Even with the greatest intentions, we sometimes make choices that hurt our success. Maybe you’ve cheated on a diet, partied too hard even though you said you wouldn’t, or pushed off doing work even though you promised yourself that you would do the exact opposite. Listen to this episode to find out how your mind sabotages your happiness and success, how to tell when you’re sabotaging yourself, and how to get out of your own way so you can create the life you really want.
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How To Stop Self-Sabotage
We are diving in on this episode all around self-sabotage. If you’re human in any way, then you may have experienced this at some point in your life or another where perhaps you were going after something that you wanted. For whatever reason, you were procrastinating, you self-sabotaged, or you have prevented yourself from having, obtaining or achieving whatever it is that you were wanting to make happen for yourself consciously. For whatever reason, you weren’t able to get it. What we want to dive into on this episode is understanding the mechanics and the science behind self-sabotage and how to prevent it as well as how to alleviate it so that you can move past that in achieving, accomplishing, having, doing and being whatever it is you want to.
Let’s take it right from the very beginning. I’m going to assume that you’re a fairly self-aware, but just in case, let’s just all be clear. When we’re younger in life or when we’re no less mature or less aware, it’s easy to blame our results in life on other things onto people on other circumstances. We’ll say, “I didn’t get the job because the guy interviewing me is a dick,” or “The girl broke up with me because she’s crazy,” or “My financial situation is because of this market bubble burst,” or whatever. We can blame everything but ourselves. As we get to be a little bit more aware of where our results come from, and hopefully you’ve read to some of our other episodes and it’s clear that all of the results that you get in your life stemmed from you. It’s how you perceive yourself, how you think about yourself, how you think about everything in life. That creates your expectations, your behaviors, your habits, your results, your communications. That means that if you’re not getting something that you want in your life, I’m sorry to say it but you’re the cause.
How many times have you found yourself thinking that you’re your worst enemy? Things like, “If I could just get out of my own way.” This is something that I’ve struggled with. I’m human. I’m going to continue facing this for the rest of my life. It was a big thing for me, especially up until about five years ago, where I would fight myself at every single turn. We’re going to go over all forms of self-sabotage. You know what it looks like, you know what it feels like. If it happens in your life, you can identify it so you can raise the level of your awareness. You need to be able to identify the real challenge that’s creating the results that you’re getting. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to change them. When you take control and ownership of it, you give yourself the power to do something. By the end of this, we want you to be able to see it clearly as it happens in your life. I’m ready to give you some ideas of what they come from, the beliefs, the perceptions, what you can do about them so you have a good idea walking out of here of how to get out of your own way.
Let’s dive in and understand some of the mechanics are more so the fundamentals of where self-sabotage stems from and what are the root causes. You have probably heard us talk a lot about the conscious and the unconscious mind. When we’re talking about you being consciously aware, consciously you want something, consciously you know it’s good for you, consciously it makes total sense to go ahead and achieve that thing or do that thing. It’s just picture perfect to your conscious mind. What’s important when we get into the world of self-sabotage is to understand that there is also your unconscious mind. Typically when you start to self-sabotage, it’s usually routing from some part of your unconscious mind that has a belief that may be separate and are different from what your conscious mind believes.
For instance, if you grew up in a home where perhaps you had the family history, where they perceive people who had a lot of money as being greedy and people who didn’t care or that were selfish. You had the belief system that money would take away from you being able to spend time with your family. Perhaps your dad was always working. You created this internal belief at some point in your life that money was correlated to being something wrong, bad or negative, or it would cause pain. Although that may not make sense to you consciously because you want to be successful, you want to make a ton of money. You want to be able to have the life, the fulfillment and the abundance at an unconscious level, that little boy or that little girl inside of you has this belief or this perception of what money is.
