We were sat over a cup of tea after a meeting and I was telling Tim that I was excited about presenting my “Overcoming Self Sabotage” workshop.
“What is self sabotage?” Tim asked me.
Well, I should know all about it. After all, I am a past master of procrastination, avoidance and distraction, all strategies that can be used to make sure I do anything apart from what it is that I really need to be working on.
I don’t think I’m alone here am I?
Fear of ridicule
It turns out that Tim was criticised as a child for his reading. It wasn’t up to the standard his parents expected and so they ridiculed him for his lack of ability.
What happens when you fear being ridiculed? Does it make you feel like curling up in a ball or going somewhere where you can be left alone? It certainly doesn’t encourage you to be open and prepared to have a go does it?
Tim decided at a young age he would not set himself up for further ridicule so he concentrated on becoming really good at maths to avoid attention being drawn to his reading.
This is what’s at the basis of most sabotaging behaviour: Rather than pleasing ourselves we engage in behaviours that protect us. This then, over time, takes us away from our own truth and passion.
Its purpose is to keep us safe
We all self sabotage whether we recognise it or not. At least 90% if not 95% of what we do on a daily basis is driven by our subconscious minds, meaning we are not even aware we are doing it.
It has fascinated me to discover there is actually a formula for how specifically we sabotage our success depending on our beliefs; the beliefs we have unconsciously been programmed with in childhood.
What we believe about ourselves (our self image) dictates the self sabotaging strategy we will engage with:
- I feel guilty therefore I should be punished
- I feel unloved therefore I should be perfect
- I am imperfect therefore I should imitate
- I am broken therefore I should appear whole
- I am ashamed therefore I should hide/suppress
- I am to blame therefore I should carry all burdens
Tim’s belief that he was not good enough drove him to prove himself, seeking perfection in other areas to keep him safe from ridicule.
Of course, then what happens, is that we strive to be as good as we can be at the sabotaging behaviour, so nobody will find out the truth about us. This, in turn, becomes a distraction in itself and the real belief becomes unconscious.
Does any of this resonate with you as you read through the list? Do you recognise your behaviour or your belief?
My personal default position is “It’s all my fault”.
Whatever happens, I usually feel guilty and that I have done wrong, even when someone says something as simple as “I need to speak to you later.”
Instantly, I think “What have I done?” and a feeling of being in trouble comes over me.
All of this happens in a moment, before I have even had a chance to find out what has really happened.
So how can it change?
The answer lies in self awareness. By bringing the underlying belief to light and into our conscious minds, it gives us the chance to change it.
As you become conscious of what you are thinking…
…you gain insight into your thought process to realise that what you are thinking affects your behaviour.
Be aware of being aware
You will start to realise that you are trying to protect yourself and keep yourself safe from feelings such as unworthiness and not being good enough.
These feelings and behaviours can show up in all areas of your life and can be the root cause of:
- Relationships breaking down or breaking up
- Habits that kill passion and motivation
- Broken diets
As all this happens on a subconscious level, we very often sense things could be different but have no idea exactly how or why.
SO, here’s what you can do…
When you catch yourself thinking, ask yourself:
What am I thinking?
What’s underneath those thoughts?
Be still, be aware and remember:
Good enough is good enough.
So Tim…the answer to your question…
“What is self sabotage?
It’s the behaviours we adopt when we are not being true to ourselves.