Do you ever find yourself in a vicious cycle? You start a project with full-on enthusiasm and quit half way to the finish line?
Start a diet and less than a month later find yourself elbow deep in a bucket of Haagen-Dazs, alone at your own pity party?
If so, I can relate.
Here is what it looks like for me: I will attempt to lose weight for a period of time, lose a bit, and start to feel good. Yup, got that part down pat. I’ve done it many times.
I’m feeling great and l want to keep up the momentum, but then something happens: it stops. Suddenly, without warning, it just stops. I hold tight at the same weight, maybe even go up a pound for no apparent reason.
We’ve all heard of a plateau, but that’s supposed to happen much later right? After you’ve been dieting for a while. I mean, I just got started.
So I get discouraged. I get angry.
Then, I start to feel down. I start to think about all of the foods I ‘said no to’. All of the times I resisted temptation while watching everyone around me indulge. Then I get angry again. I ask myself, “What’s the point?” I’m putting in all this effort and not seeing any results. It makes no sense. It absolutely makes no sense!
It’s not fair!
What comes next is the sad part. The nonsensical part. That’s a word, right?
The anger turns inward and I SABOTAGE everything! I say FUCK IT. Then, I start eating. And I eat everything in sight.
Does that mean I don’t want to lose weight? Of course not!
Does it mean I think I don’t deserve better? Definitely not!
Does it mean I am lazy and want to give up? Of course not!
Then, what the hell does it mean?
I recently had an aha! moment and can finally answer this question. I do this because I am angry at my body and lashing out at it. Rather than feel compassion toward it, I feel contempt. Rather than understanding that it’s struggling, I push it again. And again.
When my body doesn’t do what I tell it to do, I punish it. When I give it healthy foods and it doesn’t get smaller, I punish it. I withhold healthy food and replace it with what I know to be poison: sugar, processed foods and excess.
I say there must be something wrong with me. I’m not surprised though, because it happens every time. I almost expect it.
So, the weight goes up. Again. I see that and blame myself, of course. I beat myself up, repeating the same accusations over and over. I know better and must eat better! …so I do. …and I lose a few pounds. Easy.
Ah! I just need to stop over eating, and choose healthy foods. Why didn’t I think of that? The pounds start to come off again.
But then it stops. And then I get angry.
Guess what I do next…
Do you recognize this vicious cycle? Does it sound familiar to you? For some of us it might be food. For others it might be money. But the results are the same.
“Giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat.”
Self-sabotage is a nasty cycle to get stuck in. But there is a way out. The first step is to recognize that you are doing it. For me, it wasn’t until I tried what seemed like EVERY possible avenue (in this case weight loss methods) and each and every one of them led me back to the same place.
Does that sound like a cycle to you?
Without further ado, here are some tried and true methods that you can start using today to help you stop spinning your wheels and finally start Going 4Ward.
How to Stop Self-Sabotage:
1. Recognize that you are doing it
If you are busy blaming other people or outside circumstances for your lack of results, you might be missing the opportunity to reach your goals quicker than you think. Think of some goals that you talk about often, but consistently fail to achieve. Think also of ones that you fail to start, or fail to complete, once started. Consider that you might be the cause, which means that you are also the solution.
2. Listen to your self-talk
What are you saying? Pay very close attention to the thoughts, statements and accusations you are making about yourself. Write them down. Getting thoughts out of your own head can be a very powerful tool. It allows you to see them for what they are, and to some extent take on a more objective view of them. Sometimes just the act of re-reading these thoughts a few hours or a few days later can really help you see a destructive thought pattern.
For me, every time the scale didn’t give me the number I wanted to see, I would either berate myself for not trying hard enough, or decide there was something wrong with me, with my body, for not responding in the way that I wanted.
3. Deconstruct them:
When you are reading your self-talk at a later time, you may be tempted to brush it off as emotional writing. “In the heat of the moment”. Don’t make the mistake of brushing this off so quickly. The thoughts we have in the heat of the moment are very powerful, even though later on you might be tempted to say you know better. ‘In the moment’ is what matters. This is where choices are made, actions are taken, and results are achieved.
Once you’ve identified some of your self-talk, now it’s time to deconstruct them and replace them with more empowering statements, ones that will move you forward toward your goals. Make a list of empowering statements that are in contradiction to your negative self-talk, and keep them handy for Step 4.
4. Identify your Triggers
As you become more aware of your limiting beliefs and your negative self-talk, you will also notice that they tend to be connected to certain events, times, locations and even people. These are your triggers.
Once you identify your triggers, you have 2 choices: you can either remove them or, if removing them is not possible, you can use your list of empowering statements when you come face to face with one of your triggers.
In my case, I identified several triggers that kept me in the self-sabotage cycle. One of course was the scale. Yes, simple in theory but more powerful than I had initially thought. When I thought I was having a good week, the scale didn’t always agree. I am smart enough to know that there are many factors that affect the numbers on the scale, such as hormones, etc, but nonetheless I would allow the numbers on the scale to trigger the self-talk, which ALWAYS led to self-sabotage. That’s right, I would go straight to the freezer for the Haagen-Dazs. (or in my case, I would suddenly offer to take the kids out for ice cream )
I’ve discovered that this was only one of many triggers I’ve been allowing to get in the way of reaching my goals.
5. Develop new positive daily practices
It is important to be able to clearly articulate your goals and know EXACTLY what you are aiming for. Write them down in as much detail as possible and put them where you can see them daily. Read them daily.
A vision board is a great way to maintain that clarity and keep your goals in the forefront of your mind.
Having a list of daily affirmations that support your goals is also a powerful tool. They say that if you repeat something enough times, consistently, your mind will start to believe it to be true. Try it and see for yourself. At the very least, you will be reinforcing a habit of positive self-talk, rather than limiting negative self-talk.
And lastly, remember to go easy on yourself. We are all doing the best we can, based on our current beliefs. If you are reading this post to the end, then you need to applaud yourself for putting yourself and your goals first.
Question for you: Have you managed to escape your own self-sabotage cycle? Please share what worked for you in the comments below.
Till Next Time,
Keep Going 4Ward!
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