We’ve all done it. We’ve all had the good intention to get to the gym, choose the healthier option on the menu, or just get up and move. But instead we allowed self- sabotaging behaviors to make their ugly way into our good intentions? Why do we self-sabotage? And how do we stop it? Keep reading…
Stop Self-Sabotaging Thoughts
You’re about to take out your yoga mat and your brain starts yelling at you, “I need to make dinner for the family, maybe I should clean the kitchen instead, I should be folding that pile of laundry, Jenny might need help with her homework so I probably shouldn’t start anything.”
Does that sound familiar? Our thoughts can be powerful. We can come up with 100 reasons why we shouldn’t go to the gym, take 30 minutes to do yoga, or eat a salad instead of the chips. Many times these thoughts revert back to old habits because they are comfortable and it’s what we know. Think about a ball rolling in a gutter. It will continue in the gutter until you physical lift it out of its track. That’s the way our mind has formed thoughts and habits. The more often you have the same thoughts, your brain starts to creates an easy course for those thoughts to continue. SO how do we fix this? When we bring awareness to our thoughts, we are able to recognize when certain thoughts are no longer serving us and our new goals. Then we can consciously change our thoughts. Replace your self-sabotaging thoughts with something like, “This is important to be because… I will make this a priority in this moment because…” As we start creating a NEW path for our thoughts to follow, those new thoughts turn into our new actions that get us closer to our goals.
Stop Self-Sabotaging Actions
Do self-sabotaging actions ever show up in your life like this? “I went to dinner at my aunt’s house and she made my favorite mashed potatoes. I didn’t want to eat them and she kept asking what kind of diet I was on and how I was withering away. It was awkward. I ﬁnally gave in and ate some mashed potatoes. I felt sick even while I was eating them but I couldn’t stop.” I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this type of pressure. So how do we move past this feeling of guilt, wanting to fit, or avoiding conflict?
You can’t necessarily avoid the situations all the time so how do we work through these feelings and create actions so that they don’t end up in self-sabotaging behaviors?
Let’s dig in. When you look at your fitness goals, what are all the good reasons for getting what you want? Maybe its more energy to spend quality time with your kids, maybe you’re trying to reconnect with your husband physically, maybe you want to be a good example of health for your family. Write a list of your reasons for making choices that are in alignment with your fitness goals.
Even though you have a list of good reasons, sometimes there are bad reasons that you don’t immediately recognize. Who might be affected negatively if you change and get the results you want or if you followed through in this way? Would your friends stop asking you to dinner because you’re “eating healthy” now? Would you not fit in with them anymore? Would your extended family make fun of you for not eating the food “you’ve grown up on?” Would you get resistance from your kids for only have healthy snacks in the house? I hear ya sister, because I’ve been there!
Is it possible that staying the same has had a positive intention for you? We might even say it’s been an elegantly functional strategy all these years for generating love and belonging.
Have you ever thought of it that way?
If your self-sabotaging behaviors have been a key part of how you bond with your family or friends, then it makes sense for your feelings to cause you to hold on to the weight, stop you from exercising or doing anything that would help you lose weight. Underlying all these actions this is the possibility of growing apart or no longer belonging with someone who is important to you. Let’s work through this together.
How do we stop self-sabotaging behaviors?
Let’s start by thanking that part of you that’s been managing this for so long. Imagine that some part of you was put on the job to make sure that you felt safe and that you belonged. Belonging simply means “to be the same as” – when we keep a lot of excess weight on, we can ask the question who or what am I wanting to belong with by keeping this weight on? There is a part of you that is responsible for ensuring that. Let’s notice that part of you has done an excellent job! Go ahead and thank that part of you for giving you this method for connecting with your loved ones.
Good. Now connect with that part of you inside that has been afraid to change. Gently explain to that part of you that there are some exciting new developments happening, that we are upgrading all the software in the operating system called your body. Let those parts know, that we know, they have a positive intention of creating connection, love and belonging. We want to preserve that positive intention while updating the methods used to carry out that intention.
The old ways of doing things like skipping yoga or negative self-talk or eating foods that don’t taste good, worked in the past, and that way of being is no longer necessary. And not to worry, as you create new thoughts in your brain the transition to new habits will become easier each time. Soon these new habits will feel easy and natural just like a new track for the ball to glide down.
Now let’s put the conditions in place so in the future this scenario will be familiar and you’ll have tools to make a conscious, positive choice rather than a dysfunctional, destructive one.
Picture yourself in the coming week. You have a choice to spend 30 minutes doing yoga or wait on someone else’s schedule. Work through these questions ahead of time:
- What needs to be in place so you are set up for inevitable success?
- If you followed through, what will having that do for you?
- Is there anyone else that might also beneﬁt from you following through?
Here’s another way to work through a journal prompt:
- What needs to be in place is… and the beneﬁt of that is…. Which makes me feel…. Which beneﬁts (other important people in your life) because….”
And lastly, be kind to yourself.
If you mess up and give into self-sabotaging behaviors, don’t give up on yourself. Instead, be curious about why you made a decision that was not in alignment with your goals. Were you feeling a certain way when you made that decision? Maybe sad or stressed? Did that feeling come from a thought that you had about yourself? Are those thoughts serving you anymore? Are they even true?
Remember, to remind yourself that you are learning a new way of doing things out of love for yourself and others. Even though it might seem difficult at first, soon it will become the way you live, and you will be able to stop self-sabotaging behaviors in their tracks.