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  • Writer's picturedirtyheart

Monday Motivation: A Repeated Cycle of Self-Sabotage

"But I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner."

~ John Donne

Have you ever wanted something so badly, for so long, trying so hard to get it, but failing miserably? Have you ever set goals and objectives that you didn’t reach? Or have you ever wondered why you keep repeating the same patterns of behavior over and over again and therefore keep getting the same pitiful results?

All of us at one point or another go through these phases. In fact, many of us go through our standard self-sabotage cycles like clockwork each day, and as a result, we rarely live up to our full potential. We regret the things we didn’t do, yet wonder why we keep getting stuck indulging in these limiting patterns of behavior.

What Exactly is Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you consciously want. Moreover, it’s the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifest in self-sabotage patterns. It not only prevents you from reaching your goals but also plays the part of a safety mechanism that protects you against disappointment. What this essentially means is that your brain is protecting you from getting hurt by doing what it thinks is best — which is to keep you feeling comfortable.

Reasons for Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage tends to linger in our lives because of a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, and self-belief. Likewise, we suffer from self-sabotage patterns because we are unable to manage our emotions effectively. We tend to react to events, circumstances and people in ways that hinder our progress and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives.

Self-sabotage is also used as a method for coping with difficult situations or high expectations (of ourselves or others) that we unconsciously feel we are not capable of reaching. No matter what our reasons for self-sabotage, it is clear that if we don’t do something about it, that we will continue to live a life full of regrets and unfulfilled expectations.

Types of Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage can come in many forms and often manifests in our lives in various ways. Here is a list of methods we often use to sabotage our own path to success:

  • Fear of failure.

  • Fear of taking risks.

  • Fear of making mistakes.

  • Inability to listen to instructions carefully.

  • Inability to plan ahead.

  • Inability to SAY NO to others.

  • Inability to consider the consequences of our actions.

  • Inability to think carefully before making decisions.

  • Inability to think critically or practically.

  • Inability to think flexibly about problems.

  • Inability to admit mistakes or errors.

  • Worrying constantly.

  • Having unrealistic expectations.

  • Critically judging ourselves or others.

  • Constantly comparing yourself to others.

  • Always complaining about people, life, circumstances or perceived bad luck.

  • The habit of procrastination.

  • The habit of perfectionism.

  • Accepting people’s advice without question.

  • Limiting beliefs, emotions and attitudes.

  • Unhelpful thoughts focused on what’s not working or on wishful daydreams.

When it comes to our limiting thoughts, we must pay close attention to the excuses we tend to make that prevent us from moving forward. Here are some examples:

This won’t work…

I can’t do this…

I’m too busy right now…

I’m just not ready yet…

I’m just not good enough…

Here are 19 more excuses you are making that might very well be keeping you stuck.

Each of the patterns listed above has its own set of consequences that manifest in a variety of ways in our lives. Some are very obvious, while others might be a little difficult to identify.

The key for us here is to list down and pinpoint the thoughts, feelings and actions that are leading us down the path of self-sabotage. Only then, through conscious self-awareness can we begin to put a stop to these patterns of behavior.

How to Eliminate Your Self-Sabotage Patterns

There is a simple yet very effective process that we can use to help us eliminate self-sabotage patterns from our lives. The process involves 4 steps that will help you to take conscious control of the behaviors that are currently directing your decisions and actions.

Step 1: Identify the Self-Sabotage Behavior

First we must identify the behavior that is preventing us from moving forward. To do this, we must become consciously aware of our daily decisions and actions and the resulting consequences.

Once identified, it’s important to pinpoint specific triggers that may be causing this behavior to manifest to the surface. These triggers could include people, objects, specific times, events, locations, etc.

Next, we must ask ourselves whether it’s possible to avoid these triggers altogether. By simply removing these triggers from our lives we will be better prepared to take conscious control of our thoughts, feelings and actions. However, there is yet another factor that we must take into consideration. This factor is the limiting beliefs we have associated with each particular self-sabotage pattern.

The key is to identify these limiting beliefs, then work on transforming them into positive empowering beliefs. One of the simplest ways to do this is to question the validity of your belief. Ask yourself:

What is it that I believe in this situation?

What is it that I believe about myself and my own abilities?

How did my belief about this trigger this self-sabotage pattern?

How is this belief ridiculous and impractical?

What would others say about this belief?

What is another more helpful perspective I could take of this situation?

These questions are a good starting point and will get you focused in the right direction.

Step 2: Recreate Your Self-Sabotage Pattern

Having worked through the above step, you should now be able to consciously recreate the self-sabotage pattern by outlining all the triggers and the associating behaviors that manifest as a result of these triggers. It’s important that you are clear about how this behavior manifests in your life before moving onto the next step.

Step 3: Identify a Healthy Replacement Behavior

In order to eliminate an old pattern of behavior we must first replace it with a new pattern that is more practical and helpful. This is fundamentally important because often we simply can’t avoid certain triggers such as people, objects or circumstances that cause us to react in unresourceful ways. As such, we must take time to identify a new, different and appropriate way of responding that will help us to achieve our goals and objectives. Ask yourself:

How could I respond in a more appropriate and proactive way that would help me get what I want?