When you go after trying to achieve or have success at a certain level and reach this place of financial abundance, but there is this deep-rooted part of you that has this unconscious belief that money is this terrible thing that’s going to cost so much pain, that unconscious part of you will do everything in its power to stop you. To prevent you from reaching that level of success because it’s equating that level of success to you experiencing so much more pain. We can start to see how it’s a lot more than just getting yourself to do the thing especially if you’re experiencing procrastination. To where you are finding all these excuses, reasonings or fears for going out and doing the thing where we can start to explore what are some of the deep-rooted inner beliefs or inner child beliefs for why you would be afraid of doing that. I know that Dan, you talk a lot about the belief systems and some of the big ones that come up for people.
[bctt tweet=”All of the results that you get in your life actually stemmed from how you perceive yourself.” username=””]
We’ll get into the nitty-gritty. You brought up this awesome idea of having your unconscious mind trying to keep you safe and try to keep you inside of a comfort zone. We have all sorts of different comfort zones. Here’s one thing that I want to throw out for you because it was weird the first time I heard about it. We’ll get to the beliefs that create this comfort zone. A lot of people think of a comfort zone as a place where we stay inside because everything else seems dangerous. It seems negative. You also have a comfort zone for success and happiness. That’s where it gets a little weird because you might want to say, “Why would I have a comfort zone for success and happiness?” Meaning that I have a range of comfort. Like I can feel comfortable being this amount of happy or this amount of success and anything out of that seems dangerous. How could that possibly be? Success and happiness are good things, so why wouldn’t we easily want more and accept even more?
The problem is that your unconscious mind has no concept of that. It doesn’t know what you want and it doesn’t care. All it knows is that whatever you’ve been doing is probably the best thing for you because you’re still alive. If you’re still alive that must mean that whatever you’ve been doing works, so you should keep doing what you’ve always been doing and new things, whatever it is that’s new, seems like it could be dangerous. Your unconscious mind doesn’t know what’s on the other side of that. It thinks natural like, “Why? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” kind of thing, and so it won’t let you. You do have what’s called an upper limit for how happy and successful you can be before your unconscious mind starts freaking out. You can’t become wealthy if your unconscious mind thinks that something negative, something painful is going to happen if you become wealthy. If you don’t know what’s on the other end of it at least if your unconscious mind doesn’t know what’s on the other end of it because you haven’t been there, it can naturally go to the negative anyway. You can think you’re good where you’re at, but if you suddenly win the lottery tomorrow, if you suddenly make a million dollars, we don’t know what your life is going to be like and we can’t let you risk it.
It will make you avoid doing things that will make you super successful. What will happen is that people who are already living good lives, they’re already fairly comfortable in their businesses. They have great relationships, good health and everything, something else positive will happen. They’ll have a big windfall in their businesses and all the sudden their minds will freak out. They’re outside of their comfort zones. They don’t know where they are anymore. It’s out of the realm that they’ve ever been in, and so then they’re unconscious minds think, “We’ve got to get back into our safe place. We’ve got to do something to turn this down a little bit.” These people who had great lives and big windfalls all of a sudden start fighting with their spouses or they start blaming people at work for things other than themselves.
They give off responsibility. They party so hard that they can’t show up to work or they start spending money recklessly or anything. Some of them might even get very sick so that they can bring themselves back down within the comfortable range of happiness and success. That’s important to know that you can have a great life and you can still be limited by this comfort zone concept and your mind will resist change. It hates it, good or bad change, it hates it both. It doesn’t know the difference. It’s all mystery. There are walls of this comfort zone that are created with beliefs. Let’s get into it so that you can feel. What I want you to do is, as we talk about these, you may have an instinctive resistance, especially if you’re used to being successful, especially if you’re used to being happy, especially if you’re used to feeling more confident than most of the other people that you’re around.
Maybe you’re the most confident person that you are around. It might be easy for you to say, “No, not me,” to all of these things, because that might be your unconscious mind saying, “No.” It’s more comfortable to think that you don’t have problems. It’s more comfortable to think that you can’t be limited by anything. That you’ve accomplished everything, that you are in a great way and that you can’t possibly be sabotaging yourself because you have all these good things. That reaction, that response that is self-sabotage also. The inability to accept or see that there might be something in you that could be improved, healed or worked on or there might be something in you that you want to look at, that is self-sabotage in and of itself. Open yourself up to it. We’re going to get into these beliefs. Relax with the information and just feel which might resonate with you.
