Research shows how thriving in life comes down to the perspective you have of yourself, how you interpret the world and have an awareness of when you are self-sabotaging.
Your level of fulfilment in life derives from how you decide to handle a difficult situation and what you are telling yourself when doing it.
So what happens to you when you have underlining self-sabotaging ways that make you feel dissatisfied about life without even realising it?
Read on, my friends.
You let your inner gremlin take over way too much
We all have that inner gremlin- the constant voice in our heads that reminds us of our fears, of not being good enough, or how we don’t have what it takes. The voice that reminds you of your shortcomings and how everyone else seems to get it done, just not you.
When did you start hearing this voice? Whose voice is it?
When we realise when this voice first originated within us, and who the owner of that voice is, we can start understanding the pattern that surrounds our negative thinking and how it impacts on how we see the world, and our interactions with other people.
Hint hint- that voice is not yours, it never was, although your awareness of the voice makes you think it's you.
Negative thoughts and beliefs have a lot of power over how we live our lives, especially because the voice is so familiar to us.
When we don't feel good enough, we tend to look outside of ourselves for validation and acceptance. Meaning, we look for other people to tell us what's okay, what we should think and believe, and we do things not because we want to, but because others want us to. Basically, you don't trust yourself enough.
Remember that time when you were invited to that work event? You were so excited to get asked but let's face it- they only asked you because you were standing right there, right? And why would you go? You can't talk to people and you're just going to feel awkward and embarrass yourself. Better not go then. Problem solved. Where did all these thoughts come from? This is a sign that you have been listening to that negative voice and that the decision was based on negative beliefs about yourself.
Our brain is designed for survival and doesn’t like embarrassment, so whenever we’re about to step out of our comfort zone, the alarm bells go off- hence the voice telling you not to go.
Can you reflect back to a time where a negative belief created an unwanted consequence in your life?
Stuffing down those painful emotions
Of all the things that bring us down, this one is one of the hardest ones to let go of.
I've always been so curious about how people deal with painful emotions. How do you deal with something that happened to you that brought so much hurt and pain and that still impacts you today? Did you find yourself dealing with the issue through alcohol, food, drugs, or working too much? Don’t worry, we all find something to distract us.
When you avoid feeling your emotions, you will want to distract yourself with anything that can provide you with temporary relief.
For example, you pick up a bad drinking habit, reach for food whenever a bad feeling arises, or binge watch shows to keep your mind occupied so the emotions that you don’t want to deal with are pushed further down. The issue with this is, by avoiding the emotion, you have not only welcomed other hardships into your life, but the painful situation remains the same because it was never dealt with in the first place.
Instead of getting curious about what the emotion is about and why it hurts you, you chose to disregard it because it was too painful at the time. Well, you know that uncomfortable feeling that taps you on the shoulder whenever you're having too much fun, or when you’re alone and start analysing everything? That is the reminder that whatever you are neglecting will keep showing up until you dare look at it, no matter how dreadful it is.
Who are you not forgiving?
Another matter that can be challenging for people is re-living the past.
The way we torture ourselves about something that has already happened. How is re-living anything that happened in the past helping you now?
Not letting it define who you are now is important if you want to move on- but how do you move on if the wound was never healed?
We tend to re-create the past because we are unable to let go of the anger and hurt, hence not being able to forgive.The day you realise that forgiving someone that hurt you is for yourself, not the other person, your perspective starts changing.
Sometimes we think that forgiving someone gives the message that it's okay to hurt us and that we allow it. After you have gone through with the grieving process of what hurt you in the first place, forgiving someone means to no longer allow yourself to carry anger and hurt within you while the other person feels none of it. So please, get out there and forgive- give forgiveness out like Oprah was giving out cars. Seriously. Forgive yourself, forgive others. This is about you, not them.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and discover that the prisoner was you.
The stories we tell ourselves
Have you ever noticed how we all have a story that we tell ourselves?
The story about why we are the way we are, our experiences, what we approve and disapprove of. This story might also include assumptions we have about other people, our self-worth, and how we think other people perceive us.
For example, imagine you're meeting up with a friend. You have a lovely time together, you laugh and share some amazing stories. While parting ways, you look back at your friend to wave goodbye and notice that he has this look on his face, almost like disgust.
On your way home, you start thinking about how you knew he didn't really like what you were saying and that he was only pretending so you would feel good. From here you start telling yourself that the next time you see him, you won't be as nice and open, you can't trust people nowadays.
Did you notice how fast that happened? What were you basing those thoughts on? How come you were so quick to make a judgement on the situation? While you were analysing every little thing that took place, your friend might have had that look on his face because he was thinking about something else or realised that it's Weightlifting Wednesday in an hour but he ate too much.
Your brain has done this before. The brain is an expert on creating narratives in order for us to make sense of what happens in our world. Unfortunately, these narratives are usually based on our own judgements and assumptions, the way we feel about ourselves and our previous experiences. We tend to look for validation outside of ourselves and when there are none, we make up our own false sense of value. The brain is about survival and wants to protect you at any cost. By creating a story about what happened, you feel like you made sense of the situation and it somehow taught you how to act next time.
Although there are many ways we can feel stuck and sabotage ourselves, most times it comes down to how you were taught to think about yourself and other people. Developing awareness of your own thought processes is a good place to start.