Do you feel like you get in your own way? Like, you see something you want but for some unknown reason, you can’t let yourself have it? Or maybe you do go for it, but quickly (and predictably) you give up before you get it?
This is called self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage is the conflict between conscious and unconscious wants that manifests in limiting beliefs about yourself and your ability to get what you want. Understanding what your limiting beliefs are is the hard work that is required for most change in your life.
Where do Limiting Beliefs come from?
Did you know that you have three different “voices” in your head? These voices lie between the conscious and subconscious mind. Sometimes you are aware of them, but often you tune them out. In Counseling, this is called Transactional Analysis. It helps us understand how our minds work when it comes to making decisions and believing in ourselves.
You have the Parent who is the critical and nurturing part of your consciousness. This is where thoughts and beliefs like "I should be doing my best" or "I can't have this" or “I need to stay safe” come from.
There is also a Kid who lives inside your brain and this is the part that wants things right now. This part of you struggles with impulse control wants immediate gratification.
The third part is the Adult. The adult is the one that tries to balance the conflict between the parent and the child. The adult believes in understanding the reality of here and now and not being stuck in the past or the future. The parent focuses on the past keeping you stuck feeling like a child– Unable to get what you really want in your life.
This theory allows you to explore your childhood and look back at the messages you received from influencers in your life- parents, family, friends, coaches, teachers, media etc. So much of who you are today is based on your formative years when you were younger. There are other factors that influence limiting beliefs like birth order, personality, abuse, trauma and grief.
So why do you self-sabotage? Why are you so impacted by these voices in your head (and the ones you aren’t even aware of)?
1) To avoid uncomfortable emotions. This behavior occurs when in attempting to solve or cope with the problem, it instigates new problems. This can look like eating out of comfort rather than hunger, self-medicating with alcohol or addictive behaviors, and procrastinating.
2) Procrastination and perfectionism go hand-in-hand when it comes to self-sabotage. They are the gap between intention and action. If you set the bar too high for yourself you feel like you won't be able to meet it and you won't even try or you'll put it off so that you avoid the fear of feeling like a failure.
3) You may be afraid of change, success or failure. It's easier to stay in your comfort zone then to do something that is uncomfortable that you may risk trying and not succeeding at, especially if some of the messages you received growing up were ones that you were not good enough or that you never did enough to earn approval, praise or acceptance.
A lot of number three depends on your definition of success or failure. If you view success as this ambiguous thing instead of knowing what it looks like, then you won't have the steps necessary to get there and you will feel like you have nowhere start.
4) Comparison is another way to self-sabotage. You measure your values based on what others do instead of what you believe about your reality. Comparison is the fastest way to keep yourself stuck and to believe that you are a victim incapable of moving forward. It steals the joy from your own accomplishments.
So how do you fix this and move forward?
The first thing you need to do is become aware of and understand your limiting beliefs. These believes come from the parent part of your brain. Early childhood development plays a huge role in your ability to function as an adult. Some of those beliefs come from nurturing parent/caregiver where you believe that you are capable of anything and some come from parents/caregivers who instilled negative beliefs about yourself and your abilities.
Understanding why you feel the way you do is the key to unlocking your obstacles to getting what you want. After you become aware of the beliefs, it’s time begin reframing.
Here are some examples of ones that may sound familiar to you:
“I lack motivation” = “I am overwhelmed”.
You may want to consider an adjustment of your schedule, priorities or commitments that get in the way of what you want.
“I procrastinate too much” = “I am afraid”.
What are you afraid of? What is the worst that could happen if you went for what you wanted?
“I don’t have enough resources” = “I am not enough”.
Looking externally when most lasting change starts internally with things like energy, clarity, and passion. As your internal resources start to grow, your external resources will grow as well.
“I am too unorganized” = “I don’t think I have what it takes”.
You can change that to “I am not unorganized. I have everything I need to take the next step,” because you do! And if you feel like you need formal education to do what you want, take a step toward that.
“I don’t have enough time” = “I don’t want to”.
Lao Tzu says, “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’, is like saying ‘I don’t want to.’” Perhaps the real issue is that you don’t really want to change. Maybe a friend or family member wants you to change or do something differently. If the change isn’t your decision, you will put it off. You can change this belief to “I make time to do what I would like”.
“I have too many responsibilities” = “I keep myself safe by putting others before myself”.
This is especially a struggle for those who are people pleasers, middle children and parents. This belief that if you put others before yourself, you will be happy. While it may make you feel good about yourself, it also causes you to push away your own dreams and desires because you “have” to take care of others. Even moms of small children can still pursue their dreams.
“It’s too late to change” = “I don’t really know myself or what I want”.
If you are thinking it’s too late to start, you may not have a clear picture of what you really want your life to look like and it is easier to think that things will always be this way. What do you want from your body, your life, your career, your passions?
“I don’t have enough _______ (insert money, time, resources, energy or anything)”= “I am not enough”.
What do you feel like you are lacking to start? Money is a big objection for a lot of people. If it’s important to you, you will afford it. That’s why car payments and credit cards exist. Putting off getting help because of finances is an easy way of staying stuck. Feeling like you are not enough is a limiting belief that may require some help sorting out from a safe person you trust. The exercise at the end of this post will start to help.
“I don’t know where to start” = “I will make a mistake or waste my time”.
If you don’t know where to start, start anywhere. There is no wrong place to start. You can also reach out to someone trustworthy for help like a coach or counselor who can help you find the next best step for you.
By being aware of your limiting beliefs, you can begin to change them. Gandhi once said, “Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” If you knew how powerful your mind was, you would never have a negative thought again!!
You can move forward from your stuck place. Here’s an exercise to help: Make a list of what you would like to see happen in your life and manifest it. List out your amazing qualities and abilities (even if you don’t fully believe it yet- fake it til you make it). Write them on sticky notes and stick them on your mirror or list them in your journal. Repeat affirmations or mantras to focus your mind on positivity and dreams.
I like mantras like:
-My heart is open to receive what is coming.
-Believe that it is coming.
-I trust my intuition and follow my heart.
-I love myself and others.
You can also make a vision board to help you visualize your true self and dreams. Cut out pictures from magazines or print them off Pinterest of what makes you fabulous and what dreams you have.
Change is 90% mental. Once you realize that there is no pill, one-size fits all approach or diet that will change your limiting beliefs, you can start to do the hard (but oh so rewarding!!) mental work of manifesting your own destiny and begin removing limiting beliefs to get the a life and body you cherish!
If you don’t know where to start or what your next best step is, reach out!! I would love to talk with you about what your next best step can look like. Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s figure it out together!