Sabotage is easily recognized when the enemy is known to us: a competitive co-worker, a nasty ex-lover, or a jealous family member. However, the real challenge we face is from the enemy within. Read on for simple suggestions that will keep your inner saboteur in check…
1. Negative Self-Talk
Thought of by some as the “the devil on their shoulder,” this destructive inner voice wreaks havoc on a person’s self-esteem. All too often, this negative inner voice is so entrenched in your ego that you do not recognize when it is spouting its nasty insults and tearing down your feelings of self-worth. This destructive internal dialogue ensues during both the good and the bad events in your life, and is always there either to rain on your parade, or to drag you down into sadness or depression. Maybe you received a promotion at work, but instead of feeling proud of yourself, that little voice whispers that you won’t be able to live up to the challenge because you’re not smart enough; or perhaps you got in a car accident, and instead of being grateful everyone is OK, you can only focus on how inept you are to have crashed in the first place.
Beware, too, of self-fulfilling prophecies. The power of the mind is an awesome thing, and if you go around all day thinking that you will never succeed in getting what you want, you will do subconscious things every moment that sabotage those desires.
2. Fear Takes Over
Fear of the unknown can be a powerful motivator in the life choices you make and the chances you take. Venturing outside of your comfort zone, changing old ways of thinking, takes courage. It is much easier to stay in a dead-end job or an unhealthy relationship than to give up those old safety nets and take the plunge into something completely new. Life changes are good things, allowing people to grow, refreshing their perspective, and providing new experiences and adventures. You might make some mistakes along the way, but opening yourself up to life’s ups, downs, and unknowns – despite your fears – transforms that fear into courage.
3. Impossible Expectations
Recognizing your limitations is not admitting weakness, but respecting and understanding your abilities enough to achieve the maximum outcome. By setting impossible timelines and expectations, you only set yourself up for failure, resulting in disappointment and self-hatred. Be honest with yourself about your abilities and strengths, and nurture and respect them by challenging yourself realistically, then allowing yourself a reward for a job well done.
4. Making Excuses
Placing blame is a common method of self-sabotage. By not taking responsibility for the kind of life you have created for yourself, you allow the unhappiness and dissatisfaction to continue indefinitely. If it is always someone else’s fault, or blamed on the “unfairness of life,” then you don’t have to do the work necessary to change it, or to admit which poor choices have led you to where you are today. But if you stand up and take full responsibility for your life, you regain the power to navigate your existence as you choose, even if that means admitting mistakes and accepting the long hard road ahead of you.
5. Guilt Trips
While having a healthy conscience is admired and appreciated, berating yourself for mistakes, mishaps and whatnot can drive anyone crazy. Learning from the past, pardoning yourself and moving on, is essential to leading a happy life. If you are constantly wracked with guilt over the past, you can hardly focus all of your attention and energy on the present; you might even make new and destructive choices based on your fear of the past.
At some point, everyone has fallen victim to self-sabotage. Recognizing when this happens, taking positive action against this self-defeating mechanism, and making an agreement with yourself to restore your own power, will surely change your life. Remember, you are what you eat, so if you eat your own negative words every day, you will become a reduced and diminished version of your own self. Or as someone wise once said: “Thoughts become words. Words become actions. Actions become habits. Habits become character. And character becomes your destiny.”