Have you ever found yourself in self-sabotage mode? Those moments in your life where you know what you need to do, and yet you blatantly do the opposite and then beat yourself up for not sticking to your guns. It’s soooo frustrating isn’t it? And as if the frustration weren’t punishment enough, then the mental chatter kicks in and starts saying things like ‘I am smart, I know what to do here, but I am not doing it, so I mustn’t be good enough, disciplined enough, motivated enough, insert-any-word-here enough’ to actually want this for myself. And now we’ve got a nice little serve of self-loathing to go along with that frustration.
Anyone else sick of this vicious cycle and want out?
Well thankfully my last trip down self-sabotage lane revealed what was really going on and it wasn’t what I suspected.
Sometimes self-sabotage is easy to spot. It’s reaching for the block of chocolate when you’ve pledged to eat healthy foods, or hitting the snooze button on your alarm when you promised yourself you’d get up early and go to the gym. But there are other times when self-sabotage is more subtle than that and it’s these sneaky little instances that were creeping into my life and undermining my efforts at going after what I wanted.
I crave freedom. It’s one of my non-negotiables. And yet, despite my desire for freedom, time and time again I found myself compromising on my so-called ‘non-negotiable’. Whether it was saying yes to things that I didn’t want to do and hence feeling trapped, or accepting uninspiring work that kept me confined to an office, I was acting in a way that was in direct opposition to creating freedom in my life. So what was that about? Why was I blocking myself from feeling the way that I wanted to feel?
And then it occurred to me. I also craved security. And I thought I had to choose.
Because in theory, these two feelings are in direct opposition with one another. A battle of the emotions that I was hoping freedom would win, thereby kicking security to the curb. But what if it wasn’t as simple as that? What if I could have both?
Because what I really wanted was to feel SECURE in pursuing a life of FREEDOM.
And the moment I was able to acknowledge this truth was the moment things shifted and I began looking at how I could have it both ways.
How could I create some security in my life, so that pursuing freedom felt liberating and not frighteningly irresponsible?
And you know what? It’s a bit of a game of trial and error – a process of taking different steps, tuning into my body and feeling where they sit on my personal freedom-security scale.
And it’s not just freedom and security. There are so many conflicting emotions that people struggle with because we’ve been told time and time again ‘you can’t have it both ways’. Have you ever wanted to feel adventurous and at the same time wanted to feel safe? Do you want spontaneity in your life, but also crave routine? Do you long to move abroad but also want to stay close to your family and friends back home? Do you dream of having a relationship that’s thrilling and exciting but also feels comfortable? Well I’m here to tell you that sometimes you can have both and it doesn’t always have to be an agonising decision between two seemingly opposing ideas.
Brené Brown summed this idea up beautifully when she spoke about the myth that you’re either brave or you’re afraid – “the truth is, most of us are brave and afraid in the exact same moment”.
So the next time you catch yourself in self-sabotage mode, stop for a moment and see if you can identify the conflicting feeling that may be holding you back. Then experiment a little with the two feelings until you find that perfect blend that hits your emotional sweet spot.
Go on, have a little fun and whatever you do, refuse to choose.