“Self-sabotage is like a game of mental tug-of-war. It’s the subconscious mind vs the conscious mind, where the subconscious usually wins.” – Bo Bennett
I made a decision several months ago that I wanted to get a few things accomplished this year. I can recall stages throughout my life where I had made similar decisions and declarations. Those decisions would spur me into action and I would experience some initial success, but then something would happen that would throw me off track. I would feel strong emotions that would knock me out of the zone, my Codependency would kick in and I’d start to do and think things that would sabotage my progress.
I have done that dance a thousand times in my life. The problem was I didn’t know how to handle my emotions, my fears, my doubts, or my beliefs about being worthy or good enough for success. They would overwhelm me and I’d revert back to old patterns of behavior, because they were comfortable and what I knew.
What I didn’t fully comprehend was that in every man, woman or child’s life there are going to be bumps in the road. No one gets through life without having to overcome obstacles – no one. That’s the human experience. The difference between success and failure is how you deal with those challenges.
One of the biggest differences in how I handle obstacles now is that I learned to stop expecting perfection from myself. I learned that I was allowed to make mistakes and slip up once in a while, but rather than let myself go on a spiral all the way back to the bottom, I stopped the downward trajectory immediately. I stopped the emotions that were causing it and I forced myself to get back on track.
You can’t go through life thinking nothing is ever going to go wrong. That’s not realistic, but you do need to have a plan and you need to create a new way of handling those inevitable road blocks. That’s the difference between winning and losing. You make adjustments and you battle on.
If you don’t stop the downward cycle and you allow your emotions to become negative the universe conspires against you and brings you more things to be negative about.
I’ll give you a real-life example:
My birthday is coming up soon and every year my family goes up north to the cottage together. This year we had all agreed on a day and time, I booked off work and was really looking forward to it. My brother informed us a few weeks later that he had another party to go to and won’t be coming. He suggested the following week, but I couldn’t go the following week. He said, “Well we’re going to go up the following week and even though we won’t be spending your Birthday with you, we’ll be thinking of you.”
There’s a little more to it than that – like, I haven’t seen him since May (his Birthday) and this has been a family tradition for years and he behaved like it was no big deal and he had nothing to be sorry about. It was kind of like, “Nope can’t make it, don’t care about you or your birthday. I’ve got better things to do. See ya round.”
Being a student of Psychology, I know that people do what they want to do. Period. People may lie but behavior never does. If he wanted to be there, he would have found a way. It triggered those old, “Mom doesn’t love you,” issues and I was deeply hurt.
I walked around for the next week feeling emotionally abandoned by my family, unsupported, unimportant… very familiar feelings and I turned to my old faithful friend – food. I haven’t had a morsel of sugar in about 4 months. I haven’t had bread, rice, pasta, potatoes…. in months. What did I do? I grabbed a slice of pizza and some ice cream and started that familiar downward spiral, because I’ve been eating a mostly plant based diet and I’ve been at the gym 5 days a week for months.
On top of that, those feelings of being unloved, unsupported, unimportant and heartbreak, that I was sending out, came back to me tenfold. I received a couple of really mean emails from strangers on my site, my boss got mad at me and was giving me the silent treatment, I got the flu….
Your feelings really do affect your reality and I’ve seen it time and time again in my own life. I had to stop this before it went any further, so I did a few things to get myself back on track.
<I used logic and forced myself to realize that I am not responsible for my brother’s behavior or my boss’s behavior.
<I understood that these emotions are only temporary and will pass.
<I helped to bring my emotions back to neutral through meditation
<I restated my initial intention on paper and out loud
<I wrote out the following I AM mantras:
- I am loved
- I am supported
- I am powerful
- I am healthy
- I am strong
- I am a servant of God
- I am good enough
- I am deserving
I spent a little time with each one. Feeling the feeling that each resonated. I sent those powerful emotions out to the universe. I repeated this process every day for a week. I got back on purpose – back to the task I set for myself all those many months ago, by remembering what and who I wanted to be. That process allows me to expand into that space of being and to be receptive to that energy.
