Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Self Sabotage


Do you have a goal you want to reach and it always seems just out of your reach?  Or perhaps, even worse, even as you reach the goal you find yourself slipping back.  It was right there in your grasp and then it was gone again.  Or you achieve a goal, are happy that you have got there, but then you find the whole world is conspiring against you to take it away again.

For the big goals in your life maybe this doesn't apply.  They are so big you are nowhere near them yet, so they are not "just out of reach" and you don't find you have achieved them and then they are taken away again.  But you will probably agree this does happen to you with at least some of your smaller goals.  Perhaps those goals you need to reach in order to get closer to your big goals.

So who is that goalkeeper who is so efficient at keeping your ball from passing between the goal posts?  Whoever it is, they must be really good at goal-keeping, as you never seem to score!

If only you could make that goalkeeper switch sides just as you are approaching the goal, how easy it would be.  You would achieve exactly what you want to achieve!

Let me reveal exactly who that goalkeeper is.  It is you!  Yes, that is right!  You are the one who is making it impossible for you to score your own goals.  And I agree that goalkeeper is good.  Really good!  As for switching sides?  Well, now you know you are the one standing in the way and stopping you getting to the goal it should be easier for you to reverse this.  You don't need to make the goalkeeper change sides, just recognize he or she has mistakenly been playing on the wrong side all this time.

Enough of the sports imagery though.  Let's have a closer look at what is happening and what you can do about it.

You are guilty of self sabotage.  This is not another metaphor I have made up, but a recognized psychological issue.  We all do it.

Some of us do it in very noticeable ways.

If, for example, you are trying to get healthier and lose weight you may find you are also a "comfort eater".  You have a bad day at work, so the moment you get home you attack a big bowl of ice cream.  You feel a bit depressed (perhaps even depressed about the fact that you are not losing enough weight) and so you reach for the biscuit tin to give yourself some comfort.

Or you are trying to reach a goal of cutting your credit card debt, perhaps even losing that debt completely.  You have the right plans in place and know you can get there.  Then you suddenly find you have gone on a shopping spree, which has dug a deep hole in your debt reduction strategy.  It is almost as if a different person came along, grabbed your credit card, and put you right back to the beginning again.

I have known sales people, good sales people, who have gone along to one of their most important, big sales ever and have completely screwed up the sale.  Not because they were nervous.  Not because they didn't know how to swing the sale.  But because they found themselves saying things that they knew would mean their prospective client would not buy.  Why did they do this?  Not because they no longer believed in what they were selling.  Not because they thought it was wrong for the person in front of them.  They still believed passionately in the product or service they were selling, and they knew it was right for that person.  They seemed just deliberately to sabotage their own sale.  Why?

I have known business owners who, just as their business was really growing and starting to give them the return they had always dreamed of, started taking actions that any good business consultant could have told them would destroy the progress they had made in the business.  They didn't do this because they hadn't taken the right advice from a business guru.  They did it even though if they had stopped and thought carefully about what they were doing, they would have known it was a disastrous strategy.  So why did they do it?

The answer in all these cases is self sabotage.

Your own self sabotage may not be as obvious as these examples, but I can almost guarantee somewhere along the line you are guilty of committing self sabotage.  And that may be the very reason you have not yet reached your desired goal.

It may be as simple as knowing the right way forward but allowing yourself to go in a different direction.  If you are reading this blog it is very likely you understand very well the concepts of positive and negative thinking.  You know if you focus on the negatives you will never get there, yet still those negative thoughts keep coming into your mind and you don't seem able to stop them.

Why we self sabotage is a deep and complex subject.  I could write a whole book about it, and I guess there are a number already written.  But there are just a few reasons behind most examples of sabotage.

Perhaps one of the commonest reasons is that although you think you want to achieve the goal, deep inside you are afraid of getting there.  You may be afraid of changes it will inevitably trigger in your lifestyle.  Maybe you have got into a comfortable rut and subconsciously you want to hang onto that comfort even though you know it is a rut and you cannot afford to stay there.  You may recognize that once you reach your goal many of your "friends" will be jealous and will no longer want to be your friends.  Notice, though, I put "friends" in quotation marks.  The reality is that your true friends will be happy for you if you do achieve what you want to achieve.  Those who are jealous were never really your friends in the first place and you are better off without them!

Another very common reason is that you have some doubts, which may be genuine concerns, and then you surpress those doubts.  But you have not rid yourself of the doubts, just repressed them.  They are still there, and they are now making you sabotage your efforts to reach your goal.  Instead of repressing them, you need to recognize and address them.

Linked to this is what I, and many other coaches, refer to as "blocks".  Often these arose many years ago, perhaps in your early childhood.  They are usually irrational, but that doesn't stop them making you sabotage your progress towards your goals.  The key to dealing with blocks is to recognize they are there, to identify them.  Sit quietly, focussed on your goal, and allow repressed doubts and objections to arise.  This might not happen immediately.  It might not even happen the first few times you meditate in this way.  But keep trying and you should find they do eventually arise.  Even better, let one of the many good coaches who specialize in "blocks" guide you through the process.

There are many reasons for self sabotage, and there are many ways to counter it.  But the very first step is to recognize that, just like everyone else, you are guilty of sabotaging your own progress from time to time.  Once you recognize this you can work on unearthing the reasons and then finding out how to remove them.

1 comment:

  1. Too much questions, but only one answer: Yes you can :)

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