Each of us has an inner critic judging our every action and instructing us on how to live our lives. It’s in the shadows, below the level of our conscious awareness. Self-sabotage is something everyone does. And many blindly wonder why they are stuck, feeling alone, defeated, frustrated, and angry.
In Self-Sabotage: The Art of Screwing Up, author Rosa Livingstone enlightens you about what self-sabotage is, how we do it to ourselves, where it appears in our lives, when we do it, and most importantly, why we do it in the first place. Using examples from her personal journey and from stories of her hypnotherapy clients, she offers simple tools and ideas on how to shift from being self-critical to self-accepting. Livingstone shows you how to face your self-defeating thoughts and habits, take responsibility for them, and stop the cycle of self-abuse and sabotage.
Self-Sabotage: The Art of Screwing Up offers the resources for overcoming fear and gaining the courage to move toward living the life you want, using all that is inherently amazing within you.
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Self-Sabotage: The Art of Screwing Up
Understanding the How, Where, When, and WHY We All Do It!
By Rosa Livingstone
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Rosa Livingstone
All rights reserved.
Self-sabotage - what is it, and why would anyone want to do that?
The dictionary definition of sabotage is 'an act or process tending to hamper or hurt', or 'deliberate subversion', as well as 'any undermining of a cause or priority'. So the definition of self-sabotage would be 'any undermining of your own cause or priority, which hampers or hurts you'. Okay, then. Why would we want to sabotage ourselves? Why would we ever hurt ourselves? The answer is complicated, but an easy one, too. We make that choice.
We are self-sabotaging if:
we settle for less than we really want;
we often make the thought greater than the task;
we find road-blocks on the way to our dreams;
we are obsessive perfectionists;
we second-guess our decisions or find it hard to simply make a decision;
we always put others' needs before ours;
we sell ourselves short;
we constantly engage in negative self-talk.
Self-sabotage is all about programming. It's about the negative self-talk that takes place subconsciously, when we are not consciously aware of what that nasty voice is saying in the background of our minds. We're not consciously aware because we're not listening to it or for it. We can't take action against something we're not aware of.
Self-sabotage happens when the fear of making a mistake, screwing up, or getting something wrong overtakes our ability to take assertive, inspired action. When we're afraid and aren't sure what to do, we often end up doing nothing at all. We become overwhelmed, and a downward spiral overtakes us; sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, depression, and unending stress become our reality.
The doomsayer program of the mind protects beliefs that may be contrary to what we want. That function of belief protection is the stronghold of the subconscious mind, the single most powerful, goal-oriented mechanism known to man. I just can't say that enough!
The subconscious mind is programmed to find goals that fit belief systems that we formed early in life, and it's ruthlessly efficient. When faced with a goal that doesn't fit the belief, it finds the process like a worker ant. Let's say we have homework for a night course we're taking that will help get a promotion at work. And we find a zillion excuses not to do it. Excuses like 'I'm tired from working all day and need a break right now', or 'I have to do the laundry first or I won't have any clean clothes to wear to work tomorrow', or 'Maybe this isn't for me', or even 'I'll do it later when I have more energy (or time ... or brain cells)'. Do any of these sound familiar? Are any of these excuses going to get us the promotion? It's true, dressing in clean, pressed clothes might make an impression on our boss, who is holding the keys to our future. It's also true, being bleary-eyed-tired might put a damper on that impression. Despite that, we know we need to finish the course so that we not only look good, but feel our confidence boosted, which will hike up our chances of getting that promotion that will increase our income and self-esteem.
Logically, we may know we have the drive and passion to climb the corporate ladder. After all, that's what encouraged us to throw our name in the hat in the first place, but we're self-aware enough to also recognize that we need the knowledge from this course for the new position.
So how is it that we can know that this course is vital to our professional growth, yet all that excitement and drive can deflate and shrivel like a three-day-old helium balloon?
It's because the subconscious mind has other plans for us, and those plans are based on a belief that we have about ourselves. That's scary, no? Because it's a subconscious belief, we aren't consciously aware of the belief and, at this point, we don't even remember what the belief is. Even scarier, isn't it?
Why doesn't willpower help us when we really think we want something? The problem is that willpower is a function of the conscious mind. Willpower is the energy behind an action, and we use it to move towards something, but it doesn't come from the powerful, goal-oriented subconscious mind, which means that willpower fizzles out in the face of the ruthless subconscious mind programming, which is like a pit bull on steroids.
Let's say that the deep-rooted belief in this instance is that we're not good enough. The subconscious mind will protect this belief because it's ours. We came to believe we weren't good enough at a time when we had no control of what was happening around us (Chapter 2 will clarify this point). This subconscious belief now extends to our professional life, so the subconscious mind sees our going for that promotion as a threat to its belief. The subconscious believes that in pursuit of our goal, we will ultimately be emotionally hurt because we're not good enough to handle the new responsibilities. It may also be acting on the perception that we might fail and feel devastated. We subconsciously buy into that.
