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The Top 3 Ways We Sabotage Our Happiness in Life and How to Change It

August 02, 20237 min read

8 Reasons

The Top 3 Ways We Sabotage Our Happiness in Life and How to Change It

In preparation for working with a client, I will often ask the question, “What has prevented you from achieving what you would like to achieve or from living the life you want?” Although the response will differ, there is one that is most common. That answer is “Me. I prevent myself.” There is an old expression that states “you are your worst enemy”, and this is the truth for many of us. At one point in time or another, each one of us has had self-defeating or sabotaging thoughts. It is a reality that it is part of our wiring as human beings and unless we have worked consciously to change these thoughts, they most likely are holding us back! So what do we need to do to change these thoughts, rewire our process and stop the sabotage? 

Before we move forward with the patterns of sabotage and the steps to change these, it is worth exploring where these patterns originate. These patterns tend to manifest as thoughts first and actions second. In other words, they begin in our head. Much research has been done by psychologists on this pattern and it is often referred to as self-talk, inner voice or inner critic. For the purpose of this piece, we’ll just call these self-defeating, limiting and sabotaging thoughts our Inner Dialogue. So when does our Inner Dialogue start and why? Like so many of our habits, beliefs and values, this one, too, stems from our childhood. We learned from our experiences, from what we witnessed and from what we were told. As a child, we absorbed everything around us and without awareness, we allowed these thoughts and beliefs to attach to our identity. The result was the creation of our Inner Dialogue. While we can’t return to our childhood and change the past, once we have the awareness of these thoughts and the origin, we are able to separate this Inner Dialogue from the truth. With awareness and subsequent proactivity, the tips outlined below help us to stop the self-defeat and sabotage!  

Before you move on, I must share an important note: self-sabotage may never completely go away. Wait, whaaaat? Please don’t stop reading! Yes, it is true, your Inner Dialogue may have amnesia or slip up now and again; however, returning to these 3 tips will get you back on track and kick self-sabotage to the curb! Whew. (insert sigh of relief here)

Let’s talk about the top 3 ways we sabotage and how to stop! Here are three tips to whip your Inner Dialogue into shape and prevent self-sabotage…

Step #1 - Redirect Your Focus

Focusing on Scarcity
We see the world through filters which are directed by our Inner Dialogue. We can categorize these as scarcity or abundance. Scarcity is noticing what is not there or believing that what we have or what is around us is in a limited amount. Scarcity is the lack mindset that will keep us holding on tight or preparing to lose. When we are aware of our Inner Dialogue in reference to scarcity, we notice that we are telling ourselves we don’t have enough, there is never enough or whatever we have, we will lose. When we listen to our Inner Dialogue reinforce our scarcity filter, we stop ourselves from moving forward and getting what it is we truly desire. We sabotage any progress or achievement. 

Focus on Abundance
Shift to a focus of Abundance. Abundance is noticing everything that we have, or will have or is surrounding us. Abundance is a prosperous mindset that reminds us that we have enough and we will have enough. When we shift our Inner Dialogue to reflect the focus of abundance, we see, hear and feel all the limitless possibilities as gifts of the world. We focus on the belief that we are enough and we will always have enough, allowing us to move forward without thoughts of lack and lust. This Inner Dialogue fosters progress, fulfillment and happiness. 

Inner Dialogue Mantra: Limitless possibilities surround me. In this world of abundance, there is always enough for me. 

Step #2 - Commit to Growth

Chained to Your Comfort Zone
Our comfort zone is a place where we feel safe, protected and comfortable. While the comfort zone is different depending on the individual, it is a fact that we all have one. Also it has been proven through research that the attachment we feel towards our comfort zone is actually linked to a part of our brain called the reticular formation. No wonder why our Inner Dialogue attempts to keep us stuck in the comfort zone! Furthermore, our comfort zone can be very tricky because sometimes we don’t know what the boundaries are and we think that we have left our comfort zone when really we have not. It is definitely more challenging to change something when you don’t even know it needs to change. Our comfort zone is a master at seduction and our Inner Dialogue is it’s number one fan! In addition, if we are chained to our comfort zone, we are addicted to certainty, and we have abandoned growth. 

Step into Your Growth Zone
Just outside of our comfort zone is a whole world called the growth zone. This is where all the magic happens, where we find fulfillment, happiness and ultimately success. Think about nature for a moment, if something is not growing, it dies. We as human beings are very similar, we may not die physically, but emotionally for sure. The number one reason that prevents us from stepping out into our growth zone is the unknown. We lose that beloved sense of certainty that the comfort zone provides us. Growth=Uncertainty, and that can be a challenge! In order to step out and remain in that growth zone, we must embrace uncertainty. Our Inner Dialogue may be screaming out doubts, insecurities and fears in an effort to maintain our certainty. When we reprogram our Inner Dialogue to trust our process, accept the unknown and embrace uncertainty, that’s when true growth occurs.

Inner Dialogue Mantra: I embrace uncertainty in my commitment to growth. Life outside of my comfort zone is exciting and full of growth!

Step #3 - Be Your #1 Fan

Beating Yourself Up

Our Inner Dialogue can be very extreme and harsh at times and we may struggle when we make mistakes. Sometimes it is the barrage of reminders of that mistake, other times our Inner Dialogue is using criticism to motivate us for a change. In some other chances, beating ourselves up is actually a form of protection to keep us feeling like we are enough, loved and accepted. Regardless of the motives of our critical Inner Dialogue, it doesn’t help us when we want to achieve fulfillment and happiness. Even with good intentions, it tends to backfire and keep us in a cycle where we get stuck. We know from our relationships with other people that nobody likes to be “beat up”, so let’s stop doing it to ourselves! 

Practice Compassion for Yourself

This starts with being kinder, gentler and more accepting of yourself. Train your Inner Dialogue to speak to you the way that you would speak to others. Having compassion for yourself is not selfish, in fact it is just the opposite. If you are not practicing compassion for yourself, how can you be authentic in your practice for others? Be mindful of that Inner Dialogue and through compassion, honor and respect yourself so that you are able to move forward. Just as the other people in your life, you also, deserve compassion. When we practice compassion as a community, both individually and together, our sense of connection and belonging increases. Compassion doesn’t see perfection, compassion sees humanity. 

Inner Dialogue Mantra: I treat myself with kindness and compassion. I am always enough regardless of my mistakes. 

We will all fall prey to self-sabotage at some point in our life. Using the 3 tips above, our goal is to recognize these patterns and access our ability to act differently. We can now partner with our Inner Dialogue and reduce or even eliminate these limitations. Commit to repeating your Inner Dialogue Mantras on a daily basis. The more you practice these tips, the more integrated they will become in your life and to your identity. It starts with you and you can do it!

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