Have you ever had thought to yourself, ‘I don’t have time to tidy the whole kitchen before work so I won’t do any of the dishes,’ – only arrive home exhausted and further stressed out by the prospect of cooking dinner and clearing up from the morning? Or have you ever self-generated stress by starting more projects than you’ve finished? Or do you complain about other people’s gossiping when you need to make the same change in your own life?
If these scenarios strike a chord with you, then you can understand what it is like to sabotage yourself.
Self-sabotage is any behaviour or thought process that interferes with your long-standing goals and overall wellbeing. It might seem like an issue with a simple solution: if you realise you’re holding yourself back, simply tell yourself to cut it out. However, the reality is that self-sabotage is deeply rooted in our thought processes and behaviour.
Where does self-sabotage come from?
Self-sabotage occurs when your conscious mind is at odds with your subconscious mind, this disconnect manifests itself in sabotaging behaviour. From procrastinating until you miss deadlines, to working so hard that you completely neglect any self-care, or picking a fight with your partner instead of daring to be vulnerable and explaining your hurt feelings – self-sabotage behaviour is ultimately your subconscious way of preventing pain or confronting fear. These behaviours often cause shame and lower your sense of worth, creating a cycle of self-sabotage and low self-esteem.
With the right tools, though, everyone can reconcile these internal spirals and move forward with positive goals and behaviours that align with them.
1. Understand your unconscious mind
In order to stop self-sabotage, you first need to understand and draw out what is causing this behaviour in the first place. Ask yourself:
– What goals have you had for yourself for a long time and never achieved?
– What do you constantly struggle with for no obvious reason?
– Do you suffer from a lack of motivation in certain areas of your life?
– How does stress manifest in your life?
– Are there any patterns in your fears about yourself or your life that continually pop up?
– What are some triggers for you?
Take time to delve into these questions and use them as prompts to explore your goals and potential limiting beliefs or triggers with more depth and clarity. This process might bring up some unexpected emotions so take your time and be sure to explore these parts of yourself with kindness.
2. Get comfortable confronting your fears
Imagine what it would be like to achieve a long-held dream and personal goal. Think about every step you take towards this goal and whilst doing so write down any negative emotions or fears. Where are they coming from? Do they always come up at a certain point or around a certain emotion? The key to your self-sabotage is within these fears and the best way to move past them is to confront them head-on. Different strategies will work for different people, however, overwhelmingly it is about stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to stand up to unrealistic fears, to confront realistic fears with solutions and ultimately, zap your sabotaging behaviour.
3. Practise kindness and find self-care time
Unlearning negative thoughts, beliefs and behaviours is an intense journey and shame can exacerbate and prolong it. Therefore, it is important to practise kindness with yourself along the way and invest in well-deserved self-care time. Self-love is never selfish and caring for yourself is never indulgent. With kindness and care, you will be able to move forward past self-sabotage.
The truth is we are all capable of undermining our own goals. Most of us are hardwired with a pesky set of limiting beliefs that act as fuel to self-sabotaging behaviour. In order to overcome self-sabotage you must invest time in some serious self-reflection, as at its core, it is about confronting the beliefs, thought processes and triggers that are causing this subconscious behaviour to occur. Once you have done this you are free to understand yourself deeper and move forward towards your goals.