Tuesday, 19 Feb 2019
Understanding the Mindset of Self-Sabotage
By Dr Becky Spelman
Finding the success we want
in life is hard. There can be all manner of obstacles placed in our path, as we
travel on our very own Hero’s Journey.
But for all the trials we face, we wouldn’t consider the biggest one could
actually be us…
Self-Sabotage can be hard to
spot. So often it operates just beneath our awareness, as we invite it further
in our lives, unknowingly. We do it to numb ourselves; to escape
responsibility; to avoid facing up to whether we’re cut out for the success we
These acts of self-defeatism
manifest in numerous ways. But quite often they’re rooted in negative
self-talk. Talk that we permit based on the grounds of it being the ‘voice of
reason,’ when, in actuality, this is far from being true. However, the most
destructive form it takes is through our habits, such as procrastination, substance
abuse and binge-eating
to name just a few.
These habits don’t start out
fully-formed; they’re subtle, almost subliminal. Slowly taking holding. Over
time, that extra piece of cake of an evening becomes two then three, until
eventually, you find yourself in binge-cycles, as a form of desperate – and
quite often unnecessary – avoidance and/or escapism.
How it Manifests
Take the example of Michael,
who, for the past 15 years, has met up with his friends every weekend to go
drinking together. They sit and chew the fat, putting the world to rights,
complaining about their jobs and their girlfriends or wives.
After one particular
encounter, Michael decides there must be something more to life than the
playing out the same routine every week, so he starts looking into personal
development and spirituality. He forms some new perspectives about life, and
the next time he meets his friends is so inspired he shares this newfound passion
only to be ridiculed.
It’s then he realises he’s
outgrown these people, but having known them for so long, he’s torn. How could
he explain to them he’s moving on? So instead, he stops all his spiritual work.
He continues to meet his friends, and begins
to drink more than he ever has. He sabotages his ambition because
he’s afraid of the unknown, and doesn’t have the conviction to follow through
with what he feels is right.
This is just one example of
how self-sabotage can manifest, but the result is fairly typical. We
subconsciously decide we can’t go on, so instead invite these destructive
thoughts and habit patterns.
Here are some of the typical
mindsets that inform the progression of sabotage.
– This underpins all other aspects to a greater or lesser degree. If you’re
working towards a goal, but deep down there is that feeling that you’re not
entitled to pursue it, let alone achieve, it leads to cognitive dissonance.
This refers to a trope, which dictates your beliefs and actions must be in line
with one another, as there is only so long you can maintain an ‘inauthentic
act.’ At some point, you must come back into alignment, and if that isn’t done
willingly, it will quite possibly be through self-sabotage.
Imposter Syndrome – There can be a sense that the further you
get to achieving your goals, the more out of place you start to feel. This form
of sabotage comes about as a result of not taking the time to fully acknowledge
past achievements. The prevailing thought is that you were ‘lucky’ to find
yourself where you are now, or were in the right place at the right time. It
leads to withdrawal, as you become increasingly insular to prevent yourself
from being found out.
Fear of the Unknown – Sometimes, the dream can be more
comfortable, and, more desirable than
the goal you’re chasing. Change can be scary; you never know how things are
going to turn out. It could be that you get to your destination, but don’t like
what you see, and now having come so far, you can no longer go back to the way
things used to be. In a sense, the fear of the unknown is the fear of loss and
of change rolled into one.
***If you feel as though you may be exhibiting signs of self-sabotage, but are unsure of how to address the problem, one of our specialists would be happy to provide you with an initial consultation to determine the best course of action going forward.