One of the biggest ones that come up for a lot of people at one point or another is this unconscious belief that we’re not enough. That it’s not good enough in some sense. That’s not to say that every part of you believes that. We won’t go too deep into two different parts, but to understand that in some way some part of you has this unconscious belief that what it does, who it is, how it performs or what it creates is not enough. That it is fundamentally flawed. In that, it will sabotage you from being able to take specific actions because it doesn’t believe that anything it does is going to be enough.
This gets into a perfectionist pattern. It needs to be perfect. This will shut your ass down because your mind thinks, “Why even try? We’re not going to get it. Why bother even thinking about it?” When we have this, you can get all sorts of symptoms out of it. One, you can have a constant review of past conversations or past actions to try to think about what you could’ve done better, said better or review them. Almost like punishing yourself to showing yourself how imperfect you are. Just reinforcing because you remember the unconscious mind hates being wrong so it will find proof that your beliefs are right. If you believe that nothing you can do will ever be good enough or you’ll never be successful enough or it can be even more insidious than this.
[bctt tweet=”Identify the real challenge that’s creating the results that you’re getting. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to change them.” username=””]
Maybe you don’t even feel like it’s not good enough. Maybe what you feel is you constantly need to be even better. I’m not saying want, I’m not saying enjoy growth. I’m saying need to be even better all the time. Constantly thirsting for it, starving for it. I am a recovering person with this sort of feeling of saying like, “Yes, I’m totally okay the way I am,” but the overarching theme in my life was like, “I have to move as fast as possible. I have to accomplish even more no matter how much I accomplished. I need to earn even more even though I just had the biggest month of my entire life. I’m always more. It’s not good enough. I’m enough. My life’s not enough. I need to have even more.” This all comes from the same pattern and that energy can shoot you right in the face because when you’re doing that, you can’t possibly be living fully. You may sacrifice a lot of your life for the sake of this progress that has now taken over you. You might completely shut down in the face of not deciding ahead of time that no matter how much you try, you’re never going to hit that goal.
In there you can have constant self-doubt. You can have a lack of focus because your mind won’t let you focus on the things that you’re trying to get done because it thinks you’re going to fail no matter what. You can sabotage your relationships. I would have that. There are so many times when I was younger that I would start dating some gorgeous, beautiful, talented woman and I would start a fight with her. I didn’t even know I was doing this. I thought it was her. I thought she was doing something and then I had a reason to reject her. I had a reason to cut the relationship off. Looking at it backward, I realized I created that. My mind told me I wasn’t good enough for her, so I felt like I needed a way out. I was unconscious. I saw, “She’s not hot enough,” or “I hate that habit.” This thing that she would do just annoys the shit out of me out of nowhere and I’d find a reason to get out of it then I could be safe again. If I’m not good enough, then I’m going to get rejected but if I reject her first, well then I’ll never have to come face to face with me not being good enough. I’ll make her not good enough. You’re starting to see how this pattern can create sabotage all over the place.
If you’re a coach, not good enough could potentially ruin your entire business. It could keep you playing small because you won’t go after the clients that you deserve. It won’t allow you to raise your rates because you don’t think that you’re giving enough value. This can get into people pleasing. You raise your value in the light of other people by trying to suck up to them or tell them what they want to hear because whatever you are naturally won’t be good enough. This extends to so many things that in my opinion, this pattern is the biggest offender of the four that we’re going to go over. Be very careful and think about it in your life where this may have popped up in one way or another without you even realizing it.
I can so relate. I call it this achievement addiction. This addiction to needing to achieve, needing to do, needing to consistently be doing something more than what you are. A great way to be able to identify this is if you’re unable to enjoy the process. If you’re unable to enjoy the experience regardless of where you currently are. Paying attention to little things and looking at, “Can I enjoy where I am right now, knowing that I can be even better and then I can continue to grow and improve? Not to say that I’m not enough already.” I love that you brought that up, Dan. The next one that we’re diving into is understanding this concept of, “My success will bring shame to my friends or family.”
