The worst part of self sabotage…is the stories we tell ourselves
Growth does not occur in a straight line. We wish it did, but that just isn’t the case. Most growth happens in fits and spurts with some side stepping and back pedaling along the way.
Self sabotage is a natural part of the growth process. So, rather than avoiding and resisting it, let’s take a closer look at it and maybe find a bit more compassion for ourselves.
First, let’s examine how self sabotage helps us. I know, you’re thinking, “What?!? That’s insane!”
But if you take a closer look at how and when you sabotage yourself, it’s usually right about the moment you are either about to break through a barrier or charter the unknown. And that creates a good amount of fear for all of us. And our instinctual minds do not like the unknown. It likes what it already knows to be safe and predictable. Sabotaging our growth, as maladaptive as it seems, is our mind’s way of keeping us safe. So managing your fear and the self sabotage it creates is a crucial part of growth or change.
But most of us don’t get that far. Why? Because of the stories we tell ourselves about the sabotage itself. This is the worst part of it. If we fail to examine our beliefs about ourselves when we fail, we will remain stuck in those patterns that stop us.
Pull out your journal or you tablet…do not do this in your head. When you get in your own way, what do you tell yourself? Most of us beat the crap out of ourselves and fall head first into the raging sound of our inner critic. The loudest voice in our head becomes the one that is reminding us of all our failures. It’s screaming that we should just quit now and skip the agony of the likely failure in the future. This is a vicious voice that if we listen to without question, will stop us dead in our tracks.
Write it all out.
Then, take a deep breath and notice the tone and volume of the thoughts. Most of us would be horrified if we spoke that way to any other human being! Yet we do it to ourselves without even questioning it.
Given what it’s saying and how, is this someone you should be taking advice from? This tyrant in your head? I hope your answer it ‘NO!”
Now think back to a time when you dropped the ball. (I know, this feels like no fun! But it’s incredibly helpful in the long run.) Note what you did and when. What was happening? Was something new or different about to happen? How were you feeling? And what specifically were you thinking? Were you berating yourself in some way at the time you stepped off track? How was your energy and what were you focussing on? Can you figure out what triggered your inner critic to grab the megaphone?
The more specific you are with your triggers and the thoughts that follow, the better equipped you are to handle them the next time your fear arises. You also can more easily predict when and how you might want to sabotage yourself. Knowing that, you can plan ahead for it. Then, when the urge to jump off track comes up, you can stay present and take action despite the fear. You’ll be ready for it rather than be taken off guard.
So, be gentle and curious. Write out the inner monologue that is keeping you safe and causing you to sabotage yourself. Then get specific about what triggered it to ramp up it’s volume and what you did when you listened to it. Figure out when it could get triggered again and be ready to take action instead.
This is a tough topic for all of us. Please, if you are struggling with this, get in touch. Together we’ll dig deep and get you on track to achieving your goals.