How is this a better way to respond?

What are some reasons for making this change?

What are the long-term benefits of changing how I respond in this situation?

What are the key advantages of this new behavior?

Step 4: Practice New Behavior Until Habit is Formed

Once you have identified your new behavior, you must now take the time to practice implementing it as often as possible over the next four weeks until a new habit is formed.

First begin by running your response to the situation in your imagination. See every detail, and feel the positive energy churning through your body as you overcome this self-sabotage pattern.

Now that your imagination has been activated, you are ready to put yourself in situations that will naturally trigger your old patterns of behavior. This time though, you are primed with a new response mechanism that you will continue to practice over the next four weeks until a new habit is eventually formed.

10 Practical Ideas to Help You Eliminate Self-Sabotage

In order to eliminate self-sabotage patterns, we must make an effort to stay conscious and aware of our behaviors and actions at all times. At the same time, it’s helpful to put to action a variety of strategies and tactics that will help us to eradicate these behaviors for good. Here are 10 suggestions for you to implement.

Learn from Mistakes

Take time at the end of the day to reflect on how you responded to events and circumstances. Learn from these mistakes and experiences by writing down how you will respond differently in the future.

Think Bigger and Bolder

Sometimes we get so caught up within our own destructive patterns of behavior that we lose sight of what’s most important. We have a narrow minuscule focus and fail to see the bigger picture. Given this, it can therefore be helpful to take the time to think bigger and bolder — to expand our understanding and perspective of the situation.

Ask Better Questions

Questions are the keys to the “locks” that hold our problems in place. By asking better and more effective questions, we effectively gain a different perspective of the situation we find ourselves in. This can likewise help us to become more consciously aware of the self-sabotage patterns that are ruling our lives. Ask yourself:

What have I learned from this experience?

What would I do differently given another chance?

What could the potential benefits be?

How will changing my response allow me to get what I want?

Treat the Process of Change as an Experiment

Just as we didn’t master the process of walking in one day, change also doesn’t happen overnight. However, it does happen over time.

When you first began to take your first steps, you must have stumbled more than once. However, you got back up and continued to struggle until you eventually mastered the process of walking. It was somewhat one of your life experiments that succeeded in the end.

The process of change is exactly the same. Treat it as an experiment and as a process that will take a little time and effort. You will probably not be victorious overnight, and you might even end up losing a few battles. However, in the end, if you persist, you will end up winning the war over your self-sabotage patterns.

Seek Advice from Other People

It’s important to always ask for help and seek advice from people who have had practical experience dealing with what you’re going through. They know from experience the struggles you are likely to face as you try and move beyond your self-sabotage patterns. Therefore, they will most likely be able to give you practical advice and suggestions that will help you move beyond the shackles of self-sabotage in quick succession.

Make Plans in Advance

We often struggle through life when we don’t know what to expect, or have little to-no-idea how circumstances will unfold. However, when we begin to lay down solid plans for the future — solid plans for how we will respond to situations, people, and circumstances, — then that’s the moment we begin taking control and start moving forward with our lives.

While laying out these plans, take a moment to consider possible challenges and obstacles that you might face along this journey. Acknowledge these obstacles, then consider how you will respond if they happen to cross your path. But even if you don’t deal with them effectively at the time, you will at the very least learn from your experience and be more ready and willing to adjust your approach the next time around.

Focus on Solutions

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own inadequacies and limitations that all we see are problems and setbacks. This particular way of looking at life and ourselves only leads to further problems and setbacks. Instead, take time to consider possible solutions to the problems you are dealing with. This begins be asking more effective questions that focus your brain on finding ANSWERS not problems.

Adjust Expectations

Our expectations can sometimes lift us up to new heights, or they can demoralize us emotionally. This is why it’s so important to always keep our expectations in-check — to ensure that we are not aiming too high too quickly, — otherwise disappointment will be the only outcome you will realize.

By all means set your expectations high, however at the same time make sure that they are flexible and take into account your circumstances, conditions and resources. Remind yourself that you didn’t master the process of walking in one day. Instead you mastered it over time, just as you will with your own behavior.

Take More Risks

More often than not, those who take more risks have less regrets than those who play it safe and struggle with uncertainty. The same is true when it comes to transforming your behavior.

You need to take risks, you need to take a chance on yourself, and you need to finally snap out of old limiting patterns of behavior that will haunt you for the rest of your life. There’s no better time to make changes than RIGHT NOW! And there’s no one better to start the change than YOURSELF! Don’t delay, start the process of change right away.

Take Time for Self-Reflection

In the end, the people who get ahead in life are the ones who actually take the time to think and reflect upon their thoughts, feelings, decisions, behavior and actions. These people learned from what worked or failed to work for them. They eventually adjusted their course of action by taking a different approach. Only through self-reflection will you gain the necessary insight, perspective and understanding to begin the process of transformation.

Concluding Thoughts About Self-Sabotage Patterns

Self-sabotage is like a grenade that suddenly and unexpectedly explodes — pushing us away from our deepest wants and desires. However, there are no excuses, because we are the ones who consciously control the movement of the pin. Therefore make a better decision today that you won’t fall prey to your self-sabotage patterns again.

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