Hello dear friends!
I can’t tell you how many times I used to throw in the towel on my healthy fruits and veggies, and go on a 3-day donut and cheeseburger bender. I also can’t tell you how many times I ended what could have been a good relationship by either ghosting them or saying way too much too soon. I’ve also been known to stay silent in the face of great career opportunities, throw my money away on stupid stuff, and get really sick right before an important event. I’ve been snarky to people I love, I’ve procrastinated on my work, and I’ve lied to get out of things that would have been amazing for my growth.
This isn’t just me, right? Of course not. You do it too!
I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that I am my own worst enemy. I know we’re all conditioned to watch our backs and make sure nobody is trying to take us down. But how often do we turn that focus around and see that the real problem is right here, under our noses?
What is one thing that I consistently see, as a coach and energy worker, that holds my clients back from meeting their goals? It’s not an external circumstance. It’s not food, or money, or time. It’s much deeper than that; it’s self-sabotage. And the truth is, we ALL do it.
Self-sabotage is an internal mechanism that we all have, but it can seriously hold us back without us even realizing it. It keeps us small. It keeps us safe. It keeps us limited. And it is the main reason why people don’t seem to be able to move forward, whether they’re trying to regain their physical health, deepen a good relationship, or advance their career.
So, where does self-sabotage come from?
From your lizard brain.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with this term, the “lizard brain” is the oldest and most primal part of your brain; the limbic system. This part of our neuroanatomy is responsible for your basic, survival needs. Its entire job is to keep you safe. And often, its ideas are at odds with the “higher” parts of the brain, which can create a lot of internal conflict, and much to our collective human dismay...it drives behaviors that undermine our goals. I don’t think we give the lizard brain enough credit for how powerful its influence is. Actions that are driven by the lizard brain can leave us mystified, and are sometimes categorized as “unexplainable” behaviors. I know there is a lot of talk of this part of the brain when it comes to addiction, but it applies to pretty much every single human behavior out there. And I know that a lot of you struggle with this!
You’ve probably heard the quote from Marianne Williamson that goes,
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.”
This touches on the heart of self-sabotage, in my opinion. In my practice, I don’t see so much of the classic “fear of failure” as I do a serious fear of success. We’re afraid of our power, our potential, our true purpose here on Earth. And so, we shrink back. We throw wrenches into the machinery. We light fires and walk away. And a lot of this takes place on a subconscious level!
Your lizard brain is always trying to keep you safe, and what is a bigger fear than the fear of the unknown? What could be scarier than the things we cannot yet understand or categorize or control? Thus, our ingrained primal habits kick in, and keep us in bad relationships, in unhealthy eating patterns, in jobs that drain our souls. But hey, it’s not ALL the fault of our lizard brains...we have our society at large to blame too.
While our internal mechanisms are set up to avoid risk, our culture also preys upon our sense of unworthiness. And these two things love to work together. When we already are afraid to try something new and put ourselves out there, the messages we’ve received since childhood also chime in and say we’re not worthy of anything good anyway. So why bother trying? Everywhere we turn, there are people telling us we’re not worthy...psst- this is how marketing and advertising works, btw.
By keeping us down and shutting us up, our culture keeps us small and controllable. And somewhere deep down, we totally believe it! We give up on ever getting well, and resign ourselves to slamming caffeine and popping pills to deal with the fatigue, brain fog, and chronic pain. We give up on ever manifesting loving, sexy, healthy relationships, and instead shrug our shoulders, content to stay with a mediocre partner or unhappily single forever. And this inertia grows over time, filling our heads with all the excuses for why we shouldn’t change, and all the reasons why it’ll go wrong if we do.
But here’s the thing, friends:
Joy, Love, and abundance are your birthright!
This is a spiritual truth.
And yes, it cannot be computed by our little, human lizard brains. So, what do we do to reconcile these part of us- the physical and the spiritual- and be able to move forward in life?
1. Start with forgiveness
Instead of beating yourself up for all of your past “failures,” give thanks for your brain for watching out for you. Your lizard brain doesn’t know any better- it just wants you to survive! Try to forgive yourself for anything and everything you’ve already done (all the benders, all the bad relationships, ALL of it), and things you will do in the future. Yes, nobody’s perfect. You will self-sabotage again at some point.
Send some gratitude to your little lizard brain right now. Breathe into that space. Acknowledge that you were just doing the best you could, with the information that you had at the time. Does it feel so much better already, just to relax into that place of forgiveness? This provides an energetic spaciousness- some wiggle room, if you will- in which to stretch and breathe.
