A guide to putting an end to your self-sabotaging behavior
One of the most common issues I see with my clients and friends is not knowing how to make themselves get started. They know what they want, they have a great idea, an excellent business plan, their goals are well-determined and fully attainable, yet they don’t have the drive to take the plunge and start taking the necessary actions.
Oftentimes, the greatest obstacle to attaining your business goals, whether it’s starting your own business, choosing a new career, or making an excellent idea come to life, comes not from your surroundings, but from within. Luckily, self-sabotage is a learned behavior that can be overcome with some introspection and self-discipline.
What is self-sabotage?
Self-sabotage is a way of stopping ourselves from attaining our goals and fulfilling our wishes. It stems from our cognitive schemata and the way in which we see and explain the world we inhabit. Our thinking patterns are developed from birth and are processed by the brain into formulas that help us get through life more efficiently. In order to maximize energy efficiency, our brain makes experiences out of events and packs them into referential frameworks that make up cognitive schemata. These frameworks are later used to place all similar and linked succeeding events into our memory, categorizing them in our mental library.
Cognitive schemata are made up of attitudes, beliefs, and values that influence our behavior. Any type of behavior is a consequence of what we think, or more precisely, the way in which we think about something.
We fail to act when something is not in line with our cognitive schemata.
Our behavioral habits are made more complicated by the fact that we tend to choose people and situations that will provide us with affirmation, which is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. In seeking affirmation, we are allowing for self-defeating behavior. What this means is that in order to change our habits, we need to understand our thinking patterns.
Identifying the beliefs and values that sabotage us will provide us with a way to move forward.
Our beliefs are our opinions of the world of which we are certain are true, even when they may not really be so. A great example of this is thinking that every start needs to be difficult. When starting a business, this thought can be so deeply ingrained in our thinking process, that we actually stop ourselves from bringing exciting business ideas to life because of an innate fear of the unknown. In order to start bringing plans to action, we need to recognize this thought process, as progressing and succeeding largely depend on our self-esteem and positive outlook.
In order to advance, we need to determine what success means to us.
I suggest that you ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my idea of success?
- How do I attain this type of success?
- Which of my beliefs about success are useful, and which are not?
- How much time and energy do I spend on making each belief come true?
Beliefs are closely related to values.
Beliefs answer the question: What is the world like? Values answer the question: What matters in life?
When our goals conflict with our values, we start self-sabotaging.
For example, having a fulfilling job can be an important value, but so is security. If for us, having a fulfilling job comes from doing what we love, and this means starting our business, we may shy away from this goal knowing that each business venture comes with its own risks. These conflicting values will create self-sabotaging patterns such as procrastination, finding excuses, ruminating over the risks and holding back from taking action.
When our values are conflicted with necessary actions, we stop ourselves from acting.
We may fear giving up certain things that are highly placed in our value system. For example, if we find entertainment to be important, we may be afraid that the uncertain financial stability that comes with self-employment will make us give up entertainment in the capacity we’ve gotten used to it. This may lead us to only continue dreaming about being our own boss, without actually taking action.
How do we help this?
We need to return to our beliefs about success, and ask ourselves the following questions:
- What are the values that back up my beliefs of success which are not useful, but still largely present?
- What values am I upholding by committing to them, even though they’re not useful?
- Take a belief which you deem to be useful, but still don’t spend enough time on it. What would happen if I spent more time committing to it? What would this say about me?
Now that you have a better idea of your beliefs, you need to define new ways to uphold and commit to your values.
Knowing the ways in which we self-sabotage is not enough. We need to take action.
BELIEFS x VALUES x ACTION x PERSEVERANCE = CHANGE
If even one constituent in this equation equals to zero, the end result will equal to zero as well. If one of them is negative, so will be the result.
Overcoming obstacles means creating new behaviors and habits.
People are creatures of habit. When we’re on autopilot, without considering our situation, challenges, and actions required to achieve our goals, this autopilot system will draw from established habits. We will continue to react in ways which we know and which are comfortable. This means that we need to be aware of our cognitive schemata and create new formulas so we can apply new behaviors. These will then need to be practiced in order for them to become habits.
When creating new habits, it is good to ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my habits?
- What effect do these habits have?
- What is the effect I am after?
- What are the new habits I need?
And finally, the key question to ask is: When do I start? 🙂
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- determine your professional objectives
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- make a plan
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The program includes 8 sessions. The first six sessions are held weekly, while the remaining two take place a month after having completed the program. This way, you get the tools you need to get started, as well as check-in sessions to determine whether there’s anything you can do better.
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