So the inner mind begins the process of sabotaging us to ensure that we don't go through with pursuing that promotion. Our national defense department could really learn from this part of the mind. As our minds are imaginative, they can cook up countless ways of sabotaging our plans. The basis of all programming is the issue of self-belief and worthiness. There isn't an issue I've dealt with in my practice that, at its root, isn't based in the feeling of not being good enough. The programming uses our own feelings and thoughts to sabotage movement toward a goal that the subconscious sees as not being achievable. The subconscious isn't a realistic mind, or a judging mind. It's not doing all this to make us feel bad. In fact, it doesn't think at all! It's doing everything it knows to protect us, without judgment - and I'll get into that shortly.
Thus, slowly but surely (or quickly and surely), we begin to feel nervous, and doubt ourselves. We may or may not wonder where the excitement and drive went. Well, it was booted out the door along with our course texts. We find ways to avoid the task, and the thought of the task becomes greater than the task itself.
Let's look at how this all began, all the way back to the innocent children we were.CHAPTER 2
Self-limiting behavior begins in childhood - the pivotal influences behind self-doubt
We all began our lives in a home with caregivers who either loved us or were indifferent in their care for us. We all have a story with a beginning. Regardless of our individual circumstances, we were all born into families made up of different structures, some with two parents and some with only one, but what is the same in every family is that all members individually carry their own inner programming, learned from their upbringing in the family unit, as well as the rules of right and wrong passed down from generation to generation.
Parental figures carry a major responsibility that they may not fully understand. Unlike a new DVD player, an infant doesn't come with a guidebook. There is no return policy how-to book or warranty attached to a newborn's foot at birth. As parents, we raise our fists to the heavens because of that lack of guidance when our children have tantrums at the mall or when they stretch our patience as teenagers. We use the only guidance and experience we can draw on: that which we learned as children from our own parents. How many times did you hear your mom or dad say 'In my day, kids were seen and not heard'? Or did you hear 'when I was a kid, if I talked back to my parents there'd be serious consequences'?
As children, our role was to learn and be guided. Our family's role was to teach and guide. It sounds simple, yet it's so far from that. Children don't have the opportunity to choose their beliefs, morals, and values. They follow those passed along by their family and any influential authorities, such as teachers, extended family, and religious figures. That's how they learn about their world and their place within it. We believed everything adults told us, unequivocally, because we assumed they knew everythin.
Studies show that our learning begins as early as the womb; that a fetus is already learning and has emotions. As Dr. Bruce Lipton illustrates in The Biology of Belief, the fetus has a connection to its own environment, as well as to events which happen outside its mother. These connections influence the physical and emotional development of the fetus. A fetus can sense its mother's emotions and other physical stimuli. It can hear what is happening outside its cocoon, and pick up on the tone of conversations within its hearing. In my practice, many of my clients have regressed to being in the womb, for it was there that they first experienced the emotional trauma that caused the emotional distress they were experiencing.
A woman who came to me to work through her inability to find a loving relationship regressed to a time in her mother's womb when she heard her mother say that she didn't want to be pregnant. Of course, she didn't consciously know what this actually meant at the time. She internalized her mother's sadness and this was imprinted. By following her feelings of sadness at the thought of being unlovable, we regressed to that initial sensitizing event in the womb. She was then able to interpret how she felt with words. That experience in the womb had begun a lifelong belief that she was unlovable and unwanted.
Children, even at the fetal stage, are aware of the world by how it feels. Because they have limited experience, they believe that they are the center of their world and their world consists of what's inside their bubble. Children will often feel that they are the cause of any problem or friction in their family, believing that it's their fault that someone else isn't happy. If only they'd been nicer, put away their toys, or listened, then mom or dad wouldn't fight, or be sad, or yell at each other.
In Freudian psychology, Dr. Freud described how children learn by using the pleasure principle, which is the instinctual seeking of physical and emotional pleasure and the avoidance of pain in order to satisfy physical and psychological needs. He stated that the mind avoids pain by seeking pleasure. Imagine a child getting into trouble just so that they can get attention. They don't understand restraint and they look for instant gratification. It brings to mind memories of my sons when they were small. When they wanted their diapers changed, they wailed to high- heaven until I attended to their needs, helping them feel better and gratifying their physical pleasure. When they wanted a cuddle and I was too busy, they cried loudly until I hurried to hug them, which gratified their emotional pleasure.
All children learn to be pleasers because they discover that when they are 'good', their parents will respond favorably. The child feels pleasure, assurance, and love when they please those who are most important to them. They try to please mom, dad, and their teachers in order to feel wanted, loved, and accepted. They learn very early on that certain behaviors are rewarded and they are called 'good', and so they feel good. Other behaviors are punished and they are called 'bad', so they feel bad. In their very simple way of thinking, pleasing equates to acceptance, and as adults, we continue to believe it.
Over time, trying to please others and yet not getting their emotional and physical needs met, children begin to fear that they are not good enough. They think they have fallen short of other peoples' expectations, and that leads to the fear of rejection, abandonment, and ultimately, being unloved. That fear leads to a journey of eroding self-esteem.
