You’re frustrated. You feel stuck in a repetitive motion, running at a crazy pace on a hamster wheel—getting nowhere—and perhaps even running the wrong way.
The truth is most people are totally unaware that they are sometimes controlled by internal mechanisms that are designed to protect, but that can actually function to sabotage certain goals in their lives. The fact is, all of us possess self-destructive elements that can manifest at any time in a variety of ways. We perform this harmonious dance back and forth between what we truly want and what stops us from achieving it.
“Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with long- standing goals. The most common self-sabotaging behaviors are procrastination, self- medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating in the face of weight concerns, and self-injury. These acts may seem helpful in the moment, but ultimately undermine us, especially when we engage in them repeatedly.”(1)
Self-sabotage is easier to recognize when someone else is doing it to themselves versus when you are doing it to yourself. Nowhere is the power of a fear-based mindset more evident than when we sabotage our own dreams … and ultimately our success, too.
In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck Ph.D. says your chances of successful change rely less on your ability and your circumstances, and more on your belief system and how you believe things can or will change. Essentially, she puts people in two different groups—those with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset.
If you have a fixed mindset you work with the assumption that growth and success are the direct result of your work product, performance, talent or intelligence. If it doesn’t work out the way you had hoped, or you fail altogether, then you think you suck, you’re stupid, and are a giant loser. If you don’t get what you anticipated, you beat yourself up, blame someone or something else, or find every reason in the world why it wasn’t your “fault” because that reflects epic failure.
Here’s the shift in mindset that actually fosters sustainable change: People who have a growth mindset are not inspired by the fear of failure or the promise of success. They believe that wisdom and success are gained through each experience. So if they stumble, they assess the minor setback, modify their behavior and proceed in a different way. Subsequently, each behavioral modification increases their rate of success as they move forward—a sort of live and learn mentality. They don’t expect special attention or rewards. That’s not their motivation. Their motivation is simply a sense of forward movement (not fixed ideals) and the accumulation of wisdom as they work toward their ultimate goal. Because they accept their imperfections and are gentle and kind to themselves when they trip up, they move forward more successfully and are generally happier.
In other words, they modify as they go, avoiding the hamster wheel altogether. Have a growth mindset, and don’t be a hamster!
(1) Psychology Today – https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/self-sabotage