Topic: Self Sabotage.
“Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Proverbs 25:28
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
I want to start off by asking you a question.
Do you want to be more than you ever thought you could be?
Really ask yourself that.
Do you want to be MORE than what you ever thought you could be?
This is a topic that is dear to my heart because of my background in mental health and social work… and because I continue to struggle with this day in and day out. Yep, even I struggle with this.
According to Psychology Today , “Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals. The most common self-sabotaging behaviors are procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, and comfort eating. These acts may seem helpful in the moment, but they ultimately undermine us, especially when we engage in them repeatedly.”
This definition alone hits home in a hard way! How many of us sabotage ourselves from reaching a goal? I know I do!
When we self sabotage, it feels like we’ve hit an invisible brick wall that we don’t recognize until we feel the pain. Typically we are not aware we are self sabotaging until we feel like a failure.
Is this true to you?
With this module, we are bringing that self sabotaging behavior, that brick wall, into awareness. We are going to practice seeing it for what it is and ACKNOWLEDGE it - even though it’s hard. And it’s ok that it’s hard. We will be working on creating new neuro-pathways by creating a new consistent routine, and that is HARD work. But once you acknowledge your brick wall, you then have the choice to do something about it.
There are so many ways one can self sabotage, but for the sake of Think Fit Method, we are going to talk about the eating and exercising side of self sabotage.
I want to offer you a great example of self sabotage. It goes like this:
You are eating great all day, nutrition is on point and you’re getting the nutrients your body needs. You feel good. Until your coworker brings in cupcakes and says those dreaded words: “Just have one. It won’t kill you!” So you start to rationalize it in your head telling yourself, “Well, I did get my workout in today, and it will only be one” – and before you know it, you have devoured the cupcake in less than 5 seconds. After that, some guilt sets in and you get mad at yourself. A few minutes later you are looking at those cupcakes telling yourself that you already blew it for the day so why not eat another… and then that second leads to a third and fourth. By the time you get home from work, you think you’ve already messed up so bad so why not order pizza for dinner.
Basically, instead of just stopping at that one cupcake, you have self sabotaged the whole day.
But it also can happen with your workouts.
Missing one workout is not the same as missing five workouts. Or that day you think to yourself, “I only have 30 minutes today,” there is no possible way to get in my full good workout, so I just won’t do it.
The thing is, a 30 minute workout is better than no workout. So it’s the same concept as the food – our minds play tricks on us and our subconscious will start talking us out of working out all together. Your mind is a POWERFUL thing friend. Be aware of this!
Self sabotaging behavior is never worth it! Think about it! Have you ever felt good afterwards? Has there ever been a positive out of it? No. Typically you feel like a failure, right?
So why do we self sabotage? Well, there are many different reasons. The first being stress. When we are about to embark on something new or something unfamiliar, our brain says STOP! Our subconscious goes in to a state of survival and we want to go back to the familiar. We want to stay safe and fight against the unfamiliar territory. This is why it is so common to struggle with self sabotage when we are making lifestyle changes with our health and wellness. It’s new. It’s unfamiliar. It’s hard. So our subconscious will push us back into the SAFE and FAMILIAR territory of comfort food etc. When that happens, the negative self talk sets in saying, “I’m a failure,” “I can’t do this,” “why even try,” “I can’t stop eating this way.” And when you fight against this old brain and subconscious, it will fight back harder making it difficult to change.
I want to give you a few steps you can take to stop those behaviors when it comes to your health goals.
The first step is to examine and identify your triggers. There are two types of triggers: Emotional and Environmental/Physical.
So what sets you off to where you think you just don’t care anymore? Is it when you’re stressed (emotional)? If so, what are you stressed about? Continue to ask yourself questions until you dig deep to the root of the trigger. It may be that one coworker who continually brings in treats to the office (environmental trigger). Or it may be when you are feeling overwhelmed with work and home life (emotional trigger). Whatever it is, you must identify the trigger.
Now that you have identified your triggers, you will need to continually tell yourself YOU CAN STOP AT ONE. I get this… it is HARD to stop at just one treat once you’ve started. This is a personal struggle of my own that I deal with all the time. But the more you say it out loud to yourself, the easier it becomes to believe it and follow through with it. It’s true, one small treat here and there is ok and it will NOT ruin your whole day or week. It is easy to bounce back from. But if you let that guilt get the best of you, it will drag you down and the self sabotaging begins!
Triggers produce unwanted impulses. And those unwanted impulses are seeking something…. either fulfillment or acknowledgement. Impulses are not something you should fight against, but instead you should learn to acknowledge these triggers instead of fulfilling them.
Next, we need to desensitize ourselves to our triggers by having a plan in place. Sometimes the plan will need to be as drastic as not even having a taste of that treat. But other times having a small taste is all you need to push past the self sabotage and to desensitize yourself to that trigger of being around tempting food.
In the process of beating those self sabotaging behaviors, you must also be cognizant of the immediate outcome.
- If you resist that cupcake in the workplace today, will you feel better today? ABSOLUTELY.
- If you get that 10 minute workout in, will you immediately be proud of yourself? YES!
So continue to tell yourself, “If I workout today, I will feel better TODAY” and “If I stop at one cookie, I will be proud TODAY that I had the willpower to stop at one.” It is imperative to recognize the immediate outcome and not always have your eyes on the long term goal.
Understanding your triggers and putting an action plan in place are tough things, but we are here today to work on ourselves, right? You made the commitment to YOU, so let’s get to work. Move on to worksheet 4:2 and complete.
Every time you overcome those triggers, you are creating new neuro-pathways in your brain which in turn eventually create new habits and new rituals. Once these neuro-pathways are set, you no longer have the desire to stay in the old because you have created a new normal and you have shown yourself you are SAFE in this new normal. This is a huge step to overcoming self sabotage behaviors. And every time you overcome those triggers, I want you to CELEBRATE. Celebrate that victory and focus on it. Those are the wins worth celebrating and recognizing day in and day out.
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice deeds of wickedness with men who do iniquity: and do not let me eat of their delicacies.” Psalm 141: 3-4