Have you ever wondered why you seem to get to a certain level of success. Or a certain level of happiness. Or even find yourself the partner of your dreams. And instead of enjoying it and making the most of it – you self-sabotage?
Why do we do that?
Actually why do I do that?
The miracle of science has helped us to actually see what’s going on when this happens. Thankyou science – being a geek pays off after all.
So…. it all starts with a story.
Once upon a time there was a little brain. This little brain absorbed as much as it could from everyone and everything around it. Every comment it heard (“you’ll never amount to anything” “money is the root of all evil” “success comes with hard work and perseverance”) got absorbed into that little brain. And it started to form a picture of itself and the world.
These pictures were like some kind of magical spell. Everywhere it went and everything it did – this little brain was influenced by these pictures even if it couldn’t see that the pictures were there. It would get a job and work long and hard every day so that it missed out on a lot of family time and other things that made it happy (“success comes with hard work”).
Whenever success was just around the corner it would find a way to screw up or drop out and not take that last step to success (“you’ll never amount to anything”).
Basically it would keep sabotaging itself so that the picture it had formed of itself and the world didn’t have to change.
Because with change comes FEAR.
Awwww. What a sad story.
But it’s not a story that has to have a sad ending.
There is actually an area of our brains that stores our self-image and belief system about the world around us. When we start to become more successful or play bigger that self-image gets challenged. “Oooh that’s not me it says. I’m not that successful. There’s something wrong with the picture of me as successful. I have to change it back to what feels comfortable.”
The amygdala gets in on the game too. “Change!” it says “That’s ever so scary. I’m rallying my troops and sending out all the fear messengers.”
So we get anxious and afraid. We sabotage. We do anything that reduces the fear and keeps our self-image exactly where it is – “I’ll never amount to anything.” Not very helpful but very comfortable.
To change that ending we can do a few little things.
We can break things down way, way smaller. That way we sneak past the amygdala. So instead of going gung ho at the “I’m going to be a millionaire” dream, we sneak up on it. Step by step. Small goal by small goal.
We can start to form a different picture of ourselves. We can use visualisation. Or imagining ourselves as the successful, happy, love-deserving person we want to be. The more we mentally rehearse this the more our self-image changes and the less dissonance (fancy word for conflict) we feel between our desired self and our perceived self. When there’s no dissonance our amygdala doesn’t get worried and make us scared.
We can try some tricky subconscious altering things. These self-images are stored in the subconscious so if you do stuff to get the subconscious on side we can change a whole lot easier.
Or we can try to make all these aspects of our self-image conscious through therapy to give us a chance to know which radars we need to fly under.
So if you want to know more about how to stop self-sabotaging every time you reach a certain level of success, email me: