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How To Recognize And Stop Self Sabotaging Behaviors

self sabotaging behaviors
Are you (or someone you love) suspect for self sabotaging behaviors? Read on…

A famous research study was done on a clique of youngster goldfish, who were raised in a luxuriously long aquarium with a pesky glass wall smack down its middle.

Every time these goldfish tried to swim to the far side of the aquarium – ouch — they’d hit their little fish noses on the glass wall’s hard surface.

Eventually the goldfish became resigned to their limited swimming options, and stayed swooshing around in the mere half-sized portion of the aquarium which they now recognized as home.

After a few months, the researchers removed the glass wall from the aquarium’s middle – allowing the goldfish full reign to swim wherever their little gills could gather speed to take them.

Guess what?

The goldfish never tried to swim to that other side of that long aquarium. Although these goldfish were no longer stopped by that glass wall – they were stopped by their limiting beliefs.

They became prisoners of their past life conditioning.

We humans are no better. Over time we amass limiting beliefs about how life supposedly is – beliefs which are not valid. We then allow these limiting beliefs to stop us from living our happiest life.

These “Glass Wall Beliefs” are what trigger self sabotaging behaviors.

Indeed, if you want to experience maximum happiness, more important than whether you see that metaphorical glass as half full or half empty, is whether or not you see a metaphorical glass wall in your way.

After all, you could be the most optimistic person on this planet – consciously believing you deserve bundles of cash and heaps of lovin’ – yet you can still remain blocked from getting all you want.

How can that be?

Because although your conscious mind might be thinking many, many, many, fabulous thoughts about you — your subconscious mind can simultaneously remain very busy thinking its limiting Glass Wall beliefs.

How do you know you have Glass Walls beliefs?

That’s easy. Your life is difficult.

You keep finding yourself saying:

“I can never get a break.”

“The opposite sex sucks.”

“All people suck.”

“The world sucks. “

“Distant galaxies suck.”

self sabotaging behaviors
Another way you can tell if you have glass walls – and where exactly you have them – is to look at various Life Categories (love, career, family,  friendship, health etc…) then rate yourself on a Happiness Score of 1 to 10.

Whenever a Life Category garners a Happiness Score of 5 or 6 or under,  most likely it’s because your subconscious mind is blocking you with a glass wall belief – telling you:

“Yo! Career Happiness stops HERE – go no further!”

Or…

“Yo! Love Happiness stops HERE — go no further!”

But  yo! It ain’t so! You can go much further!

You’re simply being blocked by a mirage of glass flashing in your subconscious’ face!

Basically if you’re not fully leading your happiest life, it might be because your subconscious has created an incomplete, shortsighted map of the world!

If you’re a “foodie,” a good analogy for “Glass Wall Limitations” is to say it’s as if your subconscious has given you a very limited menu of your life options.

In reality, you have many more yummy life ordering selections available!

It’s funny how we humans love to blame other people, “glass ceilings” and all kinds of outside forces for holding us back.

I call these “(b)lame” excuses and “mythaken” thinking – for the obvious reasons.

The truth is: Often our success and happiness is being hindered by our own limiting beliefs and limiting habits – with our learned imaginary Glass Walls – and thereby our learned self-sabotaging behaviors.

So what stops us from seeing that there’s no Glass Wall to be seen? What I call “The 3 C’s”!

self sabotaging behaviors
THE 3 C’S 

  1. Childhood’s Limiting Beliefs – Your learned (b)lame excuses, mythaken thinking and false fears — created by the pain, disappointment, and repeated patterns you learned from family and friends when you were young and spongelike.
  2. Culture’s Limiting Beliefs – Your learned (b)lame excuses, mythaken thinking and false fears — created from society’s messages of false limitations, stereotyping and biased trends. (Note: A terrific example of a Culture’s Limiting Belief is the famed Roger Bannister story. Until 1954 most people believed that a human could not run a mile in less than four minutes — until Roger Bannister did just that. Ever since, running four-minute miles has become run-of-the-mill. “Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four minute mile was impossible, that one could die in the attempt,” said Bannister, right after his accomplishment. “Thus when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.” Hence why it’s important to wake up to our Culture’s Limiting Beliefs — or they can create a limiting “that’s impossible” self fulfillment!)
  3. Calamity’s Limiting Beliefs — Your learned (b)lame excuses, mythaken thinking and false fears — created from very specific crises — including a bad break up, a sexual assault, a job failure, a bankruptcy, a mugging, an illness, the death of a loved one, etc…

Yes, there’s an abundance of ways you can limit your life with limiting thinking due to these 3 C’s.

