What’s really happening when we sabotage ourselves? Subconsciously, we may be frightened by a particular outcome, even though we say we want it. Take, for example, losing weight. Many overweight people have struggled for years, tried diet after diet, and still can’t lose the weight (or keep it off). They berate themselves, push themselves harder, and try to force the weight off. But what’s happening beneath the surface? Do they really want to lose their excess pounds? They may say they do, but what if their layers of fat are providing a sense of protection and security in an uncertain world? What if they feel the need to cover up and conceal themselves? Losing weight then becomes a threatening, frightening possibility. So they might sabotage their diet efforts in order to avoid feeling too vulnerable and exposed. Even though they say they want to lose weight (and even believe they do) they still might set themselves up for failure by sneaking food, skipping exercise, and then making a promise that they’ll try harder tomorrow.
Others may be intimidated by something as simple as starting a new job. Did you know that there are a surprisingly high number of people who don’t show up for job interviews, even for highly-desirable positions? Let’s look at another example: Perhaps a stay-at-home-mom decides she needs to return to the workforce to earn money for her family. What she really wants is to stay home with her children, but she feels obligated to get a job outside the home. So instead of applying for the perfect position, she applies for jobs that she knows she’s not qualified for, or jobs that require hours incompatible with her family’s schedule so she has to turn down the job if it’s offered. Subconsciously, that’s her way of ensuring she won’t have to leave home, and at least she can say she “tried” to get a job.
Those who self-sabotage may also be afraid of what others will think of them should they accomplish their goals. They might not believe they’re worthy of the outcome, so they act in ways that will ensure their failure.
These destructive efforts are done subconsciously, so even the saboteurs have fooled 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 doesn’t happen.
Perhaps this describes you? Have you sabotaged yourself in the past? Are you still doing it now? Are you not able to move forward with your goals, no matter how hard you try?
Fortunately we CAN overcome self-sabotage. The most important step to stopping self-sabotaging behavior is to recognize that it’s happening. We must develop a conscious awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and actions.
If you’ve been struggling with a certain goal and things just don’t seem to be working out for you, take a look at the setbacks that were encountered and evaluate the situation. Could any of the obstacles have been avoided by making wiser choices on your part? Are there a significantly high number of obstacles that have arisen for this one particular goal? If so, you may be self-sabotaging yourself.
A great way to get in touch with your subconscious mind is by spending time in quiet meditation. Ask yourself what you’re afraid of. What fears do you have? What uncertainties? What makes you feel uncomfortable about this goal? For what reasons would you try to hold yourself back? Using a journal to write these questions and answers can help too, because writing can help you to connect with the deepest part of yourself. It might take time and practice, but exploring these possibilities can dramatically help you to get out of the self-sabotage rut.
When we finally understand that we are in control of our own success, we will be set free from all limitations! By developing clarity and insight about the outcomes we want to create, and the awareness for potential setbacks, we can stop the self-sabotage and focus our energies on working toward new goals that we will fully support in every way. We will then look back one day and see that instead of being our own worst saboteur, we have become our best supporter.