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Isn’t it time you learned how to stop self-sabotaging and started making progress towards the things you want to do? Stop holding yourself back!
There: I said it. Because I’m a life and success coach, I think people assume I have my thoughts straight 100% of the time, but as cheesy as it sounds, no one is perfect. We are all works in progress. I too am learning how to stop self-sabotaging.
I don’t know if there is a “Sabotagers Anonymous”, the equivalent of the 12-step programme to help us overcome this, but if there was, I am sure it would be full.
If the concept of someone “self-sabotaging” is new to you, let me explain. On the outside, a self-sabotager looks normal. Actually, they’re probably doing pretty well. They’ve probably got a great job, a supportive social circle, and they’ve got goals and ambitions. But every now and again, they do something, unbeknown to anyone: they’ll basically just screw themselves over with no one to blame but themselves.
For me, I have noticed my self-sabotaging ways when it came to my food, fitness, and physique. After years of battling an eating disorder when I was younger, I am now someone who is so passionate about her health and wellbeing. Someone who wants to be in the best physical shape possible, so she can run around her crazy life with full energy.
But, every now and again, something will set me off, and I’ll binge-eat and be unhealthy. Like my most recent episode last year, which saw me scoff down a bar of chocolate at 10.30pm every night because I was going through a bit of a stressful time.
Why do I do this? Well, this is something I worked out with a life coach, and I think it boiled down to me subconsciously thinking I can’t have it all. So, if I have to balls something up in my life, it is always my fitness, health, and physique – I guess I kept getting pulled back to the old mindset I had when I didn’t look after my body.
I think that is one of the underlying issues of how to stop self-sabotaging. There is a deep-running belief that we can’t possibly have it all, so rather than letting something mess it up, let’s be in control and mess it up ourselves. And who is to blame us, because society has brought us up with stories like “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”. Telling us that you “can’t have it all”, it’s “brains or beauty” but never both. Or how we refer to someone as a “lucky bitch” if they have good looks, a rich husband, well-behaved kids, and a big house.
Gay Hendricks in his book ‘The Big Leap’ poses this to us. He disagrees with the notion that it’s life’s hard knocks that give us the best education. He shows us how our “Upper Limit” problem causes us to self-destruct. This is the belief that we have a certain limit, and when we reach it, we self-sabotage as a way to put us back “in our place”.
I had a similar conversation with a friend of mine the other week who said that she is kind of waiting for something bad to happen to her in her business because it hasn’t yet. There’s that assumption! Something bad is going to happen because, well… it just does, doesn’t it!
This is where us self-sabotagers have to be careful, because if something doesn’t come along to bump us off our merry wheel of life, we’ll do it to ourselves.
But I have a question for you that I asked my friend… what if something has already happened that we would deem as “bad”, but it’s just that because you’re such a brilliant, resilient person, you haven’t realised it was bad and just dealt with it and cracked on? Meaning, the bad thing has happened, and you just didn’t register it?
Did you know that 95% of what we think, feel, and do is a routine habit, and we’re not actually fully conscious of it? The same is true of self-sabotage – it is not you, it is just a habit, so the good news is you can break it. Liken it to giving up something that is bad for you, like smoking, your questionable choice in men, or getting your dirty pants out the laundry basket when you haven’t done your washing. Okay, learning how to stop self-sabotaging might be hard at first, but it is a habit you can break it.
Talking from my own experience, there are so many tips I want to share with you, but for now, here are three of my top tips…
I like to think of positive affirmations as simply what you say to yourself, especially when no one is around. Sounds simple, but I bet you are like me in that you speak to yourself worse than anyone else. The things you say to yourself would sound mental to anyone if you said it out aloud – I mean, seriously, who berates themselves like that?
But we all do.
