Recently I had an important question from one of my readers: “How do I know if I am sabotaging my life?”
Even though he had read my posts describing what self sabotage looks like, he was not sure if this applied in his life. That got me to thinking. Are other readers struggling with the same question?
Keep reading to discover some simple exercises to help you decide if you are sabotaging your life.
We are poor reporters of our own experience
Many of us are unable to stand back and observe our own behaviors. We get lost in the behavior and lose perspective.
This topic reminded me of a former client, Ann (not her real name). She was referred by a social worker who told me, “We just don’t know how to help Ann.”
I gave Ann a simple self assessment, hoping to learn what was going on. She reported that she had every single mental health disorder. I knew this couldn’t be true. While this assessment did not give me the expected results, it did tell me a lot about Ann. Ann was not able to see how her behavior was affecting her life and causing her problems.
If, like Ann, you have no idea why your life is a mess, there is hope and help in the form of some simple exercises.
Why you don’t know if you are sabotaging your life
In my last post, I described how you can be in a self sabotage trance. According to Stephen Wolinsky, (Trances People Live: Healing Approaches in Quantum Psychology (1991)), “trance is characterized by a shrinking or fixating of attention.” When this happens “we are not making use of inner resources that are normally available to us.”
In these un-resourceful trances, you cannot observe your own behavior. So, you really do not know if you are sabotaging your life.
Another block to knowing if you are sabotaging your life
Sometimes you don’t want to admit that you might have any responsibility for your own issues.
Ann believed that life was not fair. She blamed other people and events outside of herself for all of her problems. Until she was open to the possibility that she had some responsibility for her problems, she was stuck. Maybe you are, too.
I don’t want you to start blaming yourself. Self blame can be another form of self sabotage. You are not responsible for the root cause of your self sabotage. Self sabotage is caused by unresolved emotions from childhood.
Even if you are not responsible for the root cause, you are the only one who can turn this around.
Three easy exercises
Here are some easy exercises to help you become a better observer of your own behaviors. When you can observe your life, you can find real solutions.
1. Talk to someone
Talking to another person can help you gain perspective about your life. Be sure the person you are talking to doesn’t share the same blind spot or the same self sabotage trance.
2. Write it down or talk into a recording device
Journaling is a time tested technique for self discovery. Write (or record) your emotions and beliefs about your problems. Journaling may take a while, so keep at it. Notice how you life is beginning to make sense.
3. For those of you who are really adventurous, make up a story
If you want to get out of your own way, describe your problem in a different setting. This could be a medieval kingdom, a wild west town, a space adventure, or whatever seems to fit for you. What would your problem look like in this made-up story? What role would you play? Are you the king, a knight, or a serf? With this decision, you have already learned a lot about yourself.
Don’t worry about finding a real world solution. Let the story unfold. Observe your life and notice what changes.
After you have spent some time with at least one of these exercises, go back to my earlier posts, 11 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Life and One More Way You Are Sabotaging Your Life: Procrastination. Have you gained some perspective about your problems? When you think about your problem areas, do you see any themes or patterns?
Being able to observe how you interact with others and situations gives you a new understanding of your life.
What can you do if you are sabotaging your life?
The poetry of emotion process can help. When you release unresolved childhood emotions, you can stop sabotaging your life for good.
Click on “Are you new to the site?” to read more about the poetry of emotion process.
Which exercises did you try? Are you sabotaging your life?
(Image: Thomas Galvez @Flickr)