Forget justifying why you did (or didn’t do) this or that; just watch yourself now. Follow the adage “don’t listen to what people say, but watch what they do” to see what they’re really like can be applied to yourself equally well. Imagine you’re someone else whose behavior you’re watching. Ask yourself, “What did I do there?” and “What was driving it?”
Was it fear, spite, the need to be in control (even if that control is related to making things fail), the need for excitement through conflict, or the desire for attention through sympathy?
What do you sabotage and how? Get to ‘know the machine’. Seeing your own behaviour more clearly has nothing to do with over-applied self-blame, but rather being more objective.
Remember that Success isn’t Black and White….
Strongly imagine (and get into the habit of strongly imagining other things as well) what true success will be like, because it may be different from what you’d been unconsciously assuming. Success isn’t usually black or white; it’s all relative. So remember that becoming successful (in whatever way) won’t feel so strange when it happens, because it is a natural part of being human – but the ideas of success may feel strange.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater…
People often self-sabotage because of perfectionism – if it isn’t perfect, then what’s the point? Is this you?
Self-Sabotaging: Why We Get in Our Own Way…
The critical inner voice doesn’t represent a positive sense of self that you can entrust in. Rather, it epitomizes a cruel “anti-self,” a part inside us that is turned against us. It casts doubt on our abilities, undermines our desires, and convinces us to be paranoid and suspicious toward ourselves and even those close to us. This anti-self fills our mind with critical self-analysis and self-sabotaging thoughts that lead us to hold back or steer away from our true goals. It makes us frightened.
Where Self Sabotaging Thoughts Come From…
Our critical inner voice is formed from our early life experiences. It’s like a shadow that follows us everywhere. Without realizing it, we tend to internalize attitudes that were directed toward us by parents or influential caretakers throughout our development. For example, if our parent saw us as lazy, we may grow up feeling useless or ineffective. We may then engage in self sabotaging thoughts that tell us not to try, i.e.“Why bother? You’ll never succeed anyway. You just don’t have the energy to get anything done.” Worse, we may be doing these things and not even realize it.
In a similar manner, children can internalize negative thoughts that their parents or early caretakers have toward themselves. If we grew up with a self-hating parent, who often viewed themselves as weak or a failure, we may grow up with similar self sabotaging attitudes toward ourselves. For instance, if our parent felt critical of their appearance, we may take on similar insecurities without realizing it. We may feel easily self-conscious and less sure of ourselves in social or public situations.
Look, we can’t change the past. Yet, as adults, we can identify the self sabotaging thoughts that we’ve internalized and consciously choose to act against them. When we fall victim to our critical inner voice and listen to its directives, we often engage in self limiting or self sabotaging behaviors that hurt us in our daily lives. Learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so badly, work on your mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.
Once we know where our self sabotaging thoughts come from, we can start to differentiate from the negative identity we have cast upon ourselves. We can familiarize ourselves with our critical inner voice and notice when it starts to seep into our thought process. As we do this, we can start to recognize ways we act that we don’t like or respect. For example, if we often feel embarrassed or ashamed and, as a consequence, hold ourselves back socially, we can start to push ourselves to be more outward and open.
Changing these self sabotaging behaviors will make us anxious, because it means challenging deeply ingrained, old and familiar attitudes that we’ve long held about ourselves. Differentiating from these behaviors is essential to leading happy lives.
Step one – involves separating from the destructive attitudes (critical inner voices) we internalized based on painful early life experiences.
Step two – requires us to separate from the negative traits in our parents or influential caretakers that we’ve taken on as our own.
Step three – involves challenging the destructive defenses or adaptations we made to the pain we experienced growing up. These adaptations may have helped us in childhood but, very often, hurt us as adults. For instance, if we were used to being let down or rejected as children, we may have formed a defense that shuts us off from wanting or expecting much from others. Though this lowering our expectations may seem to help cushion us from getting hurt as kids, this same defense can keep us from trusting or getting close to someone as adults.
Step four – differentiation asks us to develop our very own sense of our unique values, ideals and beliefs. Once we have separated from the negative overlays from our past, we can uncover who we really are. We can stop self sabotaging behaviors and choose the person we want to be.