Updated: Nov 13, 2021
How do we get in our own way of achieving what matters to us the most?
Many of us are familiar with the pattern of taking one step forward, two steps back when it comes to our own happiness.
**We want to lose weight but we find that after having lost a few pounds and start feeling happy, we put the pounds back on again.
**Or we begin a brilliant yoga class only to find months later that we haven’t made any time to go.
**Maybe we fall in love then find reasons to pull away.
**Or, we make some new friends then don’t follow through on meeting up with them and nurturing the relationships.
It’s easy to blame bad luck or our current circumstances on why we don’t follow through on things that make us happy. But what really we have to ask ourselves is: are we sabotaging our own happiness?
If we assess our goals, we see that they are generally about trying to be happy. But somewhere in our efforts to ‘get there’, we simply keep digging a bigger hole of self-sabotage.
Here’s several ways we can look at some of the ways we sabotage our happiness along with a few pointers to free ourselves from those old beliefs.
We Believe Control Is The Answer
Many of us have a deep need for control. We use it to keep us safe. However, it also keeps us stuck.
Doing what needs to be done and surrendering the outcome teaches us that letting go of what we think we want (whether that be a job or relationships) creates a space for bigger and better things to flow into our lives.
When we try to control the results of our actions we actually block growth and acceptance. If we change what we can, and surrender what we can’t, we allow an unfolding of our future to happen which may be a much better outcome than we’d ever hoped for.
We Practice Self-Hatred
All of us practice self-hatred at some time.
The spectrum of self-hatred ranges from listening to our critical voice all the way through to full blown narcissism.
There is a part of all of us, which is on our team and rooting for success.
But there’s also that critical voice - the internal enemy living in our head. It maybe an annoying, niggle of a voice. On the other hand, it may speak to us as if it hates us and says anything to hurt us.
Either way, it’s called the inner critic and its job is to play the sabotage game.
Shaped by our childhood experiences, this voice is ingrained into our belief system and embedded in our psyche.
If we were neglected, unhappy and lonely as a child, we now believe we are unworthy. If there was a lot of drama as a child, we find that as adults we crave unhealthy excitement. If we were told we were a problem child, we may still feel like, and act out as, a problem adult.
Of course the memos we were given, as children, we believed to be true because that’s what children do. Unless we challenge those old messages, with the help of people who know how to guide us through this process, as adults we still believe them to be true. But they are not.
Self-sabotage happens when our inner critic is dialled up too high. At one point it was there to help us feel safe but it no longer serves us.
Instead of dismissing our inner critic, we could become curious and listen to what it’s really trying to tell us.
What irrational fear is it projecting onto the situation?
Can we find the part of view that has a more positive response?
No decision is all on one side, so if we go from monologue to dialogue, we can allow each voice in our head to have a turn to speak: the inner-critic, the positive voice and everything in between.
We’re Afraid Of Failure
The fear of failure, the unknown, is that our critical inner voice will overpower us, that we will have too much to lose or that we will have to face the pain of rejection.
Fear of failure is nothing more than a desire to feel safe. But, it also keeps us stuck. Making a mistake doesn’t make us a “failure”. It’s actually nothing more than a helpful, albeit unpleasant, learning experience.
We are much more resilient than we think. The inner critic that tells us we can’t handle obstacles which feeds our fear. But the reality is that, life is both joyful and painful. The more fully alive we are, the more sadness we are bound to experience.
Our inner critic likes to shield us from feeling normal pain and joy. It keeps us in a chronic state of numbness and dissatisfaction.
To face our fears, we must consciously identify and actively ignore this voice by developing a more realistic and compassionate view toward ourselves.
We can ask ourselves: What did I learn? What worked? How can I do things different next time?
We Can’t Forgive Our Past Mistakes
Yep, we’ve made a lot of mistakes. Everyone does. But if we’re still holding onto the pain and guilt instead of surrendering and forgiving ourselves, it’s time to develop self-compassion.
It’s like acting the same way towards ourselves as we would a child. If we saw a child having a difficult time, our hearts melt and we do what we could to help them. We would feel protective and compassionate. This is the same approach we should have for ourselves.
Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing ourselves for various inadequacies, self-compassion means we’re kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said we were meant to be perfect?
Thoughts like: “this is really difficult right now, how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?” will go a long way in stopping stop the self-sabotage.
We weren’t born co-dependent and we can’t beat ourselves up for being co-dependent. Something happened to us in our early years that resulted in us managing relationships co-dependently.
Co-dependency is used to describe someone who is preoccupied with another person’s happiness more than their own whilst at the same time, looking to others to make them happy.
If we rely on others for happiness, or put other people’s happiness before our own, we’re blocking our ability to make ourselves happy. Our relationships with others should mirror the happiness and love we have for ourselves. Prioritizing ourselves isn’t selfish; it’s healthy.
When we put others first we always ending up resenting them and that leads to unhealthy relationships. Putting other people’s happiness before our own plays a big part in self-sabotage.
So the best way to stop waiting for another person to make us happy is to focus on saving ourselves. If we look ahead to one year from today and ask ourselves: What did I need to put in place to make me happy, a year ago, it’s surprising how little steps can make a big difference.
How To Completely Free Yourself From Self-Sabotage
We watch videos, read books and blogs or ask people what they think. We know we want to feel better about ourselves but sometimes it can be really hard to do it alone.
To completely free ourselves from self-sabotage we need help. Why is this?
When we’re trying to make changes we are working on old and familiar patterns.
What we need is a more functional and healthy point of view to help us change our thinking from what we’re used to.
It’s like someone asking us to bake a croquembouche: a French wedding cake. It’s a cake made out of éclairs, chocolate sauce and spun sugar. If we’ve never seen a croquembouche, we’ll never understand exactly what we’re trying to achieve. We need someone to guide us and assist us in the recipe, ingredients and method of cooking it.
It’s the same story when we try to change our self-sabotage but we don’t know what we should be aiming for. A good counselor, group therapist or life coaching program are ways to get help and guidance towards breaking free of self-sabotage.
It’s easy to get caught in the “I wish things were different” cycle, but all that does is keep us stuck. By taking responsibility but for what we want to create we can fundamentally change our Life Path.