So how does this happen? We, as adults, logically rationalize that we are worthy of the things we desire, such as love, wealth, success, happiness, and health. However, as children, we don't have the ability to analyze our actions and those of others in a rational way.
For example, I had a client who re-experienced a four-year-old event when he accidentally broke his mom's vase that had belonged to his grandmother. His mom yelled at him and called him a 'bad boy'. He didn't break the vase on purpose.
Or another actual client experience, when the client, as a five-year-old girl, was having trouble learning her ABCs and her dad called her 'stupid'.
Both these childhood events left the children feeling unworthy and not good enough. They got it not only from the words of their parents, but from their tone of voice and body language. So, I ask you, was the little girl, or the little boy, stupid? Of course they weren't, but they thought so and didn't know that it wasn't true. The little girl only knew that if her father said she was stupid, she must be, even if she felt instinctually that she wasn't.
Often the first emotion felt during events like these is confusion. Children don't naturally feel bad, but if their mother or father says, directly or indirectly, that they are, then children believe it. Parents are our role-models, and so cannot be wrong. Life, logic and distance will prove that our parents are also human and make mistakes, but to a child, this is beyond their understanding, and the memory is permanently held in the subconscious even when the event is forgotten.
Do you recall at time in your past when you were made to feel small, inadequate, or helpless? This threatened your feelings of worthiness, and you've carried these feelings into your adulthood. Even if there are no examples you can come up with at this moment, it doesn't mean they don't exist. It's perceptual, and you have forgotten consciously what is remembered subconsciously.
It has been proven that if you encourage a child to believe that it is intelligent from a young age with kind words, gentle voice intonation, and loving gestures, the child will believe it and gain self-esteem and confidence. If you express to a child that it is bad from a young age in words, voice intonation, and gestures that are unloving, the child will believe it and will display fear, anxiety, and shyness in later life. We all become what we are told we are, and base our beliefs about our place and value in the world on non-verbal cues from role-models. 93% of communication is non-verbal, and has a deeper effect on self-worth than mere words. A great deal of information can be communicated through a simple gesture or facial expression. I can recall as a child being alert and ready to run based on a harsh adult tone of voice.
Developing the ability to associate meaning with non-verbal forms of communication begins from the moment a child is born, and continues throughout the stages of childhood. We form our expectations for physical survival and for emotional connectedness through these cues from our role-models.
We are, above all, born emotional beings. We have a natural ability to learn to navigate our circumstances by using our five outer senses and also our inner senses, called emotions. Children are naturally feeling beings. They express themselves in the moment, no matter what the emotion. When things happen, they feel the emotion, release it and move on. Go to any park and watch children interacting. Watch a child as it falls down and looks around to see if anyone is looking. The child is gauging whether there is a reason to be upset. If not seriously hurt, the child will get up and resume playing, or there may be a few genuine tears. This demonstrates that children are not conditioned to react. The child feels something, perhaps the shock of the fall, and when it senses that there's nothing to be upset about, the feelings moves through quickly and they return to being happy. However, add in a parent who comes running in panic, and the child begins to cry as a way of getting attention and / or because it has absorbed the parent's fear. If the parent continues to react to the child's falls in this way, then the child will become conditioned to react with crying, even if there is no real need to cry. Watch two kids fighting and they will yell and scream, perhaps scratch, or bite, but three minutes later, once the emotion has subsided, with or without intervention, they are playing well together again. What I am trying to illustrate is that children express in the moment. They don't hold onto emotions.
Excerpted from Self-Sabotage: The Art of Screwing Up by Rosa Livingstone. Copyright © 2016 Rosa Livingstone. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsAbout the Author, v,
Chapter 1: Self-sabotage - what is it, and why would anyone want to do that?, 1,
Chapter 2: Self-limiting behavior begins in childhood - the pivotal influences behind self-doubt, 7,
Chapter 3: Mind Works 101, 15,
Chapter 4: Blueprint of expectations, 25,
Chapter 5: How emotions drive our thoughts and actions, 31,
Chapter 6: Suppression, expression, and release, 41,
Chapter 7: Participant, observer, creator, 50,
Chapter 8: Critical self-talk - that nasty, 'dissing' voice in your head, 60,
Chapter 9: Negative influences that cause us to self-sabotage, 67,
Chapter 10: Some areas in life where we let our saboteur get in the way, 74,
Chapter 11: Self-sabotage and depression, 77,
Chapter 12: Self-sabotage and anxiety, 84,
Chapter 13: Self-sabotage, romance, and intimacy, 90,
Chapter 14: Self-sabotage and weight, 101,
Chapter 15: Self-sabotage and money, 111,
Chapter 16: Letting your 'Greater than you think you are plan guide you, 118,
Chapter 17: A leap of faith with courage and strength, 122,
Chapter 18: Defining your moment, 127,
Chapter 19: Give up your story, 132,
Chapter 20: Open up to trust!, 137,
Chapter 21: Questions to ask yourself about all the good stuff that exists inside you, 142,
Chapter 22: Commitment, 149,
Chapter 23: Personal writings I'd like to share, 154,