It’s like this inherent fear. I can totally resonate with this one for a long time. I had a fear that if I weren’t successful it would cause pain to my brother which was a self-sabotaging belief because I felt if I’m successful and he is not, he’s going to feel worse about himself. I love my brother so much and I value love more than I value success that I’m going to keep myself in that state of comfort. The success is just enough to be comfortable but not too much to cause any pain to the people that I love most of my life. As we start to look at how this plays out in your life, there are multiple ways that success and the meaning that you attach to it and how it impacts and affects the other people in your life, especially the people that you love most.
[bctt tweet=”The inability to accept or see that there might be something in you that could be improved is self-sabotage in and of itself.” username=””]
This extends to a couple of different ways. I have a lot of clients who are gay. There often is a block of sessions where we’ll work together on helping them fully accept and embrace their sexuality. There’s everything beautiful about your sexuality no matter what you are. Love is amazing no matter what it is. As long as you cause no suffering, go for it. When they’re growing up, they have this idea of like, “No. I can’t let myself enjoy my sexuality because if my dad finds out that I’m gay, he’ll be ashamed of me.” That is like this, happiness and success will bring shame to my family. If I don’t follow in my parents’ footsteps, if I don’t take on the family business, then I’m going to bring shame to my family. This is much more prevalent in honor-based culture. If you go out into the Far East, you’re going to find this way more powerfully than you’ll see it in America, for example. However, it still exists here. It’s like, “I can’t live my life fully. I can’t fully be me and go after what I want because something about what I want is going to embarrass the people I care about. It will bring a negative light on them. They’re going to be uncomfortable with this and they’re going to possibly reject me as a result.”
It can get a little weirder than that too. That I have spoken to inner-city kids. I went out to Chicago and I was speaking with a bunch of inner-city kids there. It was interesting to speak with them because a lot of them were saying they have big dreams. They want to become doctors and scientists and they want to become lawyers. They want to go to college but nobody in their family has gone to college. No one in their family has left Chicago. They can’t even talk about their dreams and about their success or happiness because by doing that they will embarrass and shame their families. They feel like their kids are trying to be more than them and better than them. They’re trying to reject who they are. They’re trying to reject their backgrounds, their family ties. That is shameful. It’s like having a traitor as a child. They just don’t say anything, they don’t say anything about what they want. They hide their shine and they hide their goals and their dreams because they’re afraid of bringing shame to those they care about. This can be about any part of your life. About who you are, what you look like, what you want to dress like, where you want to live, what you want to do, who you want to do it with, who you want to be. Remember, that’s just a belief. Even deeper, it’s a belief that you have about someone else’s belief. That’s like layers of sabotage that are waiting there to spring on you and that will shut you down. The next one is the belief that, “My success or my happiness will bring burden to those I care about.” This is a tricky one because it’s about me getting what I want will put pressure on someone else.
For example, if I become a celebrity, then my family and friends are going to be followed around by paparazzi and it’s going to make their lives difficult. A wife may think that if she becomes successful then she might have to travel more or work more and that’s going to put more pressure on her husband to take care of the kids and do things around the house. That’s not going to be comfortable for him. If we’re working as a team but we all have our own personal goals as well and our own personal businesses. If I become super successful then I’m not going to be able to work on the team. I’m going to leave them behind they’re going to have to deal with it without me. It’s a lot more work for them. When we look at this belief, it can come up and be stealthy because it can disguise itself as being very pragmatic. This is the insidious side of this self-sabotage. That’s some serious alliteration in there. In this part we’ll bite you in the ass because you think, “I’m not sabotaging myself. I’m thinking very logically. I’m thinking very reasonably. I love my husband. I wouldn’t want him to have to work even more. He’s got a job and we have two kids. If I start traveling or having to work more, it’s going to be a lot of pressure on him.”
