“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
- Roy T. Bennett
In this column, you will learn simple but powerful tips on how to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors from a wide range of experts.
Clicking on the expert names below will take you to their individual blurb on overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors.
There is a moment in everyone's life that creates a pivotal turn towards the life of their dreams.
It's a defining moment. I believe that our lives are a string of those defining moments.
I have been defining myself as an intuitive and a healer for most of my life. But I did it silently. How dare I reveal what I see?
The thing is, I actually thought I was crazy. I spent my 20’s in and out of therapy offices. I had many late night rendezvous with my drink or drug of choice and I was medicated by doctors to silence the awareness I had. I spent almost two decades in and out of different support groups, hopping from one city to the next - thinking that it must've been the people or the town.
Thinking that a new destination would be the answer to my cloudy mind.
Isn’t it interesting to discover that no matter how far we run we land with our baggage still with us? I had done my best to negate me to the point of existing, not thriving. You can only run so far.
From an outsider’s perspective I had a pretty fabulous life. I was 27, I owned my own house and a rental property. I was making a good 6 figure income. I was married, successful, I had great friends and a good family. And yet, on the inside I was dying. I always used to say you never know what goes on behind closed doors. I was good at hiding what was going on.
I’ve learned my greatest aha moments and most challenging situations are what make me great at what I do.
I've been on my knees begging for a way out, I've spent nights on various bathroom floors and I’ve been at the end of my rope.
What changed? How did I turn my life around? I’m going to tell you a quick story...
One fateful day - in my mid 30s - staring at my half naked body in the mirror - it happened.
The light bulb went off. I had an all-too-familiar conversation in the mirror that was nothing short of a really toxic, abusive relationship that I had enforced upon my body. But this day something happened.
5 minutes into this typical fight with myself in the mirror, I saw my 2 month-old baby BEAMING at me...like sunshine, so grateful it blows me over BEAM. And it stopped me dead in my tracks.
If I just missed out on receiving that for 5 minutes, what else have I missed out on in my life because I was so convinced that a judgment bomb thrown in my body’s direction on a daily basis was a good idea? Where else had I lost sight of me? Where else had I allowed judgments to consume me?
So I began making different choices for me and my body.
I made the demand that the existence I had been living change. When I began asking for something different in my life, new possibilities became available. I love asking questions that contribute to the change I’m asking for.
Questions have a way of opening doors that previously might have been closed.
- What if everything you've ever sought answers to was already inside of you?
- Do you know how brilliant you are?
- Are you willing to entertain that possibility?
- Are you willing to acknowledge YOU?
- Are you ready to say YES to YOU? What does that look like? What do you desire? What brings you joy?
- What steps can you take to find the joy of you?
- What inspiration will create possibility?
- Is it possible to follow your dreams?
- Is it possible to create a path that looks like no one else's?
- How do you create your own life?
Follow the whispers of the universe.
Follow what lights you up and JUST CHOOSE!
The only formula for success is to take the leap. To jump in the direction of your dreams. Some days it's step after step and some days it requires a faith in believing what nobody else believes. It means paving a new road that only you know. Each one of us has a specific way that we work, function and see the world. Each person has a different capacity than the next. There are no two Dali Lama's or Richard Branson’s.
It’s not about following anyone's formula but your own...which means you take from the universe all the different concepts that work for you and you create your blueprint. You create your unique way of seeing, knowing, perceiving and being aware of your genius at work.
Keep going, keep seeking, never give up on the journey of discovering you and what works for you in your life - in your way! And on this journey, you will find your best friend that has been there all along…. YOU!
What is possible now my friends?
Katherine McIntosh, Intuitive Consultant & Speaker – www.katherinemcintosh.com
“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” – Brene Brown
Self-sabotage is inevitable, and it’s our fate to be imperfect, to fail. For a long time I saw this as something negative. Failure was to be overcome at any cost, imperfection to be swept under the carpet.
But it was exactly these ideas that kept my self-sabotaging behaviors returning again and again.