Afterwards I got together with my mentor.
“Why do you care what they think? He asked.
“It wouldn’t bother you if your brother acted like he didn’t care about you?”
“Nope. I couldn’t care less what he does. He’s not going to change what I do in the slightest.” He said. “You’re too cerebral. You need to get out of your head, out of your own way.”
For someone who grew up with loving, doting parents, he really couldn’t understand why I allowed it to eat away at me. As someone who was conditioned, from birth, that I was responsible for the behavior and feelings of others, trying to shake those belief is an on-going battle, but maybe it is that simple. Maybe if you don’t spend any time thinking about all those little nuances of hurt feelings, nice or not nice, dissed or not dissed and you don’t take any responsibility for how your behavior lands, because you trust your intentions, you don’t open yourself up to doubt and insecurity.
It donned on me, a while later, that when I am my most successful, I’m in the zone where negativity can’t enter. When I start to doubt myself, or feel insecure, that’s the window negativity and sabotage use to enter.
I’ve known my mentor for several years and I tried to recall a time where I’ve seen him down or doubting himself and I couldn’t. I realized that when you are self-assured and you have a healthy self-esteem, all those bumps you hit along the road of life feel more like pebbles.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net
Thank you so much for the greatest gift I have learned, you reminded me about the I Am mantras…as I was reading I was relating and nodding to what you had written and then to read h ow you refocused YES!!
My mentor has also suggested I need to get out of my head, I would justify my thoughts/feelings, it is when we (I) truly refocus on the I Am’s the empowerment within takes over.
I needed this reminder, this refocus as I have been wallowing in the way it “should have went” rather than accepting the reality of what is and all the rays of light shining my way.
I oould relate to your hurt feelings at your brother’s apparent lack of care for your birthday. Also your temptation to head for comfort foods. I was interested in how you dealt with the problem. I liked the affirmations you said you did. Was that enough to bring you back to a place where you were fine with your brother’s actions? Did you talk to you brother about it to let him know how you felt? What interested me, too, about your blog was your interaction with your mentor who didn’t seem to get where you were coming from. His advice to tell you to get out of your head….seemed a little insensitive to me and I’m wondering if it was helpful to you! Maybe you need a different mentor! I’m also curious about how you did spend your birthday. Was it happy?
Clover I did talk to my brother. We agreed on a different date and it was the best birthday yet. My mentor understood perfectly. What he doesn’t do is get hyper-emotional especially about insignificant things, which he thought this was. The compromise of going on a different day was his idea. His approach was a logical one, which made the most sense. Mind was an emotional one, which was his point.
Savannah, so many times I reply to your posts with similar things that have happened to me – this one is no different! But this time I wanted to say that I personally have really appreciated your blog, your strength, insights and struggles. Just knowing that one other person, and in reality many more, are going through similar things helps all of us VERY MUCH! I appreciate you being there for all of us. Thank you!
It’s taken me a long time to reply to your post this week. I’m still battling with, ‘be angry towards my ex, I have a right to be, and use this energy to my advantage and I’m happy to say, the anger is coming to the surface. In writing this, I realise one of the reasons I’ve kept it bottled up is because I’m still playing co-dependant. I hate the thought that I have just lived 30 years of a lie. I also know how nasty he can get when angered. I also hate the anger being directed towards me. Childhood/mother issues! Phew, It can be so revealing when we write out our thoughts. The ‘Warrior’ post, yes, bring out the warrior in the best pissible way. We have rights too and I’ve had mine demolished! This pos has connections with them all…we will slip up but these slips can also be turned to our advantage as you stated Savanah. An opportunity to dig deeper in our soul searching. After reading this week’s post I was yet again accused of another untruth by my ex. It upset me and I was annoyed to have my day ruined due to him and his lies again! I stopped what I was doing, thought about it, decided it was not going to upset my day and tucked it in the ‘mind tray’ to be dealt with at a more convenient time. It worked!!! So happy to have that control so, thank you for your posts. They really do help. However, excuse me for now as I can feel the warrior in me coming out and am off to do some confrontation as calmly as I possibly can! Hmm, not sure as I’m feeling VERY angry. Wish me luck.
