Sometimes, when we want to take up something new, our minds will tell us that we are not ready for it, even if we feel ready.
Yes, starting something new does come with changes and some risks but it also comes with a good amount of exciting possibilities.
Fear will only keep us where we are.
Sometimes we prefer the comfort of an uncomfortable situation because we know it so well, therefore we choose to stay in our comfort zone because even though it might not be where we want to be, it is familiar, therefore safe.
But if we want to achieve a different result, we need to do something different. If we keep doing what we have always done we will always get the same results.
This process can also be called self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage can be defined as an unconscious mechanism of the mind that leads to creating obstacles on the way to our goals.
It is a combination of all those actions that we put into practice, more or less consciously, that leads to hindering the achievement of our long-term goals.
This form of defence is caused by various factors, such as having very high expectations or aiming for perfection, leading us to think that we are not capable of performing certain actions.
The moment we succeed in taking action towards our goals, we self-sabotage out of fear of failure by implementing strategies in favour of our own failure.
Our minds try to protect us from unpleasant feelings or situations while developing an intolerance to uncertainty.
We prefer the certainty of failure and predictability to the unknown, therefore becoming our own worst enemies.
So, we cannot deny that, very often, we put a brake on our aspirations and goals. In short, we self-sabotage out of fear of change and the possible consequences of our actions.
Our brain always wants to keep us safe and will detect anything that may be perceived as a threat, and try its very best to steer us away in order to protect us.
However, if in the past we went through challenging times and we had to live in survival mode to get through them, this may leave us still in this state of fear and not aware that survival mode hasn’t been turned off.
Self-sabotage comes hand in hand with this, as we start to see many things as a threat and therefore we try to avoid going through them even when the things themselves aren’t life-threatening to us in any way.
Change can be scary because it is filled with uncertainty and with the impossibility of predicting results and consequences.
It may lead to an improvement or it may not.
There are other factors linked to it that can lead us to increase the obstacles on our path:
· When we are really focused to achieve a goal, we can generate anxiety and worry. This creates an overwhelming effect which in turn initiates self-sabotage so that the anxiety and worry will automatically reduce.
· Or we think we don’t deserve it. If we do think this, ultimately we set ourselves up for failure because we are convinced that we do not deserve what we want to achieve.
· Or maybe we are used to boycotting ourselves as we focus on failures: instead of focusing on all the times we have succeeded, we look at all the times we haven’t succeeded, and this feeds a vicious circle of disempowerment.
It’s important to note that all these beliefs can be caused by the upbringing we have received and the environment in which we found ourselves.
We don’t always self-sabotage in all aspects of life.
We are likely to succeed in some areas but fail to break through barriers in another.
Not wanting to change can also be connected to the fear of judgment from others.
But here’s a reminder when it comes to other people’s judgment…they will judge you no matter what you are doing.
So you know what? You may as well do what you love and be judged instead of doing what you think they would want or what they think is acceptable.
Conquering self-sabotage will take time and practice
The first step towards not falling into self-sabotage is to identify and analyze the enemy in order to be able to react in a functional way.
When we are distressed by disappointing results, we tend to fall into negative thinking such as ‘I knew it, I shouldn’t have tried it, it’s just bad luck, ….’; all this leads to a loss of clarity, but above all to the possibility of reacting in a positive way.
While it is necessary to recognize the difficulties associated with self-sabotage, it is also essential to know yourself in order to overcome your own subconscious barriers.
To start the process of releasing self-sabotage, ask yourself:
What do I really want?
How does it make me feel?
Notice any emotions that you feel when thinking about your goal, if a negative one comes up, ask yourself:
Why do I feel this emotion?
Where does it come from?
By working your way through all the layers your brain is dressing up as keeping you safe, you will finally be able to let go and set yourself free from self-sabotage, allowing you to live the life you deserve.
Also, it’s important to take into account that if you never try, you will never know how far you can go.
By just trying, you are being open to all the various opportunities that life has to offer. Failure teaches us about our strengths, when we make a mistake, we realize that we do have the strength to overcome it. When we fail, we grow, we learn from our mistakes, our past experiences and we gain the courage to deal with challenges.
So, be compassionate towards yourself and let go of past mistakes, let go of self-sabotage, let go of judgment.
Saying yes and allowing yourself to change things in your life can mean uncertainty but also the possibility of enormous personal growth.
Find the positive side of taking a new empowering and scary step:
· If I choose to change and keep the fear at bay, what would happen?
· How could this benefit my life?
· What are the many positive changes that taking that new step brings?
Set your goals and take that leap of faith. Trust your own potential. Trust that you can change. Trust that you deserve to change and remind yourself that if you don’t take a step into the unknown, you will keep staying where you are, this will push you towards moving forward.
Appreciate that you are pushing yourself, that you are improving with each step forward you take.
The secret is to visualize what you want to achieve so that you increase your desire to get there because when you really want something you will not lack the strength.
You would be surprised at how much freedom that gives you to move forward and achieve things that you otherwise thought difficult or impossible to achieve.
So, don’t give up on your goals and dreams.
Challenge your self-talk.
Change what you say to yourself.
Change what’s stopping you from moving forward.
Dream big and imagine the best for yourself.
Visualize your desired future.
Strengthen your self-esteem.
Believe in yourself.
Do not doubt yourself and compare your life and your path with that of others.
The more you work on yourself, the easier it gets to get out of your comfort zone, therefore achieving your goals.