Have you ever felt as if you had an internal glass ceiling holding you back from achieving a dream goal? I know I have felt this. I also know that I've wasted time worrying about external factors that I believed to be barriers to achieving a major life goal. My internal thoughts would start with "I can't..."
I can't start my dream business because the economy is down.
I can't travel to see my dream destinations because I have too many responsibilities at home.
I can't... [fill in your blank]. You get the idea.
But what about the times when you might be holding yourself back not because of external barriers, but internal barriers conjured up in your mind?
I can't start a business because I will fail.
I can't apply for that dream job because I'm not qualified enough or I'll mess up the interview and embarrass myself.
I can't pursue a relationship with that person because there is no way she'll like me.
I listened to an excellent podcast called "Something you should know." Mike Carruthers interviewed Pat Pearson, a well recognized inspirational speaker and life coach. Pat wrote Stop Self-Sabotage to help others get out of their own way. It was such an excellent talk, I took notes and wanted to share in this blog and give credit where it is due.
Every person has a "deserve level." This is a sense of what each one of us feels as if we deserve. For example, one of Pat's clients was a woman who was very talented in sales. She found herself earning around $50,000 halfway through the year, but then relaxing at that income level and deciding not to sell any more. Each year, she made $50k while her colleagues were earning much more because they worked throughout the year to sell. Through coaching, this woman discovered that she was sabotaging her own success because her father had always made $50k each year and she didn't want to embarrass him by earning more than he did. She learned how to become free from that self-sabotaging thought process and began to earn over $100k year after year...and still has a great relationship with her father!
What do you feel you "deserve?" You might have messages from your family of origin, peers, or personal experiences that cause you to create an internal ceiling that prevents you from pursuing the dream job, relationship, travel destination, or business venture.
There are several ways that people sabotage themselves:
1. Give away success: you achieve a goal that you don't feel you deserve, so you find a way to give away the very thing you worked to achieve.
2. Loyalty Oath: family of origin and communities speaking messages that stay with us for much of adulthood.
3. Settling for less: deciding that you don't deserve the thing you really want, so you convince yourself not to pursue it. One example: a single man who doesn't speak to the woman he is highly attracted to because he doesn't think she'll agree to date him. So, he pays attention to everyone else in the group except for the one he is most interested in. That's self-sabotaging a potential marriage and family!
4. Denying the problem: simply refusing to acknowledge that you might be holding yourself back. This can come in the form of attributing your lack of success to external barriers such as the economy or responsibilities at work or home.
How to overcome self-sabatage
According to Pat Pearson, in order to move beyond self-sabotage, you must learn how to raise your "deserve level" through the following actions:
1. Take charge of your self talk
Each of us has self-talk, You are either telling yourself you deserve the negative things that happen in your life or you can tell yourself that you deserve better. In psychological terms, this is called "reframing." When you have a situation that can be perceived from a number of angles, sometimes you just need to view the situation through a different angle. Rather than thinking "My boss doesn't appreciate the extra work I've been putting into this project, I'll never get promoted," switch the viewpoint to "since my boss is overwhelmed and may not notice the extra work I've put into this project, but I know I've been a big help to her so I'll schedule a 5 minute debriefing to discuss any other projects in which I can contribute." Why stagnate in self-pity? Why not focus on the things you have control over to improve your position? This happens first with our thoughts, which ultimately leads to our actions.
Getting out the negative feelings that hold you back. This is all about learning how to express your negative feelings in a healthy manner. Learn how to verbalize your frustrations without expressing negativity or anger. Practicing this with a trusted loved one is a good way to get started. WARNING: This is NOT an excuse for venting or vomiting all your inner negativity on your spouse. Self-release has an emphasis on healthy expression of challenges. You can't do this when you're in the middle of feeling angry. Step back, process your thoughts from all angles so that you can you can reframe your situation when you verbalize it with someone else.
Healthy levels of sleep, exercise, taking time off from work, spending time with family, reading a book, learning a new skill, playing music, getting a massage, etc. Whatever is a meaningful help to you nurturing yourself. I play the guitar, drink coffee, attend church, and exercise daily. These small activities put me a good frame of mind to clearly see my challenges and opportunities with clarity. Think through the things that you can do JUST FOR YOU. I also have other healthy activities such as spending time with my children, going on dates with my wife, and having lunch with friends, but try to think of the small, personal things that you do to get yourself into a "good space."
Think about the people with whom you surround yourself. Do they believe in your dream? Do they speak words of life and encouragement into you? Do they believe you deserve more than your current state of being? If the answer to any of those questions is "no," then find people who do believe in your dream. My wife encouraged me to pursue a business dream; my mentor encouraged me to pursue a passion to help others through coaching and counseling; my church leaders regularly provide me with opportunities to use my gifts in teaching and speaking.
Interested in leadership or career coaching?
Struggling to overcome self-sabotage?