This is one that comes up over and over again with people I work with and I know that all of my own personal downfalls have been rooted in self-sabotage. It’s something I have to work on daily - multiple times!
The reason why self-sabotage is so difficult to break out of, is because it’s habit. It’s our default go-to and most of all, it feels safe. Doing the opposite action (which is usually what’s needed) or just something different is scary and takes us into unknown territory. So we resort back to those old behaviours that eventually lead to the same outcome.
These are the kind of things we say to ourselves and others when it comes to these habits and behaviours -:
- “It’s just the way I am”
- “I know it’s the wrong thing but it’s just so difficult to change”
- “It’s just part of my personality and I can’t help that”
Self-sabotage can hinder us in health, relationships, finances, career, self-esteem and basically everything that involves us being a human on this earth. Usually it tends to happen in one prominent area but can filter into other parts of our life too.
As the quote goes “How you do anything is how you do everything”
So how do you stop self-sabotage in its tracks to kick-start your bounce back? Here are a few ideas that I regularly use to pull myself out of it when it creeps in.
#1 Identify the behaviour or habit
It’s very easy to just say ‘well, this is the way I am’ but honestly, that’s not true. Our brains can be re-wired to change and whilst we have personality traits, our way of thinking, our behaviours and our habits can all be re-wired to change in a way that serves us better.
To do this though, you have to be willing to name what it is that’s self-sabotaging you. To call it out. For example, if you find yourself always getting hurt in relationships, what are you doing to create that? Are you gravitating towards the people that just aren’t good for you and ignoring the red flags in favour of excitement, ‘living life’ or giving someone a chance? Are you a constant people pleaser and ignoring the times you want to just say no? When it comes to your health, do you have good intentions but then ‘fall off the wagon?’ None of these things mean you are a weak or bad person - definitely not! But being willing to name them is a huge, brave and very necessary step.
#2 Imagine the habit/behaviour is a separate ‘thing’ in-front of you
It can feel like self-sabotage is innately within us or part of our DNA. It can also feel like it creeps in from behind us when we’re unaware. A little trick I learnt, which was immensely helpful, is to imagine it sitting right in-front of you; smaller than yourself and like an annoying little creature or ‘thing’. All of a sudden, it doesn’t have as much power, it can’t hurt you and you are in a much more empowering position to make a different choice.
So if you know your go-to is to think negative of yourself (e.g. I suck at relationships anyway, I always get hurt, I’m not attractive enough, it’s no wonder I can’t meet anyone, everyone is doing better/more sorted than me etc) and sends you on a downward spiral, imagine that thought or action is right in-front of you instead of part of you. All of a sudden, it can no longer hurt you. You can consciously choose a different thought and even if you still don’t feel great, you’re priming yourself to be less reactive and in a place to make a different choice.
#3 Do the different thing
This one sounds easy and really, it is. We tend to hugely over complicate things but when it comes to taking an action that feels so alien to us, even with the best intentions, our default is to go back to self-sabotage. To create a new habit or way of thinking and therefore way of being, you need to start doing the different thing.
Instead of being tempted by the charming, charismatic guy or your ex who you know deep down is emotionally unavailable, choose to dodge that one in favour of doing something for yourself instead or going for the guy who seems less exciting but is showing you has the makings of a good person who represents all the things you really want and need in a relationship.
When you know not fuelling your body properly makes you feel like crap because of how you’ve felt before doing that, but your low mood seems to make you do it anyway, stop and think what would better fuel you? This doesn’t necessarily mean not having the glass of wine/pizza/whatever food you’ve deemed ‘bad’ by the way! It might actually mean allowing yourself to have it, enjoying it and moving on with your life instead of beating yourself up afterwards. Or it might mean getting better sleep or seeking support from someone who can help you get your physical health on track.
It might mean doing something that you know is going to make you feel better and healthier.
I’ve been on a...hmmm.....'interesting' journey with my health the past 2 years. After being totally entrenched in and obsessed with healing diets and protocols, I’m now having to take complete opposite actions to restore my health. I’m having to do different things and choose different thoughts every day and it’s tough! But I know it’s the only way.
Ultimately, you know what to do. You know what will best serve you so you need to do exactly that even if it feels like you’re in a different body. Doing the thing that creates a different and better result over and over will mean the rewiring will start to take place. And then slowly, THAT becomes the new habit.
I wish I had a magic cure for stopping self-sabotage forever in one hit. (Well, if I did, I’d be living the high life in my Beverly Hills mansion sipping champs with Lisa Vanderpump dahling ;) ) Unfortunately there isn’t an ultimate quick fix. But these steps have helped me and the people I work with one-to-one hugely. (There are many more of course, but I thought these would be a good starter.)
The thing is though, change can be created quickly if you want it enough and are ready to say goodbye to your old thoughts and behaviours - or at least turn the volume of them down. It’s the self-awareness of them and repetitiveness actions to change them that you have to commit to.
So just to repeat, self-sabotage isn’t part of your personality, it’s just a way of thinking that has become so engrained in you. Name it, see it as separate to you and start doing and thinking the different thing.
The way out, is always through :)