This is a very reasonable and logical thing to think. You also have absolutely no idea what the hell you’re talking about. That’s just honest because first of all, you might be underestimating your husband. You don’t know. If you’ve never been in this situation you just don’t know. Also, who knows? You might not have to travel as much as you think. You might not have to work as much as you think or you might find workarounds. This, “I’m being super logical so I’m going to see the future and I’m going to avoid playing as big as I can be. I’m going to avoid being as happy or successful as I know I should be,” is just sabotage. You’re shutting yourself down before you know, before you give yourself a chance. It can sneak in and it’s very easy. Remember that the unconscious mind will “help you” by making you come up with all sorts of reasons and excuses that sounds perfectly reasonable, perfectly logical. You might be able to see every single step along the way and things like, “I’m just being safe. I’m just being responsible,” but in reality, you’re sabotaging yourself.
A lot of the times too, especially for those that are entrepreneurs or business owners, or even in your own career paths, you can see this in a sense to where you get to a certain level of comfort in your business or in your career or in perhaps even inside of your own health and your fitness. You recognize that getting to that next level whatever the story, the meaning or the definition may be that you attached to it is going to cause this or cause that to whomever it is the people that you care about. As you start to pay attention to those, the encouragement that we’d love to give you is to look at what the other possibilities are for what achieving and/or doing and/or having that could do for you. Your unconscious mind will naturally go so that it would keep you safe. What could go wrong and how bad and dark painful it can be to start to explore the possibilities of how great it could be and how it could work out and the benefit of not just yourself, but your clients, the people you care about, the people you love? In the bigger picture, for the entire world.
There’s one more belief that we want to talk about that can create the boundaries of your happiness and success comfort zone. You can say your upper limit. It’s, “My success or my happiness will make someone I care about look bad.” It’s like, “If I’m super successful and my brother is not, then I’m going to make them look bad.” A lot of men especially have a block on earning more than their fathers do because they don’t want to make them look bad so they capped themselves. Partners in any kind of pursuit. If you’re building a company together or whatever you’re doing and let’s say you have one or two more partners. You have the potential of becoming super successful on your own, you might not want to do it because you know you can make your teammates look bad or look worse. Here there is the thought of trying to avoid conflict. Even if you don’t know if it will happen or trying to avoid making other people feel bad about something that isn’t even your fault and might not even be real. Just because you become even more successful does not mean that someone else looks worse, it does not mean that they become less successful because of you. This belief, this avoidance of perceived negativity will make you stop. It will make you play only as big as they play.
[bctt tweet=”Your mind won’t let you focus on the things that you’re trying to get done because it thinks you’re going to fail no matter what.” username=””]
There you get limited by the people that you spend time with most or, the people you care about most instead of being supported. It’s not about them, remember, it’s not about whether they support you. They can tell you anything they want, but if you’ve got this belief in you, you won’t care. You’ll say, “I know that you want me to be as successful as possible, but I don’t want you to feel bad. I don’t want you to be hurt. I don’t want you to feel belittled. I don’t want to feel like I’m better than you.” That will come up as well too. The whole idea of, “If I become successful, they may think that I think I’m better than them.” That’s part of the same belief. “If I become more successful or happy, then I’m going to make someone else look bad. I’m going to show them for what they are.” This also taps in a little bit to the inner city kid not wanting to become successful. Not wanting to be the first person to go to college in their families because then their families might think, “Do you think you’re better than us? Do you think you’re amazing now? What are we stupid? Do you think you’re a hot shot because you can go to college?” It’s all comes from the same sort of belief and it’s easier to not even try.
One of the quickest ways to start to work around this is similar to surrounding yourself with the people who are looking at their level of success. Creating your upper limit based off of that is to start to surround yourself with people whose upper limit is much higher than yours. You start to set a new bar and a new parallel for what you can achieve and do. The last thing that we want to dive into and we’ve talked about it in a lot of depth on previous episodes, is this concept of secondary gain. Secondary gain tends to be one of the deep-rooted causes for self-sabotage and procrastination or for staying where you are. Even though you know that you can be doing something better or that you want to be doing something better, that you don’t want to be where you are. To briefly recap what secondary gain is, is when you are benefiting in some way, even though it may make absolutely no sense at all from maintaining a current behavior and/or a current state of being. Even though logically, it may not make any sense.
