The Root Of All Self-Sabotage
The further you get into the world of self-awareness you’ll likely start to discover just how hard us humans tend to make life for ourselves. In this article I’m going to get right to the point and talk about a really common way we shoot ourselves in the foot and in turn create a lot of drama and pain for ourselves.
Let’s get started shall we?
As a human being, you are physiologically designed to survive… And part of that learning to survive includes learning to identify potential threats out there in the world and then how to manage those threats should they become real. That’s all well and good when you’re looking at literal life threatening situations however it can really hang you out to dry in other situations… let me explain:
Part of your development from infant to adult requires that you learn some things about what’s safe and what will threaten your survival in the world. This is really important when it comes to things like crossing busy roads and not running with scissors. You learn from experience that crossing a busy road can be perilous if you don’t follow the rules and pay attention to what’s going on around you. Those are among a number of really important life lessons that will certainly increase your chance of physical survival. Yay!
The downfall of this tendency to experience something and then make up rules about it to protect you in the future can be a catch 22 when dealing with the other side of life – the non-physical side or the emotional side of life – because you’ll typically learn from experience that sometimes you set yourself up to get your feelings hurt or your heart hurt or your pride hurt.
You learn that putting up your hand in class can sometimes result in feeling foolish or embarrassed; that just because you think you have the right answer doesn’t mean you do and so you make up a rule (limiting belief) that putting yourself at risk by stepping out or stepping up isn’t a good idea.
You learn that just because you like someone doesn’t mean they like you back and telling someone you like them when they don’t like you back can feel like rejection and be embarrassing or hurtful. So you make up a rule (limiting belief) that you won’t (can’t) tell people how you feel until you’re certain you know they reciprocate your sentiments. Sometimes with this particular situation you might make up a rule that you’re never really going to like someone again just to make sure you never get hurt.
You learn that the cool kids are popular and worthwhile and if you’re not that, then you better figure out another way to be popular or you better stop caring about whether you’re popular or not… so you make up a rule (limiting belief) that the only way people like you, is if you’re the cool kid or the smart kid or the athletic kid or the toughest kid or the funniest kid or whatever…
It’s a pretty vicious cycle.
And the thing is these ‘rules’ or limiting beliefs stick with us everywhere we go. They follow us around and influence our experience of life and the way we see the world until we decide to do some work and start seeing things differently.
So now with that pretext out of the way, we can get down to what I really want to talk about. One of the rules (limiting beliefs) a lot of us will make up at some point in our lives is that we’re not good enough the way we are; we’re not loveable, not deserving, not worthy, not important, etc. That’s fine (ok not awesome but tolerable) if it were just a rule we lived by… except it ends up influencing every part of life….
Along with creating weird self-sabotaging behaviour that keeps us stuck and playing a small game, this ‘rule’ causes you to keep looking for proof and evidence to support the need for the rule in the first place.
Check it out:
Let’s say you had an experience when you were younger where you had a crush on someone but they liked someone else better than you. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the truth was they were also young and didn’t really know how to handle that kind of thing effectively, so rather than being respectful about your feelings they made fun of you and so did their friends. That left you feeling rejected, hurt, embarrassed and scared… you made up a rule that you were never going to put yourself out there like that again (because you aren’t good enough for someone to like you) unless someone really made it clear that they liked you first.
What does that make the rest of your life look like? Well it certainly didn’t make high school dances very fun – you were always sitting on the side lines while the person you really wanted to be there with was dancing with someone else. Later on in life you may find that you’re often in situations where the people you want to date aren’t interested in dating you… blah blah blah.
And just an FYI… it didn’t even need to be you that experienced that kind of thing!! You could even make up a rule about liking people and what the risk is if you saw someone else dealing with this kind of thing. Like maybe you saw one of your friends get taunted about having a crush on someone and you decided you never wanted to be in that situation yourself, so based on someone else’s experience you made up a rule that would govern your life…
This type of rule – the I’m not good enough rule – will likely manifest itself in other relationships too, not just dating and intimate relationships. It’s likely that the people you really want to be friends with will leave you feeling like they’re keeping you at arms length and they’re not really that interested in a relationship with you. It can even show up in your family… that maybe your family is indifferent to you being around.
