5 reasons why you self sabotage and what to do about it
Do you ever wish you had more self control? That you could stop eating that food you know makes you feel like crap? If you’ve ever experienced eating food you know doesn’t make you feel good, or eating until you’re stuffed when you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll be familiar with self sabotage.
Self sabotage is a form of mindset issues that can have a massive impact on our lives, see my post on why our mindset is our most powerful tool in improving our health and wellbeing here.
Self sabotage is when we behave in a way that contradicts what we want and what we know is good for us. It can strike in all different areas of our life, but can be especially detrimental when it comes to your wellbeing. That feeling of just not being able to help yourself is very un-empowering and just plain sucks! I can remember starting a new diet on a Monday only to have eaten a box of biscuits before dinner time!
The key thing you need to know is that you aren’t flawed or a bad person if you notice this happening in your own life. There’s many reasons why we self sabotage, and today I wanted to touch on just a few of the reasons I see in women who are working on improving their wellbeing.
To be honest all self sabotage comes back round to a form of internal conflict, but how you might recognise this is when a part of yourself is forcing another part of yourself to do something it doesn’t enjoy. For example, if you naturally like to have a lie in and really enjoy that, just because your logical brain decides it’s a good idea to wake up early for your morning routine doesn’t mean that’s going to happen easily – it creates an internal conflict!
Likewise if you really love cake and then your ‘bootcamper’ brain tells you it’s now off the menu, it might win out for a few days or weeks, but eventually that conflict will result in your inner cake lover winning! This can be so hard because when we eventually ‘give in’ we can feel like a failure, flawed and unworthy, which as I’ll talk about in a moment, just makes things worse.
If, subconsciously, you don’t believe you’re worthy of being slim or whatever other goal you have, you may find that your actions and behaviours do things to prove your subconscious beliefs to be true. Our brains are wired to seek out evidence to prove our internal beliefs – often these beliefs are created as we grow up and even form stories we tell ourselves about our place in the world. If you don’t feel worthy of happiness or success you may find that your behaviour and actions simply reinforce this internal belief.
Not just linked to feelings of worthiness, subconscious beliefs can take many different forms and again, are often formed as we grow up. One of my subconscious beliefs for a long time was that I wasn’t sporty. As a teenager I came last in cross country running and was very embarrassed. This planted itself in my head as a belief that I wasn’t sporty (my brain’s way of keeping me safe from another embarrassing experience).
In later years when I tried to create a gym habit or join a fitness class I’d really resist it and find every excuse under the sun not to go. It wasn’t until I released that belief and did the work to change it that I was able to start exercising more often. The whole area of subconscious beliefs is huge, they can include so much of our human experience but when we start to master them it can be totally transformational!
Perfectionism is an interesting aspect of self sabotage. Have you ever started the day off eating really well and then ate one small chocolate and felt like the day was totally screwed? I see this so much in the women I work with, we have this difficult way of looking at things where we focus almost entirely on what goes ‘wrong’ rather than what goes right! We can also feel an urge to make a bad situation even worse as is seen when we have that one chocolate and then say ‘f**k it the day is screwed, I might as well eat everything in sight!’
Not enough joy
I feel like this is one of the biggest reasons we self sabotage. It’s well explained in Martha Beck’s 3 stage plan but in a nutshell, if we are getting our needs met and are joyful, the need to self sabotage dissipates – this is one of the reasons I love self care! When we are metaphorically keeping ourselves locked in cages and asking too much of our ‘willpower’ for example, then we will end up self sabotaging eventually. We are wired to seek out joy which is actually a beautiful thing! The problem is when we have that internal conflict and consider the thing that brings us joy is ‘bad’.
The good news is that all of these areas can be addressed in way that enables you to create some magical change in your life. Mindset work isn’t something that ever really ends, but once you have a handle on how to start tackling it, then you can gently but continuously start to ‘upgrade’ your thoughts and in turn your behaviours!
Also, if you find that you struggle with all or nothing (i.e. starting again every Monday or binge / restrict cycle) you’ll love my free guide to overcome all or nothing thinking, sign up for it here:
Do you relate to any of this? How does self sabotage show up in your life?