Despite having a dream you want to pursue, do you sometimes find yourself procrastinating, talking yourself out of taking the first step or escaping into social media instead. Perhaps you’ve decided you want to get fitter and eat healthier. But instead of heading out for a walk or a jog, you end up on the sofa eating crisps and sweets. You know you shouldn’t, that it’s working against achieving your goal, but somehow you can’t seem to stop yourself, and you give into what is easier and more comfortable.
It may be some consolation to know that an estimated 70% of people engage in self-sabotaging behaviour at some point in their life. Despite it making no sense, there’s something in our subconscious mind that seeks to preserve what is safe, what feels good and what’s comfortable. So when we set out to do something new there’s a weariness and doubt starts to surface. Will I be able to do it? Do I deserve it? What if I fail? Even when people achieve a level of success, they might put it down to luck, or being at the right place at the right time, rather than it being a result of their hard work and skills.
Why do we do it?
There are many things that may trigger this destructive behaviour and understanding them is the first step to starting to form more positive habits.
A common reason is fear of failure, that despite trying your absolute best, you don’t succeed. But failure does need to be a negative. In fact failure can be an opportunity to learn, to stretch your creative thinking and find a more innovative solution. If you view failure as something finite, it becomes something to fear. But if you view it as a learning opportunity, it is no longer something that holds you back.
If you like to be in control, it may extend to wanting to control what you fail at or don’t do rather than have it blindside you. It may feel like you’re the right choice to protect yourself, and maybe even your reputation, but in reality it’s holding you back. It takes great courage to relinquish control, but it can be incredibly rewarding in that it frees you up to pursue your goals.
What’s familiar is comfortable. Change, because it involves the unknown is uncomfortable. If you believe that things don’t go your way, experiencing success can be strangely unfamiliar, even uncomfortable. So you may hold back, even step back, because it feels more familiar to be in that space of things not going your way than if they do. Some people may feel that they don’t deserve success, they’re so used to not having what they want or feeling inferior that anything else feels too uncomfortable. It may not be easy, but leaving this mindset behind, can be the first step towards success.
When you read about these behaviour it’s easy to pick up the negative impact they can have on your life, but in the moment when you’re experiencing it, may not be so easy. Through all of this you need to be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to hold onto what’s familiar, instead consider what might be the positive intent behind those feelings. How could they be linked to your values? If it’s happiness you seek, your subconscious may be driving you towards that in the short term and inadvertently sabotaging your long term prospects of happiness.
To move past that, link the positive intent to your long term goals. Work on the mindset that it’s worth it, you’re worth it, and that ultimately it’ll help you to get closer to what you really want.
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