Self-sabotage is rampant everywhere. We all do it to some degree, and it can get in the way of some pretty incredible things. I have witnessed people sabotage job promotions, relationships, and even gotten themselves fired. But the sabotage I see most often is centered on health and fitness.
Emotional health and wellbeing is closely tied to your overall physical health so I often ask clients about their diet and exercise. The foods you eat can have a direct impact on mood stability, with processed foods being a major culprit in mood fluctuations. Exercise boosts the neurotransmitter, serotonin, in your brain and gives your mood a positive boost, and it is also absolutely vital to help combat stress. Because of this, I often “prescribe” exercise and healthy eating as part of a daily health regimen to help improve my clients overall wellbeing. And, more often than not, they don’t do it. They SAY they want to feel better emotionally. They SAY they want to be more physically healthy. And yet, they don’t do it. Why?? Self-sabotage.
If you are like most people, chances are you are an expert at sabotaging yourself, especially when it comes to health and fitness. The crowds in the gym parking lot always fascinate me at the beginning of the year. And, invariably, by March, the parking lots, and all the classes, are fairly empty again. Why is this? People lose interest; they give up; they can’t be bothered to be disciplined; they tell themselves that they don’t have the time; they realize that being unfit and unhealthy is a lot easier, in the short run, than taking care of your health. I actually had someone tell me they would rather take prescription medication for cholesterol or diabetes than be super focused on eating healthy and exercising regularly!
When you are working on your health and fitness goals, self-sabotage often shows up as procrastination and poor eating habits. However, the reason for the self-sabotage is the beliefs behind it. If the little voice in your head keeps chattering away that you’re just not good enough, or not deserving enough, or not strong enough, or pretty enough, or you can’t do it (and I could go on), then you will set about getting in your own way when:
a) You are close to achieving your goal i.e. success or,
b) Have some kind of setback i.e. failure or,
c) Something stressful shows up in your life
So, how do you combat this self-sabotage?
- Self-Awareness: You absolutely MUST notice when you are doing it! Pay attention to the excuses you give yourself for not doing what you say you want for yourself. And most of all, pay attention to how you keep getting in your own way.
- Activate Positive Self-Talk: Become your own cheerleader! Begin with “Yes, I can”! The words you fill your head with will dictate your level of motivation and discipline for achieving those goals, so fill your head with words that uplift you not defeat you.
- Never Quit: If a goal is worth having, it is worth achieving. You have only one body and one brain. You get to decide whether or not you want to take good care of them and love and nurture them to optimum health. Decide well.
- Engage with Positive People: Hang out with other people on a similar journey and be accountable with and support each other.
Everything we experience in our lives is meant to bring with it a lesson. In every success, in every failure, there are lessons to be gleaned to help us move forward. If every time we have a setback, we quit, we will get nowhere. Overcoming the desire to sabotage ourselves, being focused and continuing on, even when the going gets tough, is critical to achieving and maintaining goals. You can do it!
Dr. Samantha Madhosingh, Psy.D.
Speaker and authorof Magnify your brilliance: 5 Keys to Emotional Freedom