Have you ever wanted something in life, but find yourself doing things that are counter to that desire? Probably. I am for sure guilty of doing this on multiple occasions. Oftentimes in life, there are things that we desire, yet for some reason we begin to allow self-doubt and fear to interfere. By wavering on your intention, you end up throwing yourself out of alignment with your desire and start attracting things you do not want.
Plainly put, self-sabotage is cognitive dissonance, or an internal conflict created when one part of your personality does not agree with another part of your personality: when one part of you wants something but another part of you is not yet on board with that idea.
Self-sabotage behaviors vary in severity as well as the action involved. Some people may self-sabotage by abusing substances, self-harming or overeating. Others may self-sabotage in more subtle ways like: negative self talk, giving up or avoiding new/hard tasks, being afraid of change or not having boundaries and advocating for themselves. Maybe you are working to change a habit, have you given yourself the time and attention to make that change? If your goal, like a lot of people, is to increase self care, what actions have you taken towards this? Self-sabotage here might look like denying yourself simple pleasure during the day yet staying up til 2am binge watching YouTube videos. Or maybe, you are the person that ignores signs that they need a break, and pushes yourself to exhaustion. Sabotage behavior might also include tasks that are really just busywork, to keep ourselves distracted. For example, if you are at the grocery store multiple times a week…what are you doing? Try to be wiser with your time. Maybe that means planning out your meals in advance or making a list so that you don’t forget things. One area I see people often engage in self-sabotage behaviors is during relationships- platonic and romantic. A few examples of sabotaging behavior include: throwing stones from a glass house, over-focusing on negative interactions, repeating ineffective behaviors (nagging your spouse to do xyz), not giving others adequate validation, not healing your previous/current trauma and allowing yourself to be constantly triggered.
Another way we engage in self-sabotage is by over-complicating things as a way to procrastinate doing the tasks. I am surely guilty of this, especially when it comes to household chores. For example, at times I find myself needing to clean my kitchen. Instead of getting it done, tasks by tasks, sometimes I catch myself thinking “oh I only have 10 minutes and that’s not enough time”. Self-sabotage. In reality that 10 minutes could have been used to unload my clean dishes, load my dishwasher and sweep the floor. However, if I listen to my inner saboteur, I likely end up wasting way more than 10 minutes and accomplish nothing! These are all ways that we knowingly yet unconsciously act in ways that antagonize our true desires.
What do you desire from life?
Now, honestly evaluate how have your actions been helping…or sabotaging your goal(s)?
If you find that you have been participating in self sabotage, all you have to do is change your behavior!
Let’s unpack how to overcome self-sabotage:
- First things first. You have to honestly identify behaviors that are self-sabotage! It make take you some time to figure out. Keep in mind that sabotage comes in many shapes and sizes! Refer to the examples above if you are stuck.
- Monitor your sabotage behavior. Oftentimes these behaviors are unconscious so it may take you a moment to fully realize your behaviors. One way to monitor these behaviors is by keeping a written list of negative thoughts or other negative behaviors.
- Once you identify those behaviors, it’s time to change! A great way to start is by make an action plan of things you could do to replace the sabotage behaviors. Start implementing your changes little by little.
- Aim for realistic and attainable changes. Oftentimes completely eliminating a behavior cold turkey can be really difficult for people. Instead, try to slowly make observable changes. Instead of looking to make a complete cold turkey change, try to start with 10%, then go for 20-30% and continue to increase gradually. The goal should be progress, not immediate perfection.
- Most behavior change plans include a trigger: which is used as a cue. For example, when X happens, I will do Y. This helps you remember to make the behavior change and remain consistent.
- Create self-supporting behaviors. This is essential to replacing those sabotage behaviors. Focus on implementing behaviors that align with your goal.
- Challenge your thoughts and behaviors that are limiting you. Begin to get to the root of your sabotage. What is it that could be holding you back? Let go of the ideas and behaviors that do not align with your goals or no longer serve you.
No change is easy but this change is certainly worth the effort. Silencing your inner saboteur means increasing your alignment. You cannot manifest your desires while you are out of alignment and allowing your inner saboteur your wreak havoc! Silence your saboteur and live your best life!