2. Acknowledge the benefits of your current situation
As much as you may truly desire something different, there are always benefits to where you currently are. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be there! I’ve found that talking about these things and/or writing them down is really helpful, to better understand why we’ve been stuck. And there’s a little bonus of some backdoor gratitude in this exercise too. I ask my clients to do this one sometimes, just to shed some light on why they can’t seem to break the cycle of that inertia I talked about.
On one side of a piece of paper, write down all the reasons you DO wish to change. These will probably come to mind pretty easily. Maybe you wish to have energy to keep up with your kids, or you want a relationship with more freedom, or you want a career that feeds your soul. Now, on the other side of that piece of paper, I want you to write down all of the reasons why you DON’T wish to change. These are the things that are safe and comfortable about your current life. Maybe you don’t have the stress of having to work right now because of your illness, or your marriage provides health insurance or other financial benefits, or your career brings you acknowledgment or some kind of ego-boost. Be HONEST here. This can reveal a lot.
3. Face your perceived limitations
Sometimes, we sabotage our successes because we know, deep down, that if we got them, more would be expected of us. In order to sustain a healthy relationship, we’d have to be present and put in effort. If we were to heal our chronic illness, we’d have to do more, like get a job, make new friends, etc...In order to get that dream job, we’d have to wear nicer clothes, learn that other language, or move across the country. You get the idea. If you want to live a richer, fuller life, it is going to ask more of you. And honestly, many people just don’t want to give more.
Choose your top three goals, and really visualize what it would be like to achieve them. Feel what the energy does in your body as you see yourself with these accomplishments. What fears immediately pop into mind? Do you think you could handle those things? Why or why not? And finally, in the end, ask yourself if your fears outweigh your desires. It’s OKAY to say no, they don’t. That’s valuable information too.
4. Bring all the energy on board
Bear with me for a moment, as I head into woo-woo land. Universal law shows us that time and space are not what we perceive them to be- they are not linear or contained. Meaning, your ideal self already exists...just on a different vibration from your current self. Additionally, where your attention and intention goes, there the energy flows. You have the power to align yourself with the vibration of your highest and best self. It just takes some effort! After all, we’re on Earth School- a very dense plane of existence- and we must continually invest and direct energy towards manifesting our goals.
This can take many forms. Some people really love making dream boards. Others like making altars and doing ritual. Some people really resonate with mantras and affirmations. Others like doing work with Reiki, crystal healing, sound healing, or other ways of moving energy. Ideally, you’d have a combination of several techniques, that are tied to forces outside of yourself. Whether you call it God, Universe, Source, Spirit, or something else, this serves as an anchor for this goal to be met, that is beyond you, beyond your lizard brain.
5. Get an accountability buddy
We are powerful creatures, even in these human bodies. We can move a lot of energy. But that doesn't mean we can do it all, all on our own. If you’re stuck deep in a cycle of self-sabotage, it’s time to “phone a friend.” This person would ideally be someone who is able to call you out on your crap when needed. Someone you can count on to identify your patterns, and get real with you on where you may be blocking something good from happening. Because often, the signals get crossed in our own heads (we’re talking lizard brain vs. higher brain, remember?), and we can’t get an unbiased view of what’s happening.
Your accountability buddy can be just about anyone you trust to have your best interests at heart. This could be a therapist or counselor, a best friend, a pastor or other spiritual leader, a shaman, a coach, an energy healer, or someone else who has good energy boundaries and can pick up on your inner workings without judgment.
Friend, I know that this topic is one that is tough for a lot of us. I think many of us know that WE are truly the ones that are holding ourselves back, and that can be incredibly frustrating! It’s easy to shift blame to other people, or life’s circumstances, but acknowledging our own inner mechanisms is the first step to healing these unhelpful patterns. Also, in my experience, these limiting beliefs are often attached to past traumas or other energy blocks, so it’s a good idea to address these head on, whether you choose to go the traditional psychotherapy route or the holistic energy medicine route (or both).
The best thing about all of this is: it can be healed. This is simply an energy, manifesting as thoughts and behavior patterns, and all energy can be shifted. Will it be easy? Heck no. But honestly, this is the thing that holds you back in all areas of your life, so it’s a worthwhile place to direct your attention! Give these exercises a try and see what is revealed to you. And when you run into something particularly stubborn or you need an extra hand, I’m here. Reach out and let’s chat.
In the meantime…
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~