When things go wrong we’re quick to point blame.
It’s hard not to. Failure sucks. And we want less of it.
But where does the fault truly lie?
Is it in external factors? …the weather? The economy?
Is it in someone else? Someone around you… are they to blame?
It’s easy to feel this way, but the truth is, in the overwhelming majority of cases — when you dig down deep enough — you discover that there is only one real cause of failure…
Something which few truly understand, but affects every person alive.
Self-sabotage is the most important thing to overcome if you want to achieve any goal. Especially a goal that is significant, important and meaningful — as this is when self-sabotage rears its ugly head the most.
If you really understood the extent to which self-sabotage is affecting you, you would be terrified of it and likely build your life around trying to minimize its insidious influence as much as possible.
Said simply, self-sabotage is when a part of you wants something different than what your conscious mind wants.
This may sound like confusion, but the problem is… what other parts of you want for you, are not always and not often what is best or even good for you.
And in many cases, what these other parts want for you is for things to stay the same. Which is why they go out of their way to actively sabotage any efforts to create change.
Of course, you can actively or passively sabotage your own success, but this is not how self-sabotage usually occurs.
Most often, self-sabotage occurs any time you want multiple things which contradict each other. Or anytime your various selves, want different things.
Anytime this happens you lose.
At the lowest level, self-sabotage will require more energy and effort from you for you to achieve your goals, or even enjoy the achievement of things you’ve worked hard for.
And at the highest level, you will actively sabotage every effort by yourself, and others, to change the fundamental quality of your life in order to keep things as they are.
Have you worked extremely hard for something, only for it to go wrong at the last possible second?
Have you ever done everything you know you needed to do to achieve a goal, but dropped the ball in at the only time it really mattered? A time that only you could possible know?
Have you had something urgent you know needed to be taken care of, but you delayed or ignored it until a small problem, with minor consequences, went from being a simple inconvenience to something much worse?
These are a few examples of self-sabotage, which takes many ugly forms.
These are all common forms of self-sabotage.
The easiest time to notice self-sabotage is when looking back on any experience of failure. And noticing that beneath all the random circumstances, a form of self-sabotage is at the heart of the failure.
That things went wrong, in the smallest ways which had the biggest effects. Or small things you did over time, took you straight down the path of most conflict, without you being fully aware of what you were doing at the time.
When things go wrong, it’s easy to feel like the cause of it is outside of yourself. No one wants to blame themselves all the time, and even excessive over self-blaming can be a form of self-sabotage.
All of these forms of self-sabotage can be difficult to overcome, let alone recognize.
But because self-sabotage is at the heart of every effort to improve your life, and in the majority of cases, the thing which truly stands in your way…
When you do, everything changes.
Obviously, no one likes being told that they are the real cause of almost all of their problems.
But for people who care more about achieving change than feeling good in this moment — this is very good news.
Because this means the end of wasting time on anything else, and being able to focus on what truly matters most.
You see, if you dump all of your effort into something that is actually not the problem, but goes along with your current belief system, you’ll get nowhere and really be in a worse position than you started.
But when you put really any level of effort here, in reducing self-sabotage you’ll be very surprised by the changes you can experience.
And just how much easier things everything becomes.
Luckily, when it comes to self-sabotage it’s not you, that is the voice in your head, that’s causing all the trouble. Rather it’s the various other parts of you, which want something different for you than you do.
Let me explain.
Many people view themselves as well, themselves. Just you, going about your way in the world. But this is very reductionist and simplistic, and a limited view which allows self-sabotage to cause all sorts of havoc.
To stop it, first you need to realize there are several aspects to you.
First, there’s your conscious mind, which is the version of you who is reading this article, and who you relate to the most.
Then there’s your subconscious mind, which makes up actually the vast majority of your information processing, and which holds your beliefs systems, conditioning, and is the mind you perceive and interpret the world through.
Then, of course, there’s various roles, identities, personalities even which make up you. A fractal of seeminly infinite variations of you and sources of intelligence and cognition, which exist buried in the subconsicous mind.
Calling it the subconscious is pretty reductionistic, because that’s really just saying anything and everything that isn’t in the subconscious mind. And because it’s so difficult to explore, we sort of just roll everything into this term, subconscious.
Famous psychologist Sigmund Freud describes the conscious and subconscious minds as:
“The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool from which it arises.”
Which is why when your conscious mind wants something, but your subconscious mind wants something different for you — more often than not your subconscious mind will win out. Because your subconscious mind is far more powerfully, pervasive and persuasive than you conscious mind.
So, when it comes to stopping self-sabotage it’s the subconscious mind you need to befriend.
But why would your subconscious want something bad for you? Doesn’t it want you to be happy and healthy?
The issue is that your subconscious mind runs on conditioning based on instinct, and a set of belief systems you developed as a child. And has to be retrained as an adult to adapt for your mature understanding of the world you have now.
Which creates a bizarre set of problems where the smallest and least powerful part of you, your conscious mind, thinks clearly and wants one thing…
But then the hidden, more powerful aspect of you wants something else and wins out.
Which is why you can get bizarre situations where…
You consciously want to workout and get in better shape… but your subconscious mind wants to avoid changes and keep things the same, or wants to protect you by keeping you the way you are.