An example of this, oftentimes for a lot of weight loss clients. They will come in and say, “I want to lose the weight, I want to get healthier.” They go and they try to lose the weight. They get on the nutrition plans. They go on the workout plan. They hire the nutritionist or the personal trainer. Then halfway through the program, they self-sabotage. They start coming up with all these excuses, all of these stories. They can’t seem to consciously make sense of why they can’t get themselves motivated enough to go and follow through. When we start to dig a little bit deeper, what oftentimes we end up finding is that these clients will have this deep-rooted fear that, “If I lose the weight, then I won’t have anything to hide behind anymore. If I get rejected or if somebody doesn’t want to be with me or somebody doesn’t like me, it has nothing to do with the weight anymore and it has to do with me.” It’s this deep-rooted fear of them being rejected. As much as it makes no sense to the conscious, logical mind, to the unconscious mind, it’s benefiting in the sense that it’s protecting itself by staying overweight and by having that extra mass so that it doesn’t have to deal with a fear of being rejected or it not being lovable for who they are. This can show up in multiple different ways in your own life. Perhaps you may be benefiting from a behavior that you don’t necessarily see as good for you from a logical perspective though, in some way, you can’t get yourself to either shift, change or alleviate that behavior.
Our task is going to be starting to carefully review your life, your actions, and your results for self-sabotage. I’m going to tell you what to look for. Look for a repeated pattern of behavior that gets you the result that doesn’t link up with your goals. For example, one of my friends seems to get sick right before a big event that could potentially be very good for her career or a launch that could potentially be huge or anything that could potentially be a big windfall for her. You may think, getting sick, that’s just coming from stress. Big stress events could get you sick. Why is the stress showing up every time? Maybe it’s because of sabotage. Maybe the stress shows up because of one of these beliefs. “I’m not going to make it. I’m not going to do this successfully. This is going to go wrong.” The body starts freaking out so that, if you’re sick, maybe you won’t even try it. Maybe you won’t even do it. You won’t go up on that stage. You’ll delay the launch. That could be sabotage. By the way, there it is, secondary gain. We don’t want to get rid of this response because, “If I keep on delaying this launch, I’ll never have to deal with the failure of it. I will never have to deal with that pain, so I’ll put it off.
At a certain point of relationships, do you start getting bored out of nowhere every time or start getting annoyed by your partner every time? You start picking fights, start finding reasons to distance yourself. This is all sabotage. Do you have big months and then all of a sudden you blow off. You start partying hard or you start spending money recklessly. That you have a rough month coming up, nothing in the pipeline. You get into a feast and famine pattern where you’re resting on your laurels and you’re freaking out. You’re celebrating, partying in the sun and then you’re losing your shit, working as hard as you can to make up for the money that you don’t think you might have. These are all different symptoms of sabotage. I’d like you to start looking through and see where you could maybe be sabotaging yourself. After you identify them, see if you can dig even further and find out which one of the four beliefs is at the cause of all this.
Sometimes having awareness of what’s happening in what you’re doing is enough for you to change the pattern. Be very careful and remember that self-sabotage is a slippery fish. You’ve got to have to be careful and open-minded because your unconscious mind isn’t going to want you to find this. It wants you to be safe. It doesn’t want you to change these patterns. It wants you to stay in your comfort zone, playing small, playing safe. That way you can make it through another day. I know you want to thrive and comfort zone is bullshit. Start taking a real hard look. If you want help, if you want to let us know what you found, reach out to us. We love to get your feedback. Thinking about feedback. If you enjoy what you’re hearing, if you’ve gotten some value out of this podcast, please share it with other people that you work with, that you care about. Leave us a review online so that we can see your real thoughts, your feelings on how this is going. Let us know if you want to hear about something specific so we can hook you up with some awesome strategies.
On that note, we will see you in the next episode.
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