We are human.
As much as the world tries to make us feel differently, to aspire to be superhuman, we can’t maintain an ideal imposed on us from the outside.
Maybe for a little while, but the self-sabotaging behaviors always return. We can’t plan our life around perfection. A life of tension is one lived with the expectation of yourself to never mess up.
Having a slice of cake when you’re supposed to be on a diet or drinking a glass of wine with a friend when you’re trying not to drink should not be something to get angry at yourself about.
In Buddhism, there is a philosophy of living called The Middle Way. The Middle Way is about living your life somewhere centered in between self-indulgence and self-mortification. It’s living a balanced life, not one of too much restraint or pleasure.
Too much restraint makes us unhappy, as if we’re lacking spice and colour in our life. Too much pleasure makes us feel lazy and selfish, as if we’re only living for ourselves.
It’s important to establish what your goals are, and then to ask yourself whether these goals are not only healthy, but realistic. Perhaps your goal may be to stop drinking because you’ve become put off by the after-effects - headaches, sickness and days of not getting anything done.
It may be tempting to feel you have to stop drinking all-together, saying no to alcohol in every situation, even more low-key ones in which you won’t necessarily be tempted to drink excessively. However, by doing this, you are ignoring the potential to ask questions, to understand the reasons for your self-sabotaging behavior. You’re treating the symptom, not the cause.
What if, every time you did something to sabotage yourself, you didn’t get angry or frustrated, but instead you asked why?
Why did I overeat? Why did I say that rude thing without thinking? Why did I avoid seeing my friends today?
The things we do to sabotage ourselves are often fuelled by deeper issues. Fear, insecurity, sadness. Our sabotaging behaviours attempt to hide the painful feelings these insecurities hold by comforting us and ultimately making us unaware of ourselves.
Awareness is key.
To be aware of the things you feel sabotage you, to allow them to happen and to accept yourself – your fear, insecurities, sadness – is saying to yourself “I love and want to understand you,” not “You’re not doing what I want you to, so I’ll hurt you instead.”
Be with your sensations, with your thoughts and your feelings. Allow them to sit and show enough compassion to listen to them for a moment before eventually letting them go.
Let life flow, follow your intuition, your desires. And when you sabotage yourself, love yourself enough to accept it and move on.
Erin Mahoney, B.A. – www.erinkiera49.wixsite.com
A two-year old child at the store starts crying to his mother. “I want…” he begins. And so we begin the quest for things we desire, things we want to have or do.
It begins early in life. A two year old doesn’t yet know anything beyond his wants and needs. He has no idea that his life will be comprised of the choices he makes.
We have to grow up. We have to stop wanting.
Wanting focuses us on what we do not have, on a deficiency, on an unresolved longing that has nowhere to go. When you say, “I want to take a month off to travel,” or “I want to retire at 50,” it is merely a hope that someday this may be possible.
The longing stays with you, filling the empty space with more air.
What if you were to change that one word from want to choose?
Say it aloud with something you have wanted. I want X. Now say I choose X. How does that feel, in your heart, in your body and in your mind?
Want is a disempowering word keeping you groundless in an unresolved state of hope.
Choose is an empowering word, one that immediately moves you into creative thinking about how to make happen what you desire.
I’ve been asked how I live in Ecuador for months and then return as if I had not left. First, it’s not that way at all, although from the outside it may seem that way. Things do change for me while I’m gone. I change and the world keeps going about its business, in constant movement. But it’s also a mind shift for me.
First mind shift.
I made a choice, a decision, that this was what I WOULD do, not just wanted to do.
Shifting to I am choosing this, urged me plan to make it so. I had to look at my assumptions and beliefs that caused resistance and limitations. I had to choose to change those so I would not be limiting myself.
There is enough challenge with the outer world without limiting myself before I begin. I had to PLAN to do it.
Second mind shift.
I had to engage radical trust.
