Have you ever tried to implement a significant change in your life and you have found out that the biggest resistance was coming from yourself? If the answer is yes do not worry that only means you are human. The reason we all self-sabotage is the inevitable conflict between our brain and the way we are wired. It is a structural problem therefore we need to act at a subconscious level to protect us from ourselves and being able to deploy the changes we desire.
If you don’t have much time today I hope you have enjoyed this previous summary we have prepared for you. On the other hand, if you want to learn more I recommend you to read the rest of the article. In any case, thank you for the support and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter here to stay updated on the latest content published on all of our platforms. Buckle up and #subconsciouskaizen for all!!!
Self-Sabotage and the subconscious mind
Do you get in the way of your own self? Are you the one stopping yourself from achieving your goals? You tell yourself that you are going to the gym at 6am, but then 6am rolls around, your alarm wakes you up and you think just how comfortable your bed really is. I’ll start tomorrow you think. But tomorrow never comes. Or you have a project due at the end of the week and you keep telling yourself that you will set some time aside today to start it, but you never end up setting the time aside. Instead, you procrastinate until the last minute, pull an all-nighter, and tell yourself that next time you won’t put things off until the last minute. What are we afraid of? Why are we always deploying the most sophisticated excuses to keep us from reaching our full potential? Why do so many of us self-sabotage one way or another?
Why do we self-sabotage?
Basically, our brain and the way we have wired ourselves is in conflict. You brain sets your goals, but then it sabotages. Why do we purposefully harm ourselves or prevent ourselves from getting what we really want? How is this so? Let’s say you want to drop a few pounds and know that in order to help your case you need to quit drinking Coca-Cola and stop eating sweets. Yet, even though you really want to lose weight, you can’t keep yourself from eating a cookie or opening the can of Coca-Cola. Just one sweet won’t hurt, you say to yourself to justify your self-sabotage. Why does your brain do this to you? You set the goal and intention to lose weight and then it convinces you that it’s okay to reach for that Coca-Cola. What gives?!
Let’s take a little crash course of the brain to better understand why self-sabotage keeps happening.
Crash Course on the brain
We’ve talked about the three parts of the brain before, but it is important to understand the three parts.
- The first part is the prefrontal cortex, which generates our thoughts.
- The second part is the limbic system, which is the emotional part of the brain.
- The third part is the reptilian part of the brain, which is responsible for our habits.
So, your prefrontal cortex comes up with new ideas and goals for yourself, such as I’m launching a new course, or I am going to lose weight, or I am going to join that mastermind, etc. but then your reptilian brain comes in and subconsciously thinks, “well that’s not consistent with our habits, so no, this is not going to happen.” (And subsequently, closes the computer to do something else, or reaches for that cookie, or gives you some self-talk like you’re not ready to join that mastermind yet). You find yourself falling off track (yet again).
Take a second to reminisce the last time you set a goal for yourself, and you excused it away. Can you picture yourself in that moment? Now, think about how that made you feel? I don’t know about you, but it’s very common that those moments generate a mix of frustration and anger which is a very unpleasant combo. Now breathe in again and remember self-sabotage happens to all of us. It is not from us being weak; rather it is our human nature. Now that we have all travelled to one of those past moment let’s go back to the article to see how to effectively deal with it next time.
How to stop the self-sabotage
Your brain works from your habits (the reptilian brain) and predictability. It likes to predict (based on your past behaviors and experiences) what is going to happen. The reptilian brain also engages with the limbic brain (the emotional part), and emotions create a stronger response in us. Your reptilian brain has the habit of eating sweets AND also has the emotional experience of eating the sweets. They taste so good and make you feel (temporarily) good. That is why if you are trying to lose weight, you reach for that cookie or open the can of coke.
So, when you set new goals your brain doesn’t know what is going to happen. When things aren’t predictable for us, we often experience fear and we go back to predictability. Essentially, we go back to the same old patterns that are self-sabotaging us.
Our habits and the subconscious mind
So, our habits that are in the subconscious mind self-sabotage us. Our conscious and subconscious mind are in a mental tug-of-war, and spoiler alert, the subconscious mind is always going to win.
So what beliefs are in the subconscious mind and resulting in self-sabotaging behavior?
Fear of failure:
We have talked about this before here. Our past experiences have shaped who we are and have created a deep impact on our subconscious mind. Perhaps when you were a kid you missed catching the ball in your softball the game. The catch that would have ended the game, but instead the other team one. This memory created such disappointment in you that your subconscious vowed that it never wanted to experience this again. So, every time you find yourself in a situation where failure could occur, you do something to self-sabotage.
Lack of self-love:
Up top and consciously you say that you desire great, healthy relationships, but you are actually in (or have repeatedly had) toxic relationships. Perhaps you have a boss who degrades your work or asks you to stay later to complete a project, while she goes home. Or perhaps you have a boyfriend who has continuously disrespected you in some way or another. Or you say you want to lose weight, but then you practice the same habits that don’t create change. When you don’t value yourself, you let people or even yourself cross your boundaries. If you set strong boundaries, you are showing to yourself your worth, and when you feel worthy you will self-sabotage less.
Lack of self-confidence:
I once had a friend who was a teacher and talked about getting a fresh start and moving to a new city. She really wanted to move but never mustered up the courage to make the change. She self-sabotaged because she doubted in her own abilities of starting over. She would always say, “What if X happens.” She self-sabotaged so much that even to this day she remains in the same city where she grew up, and stillfantasizes about moving. The subconscious mind whispered too strongly, “It’s too hard. You will not be safe in a new environment. You won’t make it.”
Fear of idleness:
So many of us say “I don’t have enough time.” Or “I’m busy”. When you’re being busy, you’re really just being lazy. Oftentimes we keep ourselves busy and this prevents us from getting other tasks done. We self-sabotage by doing tasks that aren’t really important, because we are avoiding doing the important tasks (for perhaps, fear of failure, fear of judgment, etc).
Self-sabotage has happened to everyone at one point or another. Knowing the wiring of your mind and subconscious can help you better recognize your self-sabotaging behaviors, and put an end to them.
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