For years, I persisted enough to watch self-sabotage ruin all progress and spiral into thoughts of guilt, anxiety, and nearly any other negative emotion on the spectrum. This was a problem in business and in life. I had to figure out how to stop my self-sabotage behaviors before it wrecked my plans entirely.
Not long ago, I drove 3 miles North in a long line of cars. The line of cars all turned right at the light where I planned to turn right too. At the last second, I went straight.
Why? I didn’t want to be a follower. Even though turning right would’ve made my trip much easier and faster. I no longer knew if I’d make my doctor’s appointment on time because I insisted on not following the traffic. How silly.
Do you know what’s sillier? We do this in business too. Have you made a goal, had a plan, then changed something at the last second because you didn’t want to seem like you were following everyone else?
Whether you did this because you were comparing yourself to others or if you felt a need to break the rules, you need to understand why you did this.
Why do we sabotage our own plans?
This blog post was not on my content calendar for publishing this week. In fact, this was a story I shared in 2018 to my email list and saved as a blog draft ever since.
I don’t always follow my own content calendar. As much as I preach about planning and following your calendar, even I feel uninspired and unmotivated by looking at it at times. #humanproblems
I used to have problems with Imposter Syndrome until I ignored the competition and focused on my work. I had enough to get done without getting distracted by what Sara Jane Smith was doing over there.
As I’m working through this self-sabotaging behavior, I felt it was time to revive this story. What once was a story about learning the rules to best break them, is now about overcoming sabotage to arrive at the desired destination on schedule.
My origin of self-sabotage comes from my childhood. I adopted someone else’s story about what I could and couldn’t do for myself. My actions challenged that narrative. I subconsciously sabotaged my own progress to keep myself “safe” within the confines of what was known behavior.
How to find the root issue?
My reasons are my own, but I bet you could come to your own origin story with a little help. Here’s the progress I took to come to my own revelation.
When you first observe your own self-sabotaging behavior, take time to be alone with your thoughts. Don’t let anyone or anything distract you. Use a journal and write your responses to the following prompts.
What are you afraid of?
Take time to reflect. Write about the thing you don’t want to happen until you find the thing that feels too big. You may begin to cry during this process. That’s okay.
Why are you afraid of that?
What happened recently or as far back as your first memories that connects to this moment that scares you? Notice the thoughts that come up, the feelings that come along, and how your body reacts.
Are those memories and this event related?
They may be, or they may have zero relation to each other. Compare and contrast, just like in elementary school. Get all the small details out of your own head to objectively look at the lists.
What does this have to do with what you’re doing right now?
Not the self-sabotage, but what does the memories, fears, and thoughts have to do with what you were doing up until you subconsciously sabotaged your own progress?
How to break through limiting beliefs?
Many limiting beliefs are revealed here. The simple act of acknowledging and letting it go can be enough. But what if it’s not enough?
When more work is needed, a coach or therapist can help you make progress. A coach will push you, challenge you to do and be better. A therapist will meet you where you’re at and give some recommendations to cope better.
Work it out.
I have a few favorite tools to work on breaking through my limiting beliefs in my own time. I can do the work as often or as infrequently as I feel so inclined.
I use my bullet journal for everything. This includes my daily affirmation entry and my thought processing brain dumps.
My intuitive life coach helped me come up with the affirmation that would have the most impact. “It’s safe to be heard.” A life or mindset coach can help you with a custom affirmation statement too.
My pretty cork board is set up next to my bed so I see it first thing in the morning and the last at night. I have 4 carefully chosen affirmations from my daily affirmation entries highlighted. In addition, I use it to manifest my goals into reality.
I’ve chosen 3 of my highest priority goals to feature on this board so it doesn’t become cluttered. I’ll rotate the board design to keep it fresh and visually appealing. This way I don’t start ignoring the board after a week or 2.
Some inspirational quotes and fun bright elements draw my eye to remember to repeat the affirmations and goals out loud twice daily.
Just like a cigarette smoker might use Twizzlers or a negative thinker may use rubber bands, find something that distracts you from falling for the same routine.
The objective here is to stop the self-sabotaging behavior and reflect on the reason you do or don’t want to continue with your plans. If you do, get to work.
What if it’s not self-sabotage?
If you don’t want to continue your plans, are you intentionally breaking the rules instead of sabotaging yourself? That’s a very real possibility. But here’s the thing, you have to understand the rules before you can break them.
You’ll look a little silly and won’t be able to stay consistent with the rule-breaking if you tried without understanding the rules in the first place. The key difference is the intention behind your actions.
When you identify behaviors that sabotage your own progress, take time to identify the reason for doing so. Once you’ve done that, you can take the necessary steps to get out of your own way.
By no means do I have all the answers, but a working content plan will require some follow through on your part. If you already have an affirmation you like to use, let me know in the comments below. Feel free to use any that resonates with you too.