Why We Self-Sabotage and How to Stop It

When my son was born, everyone told me, “just enjoy the time, it goes so fast.”

Here I had everything I wanted. A beautiful, healthy baby. A nice home in a great city. A wonderful husband. A thriving business. So why, when everything was so great, would I find myself stuck in worry and unable to enjoy the moment?

And then I would think about how fast it goes, and get upset I wasn’t enjoying motherhood enough.

When a dear reader asked if I would write about why we self-sabotage and how to stop doing it, I knew this was a relevant topic.

What is self-sabotage?

Well, it comes in many forms. It could be that something good happens in your life but rather than enjoying it you create fears that don’t exist. Or it could be that right when you’re about to have a breakthrough you set yourself back, or stop all together. Or perhaps you get angry and fight with your husband just to create some drama.

I’ve done a lot of studying on this subject so I’m excited to explore it from a few different angles.

Basically, there are only two things we fear. Fear of not getting what we want, and fear of losing what we have.

There is some science behind this.

As humans, we project into the future and make up potential problems and then try figuring out the solution. This is what helps us thrive, because we anticipate harm.

However, it can work against us when everything is actually going well but we start making up problems that don’t exist.

Many of us also have deep-seated beliefs that are working against us.

We may believe we don’t deserve it, or having a lot of money is greedy, or that falling in love isn’t safe.

As silly as it sounds, our brain would rather feel comfortable with an identity it knows, even if that identity is a story that is making us unhappy, instead of change.

In Gay Hendricks book The Big Leap, he describes all the ways that we create an upper limit for ourselves. As we bump into our upper limit, we begin to self-sabotage.

Gay Hendricks wrote this book because he noticed that when he was having a great day at work, he suddenly found himself in an endless spiral of worry about his daughter at summer camp. It turned out she was fine, but it got him asking the question why we sabotage just when we’re feeling good?

So. what do we do about this?

1. The first step is to be aware. As my lovely reader said, you may not even realize you’re doing it. But if you reflect and can see the patterns that come up in your life, it will cue you in to what areas you may be self-sabotaging.

2. Notice how you’re doing it. Is it nagging your husband and kids? Is it getting lost in constant worry and doubt? Is it when you’re on the verge of a breakthrough at work but you don’t take the next step?

3. Re-center. Start to catch yourself and say “I’m upper limiting myself.” Take a deep breath. Re-center into the moment and choose how you wish to respond rather than react.

If it’s that you always stop right before finishing a big project, try taking the next step and see how it feels. If it’s getting angry at your husband, take some deep cleansing breaths and choose how you’d like to communicate.

4. Lean into joy. Take time to enjoy the moments of your life! Celebrate your accomplishments! The antidote is when you notice you’re feeling good, lean into this feeling even if just for a few moments longer. Let yourself linger here. Let it become comfortable to feel good, content and happy.

I want to ask you: Who would you be if you let go of your story? If you let go of your past? I know it’s scary, because you may be thinking, “but I wouldn’t know that person.”

But what if you could wake up with a fresh start? Someone who begins the morning giving thanks for another day of living and loving. Someone who focuses on the good things in their life. Someone who chooses to be present and create joy.

I want you to meet that person.

Let me know in the comments, have you ever found yourself self-sabotaging?



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