I think it is pretty safe to say that we all want to become better versions of ourselves and change our habits. You might want to be more active, work harder, have more confidence or making more money so why is it easier said than done? We always start out setting a goal for ourselves only for it to lose that shine a few days or a couple of weeks later. You don’t need to beat yourself up over this because there is a very good reason for it and when you get down to it is basically what keeps you being...you.
We call this self-sabotage.
It is what we feel once we start breaking out of our old habits to form new ones only to later find reasons why these new habits are not worth it or not good enough. Sometimes we don’t even notice but we just slip back into those old ways and to where we feel the most comfortable. You might be thinking how could this possibly be comfortable.
This is because the strongest force in our human personalities is the need to remain consistent to be able to define ourselves and keep that identity that makes us feel important.
You want to be able to know who you are because without this, what else do you have? Your brain wants to protect that identity and tell you who you are and if you decide to do anything that goes again this, your brain will stop and say “What a minute, this isn’t what we are used to? We don’t know what is going to happen!” You go into defence mode and the tension is so great that making the decision to take a step back puts that anxiety at ease and turns down the volume of that little voice inside your head…much more peaceful.
Why do we self-sabotage.
The reason why we feel like we need to hang onto this identity is because as humans we have a desire to fit in, to be a part of the tribe, society or culture whatever you want to call it.
Our Outer World
When we want to be different to those around us, all the alarm bells start to ring. For example if you want to be more successful, you start to have feelings of guilt or shame that your friends will start to think of you differently. They might say you are trying to hard, you’ve changed, you don’t care about them but why are they really saying this? It’s not that they don’t want you to succeed it’s that you don’t conform to how they see themselves, if they not happy with their own job/body/relationship/financial situation and their defence mechanism in all this is to consciously/subconsciously keep you down on their level.
Our Inner World
We also let our inner identity subconsciously keep us on that level, if we have told ourselves we were a certain way our whole lives, our mind will do everything in it's power to stay true to that story. For example: If you have always been the "fat/bigger" one in your family and your goal is to lose weight, be fitter & heaither. If you don't first eliminate the belief of 'always being the bigger one' then your mind will find ways to sabotage your weight-loss progress so you can stay true to that story. You may catch yourself rationalising to why there isn't any reason to change. 'I give up, what's the point in trying. I've always been the bigger one and i always will be' 'I'm mean it isn't that bad'. This stops you from living to your full potential.
We call this identity the ego. It is the image you have yourself and is put together through all your memories and beliefs that have shaped you and it is far more delicate than you think. It feels the need to defend itself at every opportunity whether this is attacking those new beliefs and habits you create or tearing down someone else who doesn’t match up with it. It wants you to feel as though your life is progressing without actually changing those core beliefs that really keep you where you are and so no matter how good your intentions, it will find a way to sabotage your effort.
How to Break the Cycle.
So how we escape this little identity that is keeping us trapped in a cycle of guilt, fear and uninspired comfort? The first step is to look at it head on. Acknowledge that the ego isn’t who you are it is just who it wants you to believe you are. It’s a fake, a fraud, the lazy houseguest that refuses to do any work. Once you’ve done this, try to find out where it all came from. Your beliefs have been shaped at some point in your life by your experiences. Whether it is fitness, money or personal relationships, all our strongest beliefs have come about from what happened to us in the past. This could be growing up in a poor family and feeling anxious about spending or making money, maybe you grew up around domestic violence and you have difficulty trusting people or maybe you always thought exercise was for people who are vain and self absorbed because you were bullied by people with better physique. Now think about new things you have discovered that smash these beliefs, new experiences that have empowered you to make the decisions to create better habits. This could be an inspiring book you read that relates to your past but they were able to achieve what you hope to achieve, It might just be you change you reason to something more empowering.
Back to the fitness example, let say for new mothers after giving birth is the hardest time to motivate yourself to be healthier and get back into shape. A belief you might have around working out could be that it's only for mothers that have 'help' so the have that extra time to exercise. Then you will always hold onto that identify that I am unfit and that I can't be fit/lose weight because I don't have time, which also excuses you from trying to make time for it. However, if you changed your belief that now I have a child, I need to make sure I do make the time to be active so I can be healthy, vibrant and energetic for my child. It's a more empowering reason to make sure you active that goal.
It will take time to break an old identity and it is always easier said than done. But the more you push yourself past what your mind feels it is capable of, the more your proving your ego wrong and in turn your ego quieten down.
I hope this help in any sort of way or learnt something new.
Chat with you guys next time,