What Does Self-Sabotage Mean (and how does it show up in your life)?

By Shelsey Jarvis

Have you ever really really wanted something, but for some reason you just couldn’t seem to get your shit together to make it happen?

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, but still find yourself practically in a fugue state on the couch with a bag of chips, you might have blamed your willpower.

“I just don’t have the discipline for this. I can’t do it.”

What Does Self-Sabotage Mean (and what does it look like)?  |  Left-Brained Hippie

Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve even lost a lot of weight and then gained it back. And you betcha, I blamed willpower. Or rather, a lack of it.

I wanted to lose 40 lbs. I knew that in order to do that, I needed to exercise more and eat more healthy foods and cut out the crap. We all generally know how to lose weight.

So why is it so. damn. HARD?

Here’s why. We tend to blame it on our lack of willpower. But what is willpower? I’d define it as the ability to resist something that will bring us instant gratification.

But let’s dig deeper. It’s not simply a question of being unable to resist sugar (although it’s totally an addictive substance, no argument there).

On a subconscious level, you’re sabotaging your efforts to lose weight because you’re protecting yourself from something.

Being too visible, having to deal with your feelings about a traumatic incident, fear of being harassed, etc.

I’m not going to dwell on the weight loss example, so let’s bring this back to business.

What does self-sabotage mean in your business?

Honestly? It means you’re taking the looooooong way.

Self-sabotage is your subconscious mind’s way of protecting you from something you believe on some level to be unsafe.

Procrastinating putting together a webinar? Maybe you’re scared it’ll be a flop and you’ll feel like a failure. Or maybe you’re scared you’ll be a smashing success, and you’ll feel like a fraud.

It can also show up in the form of Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS, as I call it). Constantly switching projects because you haven’t taken the time to prioritize, and always feeling like you’ll never catch up to your to-do list.

Tim Ferriss says, “being perpetually busy is a form of laziness”. What he means is when you do tasks indiscriminately, without any thought to whether or not this will help you reach your end goal, it’s because you were “too lazy” to take the necessary time to plan and prioritize.

Because let’s face it--you can work for YEARS and never get anywhere.

Self-sabotage is rearing its ugly head when you feel like you’re on that hamster wheel, and nothing is happening.

Basically, if your business (or life, for that matter) feels like a constant struggle, you’re sabotaging yourself.

No but literally--what does sabotage look like?

Okay, okay, let’s get really specific.

Let’s say you set a goal to create and launch an online course in the next 90 days.

So you buy an online course about creating online courses, you start watching the videos, taking all the notes...and then LIFE HAPPENS. Suddenly you’re “too busy” to continue, and you tell yourself that maybe now isn’t a good time. Later when things calm down you’ll pick it up again.

THAT, my friend, is what self-sabotage looks like.

Or maybe you made a commitment to start getting up at 6am to do a mindset practice. And for a week or two you really love it! But then one day you say, “I’ll just sleep in today. Just this once.” And before you know it, your mindset routine is down the toilet.

THAT, my friend is what self-sabotage looks like.

It’s tricky because it doesn’t look like self-sabotage. It looks like a bunch of external factors getting in your way again.

But that’s just an illusion. Because ultimately, it’s your choice whether or not you let those factors.

Why do we choose self-sabotage?

Simply put, because it’s safer.

I always like to compare the subconscious mind to a helicopter parent. Very well-intentioned, but extremely misguided sometimes.

We all have subconscious beliefs humming along below the surface, and those beliefs are what dictate our actions.

So it’s not enough to simply say, “just do it”, as Nike and many personal development gurus would say. “Just do it” is fine and dandy if you don’t have limiting subconscious beliefs, but most of us do.

If you’re harbouring a subconscious belief that your friends won’t like you if you’re a success, or that everyone will unsubscribe from your list if you promote something, then you’re totally going to cock-block yourself from taking action.

You’ll self-sabotage to keep yourself safe from rejection.

And unfortunately, your poor, misguided subconscious mind is so busy protecting you against one belief that it fails to see everything you’re missing out on by not taking action.

So it’s not like we’re consciously “choosing” self-sabotage. It usually comes up in the form of external factors giving you an “out”. It’s up to you if you take that “out” or not, but it’s a lot easier when you’ve pinpointed your own specific fears and beliefs that you’ve formed to protect yourself.

What can you do?

Awareness is the first step. Simply watching out for patterns, and asking yourself what is that thing you KNOW would help you, but you’ve been putting it off or life has been getting in the way. What is that thing for you?

Then, once you find yourself putting it off again, or coming up with reasons why things aren’t working the way you want, CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Say to yourself, “I’m doing it again, aren’t I? This is that thing I do where I sabotage myself. Not anymore!”

Then ACT! Take the inspiration when it hits and run with it. Business doesn’t have to be a struggle, but you still need to actually take the necessary steps.

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Shelsey, and I help female online entrepreneurs clear the mindset gremlins that are sabotaging you from the inner corners of your brain. Join me in the Left-Brained Hippies Facebook community!

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