A self-sabotage exercise you didn’t know you needed

A self-sabotage exercise you didn’t know you needed

You know that feeling when you know you should do something for the betterment of your life but… you don’t? 

When you know you should leave a toxic situation/person/environment… but you don’t? 

When you hold back from showing up to do something great because you think you’ll fail (even though objectively, you have everything it takes to succeed)?

Granted, sometimes life happens and we have to give ourselves the necessary grace. But, oftentimes, it’s that pesky unwanted visitor who gets way too comfortable.

You know who I’m talking about: Self-sabotage. 

Here’s some good news though – we don’t have to let self-sabotage be our master. We can transcend its distractions, tricks, and redirections.

Self-sabotage – Let’s Get Into It

Here’s a really simple exercise to help you stop sabotaging yourself. 

Grab a pen and paper and braindump all the ways you may be sabotaging yourself. It’s crucial to be brutally honest with yourself. Remember this is for your eyes only so there is no need to censor yourself. Write until you can’t think of anything else.

Take a look at this list and circle the three things you want to tackle first. 

One way to make this selection is to pick the things that, when addressed, will likely facilitate dealing with a lot of the other things on your list.

Let me give you an example; my list might include:

  • Saying “yes” too much
  • Not resting enough
  • Not carving out enough time to work on my goals

I might identify ‘saying “yes” too much as something I want to address first because, if I stop doing this, I will then have more time available for rest and for working on my goals. So addressing that item, automatically addresses and helps solve the other two, a win-win!.

Digging deeper

You can take things a step further, once you’ve identified the three self-sabotaging areas to focus on, by drilling deeper into each one. 

For each, ask yourself, reflect and write down:

  • What’s at the root of the self-sabotaging behaviour? 

You might not know the answer to this but just start writing – stream-of-consciousness style. As you write, thoughts will emerge and insights too.

  • How does it manifest?
    Taking a moment to think about the occasions and scenarios in which your self-sabotaging behaviour shows up gives you useful information. This knowledge can help you assess what interventions might be useful – for example: eliminating cues for the destructive behaviour; or avoiding certain situations. 

Again, write down everything that comes to mind. 

You can follow this up with a brainstorming session where you come up with ideas to address these areas. It’s important to not overthink things and to not filter yet either. Think about it this way: the more ideas you put down, the higher the probability that a bunch of them will be good!

Take a step back and look at these ideas and circle the things you’re going to try first. 

Making change happen

Knowledge is one thing but putting knowledge to work is where transformation happens. 

Help yourself to follow through by using your personal organisation system to note down all the first next steps from the exercise above.

When I recently did this, some of my follow-up actions included:

  • Scheduling time in my calendar to complete a specific task I’d identified as a next step
  • Making a note to have a discussion with my partner, about an area I needed his support in

Over to you! I hope this exercise does wonders for you as it has for me. Let me know how it goes.

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