How many times in a day do we hear ourselves asking the question, “Why did I do that?” Well, definitely more than once. You know you should have showed up for that interview for that dream job of yours but you don’t; you ought to have kept clear of eating dessert at that party as you were on a fat-cutting diet but you don’t; and you should have just put one step forward to experience the taste of success, but you don’t. You are certain of what you should have done but defying all logic and reason, you end up self-sabotaging yourself and doing the exact opposite. Why? The answer is – your self-sabotage behavior.
Self-sabotage refers to the process of going out of the way to hold back, prevent or limit yourself from achieving your goal due to unidentified fears, lack of self confidence and negative self image. Self-sabotage encompasses a combination of negative thoughts, feelings and actions that create a stumbling block to success by fighting against your own self interests.
Self-sabotage and the Subconscious
[GARD align=left]”Was that really me?” The truth is, it was YOU. The decision to self-sabotage yourself was and always is purely your own choice. You might be wondering how could you purposefully do harm to yourself or prevent yourself from getting what you want. Unfortunately, you can and the root cause of the problem lies within yourself, within your subconscious mind. To be precise, self-sabotage is the result of a mental tug-of-war between the conscious and the subconscious mind in which the subconscious mind always wins.
Imagine you have a found an exciting new business idea or have been assigned a challenging project. Initially you find yourself all enthusiastic about it and begin to work dedicatedly towards achieving it. In a few days, you find yourself losing interest in it for no particular reason, all the excitement and enthusiasm fading away and eventually you leave the project unfinished and sweep it beneath the carpet. Most of us have been here, haven’t we? Have you ever stopped to think why this happens to us? Well our subconscious mind is the culprit. Although our conscious mind wants us to stay positive and work towards achieving our goal, our subconscious mind which houses our fear of failure, lack of confidence and “Oh! I can never do this” attitude, ultimately triumphs. Your subconscious mind prompts you to withdraw your efforts and leaves you a failure. So from now on, it wouldn’t be wrong to say – you are what your subconscious mind is and you get what your subconscious mind desires. Hence the harmonious relationship between the conscious and the subconscious mind is key in eliminating self-sabotage. Next time you do something, make sure you want to do it and have complete faith in yourself. After all, you can only lie to others, not to yourself!
Some Common Reasons for Self-sabotage Behavior
1. Fear of Success – Your own past experiences or those of others condition your mind to behave in a particular manner. You may have seen near & dear ones of your friend turning hostile to him after he became successful or you may be afraid that once you succeed, people may begin to pin higher hopes on you and you may not be able to reach their expectations. These experiences and thoughts linger in your mind and become part of your subconscious mind which then associates success with fear or pain. Hence every time you get close to achieving success, your subconscious mind will trigger your self-sabotage behavior and you end up losing.
2. Low Self-worth – You firmly believe yourself to be unworthy of success, achievement, relationships or money, i.e. you feel you do not deserve to have any of the good things in life. This low self-worth stems from your low self-esteem and poor self-image and ends up destroying you.
3. Lack of Self-confidence – You do not have faith in your own abilities and you feel your goals are unrealistic. Your characteristic way of reacting to any challenging situation is “I can’t” and your negative self will always whisper in your ears “This is complicated, back off.
4. Denying the Real you – This behavior manifests itself in the form of a “just-to-please yes” when you actually mean to say “no I don’t want to.” Every time you do something you really don’t want or like to do, you are denying your true spirit, sabotaging your desires and your right to live life the way you want it to be.
Tips to Overcome Self-sabotage
1. Identify and Accept your self-sabotaging behaviors – Some people may show self-sabotaging behaviors when it comes to success, some with money and some others with relationships. Realizing and knowing the areas where you sabotage yourself and learning to accept them are the most important stages in the first step to overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors.
2. Stop making excuses and Take responsibility – Stop blaming others or your destiny for all the things that go wrong in your life. You should understand that only you are responsible for your failure and only you are the one in power to change it.
3. Positive Visualization and Self-talk – Once you have taken responsibility and made plans to change, put your plans into action. In order to change yourself, you should change your self-image. Positive visualization is a method of creating vivid mental images of already having achieved what you really want and experiencing its pleasure. You should consciously allow your mind to visualize this image several times a day and soon you will find yourself believing in it and making efforts to make it happen.
Your mind constantly talks to you and most of the time the communication is negative and scares you away from your goals. Make an effort to listen to your inner communication and replace every negative word, phrase or thought with a positive one. Gradually you will find a tremendous change in yourself and you will emerge a more confident, capable and worthy individual.
4. Ask for Help – If you feel you are unable to get rid of your self-sabotaging behavior all by yourself, ask for help. Join a support group where your friends will constantly reassure your efforts and make sure you are on the right track. If your self-sabotaging behavior goes way beyond your control and you begin to have suicidal tendencies, be wise, turn around and seek the help of a professional therapist or a doctor. They have the skills and expertise to take you through procedures like hypnosis and dialectical behavior therapy in order to read your subconscious mind, find your sabotaging behavior and its reasons and advice remedial measures to overcome it.
As a closing note, a point that repeatedly needs mention is – “always choose what you want and what you believe” and dedicatedly work towards achieving it. By now, you all must know that nothing can stop you, not even your own self, if YOU decide so!