When you are your own obstacle

By , K24 Digital
On Tue, 2 Apr, 2024 08:00 | 3 mins read
A man
A man in deep thoughts. PHOTO/Pexels

People are often told that their behaviours are an aggregate of those of the people they hang out with. This means that any bad behaviours can easily be choked to bad peers. While there is a lot of emphasis on outside hindrances to success, little is said about inner hindrances.

“We are what we believe we are. There is a common Latin Saying, ‘Cogito ergo sum’ loosely translated to, you are what you think you are.

If you believe you can’t, you are right. If you believe you can, you are also right. Your beliefs are shaped by thought. And your beliefs invariably shape your actions. Self-limiting beliefs, therefore often manifest as self-sabotage,” Ken Munyua, a psychologist explains.

What self-sabotage is

Self-sabotage occurs when our behaviours and attitudes are actively or passively hindering us from reaching our goals, Munyua says. One could intentionally choose to not show up early for work or subconsciously do so, thereby sabotaging their career.

Procrastination and inaction, is one common form of self-sabotage that stems from the belief that one is incapable of success or undeserving of it. A person who aspires to grow in their career, but does not upgrade their skills is a self-saboteur who probably suffers from procrastination and an innate fear of success or failure.

Catherine Gachutha, a psychologist and relationship therapist describes self-limiting beliefs as beliefs that one holds about themselves that do not acknowledge one’s strengths and resourcefulness. Such persons see themselves as lacking in abilities and hence they suffer from inadequacy syndrome.

They pity themselves and have negativity around who they are. Such persons will say things like, “I am not intelligent.” “I can never amount to anything” “I am good for nothing” “I can never make you happy”. The beliefs show up in all spheres of life from personal relationships to work set-ups. But where do self-limiting beliefs come from?

“The self-limiting beliefs may come from negative experiences in the past where one failed in a particular exercise or situation and then they picked that up as confirmation that they are failures in every other sphere of their lives.

Such unresolved issues make one start developing negative attitudes towards themselves. It also comes from negative nurturing, where those that took care of an individual during the formative years said negative things about them. Such statements include, “you are good for nothing” “you are foolish”.

The child grows up believing these things and may end up being exactly what they were told since they believed it,” Gachutha further elaborates.

Women self-sabotage more

While bad or great parenting is enjoyed equally by both men and women, research shows that women self-sabotage more than men do.

What can we attribute this to? Gachutha attributes this to the fact that women naturally operate from an emotional standpoint. If they get hurt, they tend to coil back and shy away from that failed activity and any like it in the future.

Moreover, women are also largely defined by culture and society as weaker sex. These socialisation is inculcated into them as small girls, which makes them grow into women who still believe they are inadequate as they use the societal standards and beliefs to evaluate themselves.

This means that women second guess themselves and self-sabotage, while men who were never taught to be inferior will try everything and prosper, without even a thought as to why they did it.

Gachutha also explains how women’s socialisation as nurturers also lends them to not pursue their interests as they believe they live to advance others and not themselves. This is why many will decline promotions, a move out of the country, or even personal time, as they believe their family’s success comes before theirs.

What to do

Since these beliefs are templates developed early on in life, it is hard to know when and how one is self-sabotaging. To successfully get one’s self-limiting beliefs, Munyua advises people to be more self-aware and to involve specialists if need be.

One can start by thinking about their most recent failures and their behaviours and emotions during such events. Over time, one can easily discern a pattern, whether of inactivity or an action that contributed to the outcome. Once one identifies the pattern, they should dig deeper to find the feeling or emotion that they hold that feeds that pattern. Once this is identified, one can then start working on debunking it and building new templates and beliefs where it was, over time.

“It is not easy to debunk self-limiting beliefs even after identifying them. But it can be done through consistent effort. You can do this alone, or with the help of a life coach. Think positive thoughts.

Do not act out of feelings and emotions as this will activate the old templates of self-sabotaging behaviour. Every time old beliefs come to the fore, counteract them with new ones.

Over time, you will be able to rewrite your template and skirt bad habits as well as muscle through habits that you would have avoided when you were a self-saboteur. You should also remember to take care of yourself to ensure you are performing at an optimal level,” Munyua says.

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