If you’re presently having a repeated pattern of failure, disappointment, and unhappiness, then it’s time to consider you might be doing self sabotaging behaviors because of one, two or all of these 3 C’s  – even if you’re not conscious about doing self sabotaging behaviors!

Actually, especially if you’re not conscious about it.

Basically, “destiny” is just a pithy little word which means:

“Your subconscious’ limiting beliefs which make you do the things you do – and thereby get the things you get.”

This is so very important I will repeat it again – this time in bold, large italics!

 “Destiny” is really just a pithy little word that means your subconscious’ limiting beliefs which make you do the things you do – and thereby get the things you get.”

Let’s say as a child you grew up in a home with lots of screaming and very little emotional support.

As a result you developed lots of Childhood’s Limiting Beliefs.

For example:

LOVE MUST BE FULL OF PAIN.

self sabotaging behaviors
The big problem with your learned Childhood’s Limiting Beliefs is that you’re comfortable with keeping them around — and using them like an old security blanket – not minding that they’re tattered and make you feel uncomfortable to hold.

You actually feel a sense of comfort in your learned beliefs’ familiar discomfort.

And you are not alone in wanting to repeat the same feelings of pain from your past – due to the lure of familiarity!

Freud called this urge for duplicating our past in our present “Repetition Compulsion” — and explained how we humans have two methods for keeping our past alive.

  • our thoughts
  • our actions

Meaning, we can try to relive our past by:

  1. Overdoing our daily thoughts about our past
  2. Choosing current situations that are doppelgangers to our past …being led to these familiar reenactments through the hypnotic trance of our subconscious.

Basically, it’s as if we all have a Portable Childhood we take with us as we head into adulthood – and we try to find new people to re-portray old family members.

So if you had a mom who was very Mommy Dearest — and shrieked at you all the time – you will attempt to recreate “Shriek Two, The Saga Continues.”

What Freud called “Repetition Compulsion,” modern happiness researcher Martin Seligman calls “learned helplessness.”

In the early sixties Martin Seligman discovered this principle of “learned helplessness” when he performed a “bizarre-o-world” version of the famed Pavlovian Response test.

In Seligman’s rendition, instead of teaching his doggies to associate a bell tone with yummy food delivery, he paired the bell tone with harmless-but-mighty shocks – then immediately restrained his doggies in a harness.

His goal? To test his theory that eventually the doggies would learn to fear the bell tone, and run away.

Instead when Seligman eventually untied his test doggies, and allowed them the option of escaping after bells were rung, his doggies didn’t scurry for those exit doors. They simply lay there — immobile and indifferent.

Initially Seligman was surprised – until he understood.

Over time these poor doggies had begun to tell themselves a sad doggie tale about how it just wasn’t worth it to attempt escape.

Seligman called this apathetic mindset “learned helplessness.”

He recognized how this lethargic attitude can also overwhelm us humans if we’ve endured painful scenarios. Eventually we humans can also wind up martyring ourselves to pain, instead of working to change circumstances.

Except for a special happier category of human – the positive breed of human that creates what Seligman calls a “Positive Explanatory Story.”

People who embrace a Positive Explanatory Story seek out meaning, purpose and enlightening beliefs from their pain.

In other words, if you want to change the negative patterns of your life, you gotta teach your old brain some new tricks – train your brain to tell you a “Positive Explanatory Story” about life’s pain – which will then free you from your limiting beliefs—thereby liberating you to go much further in your life!

Psychologists call this brain upgrade “attaining higher consciousness” and recognize how it leads a human to become their “highest self.”

Or I guess if we keep in mind my aforementioned goldfish/aquarium story, we should rename those terms “attaining FURTHER consciousness”-  and “becoming your FURTHEST self.”

After all, attaining higher consciousness is all about seeing FURTHER past your false Glass Walls – so you can swim FURTHER towards new/better/more life options.

