Have you ever felt like you’re constantly taking one step forward and three steps back when trying to make a change in your life, such as losing weight or finding a relationship? This is often due to self-sabotage, a subconscious program that kicks in when we attempt to make significant changes. We may not even realize we’re doing it, but it can prevent us from achieving our goals.
What is self-sabotage?
Self-sabotage is a protection mechanism that originates in the subconscious mind and tries to protect us from experiencing pain based on past experiences. For example, if you’ve been hurt in a previous relationship, you may unconsciously sabotage any potential new relationships.
Similarly, if you associate excess weight with receiving love from say, your mother, you may struggle to lose weight because the younger part of you associated the weight with getting her love. As such losing the weight would be a devastating experience for that younger part as it would mean losing the love.
From the outside it doesn’t make sense why someone would do that! But remember those parts are not as mature as your rational adult self. They are powerful though because they reside in our subconscious (which controls 90% of our thoughts and actions). When they get triggered they highjack us and take the wheel of our bus.
When you set goals and decide you want something, you do it from the conscious part of the brain (which represents 10% of your mind). But if you have fears and unresolved negative emotions your subconscious mind would want to protect you by repelling any situation that might trigger those fears or emotions to come up.
Fighting self-sabotage with willpower is often unsuccessful because the conscious mind which controls willpower is battling against a much stronger force in the subconscious.
The first step to change the sabotage program is awareness.
To overcome self-sabotage, the first step is to become aware that this program even exists. We can only change something we are aware of! It’s also essential to understand the subconscious program that creates the behavior. To do this, you can ask yourself six powerful questions:
1. What would happen if I were to have that?
Identify any subconscious fears you may have. Once it becomes conscious you can deal with them more easily.
2. What would I lose if I were to have that?
The change you want to create may involve giving up something. For example, if you put yourself out there and share your message, you have to give up being being “safe” by being invisible.
3. Who would I become if I were to have that?
If you want to become wealthy but have negative beliefs about wealthy people – for example, wealthy people are crooks – the self-sabotage program will undermine your effort in order to prevent you from becoming a crook.
4. Whose love will I lose if I were to have that?
As in the example of Stephanie, we are so used to playing certain roles in our relationship dynamics that we fear being rejected if we stop playing those roles.
6. What do I gain from not achieving that or not having that?
What’s the secondary gain or hidden benefit of not achieving our goals? Really be honest with yourself about what you’re gaining from not achieving your goal.
7. What would I avoid by staying where I’m at?
Maybe you will avoid having to face certain aspects of you or having to learn certain skills you need in order to achieve what you want to achieve…
By answering these questions honestly, you can identify the positive intention behind the self-sabotage mechanism and elicit its cooperation in helping you achieve your goals. This may involve releasing stuck emotions or forgiving past actions.
If you’ve experienced self-sabotage, share your insights in the comments below. With the help of techniques such as subconscious reprogramming and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), you can overcome subconscious blocks and achieve your goals.