#64 The Self-Sabotage Cycle

​Sabotage is a horrible word, isn’t it?

The actual definition of it in the Oxford dictionary is:

‘To deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct something (especially for political or military advantage.’

Or according to the Cambridge dictionary it’s

‘To damage or destroy equipment, weapons, or buildings in order to prevent the success of an enemy or competitor.’

How awful. Who would deliberately want to destroy something…just for their own personal gain or advantage? (Okay, okay, yes, toddlers and kids would! But they don’t know any better. They think destroying your home, your plants, your table cloth, your kitchen floor, your dignity is funny! 😜)

But…let’s talk about adults here. Adults know better. Or at least we have had plenty of opportunity to get to that point. Where am I getting at?

Well, we shake our heads at the idea of sabotage because it seems cruel, unfair, selfish even. It seems like war-tactics. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. One that you won’t like to hear.

You do it everyday.

WHAT??? 😱

It’s called self-sabotage.

Many of you will have heard of it before but may not know the ins-and-outs of it so today is all about clearing that up and becoming more about the self-sabotage that might be presenting itself in your life.

What is Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage is when you deliberately destroy, block or prevent your own success or happiness. This ‘success’ can be anything from having the job you want, the relationship you dream of, the health you crave – literally anything! It doesn’t have to be financial success.

Why on Earth would anyone get in their own way and prevent themselves from having what they want and achieve the goals they set for themselves? This sounds absurd, right?

But yet many of us do it to ourselves all the time. Why?

woman holding head in despair

There are a few reasons why we might get caught in this cycle. (Here comes the heavy bit.) According to VeryWellMind, the cause of self-sabotage can range from childhood issues and trauma to past and present relationships. It can also come from low self-esteem or something called cognitive dissonance. To keep it simple, cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feelings you get when your behaviour doesn’t match or align with your values or beliefs. It happens when you have contradicting beliefs at the same time which obviously doesn’t make life easy…so you let yourself sabotage it so that you can ‘pick a side’.

For example, you’ve been wanting a particular job for years and suddenly you have a job interview tomorrow for this dream job! You are so excited and want it but somewhere deep inside you also believe that you’re not deserving of it, not worthy of it. What do you do? You stay up super late the night before, you end up sleeping through the alarm clock and miss the interview entirely. You ruin your own chances of getting what you wanted because what you wanted didn’t align with your beliefs. (This can often happen through your subconscious so it’s not you consciously deciding to sleep through your alarm.)

The Cycle of Self-Sabotage

There is a fear hiding behind your goals or your desires. The self-sabotage cycle goes something like this:

You set a goal and you get a rush of excitement (dopamine) at the possibility of this happening and coming true! As you get closer to achieving that goal, a subconscious fear sets in. Maybe you have a fear of being abandoned, hurt, trusting people, rejection, etc. Whatever it is, you convince yourself that something is unsafe, dangerous, you’re not worth it, etc, and suddenly this goal is not a good feeling anymore. You start to find reasons to not achieve it, ‘excuses’ of why it can’t happen, you get in your own way, you ruin the chances of it coming true just so that you don’t ‘fail’ because you’ve let yourself off the hook. This, oddly, makes you feel better because you didn’t get rejected or hurt or abandoned because you took control of the situation and stopped it from happening yourself.

*Remember, this isn’t exactly how it psychologically happens every time but it’s a way to understand what is going on in simple terms when it comes to self-sabotage.

So What Can I Do About Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage is rife in many people’s lives and we often don’t realise it. We ‘blame’ other people or circumstances that keeps us trapped in a loop. So, the first thing to do about it is to be aware of it. Start paying attention to what the behaviour is that is getting in your way. This comes down to self awareness.

  1. What ‘keeps happening’ in your life that gets in your way? What pattern do you see?
  2. Then boil it down further to, ‘What am I doing that’s blocking me from getting r what I actually want? (This is the self-awareness part where you start to take responsibility for it rather than allow it to be something ‘out of your control’.)
  3. What is the deep thought or fear behind your behaviour? Now that you have spotted the pattern and identified the behaviour that is getting in the way, you are now ready to start to understand why you would do that.

Eg. You wanted that job but stayed up late instead of going to bed early to be ready for the interview. Why did you do that? What subtle thoughts come up? Maybe you hear your inner voice say, ‘You were never going to get that job anyways’ or ‘You’d probably have to work way too hard and not have any time to have a life if you had that job.’

This will start to help you understand what is actually happening below the surface – limiting beliefs, self-doubt, fears – so you can start to deal with that and start taking action to get OUT of your own way. 😉

As with many things, this won’t all be solved overnight but just being aware of self-sabotage and that it can be creeping up in your life is a good start.

And if you think your subconscious beliefs or fears are getting in your way and causing you to self-sabotage, you know you can always book your free call here and we can talk about how I can help you get out of your own way.

I bet the next time you listen to the Beastie Boys’ song ‘Sabotage’, you might think of this email! 😜

In Summary:

The small change → learn the signs of self-sabotage and how you’re getting in your own way

The big impact → you’ll be able to start getting out of unhelpful patterns and actually get more of what you want in life

You’ve made it to the end. Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Martina x

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