In the last 24 hours, I’ve had two different clients come to me with searing stories of self-sabotage. One of the women in my Prevention Magazine Yoga Weightloss test group posted that after 5 straight weeks of disciplined eating and exercising, right as we’re nearing the final round, she slipped back into old habits with a “reward” cookie or “cheat meal” here and there. “Why is my mind all of a sudden allowing this?” she asked.
Another private client I work with was devastated when, after only a few short months of marriage, he found out his wife was having an affair. With a solid, loving partnership, he attributed it to her tendency toward self-sabotage – not knowing what to do when things are actually going well.
One of the most common reasons we don’t end up meeting our goals is due to conscious or unconscious self-sabotage. But, why?
The bottom line is: If your actions are not lining up with your deepest truth and ultimate goals, you are in some form of self-sabotage.
Here Are 4 Basic Steps to Overcoming Self-Sabotage:
1. Reincarnate. Is there an old identity, belief, or story about yourself you’re holding onto?
Compassionately scan your past. Is there any old trauma, wound, circumstance that left a deep imprint and which you now identify yourself by? For example, did you grow up a product of divorce, an only child, or in a drab, not particularly happy family life? Perhaps your story is that marriage or family life is difficult and a burden and that you’re better off alone.
Or were you rejected by your peers in junior high school or while rushing a sorority/fraternity in college? Is your story that you “never quite fit in,” and it’s hard to trust or get close to people?
Carefully examine what you “think” is true about any scenario and rebuild new, positive, empowering versions.
2. Identify who you are trying to protect.
Often our fear stems from a fear of success, not failure. Is there a parent, friend, business partner, sibling, child, or lover that you are hesitant to “surpass?” Is there someone you think may be offended or may reject you if you are more successful or happier than they are?
Do a cord cutting ritual. Drop into a simple meditation, call their Spirit before you, and have a clear conversation stating that you release them to live their own lives and that you will no longer play small out of a mistaken belief that you are protecting them. Instead, you know that living your best life inspires and uplifts all.
3. Use affirming words to describe your actions.
Instead of “I can’t.” “I won’t.” “I’ll never be able to…”, use words that affirm. Catch yourself the next time you say “I can’t” and reverse it.
As Henry Ford eloquently stated,“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
These words symbolize and concretize your inner beliefs. You can begin repatterning your beliefs from the outside in. Work on changing your language to change your mind. Choose empowered, encouraging statements.
If you really struggle with a negative inner dialogue, ask yourself to whom that voice really belongs. Where did it start? A coach? Nun? Teacher? Parent?
Speak as your highest good, your inner power, your Buddha nature. As my dear friend and collaborator Terri Cole says, “Words have wings.” Use them wisely.
4. Reward yourself for every positive action.
Many of us self-impose an invisible glass ceiling on our happiness. Our systems literally do not know what to do with satisfaction, joy, goodness.
What was your early family life like? Were you happy as a kid? Joyful? Do you remember laughing and feeling genuinely good, at peace and at ease – knowing things were going to turn out well? If not, it is quite possible you unconsciously hold yourself back because your brain does not recognize and register the good. Was there a time when this feeling good stopped? When? Why?
Get to the root of where your positive worldview shifted. Challenge yourself to begin rewiring your brain to recognize and register happiness, goodness, and satisfaction.
Every time you complete a task, meet a goal (large or small), have an enriching conversation, finish a workout, eat well, save money, open up in vulnerability, whatever, consciously recognize your positive attributes. Mirror back to yourself positive self-regard. Literally, go to a mirror, look in your eyes, and say out loud a positive, affirming statement.
I began doing this a couple years ago, and now after almost every workout, I get in my car, look in the rearview mirror, and say “Great job! You kicked ass! I’m so proud of you! You’re worth the effort.” I promise you will feel better; it will begin to stick, and as you will build self-trust, your worldview will shift back into it’s rightful place – believing in yourself and the world.
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