Self-sabotage: only we can help ourselves

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Guest post from George Kalantzis, trainer, author, friend, father and combat veteran who has been helping people cope with their problems for years.

We all suffer from that infernal voice in our heads that whispers destructive things, preventing us from achieving our fitness goals:

– There’s no way I can lose 10 kilos, why even try?
– I won’t be able to cope with today’s crossfit class.
– Will I be able to keep from falling off at the next holiday?

Every day we sabotage or talk ourselves out of something. George tells us how to stop stopping ourselves from doing it.

What would your life look like if there were no restrictions?

If you already feel completely free, then there’s no need to read on. But that’s usually not enough, so I’m writing an article. Imagine that your life is simple and carefree.

You probably already know that there is no easy way: heavy things won’t lift themselves (both in and out of the gym), so let’s get down to pumping the hardest stuff. We’re going to pump our brains.

When we encounter difficulties, just the right questions will help us, we can deal with problems and find solutions. I spent most of my life searching for these answers, until I went through a series of trials and discovered certain patterns of self-sabotage: how we prevent ourselves from achieving our goals. There is a reason for this phenomenon.

The subconscious mind protects us from our fears by not allowing us to step outside our comfort zone. But if we can find a way around these voices, we can make the impossible possible and change lives for the better.

What is self-sabotage

In short, all these holding back thoughts come up when we decide to make a change: doing something new that goes against our beliefs. As soon as we start doing something – weight training, running, yoga, etc. – past habits try to cunningly hinder development.

And it’s not your fault, because the subconscious mind creates patterns of behaviour all its life based on past experiences. Whenever you start to get close to the boundaries of the familiar, it tries to stop and return to the already familiar.
(I’ve been through this, but still run into it from time to time).

You may already be aware of this pattern, but still can’t overpower it. Trying something new – looking for information, but for some reason you can’t change. Self-harm gets in the way.

Maybe you fear failure and give up. Or you think you won’t be accepted in your new life, you give up, unable to stand up for what you care about. You are worried about what others think, you need approval in everything you do. On the one hand, you want to make your life better, but you lack support and are unable to do what you want.

So how do you recognize this self-destruction and begin to act in spite of limiting thoughts?

Let’s try a simple analogy: just as the deadlift develops fantastic muscles, recognizing self-sabotage patterns helps you get rid of limiting beliefs.

Let’s get a grip on the weights!

To get started, we need to identify and acknowledge these issues before any change is conceived. And stop ourselves the moment we encounter them again. Think of it as a special exercise for the brain, like the barbell exercise through which you set personal records.

Each time you notice and eliminate the thoughts that prevent you from developing, you build a new set of skills to break out of your comfort zone. Of course, it’s also possible to get amazing results without it, but still, sooner or later self-sabotage will catch up with you and you’ll end up back where you started.

The areas we most often stumble upon are self-harm in: health, money, relationships, sex, happiness, career, achievement, family.

The most common methods of self-sabotage are: Procrastination. Perfectionism. Emotional overeating. Exercising too little. Exercising too much. Acting impulsively. Getting up too late. Being late for meetings. Getting angry and stressed out.

It happens to absolutely everyone, but many people have no idea how to overcome such common obstacles. We just suffer because we tell ourselves so much:

  • We’re too old,
  • We’re too fat,
  • We can never look like X (insert name of your fitness star),
  • We’ll never change,
    We won’t have the strength
    We’ll always be like this,
    (add something yourself).

The saddest part about it is that with these beliefs, we can’t really live up to our potential. Our lives turn into some kind of race as we simply look for superficial answers to our questions (deeply rooted in our past). This is how the subconscious mind tries to save us.

The modern world forces us to make decisions very quickly without giving time for reflection. The paradox is that we are in such a hurry to get things done that we fail to see the obvious fact: many people simply don’t enjoy what they’re doing. We act mechanically, and our desires simply don’t match our values.

Back to the original question

What would your life be like if you had no limitations?
This is the question I ask my clients, because then they can discover their true desires. Not what others expect of them.

We are what we choose to be. And the sad fact is that you can’t choose two things at once: what you really want and something else.

Ask yourself the right questions that will help self-awareness. The more of them there are, the better. By examining ourselves, we take responsibility for our lives (and break through that nasty comfort zone).

This is important, here’s why. The hardest part of any change is understanding what you really want and value, because without it your brain will hunt for the negative. Psychologists call this ‘negativist bias’: we simply seek out the dangers in the world around us to protect ourselves from them. But in the case of change for the better, it doesn’t help us at all.

We all want to look good, feel good, have great relationships and be happy. But we find it hard to take full responsibility for our choices, which is why we suffer when we try to change.

And the truth is that the good things in life have to be earned. You probably already realise this, but so far you are concentrating on what you don’t want, and you can’t get out of your comfort zone. Even if your current comfort zone makes you emotionally exhausted or depressed. When your choices of action don’t align with what you really want, self-sabotage destroys life.

How to stop self-harming
Take a pen and write down all the things that bother you, that constantly scare you. Analyse all these things, how they affect and hinder change. Be as honest as possible so you can change them faster.

To give you an example of myself:

“I’m a pauper…”

I used to earn too little and was just afraid to check the bill. It caused terrible stress, I felt like a loser all the time.

Write down your past beliefs, how they make you feel and hinder your progress. And then write down the opposite things that explain what’s wrong.

Self-sabotage: I will always be a pauper.

New approach: I feared financial problems, but I have enough data to make a decent living.

When you are able to acknowledge the old problem and form a solution to it in order to take action, you will convince yourself that you are worthy of a new and better life.

Whenever you encounter an obstacle, analyse the belief that prevents you and write down what disproves it. It won’t be easy at first, there will be discomfort – don’t let it stop you, you can’t always change right away. But what you get in the end will be worth the effort.

Remember: the goal is not perfectionism, but regular practice. You may not like the results of these exercises at first, but accept that this is your life and only you can change it.

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