The act of hindering ourselves when it comes to something important like self-development is something we have all gone through. Whether it’s stopping after a week of exercise, procrastinating to the point of failing our exams or causing issues in our relationships, we may often question why we do things like this when it can have such negative consequences.
This is often labelled as self-sabotage. In fact, you are getting exactly what you subconsciously want when you shoot yourself in the foot. This can be incredibly frustrating, feeling as if you have no control over this omnipotent, undetectable force that seems to drag you back everytime you try and improve yourself as a person. You are simply not aware of the part of you that wants the things you label as being “self-sabotaging”.
To explain this, it’s important to reflect back on your childhood experiences and even those of your teenage years. During this period, we build up a set of assumptions and core-beliefs that relate to how much we think we deserve. You quickly begin to get your bearings in life, learning what is socially acceptable and what is not, essentially conditioning yourself to think and act in a certain way. Since we all have different experiences growing up, this can vary hugely in terms of how we form our identity.
This core-identity goes a long way in determining how much we think we deserve in life for things like relationships, status, money and even health. From this inner set of values, you start living your life and build more and more beliefs and assumptions that stem from your core-identity. This is crucially important to understanding the reason why you often find yourself “self-sabotaging”.
Years later, you may begin to set high goals like making a lot of money or working towards your dream physique. When these goals conflict with your core-beliefs about yourself, that is where you find there to be resistance against what you are trying to do. If you start exercising and begin to challenge the identity you have formed throughout your life as an overweight or unhealthy person, it not only dismantles your identity but also all of the beliefs and assumptions about yourself and society that have stemmed from it.
If you’ve had this core-identity since you were a little child, there is so much investment and emotional charge behind it that it becomes very difficult to break free. If you’ve always thought of yourself as a geeky and socially awkward person, there will undoubtedly be resistance when you suddenly try to challenge that identity by going out, socialising and forming tons of new relationships.
Recognising your core-identity is the first, vital step to breaking free of this downward spiral of who you think you should be and what you think you deserve. A useful exercise that I recommend is reflecting on your childhood and other important/influential experiences that you had growing up and physically making a list of what your identity is and what assumptions and beliefs stem from it.
Once you begin to recognise and observe the behaviours that come from your core-identity, you can slowly begin to dismantle it and truly be able to work towards your goals free from the chains of social conditioning. Once you stop getting in your own way through things like procrastination, you open up an abundance of opportunities and time that you can use to better yourself as a person.