|Cynicism is just unpleasant truth. (Photo credit: KAZVorpal)|
Self sabotage is by far the number one activity that derails our lives. Sure, other people and events can come around that will derail us, but more often than not, we are our worst enemy.
Often self sabotage appears subtle, it infects our thoughts so seamlessly that we do not even realize we are self sabotaging. Its very sinister. However, with some reflection we can come to realize the patterns.
Here are a few of the patterns that I realized not only in my own life but in the lives of the people I have encountered. See if you can see yourself in some of these.
The 5 everyday symptoms of self sabotage:
1. Procrastination and Escapism
2. Cynicism - Being Jaded
3. Negative thinking
4. Negative Skepticism
Procrastination and escapism
Procrastination and escapism are very effective dream killer. You want to escape something you don't want to do or deal with. When the spirit of procrastination possesses you, suddenly all these rationalizations emerge. Here is just one way I have been possessed by it.
There was a time when I wanted to find a new job. In order for me to start applying I needed to buy a new suit, the problem was that I thought I looked horrible in a suit because of the weight I gained. So I told myself" I can't look for a job until I get a suit and I can't get the suit until I lose the weight".
OK, I cut myself some slack, I figured I can take two months and lose the weight. Unfortunately, my intention was not quite in line with my actions. Every day I said to myself "I will start my diet tomorrow". The problem is, tomorrow never came.
What should have taken me two months never got done. In fact I stayed at the same job I wanted to leave for an additional two years. That is how powerful procrastination is. It is TASK AVERSION.
In order to make meaningful change in your life it is important to be cognizant of what your particular issue is. Sometimes this requires you to face the demon you are trying so very hard to exorcise. However, most people (including myself) are afraid of the demons, so instead we find a distraction. Something that will help us ESCAPE from these problems.
For me, it was alcohol when I felt anxious and frozen pizza. I admit, I still love frozen pizza, especially made by Amy's, it's delicious. But now I treat it as a meal and not as medication. If it is within my calorie budget, I eat it, if not, I don't. Escapism pops its head in very sinister ways because it is a seamless thought. Unless you are mindful, you may not catch it.
Your dreams can be put off indefinitely so long as you are possessed by procrastination. The sinister result of procrastination is that the longer you give in to it, the more and more complacent you will become. The more complacent you become, the more distance between you and your goals.
You don't want this to happen. The more distance between you and your goal, the less likely you will be motivated to take the actions necessary to achieve it. The clock will continue to tick away and as you move away from the goal, the clock ticks even faster. You will blink your eyes and a year will pass and you will be dumbfounded and think "Where did the time go?" My friend, once the time is gone, it is gone forever.
Cynicism - Being Jaded
Cynicism is a scourge upon the land. This alone can produce the right environment for procrastination to occur. A Cynic is a person who is constantly judging and questioning the goodness and positivity of everything. They are the kind of person that will find a flaw in everything they encounter.
This might be good in the corporate world where you need someone to be able to spot flaws in a very important project. But this doesn't work in day to day living. Sure, I think it is very important to observe your life and question certain things to make sure you are on track, but to me, that is just being mindful.
The cynic however will find the flaw and then magnify it much larger than it already is. By making it larger, there is then less inclination to do anything about the flaw because it is suddenly "too big" to handle.
When this happens, guess what happens next? Procrastination and escapism. A cynic can never be truly happy because the joy they feel will be outweighed by the negativity experienced picking out the flaws. THEY ARE JADED.
The cynic's thoughts are so intertwined with their experience that they can't even allow the possibility that they are wrong. If they are proven wrong, they will twist it in such a way that they look right. If you are cynic and you want to be right, just realize you will also remain stuck. A cynic will never allow for anything to work for them because they discount it before they even start.
This is a killer of dreams. A Cynic may have big dreams but they will never fulfill them because they will find a flaw in everything, in every step of the way. The cure for a cynic is an open mind. Yes, all things have flaws, yes, knowing this may not work for you. Give it a shot. Don't be so cynical.
