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The Mysterious Art of Self-Sabotage

Whether it's relationships, business or our personal lives, humans are masters of the art of self-sabotage. In fact, it's the only problem you have. Here's what to do about it.

Imagine for a moment that every problem you experience in your life could be traced back to a single root cause.

If this were the case, every difficulty you experience, from insecurities to money problems, from failed relationships to frustration with your children, would all spring from one common place. And if that were true, then clearly seeing and addressing that one single issue would essentially address / ameliorate every problem.

Through my 15 years of research, training and experience, I have discovered that, while the problems that plague people’s lives appear to be many and varied, they do in fact all share a single source:

Humans are absolute experts in the field of self-sabotage.

Now, it’s not news that we humans limit ourselves. New age phrases like “limiting beliefs” are rampant throughout the internet and there’s no small amount of advice, books, quotes, memes, and instruction on how to release them and “achieve your dreams”. So why doesn’t everyone who reads a book on how to succeed experience immediate success?

The fact of the matter is, what’s holding you back in life is not a lack of knowledge. In fact, chances are you probably already know how to get what you want. You don’t lack the knowledge; it’s available everywhere. – You already KNOW how to succeed. For example, let’s say you know you need/want to go to the gym, but you don’t go. You’re aware that you need to go, you know where it is, how to get there, and you know that you want the results you would get from going. All of the knowledge is in place, but… you…. still ….don’t go.

That is self-sabotage. On some deeper, unconscious level of your being there resides a belief – subconsciously created in childhood most likely – that is stronger than your conscious desires for health and success.  These continuously thwart your conscious actions and keep you stuck.

And because humans have evolved to prioritize safety above all else in order to ensure survival, the misguided but convincing perception that you might be unsafe if you do this or that, will always win out over what you consciously want.  No matter how much you want it, read your affirmations or work hard.

And because these beliefs are in YOU, they are not specific to the area in which you’re struggling – in other words the *issue that’s keeping you from going to the gym is the same one that is causing your relationships to fail, keeping you single (redundant), limiting your income, and keeping you from the level of confidence that you desire.

And so here we find ourselves: with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. Constantly seeking the “right answer” or trying “figure out” the way to solve our problems and missing the fact that there’s a difference between knowing the right answers and even how to get there, and actually doing so.  We have conflicting desires a new relationship vs. safety (not being rejected or humiliated, etc.).

So, how do we address self-sabotage?

The answer lies in bringing it to consciousness. The truth is that if you were aware of how you were*really* holding yourself back from what you want, you would have fixed it by now, right?  Obviously, because you want what you want.

This is why you haven’t been able to figure this out by now; why knowing the answers, reading more books, knowing what you “should” be doing on an intellectual level doesn’t solve the problem. It isn’t sufficient to combat the deeper, more powerful assumptions we carry. So then the only issue is that the experience of self-sabotage happens in you without your being aware of it.

So what if you could make that moment – the moment where on some level you turn away from what you want and keep yourself stuck without even realizing it – conscious? How different would your life be tomorrow?

The good news is: you can!  And doing so creates more widespread change in your life faster than anything else I have found in my decades of experience and study. Here’s how:  The first step is self-responsibility. I often say to my clients: the extent to which you are unable or unwilling to take responsibility for your life experience is the exact extent to which you are unable to fix it. So while it may seem easier to blame things around you or out of your control – other people’s behavior, your gender, the economy – this puts you directly into the position of victimhood and immediately scuttles any attempts you make to create change. You can’t solve a problem you have no control over, right?

So the invitation here is to shift your perspective: yes there are mitigating factors in every situation but you can only control yourself, so which part of this problem might be caused or perpetuated by you? Seek that element and suddenly you’re empowered to change it. (Example: changing “Every guy I date leaves me. I guess guys just aren’t that interested in commitment” to “It’s interesting, I always seem to attract men who leave. I wonder what that’s about?”)

The second step is to identify the patterns in what you experience. You can’t solve a problem you can’t see clearly, so it’s essential to look back over your life experience and see what patterns emerge. These patterns point directly to your own underlying self-sabotage and allow you to recognize when you’re carrying them on in the future. Once you’ve done that you will begin to recognize when they are occurring in the moment. And that allows you to then make a different choice.

If self-sabotage is the bane of human existence then recognizing it is the key to its salvation – and to truly – and actually – achieving the life you want to live.

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