Are you self-sabotaging? Here is how to handle it.

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Self-sabotage is a uniquely human behavior. Many of us sabotage ourselves when we decide we want something by doing everything we can to ensure we don’t get it. Sounds familiar? Although self-sabotage is a subconscious behavior, we can handle it through our conscious efforts.

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There are many reasons that you might sabotage yourself. It’s a very common behavior, rooted in a fear of the unknown. If you’ve immersed yourself in mediocrity, the idea of greatness may be frightening. Ask yourself if you’re satisfied with your life.

Reasons for self-sabotage:

1. Control. You might self-sabotage because you have a need to be in control of your circumstances. The easiest and most certain way to stay in control is to maintain the status quo.

If you put your all into something, you run the risk of becoming vulnerable. Fear gets the best of you and you self-sabotage.

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

2. Low self-esteem. Do you feel unworthy of greatness? Do you think you do not possess skills for a certain activity and neither have the learning ability for it?

For whatever reason, you might have decided that happiness & fulfillment ought to be forever beyond your reach. This is a self-limiting idea, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. Excitement. Probably, you’re seeking excitement. Or you feel the need to remain in a constant state of turmoil to distract yourself from painful memories or alleviate boredom. For example, you know you need to save money, but it is a boring activity and you don’t want boredom. You want action. So, you jump into trading the markets – and most of the retail traders lose money in markets.  Thus you sabotage your original goal of saving money.

4. Fear of Failure. Fear of failure could be another reason for self-sabotaging. You want all the ducks to be in line before taking any action. Or you keep thinking of all the things that might go wrong.

5. Fear of Success. Strange as it might sound fear of success is as real as the fear of failure. Many people are afraid of uncertainty which say abundance of wealth might cause – e.g. the responsibility to invest the money, secure it and higher taxes etc. Some people want promotion badly, but they are afraid that they are not prepared for the responsibilities that the higher position will bring them. Other want to be free of 9-5 job, but are afraid that in case something works out and they start their business, they will have to manage the vendors, employees, supplies, store and bills.

If you see yourself in any of these descriptions, fear not: there are steps you can take to put yourself on the path toward self-mastery.

Consider this process for defeating your self-sabotage:

1. Observe your behavior. One of the unique faculty which only human beings are blessed with is self-awareness. Use it to find your self-sabotaging behavior. Begin to observe yourself. You can effectively do this by creating a self-sabotage journal. Make a journal entry every time you realize that you’ve sabotaged yourself. Describe the setting, circumstances, and end result. Avoid over-analyzing. And avoid over-blaming and under-estimating as well. Be to the point and objective.

Most often, a person’s true intentions are most evident in their actions, rather than their words.

Try to be an impersonal observer in your journal, as if you are observing someone else. Eventually, you’ll gain a better understanding of your motives in certain situations.

2. Envision success. Other two important faculties that human beings are blessed with are imagination and creativity. You can use these faculties to mentally create the image of your future. This is also called visualization. Studies have shown that all the great achievers visualize their success in their minds before actualizing it. This principle has been extensively used by coaches to train athletes & other sports persons.

Cultivate the habit of envisioning what success means to you and remember how it feels to achieve it. If you do this consistently, you may find that what you envision changes over time.

Begin to see success as an integral part of your future, but realize there will still be challenges. Just like everyone else, you’ll still have to pay taxes and have relationship issues.

3. Let go of the notion of perfection. Realize that no one is perfect and there will never ever be a perfect time or perfect situation.  Hence stop waiting for “all the ducks to be in line”. Whatever you want to do, take tiny steps towards it. Slowly and slowly you will learn to walk the path.

This is what George Bernard Shaw would refer to as “doublethink.” Perfection and life are mutually exclusive because perfection is unattainable. Your subconscious won’t allow you to achieve success if you associate success with the impossible task of being perfect.

4. Handle fear.  Do not let the fear be hindrance to achieve your goals. No one is without fear in this world. Successful people take necessary steps despite the fear.  Realize that, whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. As said earlier – take tiny steps. Most often you will realize that your fears were baseless and you are capable of achieving far more than you think you are.

Envisioning/visualizing success will eliminate the fear of success from your mind. If it doesn’t then address your various fears associated with the success during visualization. e.g. if your fear is of managing employees, then visualize yourself successfully handling your employees and having happy staff.  Simple techniques of visualization can accomplish much more than most of us perceive.

5. Fill your life with positivity: Surround yourself with positive people, who have achieved success in your field.  Read positive literature. Talk positively about your vision and your dreams. It is important to stay as much positive as possible in all aspects(even not related to your dream) of life when you want to achieve something.

Embrace the good life you deserve by picturing yourself as successful, and then refuse to talk yourself out of going for it. The journey to your ideal life starts now!

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