Many of us get "just this close" to success and then shoot ourselves in the foot. There is something deep inside us that holds us back to the place we are most comfortable — failure.
The worst part is that we often recognize it in others before we see it in ourselves. When we see it in our children, it is time to do something about it for everyone's sake.
Here are some things to understand about self-sabotage:
1. From acorns.
It can start small with things like being overly modest or procrastination. We tend to do just enough to hold us back from being the best we can be.
2. To oak trees.
It can elevate to behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse, affairs and self-harm. This is where self-sabotage gets even more dangerous and can lead to broken hearts, broken homes and broken lives.
3. Not an act, but a process.
Self-sabotage is not a single act, but rather a mindset-driven and very complicated process that becomes a lifestyle.
4. Abnormal fear.
It is a way of avoiding the discomfort we might imagine comes with success. We would rather stay in our comfort zone — the only life we may have known — rather than venture into the life we could have. If we have only known poverty, that is where we are comfortable. If we have only known bad relationships, we count on them and attract unhealthy partners.
5. Attempt to control.
For those of us who have felt like we've never had real control in our lives or have endured controlling relationships, this is a way of acquiring control even if it hurts us. It isn't rational, but it makes sense to those who suffer from this.
God wants us to be successful. This does not mean fame or fortune, but rather success in things like marriage, families, employment, education and normal life, in general. To deny ourselves or hold ourselves back is being disrespectful to the bounteous gifts and talents God has given us.
7. It becomes a vicious cycle.
The more we sabotage ourselves, the worse our lives become and it confirms to us that we are not worthy of a good life. If we procrastinate, for example, sending our manuscript to a publisher because we fear either rejection or success, we will never get published. If we never get published it confirms to us that we are lousy writers and frauds. We stop writing and sink into depression and don't use our God-given talent to uplift others. If we have only known bad relationships, we attract bad partners and this confirms that we are not worthy of healthy relationships. It just goes round and round.
It won't be easy running over all those terrible negative tapes we play in our heads, but we can climb out of the hole and live a productive and successful life. This is really important not only to us but to our families that sit back and watch in sadness and sometimes follow our example.
How to break this vicious cycle:
1. Observation and self-examination.
Stop and take a good, hard look at what you are doing. Now think about why you might be. For me, it was an attempt to have control. I have lived with a lot of controlling people in my life. It became the norm to be told what to do and how to do it. Being on my own now, this was a way to exercise control over my future, even if it meant continuing a life of poverty and depression. I now know better and am finding my way out of the hole. You can, too. I believe in you.
2. Success isn't all or nothing.
There will be hills and valleys in everything we do. The secret is to continue believing in ourselves. We need to get rid of all those things we've been told and adopt a new language of self-speak. Offering personal affirmations several times a day. Meditation. Faith. Understanding that God wants us to be successful and contributing members of society. Do it for him, and do it for yourself. Most importantly, do it for that wonderful family of yours who are watching you closely and mimicking your behavior.
3. Take the good with the bad.
Knowing that there will be downfalls, 1-star ratings as well as 5-star ratings on your book, learn to love the ride. Laugh at the bad and learn from it. Use it for your good. Talk about it. Don't chuck a whole career, relationship or hobby because of one unsuccessful turn.
4. Think about the big picture.
Think about those who are following your example. Your children, your spouse, your co-workers, your Facebook friends. You are not an island. You are a part of a big puzzle and an important part. Stop being negative and selfish and, in the words of my favorite Tim Gunn, "Make it work!"
5. Try new things.
Don't just excel over your self-sabotage. Get out there and try new things. Be brave. Overcome your phobias. Empower yourself and learn a new way of thinking.