It’s that time of year again! As we look forward to sharing delicious meals, thoughtful gifts, and kind words with our loved ones, we also find ourselves looking back over the completed year. Whether we thrived in 2015 or struggled through it, the new year seems to offer a fresh start.
With 2016 here, many of us are starting to set goals for the new year. According to research from the University of Scranton, almost half of us will set New Year’s resolutions, but only about 8% of us are expected to complete them.
Most of these resolutions are things that we are entirely capable of achieving. When we fail to lose weight or give up smoking, for example, it’s rarely because we can’t – it’s usually because unexamined conditioning, buried in our psyche, compels us toward personal choices and behaviors that work against our goals.
This practice of working against ourselves is known as “self-sabotage,” which Psychology Today defines as behavior that “creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals.” It is a form of emotional protection that backfires.
The problem is often that we justify our bad behaviors and harmful beliefs by not recognizing them for what they are.
Are you guilty of any of these?
Mistaking Procrastination with Relaxation
Relaxation is necessary for maintaining good physical and mental health. Athletes need rest days to let their bodies recover; scholars need to set down their books and allow their minds to process information; business people need to spend time with their friends and family to relieve stress. Periods of work should be balanced with periods of relaxation.
Procrastination, however, is when periods of relaxation are followed by periods of unproductive activities, instead of completing your goals. When you procrastinate, the work you put off becomes more stressful and the things you do for relaxation become less enjoyable. Avoid self-sabotage by looking inside to discover what fear underlies procrastination.
How old is your inner procrastinator? What is his/her biggest fear: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not being good enough? Tracing this fear to its root and asking the inner child what kind of support it needs to move forward can help reduce procrastination while generating progress.
Mistaking Anxiety with Caution
Caution causes us to slow down and consider the potential consequences of our actions. By being cautious, we can avoid wasting our time, money, and energy on bad relationships, irresponsible purchases, unrewarding jobs, and other fruitless endeavors.
Anxiety can often disguise itself as caution, but is emotional and instinctive rather than reasonable and calculated. Caution allows us to consider and then decide, while anxiety causes us to either freeze or react defensively. If your long-term goals involve, for example, throwing out your cigarettes or asking someone on a date, but you keep finding reasons to avoid taking these actions, you’re probably anxious – not cautious. Avoid self-sabotage by finding productive ways to soothe your anxiety, like exercise, meditation, taking a walk, or finding someone to talk to who can give you an unbiased perspective on your situation.
Mistaking Low Self-Esteem with Humility
C.S Lewis once wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” This is an important distinction to make – a humble person is not preoccupied with their self-image, while someone with low self-esteem can hardly go a moment without thinking of how they are perceived by others.
When we find ourselves ruminating on failures and frequently explaining our shortcomings to others, we are not being humble; we are being self-conscious. Avoid self-sabotage by recognizing self-defeating thoughts for what they are – just thoughts. Ask a trusted loved one to help you honestly evaluate your abilities.
Mistaking Arrogance with Confidence
The difference between arrogance and confidence, like the difference between low self-esteem and humility, lies in how preoccupied we are with ourselves. An arrogant person seeks opportunities for validation, and their self-image is affected by each success or failure.
A confident person does not need validation in the same way an arrogant person does. They are concerned with good results more so than good self-image. Whether the situation demands that they lead or follow, give advice or ask for help, a confident person is able to respond appropriately. To avoid self-sabotage, don’t exaggerate your abilities, and be willing to take advice.
Mistaking Craving with Necessity
A craving is justified by an emotional desire, like “I had a bad day so I deserve this extra glass of wine.” This differs from things like food or sleep, which we need to survive. Cravings can become emotionally addictive, causing us to believe that we need the thing we crave in order to survive.
When we find ourselves desperately craving something, we should recognize this sensation as a substitute for a real need. We then need to search beneath the craving for the real need which is struggling to be met. To avoid self-sabotage, distinguish between the things that you crave and the things that are your real needs; meet your needs but find the strength to resist your harmful cravings.
How can energy healing help me with self-sabotaging behaviors?
As an energy healer, I work with the subtle centers called chakras, which are associated with these negative dynamics. When the energy centers are balanced, you have the inner support to challenge your faulty belief systems and take responsibility for your distorted actions. When your real needs are met and healed, relationships get easier because you are not projecting your unmet needs on to others nor harming yourself with destructive behavior. You begin to operate from your highest potential, and will find more fulfillment and satisfaction in life. This is how the soul grows!