I have been a coach for a group of high-significance people who are writing books, and almost each person experienced self-sabotage at some point along the way. The self-sabotage comes from stories we tell ourselves that are based on messages given to us from others before we were old enough to tell the truth from lies. These early messages came mostly from people we trusted, like our parents, teachers, relatives and members of our spiritual community. As we grow older, we tend to involve ourselves with people who support and repeat these belief systems because it feels correct and familiar to us.
Most of these messages were not meant to be harmful. For example, a parent or relative calling a toddler chubby is not meant as a criticism. It’s simply an observation of a condition most likely to be grown out of in short order. However, children hear that, and their brain registers somewhere that they are “fat.” Parents say a lot of things in frustration to their children that is not meant literally. What parent hasn’t said to their children, “Why are you so messy?” “Why don’t you think before you act?” “Can you stop making so much noise?” (My grandfather was famous for saying, “Children should be seen and not heard!”)
What these kinds of statements do is create a subconscious belief in the minds of children that they are flawed and are somehow not “good enough.” It happened to me, I’m sure I did it to my children and it likely happened to you. That doesn’t mean we get to blame our parents for all our problems, oh no! Our parents did the best they knew how under the circumstances with the information they had available to them. The solution is our responsibility: We must pull those self-defeating beliefs into the light where we can examine them for validity. Once we determine they are not true, and none of self-sabotaging beliefs are, then we can dismiss them and replace them with something that serves us better.
Some people may tell you that you must “do battle” with these beliefs. I advise against that. When you identify self-sabotage and think you must battle with it, you are ascribing much more importance to it than it deserves. Giving it importance and attention invites more of the same into your life. Simply recognize it, determine its falsehood and then say, “Thank you for sharing and trying to protect me but I don’t need that anymore.” Move on with your new self-talk firmly in place.
What are some of the forms self-sabotage takes? Often, it’s that you’re not good enough. If you attempt to succeed, you will most surely fail because there is something wrong with you. Sometimes we’re scared to succeed in a big way because we might have to leave people behind, or people will leave us because we no longer fit their picture of who they want us to be. We may feel as if it’s our responsibility to bring others with us, and if we can’t figure out how to do that, we will sabotage our own efforts.
Another issue is the fear of success and all that brings. Many authors I have worked with are concerned they will lose their privacy and have so many demands placed on their time that success will overwhelm them. There is also the concern that you will outshine someone you care about and you don’t want to appear “better than” or create jealousy in your relationship. I can remember this as a very clear message from my mother. She would often say to me, “Just who do you think you are? You’re no better than anyone else!” Hear that often enough and you come to believe being better than someone, even in an area where you may have natural talent and ability, is a bad thing. Therefore, you sabotage yourself so you don’t hurt others with your success.
It is important to recognize and uncover self-sabotage when it rears its ugly head, and to examine it in the light of day where you can realize its falseness. Once realized, you can relegate it to the level of complete insignificance. You recognize it was a lie you were conditioned to believe, and you let it go without major fanfare by minimizing its importance in your life. Is there something you are trying to accomplish but self-sabotage is holding you back?
Are your self-sabotaging thoughts derailing you? Sign up to receive a free chapter of my forthcoming book, Choosing Me Now.