You want to build a business, or achieve some significant goal, but your subconscious is getting something out of you operating at the level you’re currently at, so despite your best efforts, it keeps you there.
Obviously this can be frustrating and disheartening.
Anytime your conscious and subconscious minds want two different things, you will experience endless and unnecessary self-sabotage which will make it difficult, if not impossible for you to achieve your goals. And cause a lot of unnecessary suffering along the way.
But once you acknowledge and accept this, you can unlock your hidden power.
Which is that if you align your conscious and subconscious minds to want the same things, then really there is not much that can stand in your way to achieve them.
Just imagine if every time you experienced self-sabotage… if every time you felt:
If instead you felt:
If every time you worked hard and got close to achieving your goals, instead of preparing for the worst to happen at the last minute…
Things went smooth as ever and you actually got to experience your goals.
If instead of being a source of conflict and confusion, you become your own best ally.
This is possible, because when you accept that the enemy is within, and the responsibility for not achieving your goals is your own — or at least your subconscious… you also accept your ability to rapidly empower yourself to achieve far more than you ever have before.
The same as this problem is insidious and present and every area of life — what once was a weakness can become your greatest strength.
So, what are your best options for overcoming self-sabotage?
This article is getting long, but…
This is the most common strategy people employ as well as the most difficult. Willpower is essentially your ability to use cognitive energy to resist an influence and act against how you feel. When you have many subconscious beliefs which counteract what you desire, you have to get good at basically knowing when to trust your gut, and when to ignore it.
Sometimes the voice in your head is intuition, sometimes its fear. But when you know what you have to do to achieve your goals, if you simply just focus on the action instead of how you feel, through the use of willpower, you’ll end up achieving your goal anyways. In this way, reality becomes your affirmation, and your beliefs can change after-the-fact, making it easier to do next time. But you’l only get there if you have a higher level of willpower.
While effective, and most common, this is the most exhausting way to overcome self-sabotage and the one with the highest rate of failure. As not everyone has that David Goggins level of willpower.
And training it takes time, while the other methods for overcoming self-sabotage are faster and less masochistic.
Instead of building up and consuming willpower to resist the way your subconscious mind makes you feel… to overcome all the fear, doubt and anxiety… another strategy is to address the core issue here. And that is learning how to align the desires of your subconscious and conscious minds.
Your conscious mind is what you are using to read this article. It’s essentially your inner-voice and the self-talk which you use to navigate life through your perception. It’s also your most limited mind.
Your subconscious mind is infinitely more powerful and does the vast majority of processing. It also controls almost all of your behavior, feelings and really your life. The problem is, it is much harder to control than your conscious mind.
Your subconscious mind seeks in the same way your conscious mind does, but it is prone to seek things, which may not actually be good for you. Like comfort at the cost of growth. And much of your subconscious mind’s commands were given to it when you were a toddler — pre-memory.
So, you have this tug-of-war going on between your adult self, who has clear wants, desires and goals. And then this infinitely powerful self, which runs on commands written by a 4 year old.
Of course there is going to be conflict when they disagree.
But through the process of deliberate de-conditioning and reconditioning you can retrain your subconscious mind to want different things for you, and have different methods for achieving them. This takes time, and repetition, but is also the most powerful strategy for the long-term and leads to mastery over the yourself.
This is the last strategy I’ll share here and it’s probably the most effective, as well as the most profound. Albeit slightly counter-intuitive.
You see, it’s a strange line of thinking already to begin seeing yourself as having multiple selves, multiple consciousnesses. And while this is very true, because self-awareness is inherently so limited, it’s hard to actually feel like you do. Let alone have any measure of control over this.
In fact, you’ll mostly experience your subconscious mind and various selves through behaviors of self-sabotage. And even then, usually retroactively when you’re trying to figure out what the hell went wrong.
But instead of spending a lot of time in deep meditation, or doing the inner-work necessary to increase your level of self-awareness, there is a bit of a hack you can employ here.
And that is to simply go beyond yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, it is 100% worthwhile to do the inner-work necessary and raise your level of self-awareness. Which is why I spend the majority of my time helping people do this through courses and writing like this. But I’d be lying if I said you had to. Of course, you’ll experience less self-sabotage, you’ll achieve far more than you’re currently capable of if you do — and you’ll be infinitely happier, which is probably the most important.
But really, the easiest way to end self-sabotage is to simply shift your focus from self to other.
You see, when you’re focused on what’s best for other people, you won’t trigger nearly as much of your own conditioning and limiting beliefs. So, just find a way to make what is best for you, what is also best for other people.
After all, anxiety is rumination of the self in the future.
Depression is rumination of the self in the past.
Both of which drop off, when you shift your focus from self to other.
Perhaps that’s easier said than done. But again, this is something you can train yourself to do. And you’d be surprised how quickly you can feel the difference in your entire way of life.
Which is why I’ve prepared a Masterclass with my business partner, to teach you exactly how to overcome self-sabotage and achieve your full potential.
— — —
Are you wondering how to do this?
Do you want to find the best strategy for you to end self-sabotage once and for all, and achieve what you’re uniquely capable of when you’re no longer standing in your own way?
I go much deeper on what I share here and cover even more powerful breakthrough strategies for ending self-sabotage once and for all in my new Masterclass, Unlocking Hidden Power, which is available online for a limited time.