Ok. That’s a lot of stuff I just threw on the table and it’s getting a little jumbled so we should probably break it down a bit.
First, I want to make sure that you ‘get’ that this type of rule (or limiting belief) can show up from a million different experiences and have the same general results in your life:
- One of your siblings was smarter/ more athletic and your parents paid more attention to them than you.
- One of your siblings was always getting into trouble or was and getting more attention than you.
- One of your siblings was really sick as a child and always getting more attention than you.
- One of your friends was always getting ‘picked’ over you and you always felt left out or invisible.
- You admired one of your parents that was a particular way and you saw them getting admired or getting attention for that so you decided to emulate it – think boys with fathers who are tough, girls with mothers who are flirty and pretty, etc.
- Something happened that really scared you and so you made up a rule about how you needed to be (good, kind, invisible, smart, etc.) in order to keep yourself safe.
- Your parents got divorced and you didn’t understand what was happening, your world was set on it’s side and you were scared, lost, and confused so you made up some rules to help make sense of it all… rules like it’s your fault, or people will always leave you, or the gender of the parent who left can’t be trusted or, or, or…
Can you see how this phenomenon can happen? Especially depending on how old you are when these things happen!!
Second, I want to shine a light on how this rule manifests in your life… Let’s go back to the hypothetical rule you made up about never putting yourself out there or the ‘I’m not good enough’ rule. Although this rule starts out as I’m never putting myself out there in the world of romance, it usually morphs into I’m never putting myself out there again, ever, in any way shape or form.
From there you start looking for proof and evidence to support this new rule. You look for proof that you can’t do ‘it’ so it’s a good thing you didn’t put yourself out there. You look for proof that people overlook you so it’s a good thing you never put yourself out there. You look for proof that people don’t really like you that much because if they did they would have ______________ so it’s a good thing you didn’t put yourself out there in the first place. Etcetera and etcetera and etcetera!
And what happens from there?
WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT YOU BRING ABOUT!
So you aren’t putting yourself out there (for a gazillion ‘totally justifiable reasons’) and what are you experiencing?? No one picks you. People forget about you or don’t include you. You never feel good enough and that must just be how it is…
Except it’s not. It’s only that way because you’ve been looking for proof and evidence to support your rule…
Talk about a limiting belief! I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about the idea that after a breakup it seems like everywhere they look they see happy couples? Or for women who are wanting to get/ are hoping they’re not pregnant, all they see are pregnant women everywhere? Same deal here. If you’re looking for proof and evidence that you’re not good enough, so you should follow the rule of never putting yourself out there, guess what you’re going to find? Lots of proof and evidence to support just that!
But just because the newly single person only sees happy couples doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of other single people or crazy families or fighting couples or unhappy couples or other newly single people within their view as well. It’s just that they aren’t looking for that.
What if the same holds true for you? What if the truth is you are good enough, you are totally ‘pickable’ and important and worthwhile, it’s just that you haven’t been looking for proof of that. What if the truth is lots of people in your life have been trying to ‘pick’ you and you just haven’t been willing to recognize it?
What if this whole time, the reason you’ve felt alone and not good enough is because of what you’ve been focusing on? And what if right now, you started looking for proof and evidence of something different? What if you started looking for proof and evidence to support the idea that people in your life actually cared about you and wanted you around? What if you started looking for proof and evidence that the important people in your life actually LOVED you? I know right? Crazy!!
So here’s your homework. You’re job is to go out there into your life and start looking for proof and evidence of something different than the BS you’ve been allowing yourself to believe. If you’ve been believing ‘I can’t’ then get out there and look for all the places that ‘you can’ and proof that you are capable. If you’ve been buying into the idea that you’re not good enough, get out there and look for all the places in your life where people are doing things and treating you in ways that show you are WAAAAAAAAYYYYYY good enough – instead of focusing on the places where you feel like you’re not.
I could go on and on and on about this and I think we’d all be better off if you just got out there and took this on. Seriously. Get out there and do some homework. If you get stuck, send me and email and we’ll talk about how to get you unstuck. I mean come on, wouldn’t it be awesome to live life from the context of I CAN and I’M GOOD ENOUGH????
What are you waiting for??
How’re You Doing?
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