The logical Alice always knows I am not fat, lazy, a failure, stupid, blah-blah-blah, but I have told myself this a million times. Practicing the use of positive affirmations means swapping out the negative internal chat for more uplifting and inspiring messages to myself. Whether it is a motivational postcard I have been sent, like from my friend Kris (“This girl can”), or my own personal positive affirmation (“I have plenty of time to do everything I need to do every day”), I have these plastered all over my house as a daily reminder.
This is so important because your brain stores what you input in, not what is fact – whether you feed it rubbish (I am useless, I am fat, I can’t get a promotion, I am bad at maths…) or fact, your brain stores it! So be careful what you are telling yourself, because it has a huge effect on your mindset.
Create for yourself a set of positive affirmations today and display them everywhere! Remind yourself how amazing you can be.
How are you ever going to stop self-sabotaging if you can’t even recognise that you are doing it?
The best way is to start to raise your self-awareness. Become conscious of what makes you tick, angry, or fall of the bandwagon.
For me, I noticed that I was self-sabotaging when everything in my life was going well. For example, I would get to a level of fitness, strength, and physique I was happy and comfortable with, then suddenly out of nowhere, I would lose the consistency of it. What was that all about!?!
After some analysing of all the times I have done this, I started to recognise the patterns… my wedding, my 30th, getting fit for my trek to Machu Pichu… For me, I realised it boiled down to a (misguided) belief that I can’t have it all. So when things were going well, I would subconsciously screw things up for myself. And because of my past issues, it would always be the health, fitness, and body goals that I would secretly self-sabotage.
The good news, though, is that recognising this has made me self-aware over time. Now I am able to spot these things earlier. I still have my moments, everyone does, but being aware means you can put systems in place to help you overcome your own worst enemy (that is you, by the way). Like the other day: I caught myself self-sabotaging my healthy eating plan… The classic “oh, I have eaten one biscuit, so I might as well eat the whole packet”. I realised this was me self-sabotaging – no one was forcing those biscuits on me. I stopped before I started!
(NOTE: Just in case you hadn’t realised it yet – you can and deserve to have it all.)
As a life and success coach, I am a huge believer that to reach new goals, we have to improve our thinking and upgrade ourselves. This is not to say we have to change; we should still be us, but we do have to become something more. For example, if you want a promotion at work, it isn’t about putting more hours in and doing more. It’s about becoming a leader, able to horizon-scan, or becoming more emotionally intelligent.
Sounds easy, but ‘becoming’ can be difficult, as we are pulled back by our habits into our old ways. This is the prime time for self-sabotage too, I think.
One of the ways I started to overcome this when it came to my eating is that I started linking myself to what I wanted long-term. Immediate gratification-led Alice wants the cookie NOW. (That is a lie, by the way, the greedy cow wants three or four!). But what I really want long-term is to be fit, never get ill (I hate being ill) and, at my peak physical state, to feel like I can take on the world. Eating an entire packet of chocolate-chip cookies every time I feel a little down or tired, no matter how chewy and gooey they are, is not going to help with this goal.
By constantly linking up to what I want long-term, I am finding that I am self-sabotaging less and less. It’s as if logical Alice kicks in to help me make the right choices – self-sabotage can often be done in the ‘heat of the moment’ or subconsciously.
Be conscious of what you want long-term and in what direction you are headed. And if you don’t know, then you need to work that out pronto. If you need a little help, download your free “Goal Writing Check List” on the resources section of my website.
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If you are serious about wanting to make life-long changes and positively transform your life, then I would love to hear from you to see how I can support you.
This article is written by Alice Dartnell, life and success coach of Alice Dartnell Limited. Alice empowers busy professionals to be.successful, transform their lives and achieve more by improving their confidence, mindset and time management.
For more information please see www.alicedartnell.com.
If you are suffering from an eating disorder, please seek professional medical support. Go see your GP who will be able to refer you to a specialist. There are lots of specialist charities out there too which might be able to help, such as BEAT.
This blog had the loving touch from Editor Swati Hedge – find out more about her editor services on her website