self-sabotage based on the maintenance of identity, we will destroy our progress if we don’t believe we deserve it. This is also accomplished in the unconscious control center of our minds. We have beliefs about how everything should look in our lives. These beliefs are often based on things like past experiences, what people have lead us to believe, or social status. A good example for this type of self-sabotage can be found in our relationships. If we begin to experience more love, trust, or happiness than we subconsciously believe we deserve, we will start to look for and create problems to either destroy that relationship, or bring it back to the level of our expectations. “We don’t deserve to be that happy.” “It’s not right to feel that good.” “Men always betray us.” Sound at all familiar? Another example is career success. If you’ve always made $40,000 per year and the income of your family growing up was around $40,000 per year, you’ll start to self-sabotage when you find yourself moving out of that income range. You “are only a $40,000 per year earner” and you don’t deserve that kind of success. It doesn’t fit into your blueprint for what a career should look like…your career anyways!
The good news is that we can learn to recognize when we begin to self-sabotage and get out of the way of our own progress if we make a conscious effort to do so. It requires honest self-evaluation and dedication to doing the work within ourselves to overcome our natural tendencies and beliefs. Change isn’t easy and progress doesn’t always feel good, but it gets easier. And it’s definitely worth it!
Have you identified with any of these examples of self-sabotage? I would love to hear how you’ve dealt with it in your life or how it has effected you. Lets chat in the comments below!
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