As always in life the number one success killer is fear. What are the most common reasons for self-sabotage?
Lack of feeling of self-worth
Past hurt (Emotional Intelligence)
Fear of success
Fear of failure
Self-sabotaging behavior like eating an unhealthy diet, not pursuing our career and life goals, procrastination, false modesty or nitpicking gives us a little break from something we fear or from threatening thoughts.
Is it a behavior successful people are free of? Hell, no. We will look at different forms of self-damaging behavior and how to break the pattern.
Self-Sabotage how, against what?
Self-damaging is behavior that gives the person a short-term benefit. But it damages long-term goals and well-being. You could also say it´s choosing an immediate reward over a long-term bigger win.
Example: You agree to a compromise in a difficult negotiation that results in financial losses for the next months.
It´s not a suicidal death wish type of thing but your Self-protecting you from momentary threatening feelings or thoughts. Or just an uncomfortable situation.
Some forms of self-damaging behavior:
Ignoring negative consequences
We know that we should not have a fatty meal if we want to lose weight but we still eat it. The negative consequence of not losing weight is being ignored for the momentary feeling of satisfaction.
In the meeting, we discuss that an additional time-consuming research is necessary. A colleague agrees to take on the task and feels good at that moment. He assumes that the others will appreciate him for it. But then he suffers for the next two weeks from the extra workload.
In a performance review, we do not ask for the raise. The short-term reward is that we did not have to say something that made us feel uncomfortable and greedy. But then we are mad at ourselves for the next year.
Or even worse we do not blame ourselves but start to feel underpaid, treated unfairly and get frustrated.
An employee puts off the briefing for an external marketing agency because she thinks she did not consider all aspects for a perfect promotion. In the short run, she feels great with the thought: "I will launch the perfect campaign that is why the briefing cannot go out yet." Missed or tight deadlines will lead to less than perfect results and unnecessary stress for her and others involved.
Putting things off
The preparatory documents for a meeting are being sent out the day before the meeting. The team leader has won time for himself but the discussion will probably be disorganized and less effective than it could have been.
Holding on to a failed project/goal
Persistence and perseverance are virtues. But they are counterproductive when it becomes clear that an undertaking is bound to fail.
The team holds on to the project to proof to themselves and others that they see things through and don´t give up easily. This momentary conciliation will lead to lowered operating profits.
Methatesiophobia - fear of success
Who is successful is being celebrated, recognized and most of the time will receive promotions and climb up the career ladder.
For many that is a magnificent idea. But it also puts us under a lot of pressure. With every triumph, we demand more from ourselves and the expectation of others will increase. How long can we withstand the pressure and fulfill the expectations?
Will our skill level still be enough? We have to get rid of habit we are fond of. Success can even immobilize us by assigning us to a certain topic, a certain role.
And how about life? Will we still have time for our family? A private life and fun?
Everyone knows that success is a fragile beast that loves to feast on its own kids.
"The higher I climb the deeper I fall". Success also makes lonely. Promotions and career success will lead to envy and resistance.
It can be nerve wrecking to know that a bunch of people is watching your every step ... waiting for you to trip.
People affected know: It´s harder to stay on top than to get there. Accordingly, they avoid it from the start.
Observe what you are doing, thinking, feeling in that moment but do not judge it. "Ok, I am thinking right now that I cannot finish the project. I notice fear creeping up my spine. Will colleagues will see me as a loser?"
Assessment that nearly always follows this train of thoughts: "Silly thoughts. I have to see it through, no matter the cost." Instead, try to just perceive: "I just want to observe what I think and feel right now". Acceptingly.
It´s not as easy as it sounds to perceive everything acceptingly. New thoughts keep streaming in. We are confronted with automatic defense reactions. Mindfulness requires the constant loving request to try again. This time in the Now and without value judgment.
In consequence, we will recognize the origin of threatening feelings and thoughts that self-damaging behavior tries to protect us from:
Fear of failure (the biggest by far)
The feeling of being alone
Two things are coherent with mindfulness:
You get in touch with your own and true feelings.
You get a better basis for making the right decisions (supporting your higher and long-term goals).
Self-awareness will help you making changes that lead to the desired results.
Self-sabotage is not a destructive but a protective instinct
We all sabotage ourselves to a certain extent
Mindfulness will help to break damaging patterns
Breaking the pattern requires training
The longer you are trapped in self-sabotaging patterns and the lower your feeling of self-worth the harder it might (NOT necessarily has to) be for you to retrain your brain and implement new habits and beliefs.
Working with a Coach can accelerate the process. Throughout my blog, you will find helpful articles that will support you.
YOU CAN do it and start cashing in all of the long-term rewards. The best time to start? Now.
Recommendations that will allow you to eliminate self-sabotage:
Being goal oriented has many advantages. One can work towards something that gives our life meaning and direction.
When we reach our goals we feel successful and that makes us happy - for a while.
The downside of setting goals
A disadvantage of goal setting is the constant feeling of imperfection. Incompleteness. And the feeling to rush through life without being able to enjoy the ride.
The best way to live is in the Now, right?