It’s taken me a long time to reply to your post this week. I’m still battling with, ‘be angry towards my ex, I have a right to be, and use this energy to my advantage and I’m happy to say, the anger is coming to the surface. In writing this, I realise one of the reasons I’ve kept it bottled up is because I’m still playing co-dependant. I hate the thought that I have just lived 30 years of a lie. I also know how nasty he can get when angered. I also hate the anger being directed towards me. Childhood/mother issues! Phew, It can be so revealing when we write out our thoughts. The ‘Warrior’ post, yes, bring out the warrior in the best pissible way. We have rights too and I’ve had mine demolished! This pos has connections with them all…we will slip up but these slips can also be turned to our advantage as you stated Savanah. An opportunity to dig deeper in our soul searching. After reading this week’s post I wad yet again accused of another untruth by my ex. It upset me and I was annoyed to have my day ruined due to him and his lies again! I stopped what I was doing, thought about it, decided it was not going to upset my day and tucked it in the ‘mind tray to be dealt with at a more convenient time. It worked!!! So happy to have that control do, thank you for your posts. They really do help. However, excuse for now as I can feel the warrior in me coming out and am off to do some confrontation as calmly as I possibly can!
Thank you. Your posts always resonate with me in some way and I appreciate you thoughtful and straightforward writing style.
You should be your OWN boss maybe?
dear Savannah, As Val said, right on time. I couldn’t control my tears today. I read your story and stopped crying, thanked you for being there and telling it as it was. I normally don’t talk because I am ashamed of my weakness with my narc. When I first started to read Esteemology and about living with a narc I said he wasn’t too bad, but it is like he is two entirely different men. Because I always cover up for him, our family and friends think he is great. He puts a lot of effort into impressing them, that is very important to him. If I were to try to tell them the truth, my best since schooldays friend, told me it would be like going to your wedding and no guests are sitting on the brides side of the church. They would find it hard to believe me, so I don’t try,
Yep, blips. I understand how your brother’s choice, (made for his own reasons) threw you off course. I wonder how you will decide to celebrate your next birthday.
You made me think a little bit about my own remaining family. I’m fairly cynical about “traditions” for good reasons.
A recent invitation started me thinking about an ambitious long term plan. I outlined it to a couple and asked whether he would take on some of the voluntary work I do. I got a decided negative. That’s fair enough. He doesn’t have to. What was important was a ‘phone call that evening from his wife. “We were talking about your plan,” she said, “And I said that when Milie makes a plan, she thinks about it and then achieves it.” I liked that.
Thank you once again for providing such practical and extremely useful reminders! I needed them today as several short consultancies that I had counted on fell through. At the same time my sister’s drama with her rebellious teenagers has pulled me in as I try to “fix” things between them.
I am sorry for the nasty notes from website visitors. You should know that there are so many of us who read your posts regularly and are grateful for your presence.
This was great. I did the food thing too. 2 large shocks of the deaths of 2 people in my life. Much more. sugar 2 days in a row. Not tomorrow. nope… I will reread this tomorrow. Narc still here..got my phone number from a neighbor..has not had it for a 2 years..do not like this. Have been able to keep safe..cannot change # it is for business as well. There was a try to suck me back in by offering me free land to build a house in another state..OH YEAH COMPLETE DEPENDENCE. (depenDANCE) no Hell no. Thanks Sav…
This post is right on time, for I am in a current situation where I feel stuck with a narcissist, while knowing leaving is best, but I spiral backwards at the same time. I knew it had to be my subconscious but didn’t know how to get myself unstuck. Thank you for all the information you put in this site.