I had to believe in myself. I had to believe that I could not only find a way to do this but I had to trust my heart over all the evidence (and people) that told me this was a crazy thing to do. I had to trust my own inner voice and wisdom over the affirmation or approval of others.
Third mind shift.
Living in two places is normal.
It is my new normal. Living outside of the USA continues to change me as I learn more about myself in an environment that is not always comfortable or predictable. I have found a way to integrate the different cultures but that took time and a conscious effort to do so. A choice. And I’m always tweaking it too.
What is your new normal?
There is a point in time when you realize that the past no longer determines your future. At this point you focus on creating something new and authentic. You no longer focus on what you are leaving behind or on any deficienies.
Your future becomes your present.
Your present becomes your new normal.
Hope is not a strategy.
Neither is wanting. Without making a CHOICE to do something you will always stay in the longing for it.
It takes courage. You have to see yourself as capable of having or doing something that you have not yet had or done.
You will have to embrace your greatness over what keeps you living small.
You will have to challenge yourself about what you believe about yourself and your world.
You will have to trust in both your dream and your ability to make it real because you said so.
Your greatest enemy is yourself and the small identity you have created for yourself that keeps you safe and comfortable. Here lies the source of all sabotaging behaviors.
The real work is not out there. It’s in here, in you.
Give up wanting. Make an intentional, conscious choice to live on your own terms, to become the center of your Universe (in a good way).
You can do it but first you must choose it.
Alicia Rodriguez, M.A., P.C.C. – www.aliciamrodriguez.com
Negative thinking can be one of the biggest ways that we sabotage ourselves and the progress we would like to make in our lives. Negative thinking is actually so much more, and so different, than many of us think it is!
The most destructive aspect of negative thinking is the judgment we have of ourselves. When you judge you, you stop your creativity and the possibility for you to move forward and succeed in your life and business.
Here are 3 ways to get out of the self-judgment trap, beyond self-sabotage, and into creative flow:
1. You are not as messed up as you think you are!
We usually judge the things about ourselves that are different. What if your difference is actually something that is great about you? What you think is your ‘wrongness’ is almost always your ‘strongness’ if you are willing to get curious about it!
2. Ask the question: “What’s right about me I’m not getting?”
When you notice that you are judging yourself, you can ask the question, “What’s right about me I’m not getting?” Look at the thing you are judging, whether it be a behavior you think you need to stop, or something you have decided you need to change about you. Flip it around 180 degrees. What if that ‘thing’ could actually be something really wonderful about you?
For instance, many people judge themselves for having a short attention span. There are so many tools and practices out there that people engage to try and change that. What if you could use that to your advantage?
When you have a short attention span, you could work on many different projects at the same time. You could have 10 different things going at once – and what if they could actually all contribute to each other, make you money, and be fun?
Perhaps you are just really fast and like to be dynamically engaged – rather than wrong because you can’t keep your attention in one place for very long. How could you use that to create more in your life and business? Would that be more fun for you than judging you and trying to change it?
3. Recognize that judgment doesn’t create change.
We have trained ourselves to judge that which we would like to change. The problem with that is that judgment actually never creates real change! It only locks us in a no-choice universe where our only options are to keep judging ourselves and keep judging our situation.
When you stop judging you, your behavior, your business – whatever you would like to change – you actually create an incredible space where you can see what IS right about you that you have never considered – and also change what isn’t working with ease.
Recognizing that you are judging yourself is one of the first steps to choosing something different. When you notice that you are in judgment of you… stop!! And then – ask a question! Questions open up possibility for something different.
Here are some great questions to ask:
What else is possible here that I have never considered?
What would be fun for me?
What would create the most?
If I wasn’t wrong, what might be true here?
Questions are a phenomenal way to create your life and business beyond judgment. And they work!! People create dynamic, successful, and thriving lives and incomes from asking lots of questions and enjoying the creativity and innovation that comes from that space.
How much are you willing to let go of the wrongness of you – so you can start creating something that not only really works – but is fun, too?
Heather Nichols, MSW - www.heathernichols.com
To overcome self-sabotaging behavior we must first be mindful; mindful of our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.
