Are you sabotaging your dreams?

Self-sabotage may be at play, and if it is, the chances are you might not even realise it… but you might notice the effects it has on your attempts to achieve your goals and dreams.

Can you relate to the feeling of:

  • Making things harder for yourself than they need to be?
  • Allowing yourself to be distracted by something other than your priority?
  • Punishing yourself when something isn’t perfect?
  • Taking on too much when you know you can’t fit everything in?

Sometimes sabotage can show up in a way that obviously affects our goals, and other times it can show up more subtly. For example, I recently noticed myself being clumsy and getting injured a lot – which is very unlike me. All the bumps and bruises were subtly trying to distract me from the important actions I needed to take. But a more obvious example is: if you are focusing on becoming more healthy, then buying chocolates and crisps (because someone else in the house or visitors might need them) is a more direct form of sabotage – which puts the temptation right in front of you.

So why do we self-sabotage – particular the dreams we most want?

And more importantly, what can we do about it?

There is usually a pattern to our sabotaging behaviour, and this is likely to be driven by an underlying fear – so that we aren’t consciously aware of it, but it is ticking away in our sub-conscious like a time-bomb.

Because the fear is buried away, it can be hard to identify, but at its heart – the attempts to stop you achieving what you want are also giving you something to blame when things do go wrong. For example, “I would have achieved that if only … hadn’t gone wrong.”

So here is a 3-step plan for nullifying self-sabotage:

  1. Starting from a place of building awareness, there are little signs we can look for to spot self-sabotage in action:
    • If you catch yourself doing something that is “unlike you”
    • If it feels like the world & his dog are against you, and trying to stop you from achieving your goal
    • If you are having trouble concentrating on and prioritising what is important to you
    • Things are feeling much harder and more draining than you think they should be

    Once you start noticing these feelings or behaviours, then you can choose to do something about it. The key to ending self-sabotage is to be willing to explore what is causing it – because when you bring it to light, it can’t continue to tick away underneath the surface anymore.

  2. Explore the underlying fear. This is unlikely to be the most obvious reason, so asking yourself some quality questions can help identify the root cause:
    • What will it mean for me if I achieve my dream (or do well at this)?
    • What will people think of me once I’ve reached my goal?
    • I deserve my dream because…?

    For example, I was suffering severe stage fright prior to doing some live webinars and calls recently. I’ve never had stage-fright before, but it wasn’t fear of speaking to a group of people that was affecting me. When I asked myself the first question above, I realised that if I did well at this one it would mean I’d have to do more of them! So it was more about avoiding the thing that felt uncomfortable, than doing the actual presentation itself.
    You might not need to work through each of these questions, or there might be another question that works better for you. But if none of them resonate, then you can try asking yourself “Why?” five times when thinking about the fear that is holding you back to uncover its root.

  3. Finally, it will help to choose empowering beliefs that will help you towards your dream rather than halt you from it. Try asking yourself:
    • What would I need to believe about myself to feel confident about achieving my goal?
    • What would I need to believe about myself to feel I deserve my dream?
    • In order to enjoy working towards my goal, what would I need to believe about it/myself?

    Again – you only need to answer one or two of these questions, but if you struggle to answer any of them there is another place you can start. Instead, ask yourself: “In order to feel so badly about taking this action or achieving my goal I’d need to believe …?”And once you’ve answered that one, return to the other questions. Chances are you’ll now find an answer to one of them, which you can compare to your initial response. You can then choose to work with and nurture the belief that empowers you, rather than the one that has been holding you back and sabotaging your success.

And once you’ve worked through these three steps, you can then address some of the feelings that self-sabotage had been causing – like learning to say “no” to something if you’ve already got other commitments or before you get to the point of feeling like there is too much to do; allowing something to be “good enough” rather than aiming for the impossible ideal of perfection; getting very clear about your priority, so that distractions come second-fiddle; and allowing the process of taking action towards your dream or goal to be easy and enjoyable instead of expecting it to be hard and painful!

Have you had any experiences of self-sabotage? How did you spot them, and how did you respond? Let us know whether you’ve had dreams derailed by fear, or whether you’ve been able to turn it around. And please do share with us if any of this resonated, or if the 3 steps help you move forwards with your goal!