It’s easy to forget how powerful our subconscious mind can be. We are often unaware of how our actions (or inactions) affect our lives. We may complain that things never go well, that we’re unlucky, or that we just don’t have what it takes to succeed. What we don’t realize is that we create our own circumstances through unconscious self-sabotage. To overcome self-sabotage, we must first consciously explore our emotions and fears and understand how they influence our actions. Once we identify the cause of the destructive behaviour, we can take steps to prevent it in the future.
What really happens when we sabotage ourselves?
Subconsciously, we may be afraid of a certain outcome, even if we say we want it. Take weight loss, for example. Many overweight people have struggled for years, trying diet after diet, and still can’t get their weight off (or keep it off). They berate themselves, push themselves to do their best and try to force the weight off. But what’s actually happening beneath the surface? Do they really want to get rid of their extra pounds? They may say they do, but what if their layers of fat provide a sense of protection and security in an uncertain world? What if they feel the need to cover up and hide? Losing weight then becomes a threatening, scary possibility. So they might sabotage their dieting efforts to avoid feeling too vulnerable and exposed. Even if they say they want to lose weight (and even believe they do), they might blame themselves for failure by sneaking food, skipping exercise, and then promising to try harder tomorrow.
Others may be intimidated by something as simple as starting a new job. Did you know that a surprising number of people don’t show up for interviews, even for highly coveted jobs? Let’s consider another example: Perhaps a stay-at-home mom decides she needs to return to work to earn money for her family. She actually wants to stay home with her children, but she feels obligated to take a job outside the home. So instead of applying for the perfect job, she applies for jobs she knows she’s not qualified for or jobs whose hours don’t work with her family’s schedule, so she has to turn down the job offered. By doing this, she subconsciously wants to make sure she doesn’t have to leave home, and she can at least say she “tried” to find a job.
Those who self-sabotage may also be afraid of what others will think of them if they achieve their goals. They may not believe they are worthy of the outcome, so they behave in a way that guarantees their failure.
These destructive efforts run unconsciously, so even the saboteurs fool themselves into thinking they know what they want. If there is any uncertainty in their mind, any doubt, any fear, they will find a way to make sure it does not happen.
Maybe this is true for you?
Have you sabotaged yourself in the past? Are you still doing it now? Are you unable to move forward with your goals no matter how hard you try?
Fortunately, we CAN overcome self-sabotage. The most important step in stopping self-sabotaging behaviour is to recognize that it is happening. We need to develop a conscious awareness of our thoughts, feelings and actions.
If you are struggling with a particular goal and things just don’t seem to be working out, look at the setbacks you have had and evaluate the situation. Could some of the obstacles have been avoided by making smarter choices on your part? Are there a significantly high number of obstacles that occurred with this one particular goal? If so, you may be sabotaging yourself.
A good way to get in touch with your subconscious mind is to spend time in silent meditation. Ask yourself what you are afraid of. What fears do you have? What uncertainties? What makes you uncomfortable about this goal? What reasons would you try to hold back? It can also be helpful to write these questions and answers in a journal, as writing can help you connect with the deepest part of yourself. It may take some time and practice, but exploring these possibilities can greatly help you get out of the rut of self-sabotage.
When we finally understand that we are in control of our own success, we will be free of all limitations! By developing clarity and insight about the results we want to achieve and becoming aware of potential setbacks, we can stop the self-sabotage and focus our energies on working toward new goals that we support in every way. Then one day we will look back and see that we have become not our worst saboteur, but our best supporter.