We must be willing to make curiosity and a mindset of learning and growth our default. And we must be willing to practice courage and self-compassion on this most difficult healing journey.
“Without awareness there is no choice.” John F. Barnes
It’s only with being mindful, the practice of moment to moment awareness, that we get a chance and the choice to respond instead of react to the stuff of our lives.
When self-sabotaging behavior surfaces into our awareness, we’re already on the right track. But there’re a few things we can do to move past the awareness and take the action that will create the changes we’re looking for.
Essentially when we become mindful of the voices in our heads and the resulting behaviors we practice based on those voices, we have a chance to change them. But what gets us to the point of actually doing something different, even though we’re acutely aware that what we’re currently doing isn’t working? Usually a crisis.
“Don’t wait for your house to burn down before you do something to prevent the fire.” Torrie Pattillo
Being mindful is only part of the picture. It’s the resulting action that creates a transformation. So even though we’re aware of thoughts and behaviors that damage our own goals, dreams and desires, it’s not going to be enough to sit around and know it. Taking action in new and different ways is the key.
Moving from mindful to purpose-driven action is where the magic happens.
So using our awareness, first and foremost, but then using it further to take steps toward the thoughts, beliefs and behaviors we desire is how the shift will occur. Awareness is everything, but it needs your purpose-driven action to be effective.
“Fear is just excitement without the breath.” Lauren Cafritz
Usually it’s fear getting in the way of these new, healthier ways of thinking, believing and acting. Overcoming fear is also a matter of taking action despite the feeling of fear. Using our practice of mindfulness we can feel all emotions as a sensation in the body, remember our ultimate goal (of a better, healthier, more purpose-driven action), and then practice taking that action even though we’re afraid.
The main key to all of this is the ability to notice, or be mindful, of everything - the stuff that’s stopped us up in the past, the current desires and dreams, and the messages coming through our body in the form of our intuition.
Mindful existence, or conscious living, is the way you make positive change. It’s a life-long journey that one never quite masters; there no being perfect here.
If you’re noticing self-sabotaging thoughts, beliefs and behaviors, good! That means you’re already on your way to using mindfulness to make change. Now it’s time to hone in that skill, fine tune your wants and desires and shift your behaviors based on that awareness.
Here are 5 ways to use mindfulness to create positive change:
1. Start practicing meditation.
Just get still and clear your mind and arrive in your body at first. No rules, no time limits. Just start practicing getting to know how the feelings arrive in the form of sensation, thought or emotions.
2. Set an alarm to go off several times a day to help remind you to breathe.
Sometimes in the beginning we need a way to wake up inside of our lives. A gentle alarm that’s a reminder to breathe and be in our body is a great way to practice.
3. Notice what you’re thinking.
Observe your thoughts before reacting to the situation. Be curious. Curiosity is a powerful form of mindfulness that’ll have you questioning and changing your own behavior quickly.
4. Be gentle with yourself.
Don’t get down on yourself for messing up. The practice’s what matters, not the perfection. Self-compassion is a must on this journey. Talk to yourself like you would a small child, with love, compassion and understanding.
5. Use a journal to move your thoughts out.
I call this Feng Shui of the soul. Moving your thoughts and ideas onto paper will help you clear a space for flow. Let the flow of your dreams, desires and wants come into that space and start allowing your thoughts, dreams, desires and goals to be the purpose behind your actions.
Have you used other effective tools or techniques? Join me in the comments and start the discussion!
Laura Probert, MPT - www.lauraprobert.com
How to identify 4 types of self-sabotaging triggers and tips to avoid them.
As a weight management mentor, one of my responsibilities is to teach my students how to overcome self-sabotaging eating behaviors by helping them identify the triggers.
One of the hardest things to see while mentoring my students is when something trigger them and makes them self-sabotage all the efforts they have been working hard on that day, week or month to get their weight under control.
The problem is that by the time you realize what’s going on, it’s too late.