As you may know the number one problem to have when you are trying to make changes in life is negative thinking. A negative attitude has the power to undermine even the most well intended efforts because it is seamlessly woven into your thoughts and makes a lot of sense when it starts chattering away in your mind.
"Why bother? it says. You know you don't have the self discipline to change, why even try?" In some cases negative thinking is result of years of being disappointed in life. I know in my own life that every time I failed another notch of negative thinking was etched into my mind.
After a while almost everything to me was negative. When negativity and cynicism encounter one another it sucks the life right out of you. You won't take chances in life because you are convinced you will fail.
Take heed, the subconscious mind can be very sly and masquerade negative thinking as caution. When you think of negative thinking and interpreted it as being cautious, you give yourself a way out of making changes in your life. You will say " I am not being negative, I am simply being cautious".
That, my friend, is hogwash. Yes, it is wise to exert caution in some cases but in most cases we don't need to be on guard as often as we think we do. Being on guard all the time is a symptom of negative thinking.
Another sly way the subconscious mind keeps you negative is by convincing you that being negative is just " how you are", implying that it is, in some way, a character trait you were born with. You weren't born a negative thinker, you were programmed to be one; whether it was conscious or not.
Negative Skepticism, is very much related to negative thinking but it doesn't always have a negative outcome. There are positive forms of skepticism. A good time to exert skepticism is when you read the emails in your spam folder.
Have you ever received emails stating that you are the beneficiary of a multimillion dollar account based in Africa or China? Have you received several of these emails from different people stating the same thing?
Wow, you must have a lot of rich relatives and connections in Africa and China. They chose you to be the inheritor of all this money ... JACKPOT BABY!!! Then, after you send them an email laying claim to your money they suddenly need you to send them money first.
I don't need to tell you that the above scenario would surely warrant skepticism wouldn't you agree? I am not about to give my personal information to some dethroned Queen in exile, who I don't even know, so she can send me millions of dollars that her dictator husband left behind. Would you? If you would, well, I have beachfront property in Iowa for you to buy.
In the above scenario, it is clear, skepticism is useful. It's when it starts getting in the way of you making changes is when it is detrimental. Like negative thinking, negative skepticism prevents you from fully looking at the broader picture, it prevents you from entertaining the notion that something could actually work for you.
If you are like me, you read quite a bit of self help literature. There are so many techniques and "stuff" out there that it is very easy to grow skeptical about all the claims. If any of it worked there would be no need for other techniques right? Well, yes and no. Certain techniques work well for others but not for all.
That's just the nature of the world. As they say " one man's trash is another man's treasure." It's like that in all areas of life. Now, I am not saying buy every new book that comes out. However, what I am saying is don't discount it right away. There could be a hidden gem there for you.
This symptom is very much related to all the others. It's a form of negative thinking but with deeper emotional connotations. Often we feel defeated in life when things don't go our way. At first this might be a natural consequence of feeling bad about a defeat. That's okay, it happens.
Our confidence gets shaken when things don't work out, that's natural and usually not a big problem. It's when these defeats happen more often that we can develop defeatism. A defeated person is a person who has already lost the competition before they even entered.
For example, when I was training for the J.P Morgan corporate challenge which is a 3.50 mile run, I had tons of doubts. Some even self defeating. I thought to myself " You never ran that fast or for that amount of time ever, you may as well not even try." I almost caved into that feeling, but I didn't. Not only did I finish the run, I did the best time I ever would have dreamed to make.
Now I run regularly and break all my personal records and I love it. I have a 10 mile run coming (wish me luck).
Why am I telling you all this? I am doing so because if I would have caved into those defeating thoughts, I wouldn't have achieved what I did. it may not be much, but it was huge for me.
Do you have a goal you are talking yourself out of? Are any of the reasons of the " you can't" variety? if so, that's defeatism. It's your subconscious minds way of protecting you from another disappointment. If you cave in to it, you will simply be reinforcing the defeating behavior.
There you have it folks, the everyday signs of self sabotage. If you would like to learn more please see the links in the resource box.
Doron Alon is the CEO of Numinosity Press Incorporated, a small independent publisher of spiritual works and many more topics.
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