Although you probably attribute your struggles and failures to varying inadequacies such as lack of knowledge, skills, resources, other character deficiencies or external factors; self sabotage is most often THE cause of your troubles.
All of us have experienced moments of low self-esteem or self-confidence. Sometimes just because we didn’t get much of anything productive done and simply called it a bad day.
Maybe you’re not one to lack confidence or self-esteem. Maybe you’re a person who has adequate knowledge, your skills are up to par, you have the desire to be successful, and you’re progressing towards significant milestones. But, for no rational reason you find yourself “treading water” and making no progress at all.
If this is a theme in your life or a recurring cycle in your career you’ll want to continue reading.
For years, behaviors like negative self-talk, procrastination, worry, anger, and undermining my own success — all tell-tale signs of self-sabotage — continually killed my progress and crushed opportunities. My continued cries of “victim” and self-pity lead me to failed businesses and relationships, lost time and severe financial debt.
Although those days were very tough to endure, they have rewarded me with many important lessons which now help me defeat personal fears and overcome professional obstacles.
Here are five ways to help you beat self-sabotage:
#1 – Step Out of the Norm
Each of us are born with two conflicting instructions; a conservative tendency to naturally (almost instinctually) save energy, stay safe and do everything possible for self-preservation. This makes it easy for us to push aside our new ideas and instead just “fit in”. Over time this creates many opportunities for self-sabotage due to the destructive need for approval from others. Instead of challenging yourself, exploring your epiphanies and building your big dreams you find yourself trapped in an ongoing cycle of conformity.
In his book, Creativity, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states, “If too few opportunities for curiosity are available, if too many obstacles are put in the way of risk and exploration, the motivation to engage in creative behavior is easily extinguished.” The other instruction is an expansive tendency that enjoys novelty, risk and exploring. It’s important to cultivate your curiosity, self-individualization, creativity and personal innovation or they begin to “wilt”.
#2 – Stand by Your Ideas
As you begin to step outside the norm you’ll experience a “garden” of ideas, opportunities and possibilities. Sure many of these thoughts will be wild and unclear, and this will likely lead you to having doubts or insecurities. Other people will try and fuel your doubt, they’ll think your ideas are silly, they won’t believe in them or they’ll be blind to the fruits of your vision. However, sometimes the most important act of propelling yourself and your business forward (past self-sabotage) is by being curious, by having the willingness and desire to stand by your idea, explore deeper and step forward with it.
#3 – Step Into Your Fears
Often that step forward means stepping into an uncomfortable place. Your fear or resistance is only a threshold of self-awareness. The more you step into the unknown the more you learn about yourself. As your conscious awareness expands you increase competence and gain confidence in yourself. This mindfulness makes it easier to ask yourself and others better, more influential, and powerful questions. The better the questions, the shorter your learning curve. As you expand your comfort zone, grow and breakthrough you’ll become less and less likely for self-sabotage. Unwavering courage and excitement take its place.
#4 – Supply Yourself with Support
Although self-sabotage sounds like an individual thing, it’s not entirely. Just as the wrong people can enhance the likelihood of self-sabotage by feeding your doubts, shooting down your beliefs and dismissing your success. You can surround yourself with tools, systems & quality people in order to supply you with focus, energy, optimism, creativity, improvement and more. Take a minute to sit down and define what you need, who you should spend more (or less) time with and where you can get involved in systems, groups, coaching and continued education to continually get better.
#5 –Build Your Emotional Endurance
Overcoming self-sabotage is a process and excelling at all of the above takes work. Having the emotional endurance to withstand the peaks and valleys will ultimately be the difference between mastering the changes successfully or withering under the stress. Even if you withstand the barrage from others opinions and from self-sabotage, there are always external factors that can sabotage your growth, progress and success. By nature we lean toward the conservative and away from fear, but by developing “thick skin” you’ll be able to minimize any emotional “weathering” and follow through on your responsibilities & goals.
Self-sabotage can kill creativity, undermine your energy and ultimately trample down big dreams. If corralled, you can begin to make great change in your career and begin to blaze the path to greater peace of mind, happiness and fulfillment. Rather than fixating on every personal weakness, misstep or failure put one of these steps to work for you today.
Before the end of the day think about how you self-sabotage yourself and step outside your norm.
What is your primary self-sabotage trigger and which step will you implement today in order to gain confidence?
This article originally appreared on The Good Men Project.