That’s why it is so important that you identify your triggers ahead of time so you can work on them before you enter the sabotaging stage and you assault the fridge or jump into the closest Dunkin’ Donuts, searching for the sweetest and fattiest thing to eat.
There are four types of triggers, each of them works different and therefore has different ways to be identified and confronted.
Those are the four types of triggers:
How to identify your triggers so you can stop them on time
1.- Physical triggers
Physical triggers are those that you really feel. In this case, you feel real hunger as a consequence of low blood sugar levels. What happens is that if you haven’t eaten in 3-4 hours, your blood sugar levels are low and your brain sends a message to make you feel hungry, so you eat and increase your sugar to the levels where the brain works better. Since simple carbs are the easiest to digest and be used by the brain, this is what your brain will make you crave.
Another reason why your sugar levels may be too low is because you are eating the wrong carbs. When you eat simple carbs, there is a fast glucose and insulin peak. Then the insulin makes your glucose levels drop fast again, being too low so you get hungry “again”.
Not eating enough protein or fat with your cabs in each meal can also make you feel hungry sooner than necessary.
2. Physiological Triggers
Those triggers are created as a consequence of hormonal imbalance. Ghrelin and Leptin, the hunger and satiation hormones, get out of balance as a direct consequence of physical triggers or lack of enough sleep, or indirectly because you have too much abdominal fat or even because of high levels stress and therefore high cortisol levels.
3. Psychological Triggers
You think that you’ll be able to control your hunger with willpower rather by taking care of the other 3 triggers we are covering here. You have the misconception that willpower is unlimited and it is always available to be used to have your actions under control, including the need or desire to eat). You can learn more about willpower here.
4. Emotional Triggers
Those are what I call the “Grandma’s Pie Effect”. Deep inside your subconscious mind, you think that eating grandma’s pie will return you the peace and wellbeing effect you felt when at grandma’s house. So you feel an unstoppable desire to eat the pie. To have other scenarios or “effects,” just change your grandma’s pie to your favorite bonbons, eating ice cream while going out with a friend or with popcorn and coke at the cinema.
What can you do to stop your triggers on time
1. Physical Triggers
Eat a meal or adequate snack every 3-4 hours (depending on the time of day), that includes carbs, and protein and fats. Substitute every carb for a low Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load carb. That way you’ll be able to maintain your glucose levels stable during the day avoiding food cravings and unstoppable urge to eat whatever is available.
2. Physiological Triggers
Once you are able to maintain your physical triggers under control, the most important hunger related hormones (Ghrelin and Leptin) are already addressed. But you’ll still need to have 7-8 uninterrupted hours of sleep to keep the Human Growth Hormone under control, which is related to fat burning and helps managing your hunger.
Finally, it is important that you keep your stress under control, so you don’t end with high levels of the hormone Cortisol which would make you crave carbs, unbalancing the other hunger related hormones.
3. Psychological Triggers
Willpower is limited. You recharge your levels in the morning after a good sleep and you start using it during the day in each of the decisions and challenges that you face each day. Trying to count on willpower to make the right decision in terms of food, exercise or any other action is a recipe for disaster. Instead, get your day well organized in the morning when you have your willpower reserves full or the night before, once the day has ended and you have some time to relax and think about the next day.
4. Emotional triggers.
Let’s face it. Your grandma’s pie, the chocolates, ice cream, popcorn or sodas are not bringing you anything that you don’t have yet. Acknowledge that the happiness you are feeling comes from your family, the movie you are watching or any other activity. Enjoy your time and leave the food for just nourishment and pleasure not as a replacement for your feelings.
What about you? Have you identified your main triggers yet? Have you learned how to defy them?
Arantxa Mateo, Nutrition Specialist – www.32mondays.com
Self-sabotaging behaviors can be hard to deal with because usually people don’t realize that they are self-sabotaging.
It doesn’t make sense. Why would I want to cause myself to fail?
The answer to that question differs for each individual. However, it can usually be traced back to a profound fear of failure.
