Blog: Suffering from Self-Sabotage?
6-min read: "I'm my own worst enemy!"? Sound familiar to you? Yep, us too. And if that's the case, it's quite possible you're subconsciously suffering from something called self-sabotage, an apparently all too common behaviour that can manifest as procrastination, self-medication, comfort eating or deliberately moving away from an outcome you've worked hard to achieve.
We sat down with Kat Winny, Equus & Catalyst Coach and an expert in relationships, who's been there, done that - and solved the problem for many of her clients. Here she shares her four key tips for the journey out of the maze...
"We humans are funny creatures. We think we really want something, but every time we get the opportunity or get close to it, we somehow manage to let it slip out of reach. Perhaps we even run a mile in the opposite direction screaming at the top of our lungs.
As I said, funny creatures.
Why do we feel resistance?
But why do we stop ourselves from getting the things we really want in life?
Generally, this comes down to one thing: fear. Conscious or subconscious, there is some underlying fear associated with the thing that we want the most. It may be completely irrational. Logically we may say to ourselves, “of course I am not afraid”. But somewhere, often deep down, is a subconscious fear pattern keeping us away.
Our brain is wired for comfort. And comfort lies in the known. Even if the known is negative. At least if it is familiar, we know what we are in for. Good or bad, we know where we stand, we’ve already done a risk assessment and we’re confident we can survive it (because we’re still alive!).
The unknown on the other hand. Well that’s unknown. And therefore risky. Our subconscious doesn’t know if we can survive it. However much our logical conscious is convinced it can, the subconscious puts up a big red flag labelled “Potential Danger, Tread Carefully”.
That flag is going to be even bigger if we’ve been close to this situation before and got hurt in some way - physically, mentally or emotionally. If we once started a new job and had a terrible boss, when the next new job comes our way, our subconscious kicks in waving its flag frantically. “We’ve been here before and it was not good! I’m still hurting! Don’t make me go back there”.
And the subconscious mind has some pretty clever ways of blocking us, even when we don’t consciously realise it. We just “somehow” slept through the alarm, or got the time of the interview wrong. We slipped up walking into the office and broke an ankle so we couldn’t attend. Coincidence? No such thing in my book.
So what can we do?
All is not lost - here’s my four step plan.
1. Identify all of the outcomes of the result you want, including any risks
2. Identify where you’ve been in similar situation before and got hurt
3. Disassociate the hurt and risks from the result you want
4. Go after the result you want with the subconscious on board
1. Identify the thorns
Identify all outcomes from the result you want, good and bad. Even if you are convinced that the result you want the most is full of roses, there are likely to be a few thorns. That relationship you really want - could it mean giving up your weekend trips away? That new job - will it take you away from cherished colleagues at your current role?
Once you’ve identified the thorns, and any “risks” associated with the new outcome, make a note of them, we’re going to come back to them later.
2. Identify the previous hurts
Now scan back through your life and identify when you’ve been in a similar position before. Were you in a relationship that demanded all your time? Were you once in a job where you didn’t get on with your colleagues?
There can also be associated instances from childhood that your subconscious relates back. For example, a tough time starting a new school aged 9 could be flaring up when presented with the opportunity to switch companies. This comes up a lot when working with hypnotherapy - even an uneventful, happy childhood will store up some ghosts in the cupboard that will come back to haunt you.
3. Disassociate the hurt we felt before and rationalise the thorns
Now it’s time to heal those hurts. Have compassion for yourself and your subconscious for trying to keep you safe. Acknowledge that you have been hurt before, and restore the faith of your subconscious that this doesn’t mean it will happen again.
If the hurts aren’t strong, you can get through this by writing letters to yourself, making lists of evidence this situation is different, or talking things through with a friend. If the hurts are really strong and/or keep coming up, I’d recommend working with an appropriate professional to heal them once and for all.
Remember those thorns from Step 1? Now is the time to de-spike them. Are they guaranteed? Will you definitely get spiked by them, or are you blowing them out of proportion? Is there a way to avoid them altogether?
If you can’t de-spike or avoid, pose yourself this question: am I more scared of these potential thorns, or staying and being stabbed by my current thorns?
It’s a powerful one. What are you more afraid of: moving on or staying still?
4. Go after the thing you want the most!
Now you are free to pursue what you really want, without any niggling subconscious blocks in your way!
Kat is an Equus Life Coach & Hypnotherapist, working with clients to shift the underlying emotions and behaviour patterns preventing them from getting their ideal relationship with themselves, a partner, or their career. You can find out more about her at www.katherinewinny.com or reach out to her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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