You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who says that they don’t self-sabotage.
But what do we really mean by this?
Most people think of self-sabotage as being where we get in our own way and we scupper our chances of success in doing something. And that’s pretty accurate but it’s not the whole picture.
We need to dig deeper because actually that’s where the self-sabotage occurs; subconsciously.
When we self-sabotage, we rarely do things to destroy our own chances of success deliberately. It’s not like we consciously set out to ruin our lives. It just happens.
I can’t imagine that you spend your days coming up with yet more ideas as to how you can find another crappy relationship with the wrong type. Or how you can ruin the chances of getting the promotion you really want. Or imagining yet more creative ideas on how you can stifle the growth of your business.
No. You’re doing this stuff without realising.
It’s like we think we’re driving the car that is our life. But actually it’s a great big remote control one and someone else is in control and they love nothing more than to keep pressing on the brakes, send us down the wrong way on the motorway or drive us into a ditch.
The person in control is still us, but it’s our subconscious. The part of us that is guided by our fears, our beliefs, our values and our emotions. Logic and reason has no place here, which is why our self-sabotaging behaviour rarely makes sense and confuses the hell out of us.
How to recognise when you’re self-sabotaging
Here are some of the ways that you could be self-sabotaging;
You repeat unhelpful patterns
You keep seeing the same destructive or unhelpful things happen in your life.
These are things that you wouldn’t deliberately choose to do, but that you find yourself repeating. So, perhaps you always seem to fall for the wrong type, or you always seem to mess up your job prospects. Maybe your new fitness plans always reach the same point of failure or you always mess up sales calls. There will be a pattern in play for you that just seems to repeat itself.
Goals elude you
This is when you’re making a conscious and deliberate effort to achieve something and you just never seem to achieve it. There are blocks. You don’t know what they are, but they’re there. It’s like you’re running into a wall and you can’t move beyond it. Perhaps you want to earn more than a certain amount or money, but you never seem to get there. Or maybe there is something specific in your business you’re trying to do – launch something new – and you struggle to make it happen EVERY SINGLE TIME you try.
We usually procrastinate where there are underlying fears holding us back or stopping us from taking action. This isn’t always easy to spot because we might rationalise our procrastination and come up perfectly good reasons why we haven’t taken action. But the simple truth is that when we are free of fear, things just happen. And often they happen fast.
When we are free of our fears, it’s like there’s a pull toward the goal or result we’re aiming for. And the actions that need to happen just do, without question or faff. But, when our fears pile in, we dither. We weigh things up. We ’think about it’. This is usually just a tug of war in our mind between our fear and our desire. Fears usually win. But that doesn’t stop the back and forth, the dithering and the procrastination.
What is self-sabotage?
A lot of our internal decision making happens emotionally. Our emotions operate much more quickly than our brains, and this is why we’re able to respond quickly to step out of the way of a fast-coming bike or car. If we had to ’think’ a situation like that through (using our brains) then we would probably get hurt.
Many of the micro-decisions that we make throughout the day will be filtered through this part of ourselves, so in many instances, the decision to DO or NOT DO something will already have been taken before our brain gets to have a go at deciding. Even if the brain does have a go at making a decision, it doesn’t realise that The Decision has already been made. So, it doesn’t really matter what the brain wants, the subconscious has already made the call. So now we have two decisions fighting each other.
Let’s see how that might play out…
When success eludes you
If success is eluding you, let’s dig and see what might be happening …
Perhaps deep down you might have a fear of being successful because in your mind being successful will mean that you’ll be busier and travelling more. And you don’t want to be away from your kids or family.
Your values are in conflict. Family is more important to you than success. For you it’s an either/or situation; you can’t see a way forward where they can sit alongside each other and both be fulfilled so you block.
You might fear making lots of money because you believe that rich people are selfish and shallow. And the last thing you want to be is selfish and shallow.
Your fear of making lots of money is in conflict with your belief about rich people. You need to revisit your belief about rich people and be OK with being selfish and shallow.
Perhaps you don’t want to put your prices up because you worry what people will think or that you’re taking advantage of them or ripping them off. Or they might say no.
Your fear of other people thinking negatively of you is stronger than your desire for more money. As is your fear of rejection.
All of these fears and beliefs, while not always conscious for you, will be having a say in the micro-decisions that are being made as you try and take steps to be successful.
How much do we actually self-sabotage
One thing that not many people realise is how much we self-sabotage. And I don’t mean in general, but around one particular desired outcome or goal.
This is something that I help a lot of my clients with. Some people come to me specifically for self-sabotage clearance while others are doing a much longer programme of work with me and it’s something we do as part of our work together. This means that I have done a fair bit of self-sabotage clearance.
You remember earlier I mentioned the various fears and beliefs that could be messing things up for you?
Between where you are now and your desired outcome, there stands many different moments and micro-decisions. It can be useful to think of these as hurdles you need to get past in order to get to the prize.
How many individual moments or micro-decisions do you imagine that you need to go through before you get to your goal?
More than 10?
In my experience it’s around 30.
Yes. That’s 30 separate things that have the potential to stop you from reaching your goal.
No wonder so many people find that they don’t make it.
What are the chances of successfully overcoming 30 hurdles that we don’t even know are there?
Any one desired outcome could have this many hurdles or possible instances of self-sabotage.
Can you really stop self-sabotaging?
All of this might sound like self-sabotaging is something that we’re stuck with, and at best something we can manage.
Well, I have some good news. It can be gotten rid of.
Putting a stop to your self-sabotage
To put a stop self-sabotaging, you need to identify the various fears and beliefs that are standing in your way. Even though much of this is happening subconsciously, it can be pretty easy to start identifying some of these with some focussed time and effort.
Then, once you have your list, you simply start working through it using the Head Trash Clearance Method.
Depending on how many things are on your list, this could take some time but it would be time well spent. Just think of all the time you’ve already spent running around in circles or hitting your head against the wall. Sometimes it’s worth putting the effort in to knock the wall down.
In the way that I work with people, I have developed a process that is specific for self-sabotage clearance which means that I can do this in a couple of sessions. So if you wanted a short-cut that is always an option for you.