Overcoming the dilemma
You can do both you can be goal oriented and let yourself drift. Everything in good time.
You can try to live less in the future and more in the Now. A good way of bringing our goals more into the Now is to divide them into micro steps, allowing us to focus on the sub goals for the day - without losing track of the big picture.
Examine your goals closely and make sure your set realistic demands for yourself.
Having goals is something good that helps us advance in life.
Is now the time for setting goals or drifting along?
How can I divide my goal into micro steps to fetch them into the Now?
How realistic is my goal?
How much time will it take to reach that goal?
Read more about setting the right goals HERE and take advantage of this free Goal Setting Manifesto.
Thank you for reading - I feel most honored to have you.
Would my life be better if I had more willpower? What could I achieve in life? What would I see through and master? Which of my dreams would come true?
Willpower and Self-Discipline
The thing about willpower and self-discipline is: most people wished they had more of both. Our life would probably be easier then.
My willpower mind map:
It´s proven by science:
People with a healthy amount of self-discipline are happier and more successful in life.
We might wish it was different but it is not. (;
People with self-discipline are more able to build the kind of life they want. They are more likely to achieve what they set their mind on.
They chose the long-term reward over the short-term reward (i. e. watching a movie).
If we are able to combine self-discipline, motivation, and willpower we are able to provide a better quality of life for ourselves.
That is why it makes sense to spend some time on the topic. Maybe even focus on training our own discipline, willpower, and ability to deliver.
And it is possible.
It is not about being perfect. We all are humans. It´s about striving to be a better you today than you were yesterday.
Throughout this blog, you will find a lot of articles that will help you train those hard soft skills.
Some books that we read or presentations we listen to might give us the impression we just have to sit on our couch and have some positive thoughts and the law of attraction will provide us with the car we dreamed about.
I am a firm believer in the Universal Laws. And that you have to make yourself available and take action for the Universe´s gifts to you.
We all have good days and bad days. What makes the difference is the number of bad days we allow for ourselves and our ability to bounce back. Willpower is what carries us through those bad days.
The long-term rewards are abundance and true happiness.
A simple trick to increase your willpower is: For seven days define 3-5 daily tasks you feel uncomfortable with. Write them down and get them done. It feels great.
The best time to do that is right now (; which is why I have prepared a template for you: HERE
For me, this word changed my world a little bit and that is why I would like to share this experience with you.
Back in elementary school when I still lived in Germany we had an annual sports competition. One of the tasks was to climb up a rope and hold on to it for as long as you can. 23 kids (the whole class) climbed the rope and held on to it. One kid after the other dropped.
Finally, there were only two people left: Anna and myself. My arms felt like they were on fire and my brain started telling me: You can´t do it any longer. I focused on the burning pain in my arms and the thought: I can´t do it anymore. I have to let go.
I let go of the rope first. Within an instance of a second Anna let go too.
Anna said to me:" I could not have done it even one second longer. I only managed to hold on to the rope for so long because I imagined I would stay in that position forever and I smiled. My mind told me: You cannot hold on to that rope any longer. I told my mind: "Ok, I understand. Anyway!""
The power of the word a n y w a y felt enormous. And even over 30 years later it still tickles me pink that I let go that instance of a second too fast. I did not have enough faith in myself and it was just my thoughts that prevented me from winning.
You see, at the point when your mind tells you "you cannot do it" - you still can.
I implemented what Anna told me and ever since I always give it that "extra second" when I feel I cannot achieve something or I am lacking the strengths to carry on.
The brain is a craver of comfort
One of the tasks of your brain is to take care of you, make sure that you are safe and survive. It also attempts to keep us in our comfort zone.
As we all know we grow when we are outside of our comfort zone.
I, for instance, had the dream for many years to start my own business, start writing and become a coach (versus a sales manager). For the longest time, I did not dare. Then I relocated to the United States and it seemed like the chance in a lifetime as I had to start all over again.
I felt conflicted. On one hand I really wanted to, on the other there was the fear and the doubts. "But you are not a native speaker, how can you coach people with broken English." "It is financially insecure. Do something you know you get a check every month".
Then I remembered that little word. Anyway. And I remembered how I back then in the sports competition did not achieve what I was capable off just because I did not believe in myself.
And I smiled and said to myself: "Anyway. You have something to offer. And even though your English is not perfect people will know that you care and find the value of what you are offering even with a few grammar mistakes. And you WILL enjoy every minute of the ride."
In Business and in Life
Examples like this can be found in my personal as well as my professional life. And I am sure that´s the case for you too.
It can be something as small as "I am too tired to do this task now." And every time the memory of he small word knocks shyly: "Anyway", together with the positive experience from doing what I thought I could not do.
Doing something anyway. Even though you or someone else does not believe you can. That´s a great way to outsmart our brain and try something new.
We will gain new experience and skills and learn over and over again: We CAN do more than we think. We can do even more than we dared to dream.
Don´t get me wrong. I am not saying it´s all about winning. I do say that it´s all about trying and challenging yourself. Time and again you will learn that you can do so much more than you thought.