If you’ve ever been in that situation where you’ve been continually messing up big opportunities or totally destroying the progress you’ve made while working towards a big dream or a goal, then today’s episode is for you. Today we are asking “why do I keep sabotaging myself?!”, and we are going to be taking a look at the phenomenon of self-sabotage and how we get ourselves into situations where something seems to be going really well, but then we just seem to get cold feed and start do things that mess it all up.
But before we get into all of that, I just wanted to make a quick announcement and let you know about something super-exciting that happened this week – I was featured as a guest writer on Pam Grout’s web site earlier this week. For those who might be unfamiliar with her work, the Amazingly Awesome Pam Grout is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of E-squared, and it’s recently released sequel E-cubed, so I am beyond thrilled to be featured by such an incredibly talented author. If you’d like to check out my article, it’s called “Three Easy Steps to Become a Master of Synchronicity” and you can find it on Pam’s site at PamGrout.com. Also, Pam’s books are fantastic and they are available on Amazon or through your local bookstore if you’re looking for some inspiring holiday reading!
When you keep messing things up
So, back to today’s topic, which comes from an email I received from someone who wants to know why she keeps messing things up. And our Awesome Emailer asks:
Every time I have a goal and I get started on it, I go so well for a while, but then I just can’t seem to keep the goal. I change my mind and think that maybe it’s not such a good idea or that maybe what I want is something else instead. This happens all the time. Why do I keep messing things up for myself?
Interestingly enough, this is one of the more common questions I tend to get from people, and it’s actually a fairly common situation that many people find themselves in, so Awesome Emailer, know that you are not alone in this.
So, the question is why do I keep sabotaging myself? And I think a large part of the reason for this is that, for so many people, by the time we’ve reached adulthood, we’ve spent so long trying to fit in to the expectations of other people and society as a whole; we’ve spent so much time trying to fit ourselves into a mold that we were never meant to fit into, that we’ve lost sight of what it is that we’ve always known we were meant for.
Nice girls don’t…
And this happens with everyone to one extent or another, but it’s a particularly common phenomenon with women. As women, we’ve been taught since childhood, whether directly or indirectly, that nice girls take care of other people. We’ve got this ingrained belief that we’re supposed to put our own needs aside, because they’re not as important as looking after other people’s needs, and making sure that everyone else around us is happy.
So we learn to tune out all those “whispers from within” that I’m always talking about – we learn to stop listening to that little voice within us that tells us what we’re here for and what we’re meant to do, because we’ve been taught that it’s selfish to concentrate on ourselves. So we put all our own dreams, ambitions and needs aside and we focus ourselves on being useful to other people; on making sure our husbands and our kids and all the other people in our lives are looked after, even if it means that we’re not looking after ourselves.
You can’t keep putting your own needs aside
But that kind situation is unstable. You can’t keep pushing aside your own needs and stifling your own dreams without consequence. Something has to give, and there’s always some kind of a backlash. And I think this one of the reasons why there is such a high rate of depression among women. When you lose touch with that centre – that sense of who you really are – it has a very detrimental effect on both your mental and physical health.
Not only that, but the longer this goes on, the more you lose touch with that inner guidance; if you’ve taught yourself to stop listening to those whispers, it often becomes incredibly difficult to hear them again. And that’s often where that sense of being lost and unable to decide what to do comes from. You know you’re meant to do something, but you can’t find your direction or your compass point anymore.
Paging your inner critic…
Now, how does this cause you to sabotage yourself? Well, because you’ve spent so long trying to be everything for everyone else, because you’ve had a lifetime of false learning that says no one is going to love you unless you’re sacrificing yourself for someone else, whenever you start moving in a particular direction that’s important to you, all those negative voices from the inner critic that you’ve been infected with start coming out of the woodwork and undermining your efforts to create any kind of success for yourself.
You start moving in a particular direction, and maybe start making some real progress, and all of a sudden you start having these horrible thoughts: “What am I doing? This will never work!” “Who am I kidding? I don’t have what it takes to pull this off!” “What if people don’t like me anymore if I do this?” “My husband thinks this is a waste of time. Maybe he’s right.” “What about the kids? If I start getting busy with this, what will it do to them?” “Maybe this isn’t what I really want anyway.”
Will you allow yourself to be successful?
All these negative thoughts start swirling through your mind and undermining your efforts to create what you really want. Because you can’t be successful. You’re not allowed to be because nice girls aren’t successful themselves; they’re supposed to help other people become successful, instead.
And so, once again, you’re back to square one, and wondering what the hell you want to do with your life, and why you can never seem to make anything happen for yourself.
So that’s where this comes from. But what do you do about it? How can you reconnect with that inner wisdom and learn to start hearing that voice within you once again? How can you find your direction and keep yourself from succumbing to those nasty inner critics that tell you that you can’t?
How to stop sabotaging yourself
There are a few steps that you can take to help you with this…
Step 1: Take some much needed “me” time.
Schedule some time when you won’t be interrupted by family or any outside responsibilities – time to just be by yourself and unwind a little. Finding time for silence and solitude, when you can just sit with your own thoughts and feelings will allow you to start reconnecting with what your heart has always been trying to tell you, but you’ve just been too busy to hear. Try to remember what it is that you’ve always wanted to do, and ask yourself if this is still something that is important to you. Try to remember what your dream really is.
Step 2: What scares you?
The next thing to do is to ask yourself what it is that scares you most about the possibility of achieving this goal. If you had a magic wand that you could wave and instantly make yourself super-successful with this dream of yours, what would you be feeling? Make a list: write each of your fears down, and be totally honest about them – even if your logical mind tells you it’s a ridiculous fear, if it’s something that comes up in this exercise, add it to your list.
Step 3: Analyse your fears.
Now, for each of those fears, I want you to really think about it. How likely is it that the things you fear most would actually happen? For instance, would your kids really hate you if you suddenly had something in your life that made you really happy and excited? Wouldn’t the fact that you’re happier and more engaged in life just make their lives that much better?
For the fears that actually have some sort of realistic possibility, think about what you could do now to mitigate those fears; create a plan for how you could deal with them before they ever happen. If you have contingency plans in place for the things you fear, then that often goes a long way to alleviating a lot of those fears.
Remember why you have your dreams in the first place…
Finally, I want you to remind yourself that your dreams are important. Not just to you, but to the entire world. They are your little bit of magic – the gift that you came here to share. And the best thing that you can do for those you care about most is to become all that you are capable of becoming. When you allow yourself to shine, you encourage all those around you to do the same. And isn’t that the best gift you could ever give to anyone?
photo credit: (c) Can Stock Photo (modified by me)