Self sabotage – the scourge of anyone who ever wanted to do anything, ever.
It’s your conscious mind, vs your unconscious mind.
It’s the part of you that wants to be fit and gawjuss, vs the part of you that wants to inhale Nutella straight from the jar. You with me? Good. Keep reading.
Your subconscious is home to that critical inner voice that we call have, the side of you with little self control, complete disregard for your goals and what you want out of life, kicking all the good stuff out of the way. You know, those things that take a bit of time and effort, where it would be easier to just go back to bed. It’s always the same loop on repeat, holding you back, and killing your efforts.
Self sabotage tells you: “this isn’t meant for you”, “you can’t do this”, “you’re not meant to be this happy” and then because that voice is pretty convincing, you act upon it and YAY! You’re no further ahead than you were a year ago! Victorious!
We should feel sorry for the subconscious at this point. It is racing through thoughts at a blisteringly hight speed (60,000 thoughts a day anyone? Enough to write a book?) and they’re not all going to be right. So, let’s get that straight first.
Our subconscious as protector
But someone decided it would be a good idea to give the subconscious the job of protecting us. I mean, really. This is where the constant chatter lives, all the stuff we can’t let go of, every harsh word is stored, and it’s gonna protect us. Right. Well……right. In its own, admittedly clumsy way, that’s what it does.
The subconscious protects us by:
- Being in the present (you know, like all meditation teachers try and get us to do; the subconscious has this thing down, baby)
- Protecting you from pain (emotional or physical, your subconscious has got you covered)
- Making no judgement calls, good or bad
So, as an example;
Let’s say you should be working on a project that could get you the promotion of your dreams, but fear and anxiety are really tugging at you. Here’s where your subconscious steps in, and in its efforts to protect you, sabotages you (and in naivety and inexperience, you let it).
It goes something like this.
This is soooooo stressful. I know, why don’t we sack this off, get the Chunky Monkey out of the freezer and see what’s on Netflix. And while we’re here, you look great in that panda onesie, I’m sure they’d love it at work tomorrow; add a bit of fun to your presentation….
There you go, you miss your big chance and you don’t really get why, but at a subconscious level, you know that you have allowed yourself to be distracted, lowered your performance and convinced yourself it wasn’t for you anyway. Damn girl. You could have slayed this.
Self limiting behaviour is something I am not immune to, and it’s also something I deal with regularly in my hypnotherapy practice in a technique called parts therapy; people come to me about self sabotaging behaviour, and we work out which part is kicking its way about your subconscious, slamming doors, and stomping upstairs.
So, let’s look at 6 strategies for changes to self sabotaging behaviour that you can make for yourself right now.
1 Understand your personal brand of self sabotage
If yours follows the pattern I described in the scenario above, I would guess that you’re all about procrastination, leaving jobs half done, missing deadlines, being distracted, disorganised, and generally killing your chances of being able to get ahead.
There’s an easy fix to this. Get a notepad, write a big to do list of everything you want to do, big and small, and then start doing these things. Anything that requires more than one step is going to need thinking about, but you only need to know the first step. Add things to a calendar where necessary. Get on and do it. Your behaviour has to change in a positive way. Schedule it in and your behaviour change will see you being able to get shiz done, feeling happier, relaxed, and good about your self. Trust me. I’m a professional.
2 Understand your self worth
Did you always have to be good at something to please other people? Is what you do now all about making someone else happy rather than about realising your dreams? If so, we need to talk.
If you are trying to fit the square peg of someone else’s ambitions into the round hole of your, yeah this metaphor doesn’t work. If you’re not doing something you love, or gain value from, you’re going to kick it into touch and say, see, I told you I couldn’t do it. I don’t blame you. So what to do instead?
3 Self – reflect
Journalling is great to help you work out why you do the things you do (or the things you don’t). Sitting and listening to that internal chatter, picking up a voice and then answering something it has asked you, said to you, made you remember can help you to draw out things you’d forgotten about, and can see from a different perspective. I’m an old hippy at heart, and I really do believe in the healing power of journalling (as well as the healing power of telling people to fuck off occasionally).
4 Make small changes
OK, so you know what you want to do; don’t rush at it all guns blazing because enthusiasm wears off really quickly and we can get burnt out before you know it. We’re destined for greatness….we’re just pacing ourselves.
I’ve played guitar for more years that I care to admit, and although it always felt natural and right that I would play that particular instrument, I wasn’t instantly Jimi Hendrix. In fact, I clearly remember the first time I held a guitar when I was three, and having no idea what I was doing with it, just knowing I loved it. And over time, and with a lot of practice, I got very good, by making small changes. Don’t overwhelm yourself, because self sabotage is just waiting in the wings.
5 There’s no such thing as perfection
Unless we’re talking about Jason Momoa, but we’re not, so stop that. Stop. STOP. Got your attention again? Good. OK, so, now we know that, the pressure is off. I’m not a perfect therapist (I’m bloody good though), I’m not a perfect guitar player, wife, daughter, etc, but I try my best to be a half decent human being, and I put effort into stuff.
Good enough IS good enough. If you KNOW you could do better, then do. If you couldn’t then stop stressing, because self sabotage will come in, and just like a football crowd during a goal kick will start chanting….”you’re shit aahhhhhh”
6 Set goals
This may be a no brainer, but you do kinda need a road map so you know where to go with all this new found information. The goal is totally up to you, but set the goal, make a plan, then work your plan. It kind of links up to the first point of knowing your brand of self sabotage too. Even if the goal only requires two steps, get those 2 steps sorted, work them, smash the shiz out of them and celebrate. Then set your next goal. Let the sabotaging voice in your head take some time out.
If you need help with letting these conflicting parts of you work a few things out, contact me. I can help, really.