An Inspiring Buddhist Fable To Further Explain:

There once was a little farm girl who was wandering in the forest and found an eagle’s nest filled with eagle’s eggs – but no mama eagle in sight. The mischievous girl quickly scooped out one egg and headed home, where she then slipped the egg under a mama to be chicken. A week later all these chicken’s eggs hatched – and there amongst those chicklettes, emerged a single eaglette – who then learned how to walk like a chicken, squawk like a chicken, eat chicken feed like a chicken. This eaglette, however, was not a happy camper. But the eaglette couldn’t understand why. So the eaglette tried harder — to be the best chicken walker, the best chicken squawker, the best chicken food gobbler. Still the eaglette was not happy in its heart. One day it took a walk to a cliff where for a moment the depressed bird felt ready to jump. Then the eaglette looked skyward, and saw a gorgeous bird with widespread wings flying by. The eaglette had this – CLUNK — flash of a brand new insight. It wanted to fly too! Then it looked down at the huge valley below and became afraid. Within moments a large group of soaring birds flew by – each with widespread wings. The eaglette watched — with eagle eyes – then developed A PLAN for how to fly. But fear set in once more. Thankfully, another gorgeously soaring bird flew by – and the eaglette felt a PUSH from within and instantly jumped. With its wings a-flapping, the eaglette found itself flying skyward – directly in path with the other soaring birds. That’s when the eaglette knew it was not meant to live the life of a chicken. It was meant to become a happily soaring eagle all along.

I love this fable – because it really represents what I call THE CLUNK, PLAN, and PUSH of total life transformation.

  • The eaglette first needed to attain that CLUNK of “further consciousness”
  • Then the eaglette needed to develop a PLAN with the right action steps to take for becoming its “furthest self”
  • Finally the eaglette needed a little inner PUSH to get over its fears of the new and unknown — so as to put that PLAN into action

What goes for the eaglette goes for us humans. Meaning? We humans need to experience what I call ” CLUNK, PLAN, PUSH” in order to break free from self sabotaging behaviors.

CLUNK…

You need to awaken to the *****CLUNK!!!!**** TRUTH that you are participating in self limiting beliefs which are creating self limiting, self-sabotaging behaviors. This CLUNK can show up after you experience one huge CLUNK of a painful event – or enough little CLUNKS of an obvious pattern of painful events – that you can no longer deny there is some self-sabotaging behavior to be examined. The CLUNK then creates a helpful wake up call – followed by an inner willingness to explore what can be done differently. The CLUNK inspires you to OWN your self sabotaging role in your life – so you can then DIS-OWN the self-sabotaging behavior.  The  CLUNK is what allows you to create a POSITIVE EXPLANATORY STORY for all the pain you’ve been through – so you can create new POSITIVE BELIEFS AND HABITS!  Oh – and this blessed CLUNK doesn’t always have to come in the form of a CLUNK of great pain. The CLUNK can also come from the CLUNK of reading an inspiring essay which resonates – maybe this one! Or a CLUNK can come from seeing a pattern in someone else – then CLUNK – recognizing their self sabotaging behaviors as your own.  However this CLUNK arrives, it creates a loosening to previously tightly-held beliefs and habits – which allows you to create a new positive explanatory story – and thereby create new positive beliefs and habits. You need this CLUNK first and foremost in order to create meaningful and lasting change!

self sabotaging behaviors
PLAN…

You need to create a PLAN for change. It’s much easier to do a STOP AND SWAP – than merely a STOP.  It’s not enough to know what you don’t want. You need to know where you want to go instead – so you can redirect your thoughts and habits to new thoughts and new habits.  By creating redirection your less likely to return your old ways. With this in mind you need to create a PLAN for where you want to go – and how you hope to get there. Studies show that people experience far greater success at creating life change when they put their dreams to paper. So take some to write out the steps you need to take – both the small steps and big steps. Read these steps often. Hold your vision. Drop the excuses. Remember your “why” behind your wanting to change. Swerve around obstacles. And trust the process.

PUSH…

You need to find a consistent form of inspiration which will keep you following your PLAN – even when you feel ready to quit. Change is challenging – so change not only needs a good PLAN it needs a good PUSH. Some examples of PUSH: You can read inspirational books/essays/posters like those I offer on my site here at notsalmon.com. Or you can read religious books. You can join an inspirational community and surround yourself with supportive people. You can link your PLAN to a few “greater good” benefits/results – so you super-charge wanting to succeed. You can remember to celebrate small successes on your way to your big success.

NOTE: Do you think you’re self sabotaging your happiness with bad health habits – emotional eating, food addictions, lack of a consistent fitness program? Want to finally slim down and tone up? Click to join me for THE DO IT PROGRAM!

What’s something which comes to your mind and heart when you read about self sabotaging behaviors, the 3 C’s and Clunk, Plan, Push? Share your personal story! 

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Karen Salmansohn (Founder)

Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.

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