Written by Dr. Eric Perry
Image Credit: Pixabay
“I am the greatest obstacle to my greatest dreams.” ~Craig D. Lounsbrough
The subconscious mind is like an overgrown hedge maze. We enter it thinking we can quickly get through to the other side only to realize we are lost somewhere in the middle. How often do you set out to accomplish a task only to start ruminating about something that went wrong in your life? Lost in thought we forget that we set a goal to traverse the maze and get through to the other side.
Replaying a past failure is only one of the many ways we can sabotage ourselves from accomplishing our goals and pursuing our dreams. Procrastination perhaps is the number one killer of dreams. We divert the energy we need to accomplish a needed goal towards watching more television or spending more time on social media. Some even go as far as dabbling in mood-altering substances in order to not be present and acknowledge that a change has to be made. We have this one life to live. Choose to stop sabotaging yourself and instead become your best ally. Use your energy to achieve your goals and dreams. It’s never too late to be present in your life.
Here are some ways to stop sabotaging yourself today.
1. Stop comparing yourself to others
How many times have you extinguished a flicker of a dream simply by thinking that you did not measure up? Perhaps the dialogue in your head goes something like this,” I could never do that!” because “I am too old,” “too young,” “not smart enough,” “not thin enough” or simply “not enough.” The list of dream killers is endless and useless. Stop listening to your negative core beliefs. We are all unique and not supposed to be identical molds of one another. Like the numerous different shaped pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, we need human differences to form a beautiful landscape. Embrace what makes you different and use it to contribute to the beauty of the world.
2. Set realistic goals
It is important that when we set goals to not set goals that are so far out of reach. Subconsciously, we may set out to sabotage ourselves by setting goals that are likely to fail. Once we fail we can then embrace our negative core belief and find a sense of comfort in the familiar and harmful beliefs that we have unfortunately learned as our truths. By setting an unrealistic target we undermine ourselves by channeling all of our time and energy into an unreachable dream. It’s important to assess your goals. If they seem extremely out of reach then it is time to set goals that are more realistic. For example, as a child, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. Based on my video game skills I thought I could certainly be the next Top Gun! Unfortunately, I quickly learned that the odds of that happening were about a million to one! I, therefore, switched gears and set a more realistic goal.
3. Reflect on long-term goals
If you are feeling anxious about your to-do list, maybe it is time to take a step back and re-examine your priorities. This isn’t to say that if you are stressed out by your to-do list you are automatically sabotaging yourself. However, it is not uncommon for us to focus our attention intensely on daily/mundane tasks to the point where these tasks become a distraction or diversion from our big-picture goals. Do you really need to run back to the store because you forgot the blueberries for your oatmeal? Ok, maybe. Even still, take a moment and reflect. Have you been going non-stop in such a way that has made you less effective in achieving your long-term goals? Does the thought of these long-term goals make you feel anxious?
4. Accept the past
The past prepares us for the future. Much like the way a person studies for an exam, you learn as much as possible and apply the learned material to the task at hand. Once the exam is over you close the book and mentally file the material for future use. Often we get stuck in the past revisiting a perceived shortcoming that we wish could have had a different outcome. We may spend our time analyzing every detail that went wrong. We become encased in this mental quicksand and forget that there is more life to live and new lessons to be learned. By accepting that we cannot change the past we can release ourselves and fully start living.
5. Stop procrastinating
It’s time to stop playing a waiting game with your life. Life is like a marathon. If you want to run you have to start by moving your feet. If you set a goal, it is important that you take the first step in finishing what you start. Avoid beginning another task before you finish the one you just started. Start by setting small goals and slowly progress to larger ones. By setting and accomplishing smaller goals, you will learn to appreciate the feeling associated with accomplishment and likely want to have more of that feeling.
6. Identify and avoid distractors
We are amazingly fortunate and unfortunate to live in our current technological age. We are blessed to be able to communicate with people all over the world in a matter of seconds. For every possible wish, there is an app. Unfortunately, we are not able to buy more time. Time is a limited commodity and we must use it wisely. We are constantly bombarded with distractions. Our blessings can easily become our downfall. Many of us distract ourselves daily on social media. We might spend countless hours looking at how other people live and what they are accomplishing. It is important that we take an honest look at what our distractions are and how much time we spend avoiding our own lives. It is important to be responsible and set a daily limit for the amount of time we spend on our phone. At the end of our life, we want to be able to reflect back on the life we lived, not someone else’s.
7. Fear of the unknown
The repetitiveness of our daily lives can be quite soothing. Much like the comfort of a well-fitted piece of clothing, we know what to expect. We slip into our daily lives and know exactly what is expected of us. To many, change can be a frightening thing. We leave the comfort of our routine to venture forward into an area that can potentially expose us to uncomfortable feelings. We may fear that if we fail, we prove that our negative core beliefs are true. While failure in a new endeavor is possible we must remember that growth cannot happen in the comfort zone. That uncomfortable feeling in the center of our core is a sign of potential growth. Be proud of yourself for accepting the challenge to be more than you are today.
I hope you enjoyed this post and are inspired to try something new. Try setting a small goal and accomplishing it. By practicing with small goals and learning how to deal with the distractions that come up you can then move on and tackle larger goals. It is time to get out of your own way and stop sabotaging yourself.
Is there an area of your life you feel like you have been sabotaging? Mention it in the comments section and keep yourself accountable. Revisit this post at a later time and update us on your progress!
The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a therapeutic relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a mental health professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific mental health questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
M.A. in Clinical Psychology
B.A. in Psychology
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