I really think this behavior is almost always unconscious. If you ask someone if they’re trying to fail they will probably tell you “no”. But to an outside observer, a pattern of self-sabotaging behaviors eventually becomes apparent.
What does it look like?
Often it looks like irresponsibility or laziness. There might be a pattern of always being late or flaking on a job interview, or under performing on the job itself. Substance abuse could be a way to self-sabotage. Starting things that never get finished is a sure way to make sure that you never succeed. Reaching for something that is clearly way out of reach is usually a set-up for failure.
Usually these self-sabotaging habits form at an early age.
Critical parents can set one up for self-sabotage. If you can convince that demanding parent that you are a failure, they will probably stop expecting much out of you. Critical parents inhibit performance because they apply so much pressure that it becomes overwhelming to the child. Competitive parents can also cause a kid to fail. Outdoing your parent may come at a loss of the relationship.
Families can have an unspoken rule that nobody does better than dad or mom. Both of these scenarios come at a high cost. Anytime you fall into a pattern of failure your self-esteem will plummet. Failure feeds itself. Continual failing is a downward spiral to a lifetime of under-achieving and unhappiness.
Anytime you are convinced inside that you won’t be able to rise to the occasion, you may stop trying.
It’s a defense. You know that you didn’t give it your best shot so it doesn’t feel so bad to fail. You can always tell yourself that in different circumstances you would have succeeded. It’s safe, because if you don’t try you don’t have to really confront your perceived inadequacies.
Attitude really affects performance. If you think you can succeed, you are far more likely to succeed than if you tell yourself you can’t. A negative mindset shuts you down. You are beginning from a down position of failure and loss. It takes a lot of effort just to get to even, let alone to succeed.
How can one turn this pattern around?
I think it has a lot to do with reprogramming the failure message that you’ve internalized from your childhood. It also has to do with restructuring your expectations.
Sally Leboy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Business people, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians and others are adamant about one thing: If you want to succeed in whatever you do, you have to stay focused. This means that you must keep the task and goals in sight and your thoughts steadfast on the end result.
Because of that, every morning when I wake up, I expect something wonderful to happen and throughout the day i keep looking for it. It sets me up for enjoying the day and gives me a mindset of positive expectation and glorious appreciation.
If I experience doubt, expect the worse and dwell on those thoughts, I am creating what I don't want.
This is self-sabotage at its best. Sabotage is my greatest enemy and the results of the sabotage set me up for failure and disappointment every time. Instead, I focus on what I do want, not on what I don't want and I am always happy with the outcome.
This is what you can do right now to avoid the disillusionment of self-sabotage:
1. When you wake up in the morning, put your attention on what you want for the day.
Spend about one minute going over your goals and desires and visualize what you would like to happen. See it play out the way you want it to go and even rehearse your responses as if it actually happened.
2. Enjoy the feelings you will have if you already manifested what you are thinking.
Make the feelings as intense as possible. Stay in those feelings for a few moments.
3. Surround yourself with things that remind you of your desired goals.
In other words, look in a magazine for pictures of your ideal job, weight, or vacation. Spend time with people who have experienced what you want, whether its a terrific relationship, awesome job or great vacation spot.
4. Focus your thoughts on the things that bring you happiness and joy.
It is very important to acknowledge all the good you DO have and to let others know. Always remember that no matter what your situation, there are always things to be grateful for.
5. Be proactive in creating your desires.
Don’t just sit around and wait for things to happen. You will notice that once you set your mind on something, you will become more aware of people, resources and opportunities that are related to what you want. This makes it easier to go after it.
6. Know that everything is working in your favor.
When you make a great business connection, acknowledge it. When you lose 1 lb, acknowledge that. When you meet a great partner, acknowledge that, too. The more you recognize that things are working, the more it will continue to be created in your life.
If you make a commitment to stay focused on what you want, take actions daily to make it happen, keep your confidence that it will happen and maintain your gratitude, you will move forward in creating your desired and fulfilled life.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
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