How To End The Self Sabotage Cycle
Why you do it & how to fix it
There's so much I want to accomplish. I am working super hard on my business - Style Your Life while working full time. I am also trying to get my health back in order. The problem is I keep self-sabotaging myself.
What is self-sabotage
Self-sabotage is when things are going well and you subconsciously do things to ruin it. Think, you just got promoted and you start seriously slacking off. Or, you lost 20 pounds and slowly start finding reasons to change the great habits you created. Maybe you are doing well with launching your podcast, but start drinking so heavily that you are hungover all day on Sunday and can't accomplish what you set out to do.
These are my struggles over the past few years. Every time I reach my goals, I start doing something to mess up my progress. Pretty stupid right? I totally agree.
Why do we do it?
From what I have learned from books like The Big Leap, we do it to get back into our comfort zone. As odd as it sounds, our subconscious notices our discomfort with change and wants to help by getting us back to what we are used to. So if you have been overweight for the majority of your life, when you make the changes needed to lose the weight it's causing discomfort. Even though consciously you are happy with the way you feel, your mind tricks you into getting back to your old ways.
According to Psychology Today, there are three top ways we tend to self-sabotage. Faulty thinking, fear of intimacy or rejection, and procrastination and avoidance.
The slow creep
The downfall is usually not overnight, at least in my experience. If it was, we could more likely spot the behavior and stop it before it ruins our progress. Over the last two years I have been making tons of small changes. I have been also been slowly increasing my alcohol intake. It was so slow, I didn't see the signals.
When I finally realized there was an issue, I was able to drink two full bottles of Prosecco like water. A few years ago I barely drank at all. Up until this week, I drank at least 2-3 nights a week. And when I drank these nights, it was a lot. At least 3 glasses, but more times than not it was too many to count. I had to call my husband on many occasions to come pick me up.
1. Recognition - Think about times you have screwed yourself over. What did you do? What factors led to that point? What was going well in your life at that time? Becoming aware of what you are doing will help you identify the same things happening again.
2. Common themes - When you were thinking about your sabotaging ways, which ones repeatedly show up? My old favorites are anytime anything positive shows up at work or when I lose weight.
3. Notice your thinking - Much of your thinking is done unconsciously, so to keep yourself on track you need to pay attention to your thoughts. Some people recommend writing them down for a week to see how negative you are being to yourself. Personally, I felt like it was too much work. I also am constantly thinking, so it would have been a full time job. I spent a few days being curious about what would pop into my head. It wasn't good. I was extremely negative to myself. When I got compliments on things going well in my life I would find myself saying things like - "well I won't be able to sustain this" or "I just got lucky, I'm not really that great", etc.
4. Find a new narrative
What has been helpful for me is to counter my thoughts as if someone else was telling me them. For example, a common thought for me is "you are too stupid to ever do that" when I am thinking about a big goal. I take it as though a friend said that to me about herself. I would never let my friends talk that way about themselves!
Be your own best friend. How would you talk to your friends if they were being self deprecating? Maybe give them examples of why it isn't true? Tell them how great they are? List their accomplishments? Try countering your negative thinking like you would a friend.
5. Acceptance & Perseverance
Know that you are going to slip. No one is perfect, absolutely no one. So quit thinking of perfection as something attainable. Got it? OK, now that you know you are going to have some setbacks what do you do? Accept it and keep going. All you can do is keep working at to make progress. If you do, while you will mess up from time to time they will be smaller and less frequent. To the point where most people won't notice aside from yourself.