In today's episode I cover a topic which will easily ensure that your plans fall apart - Self-sabotage. That’s when we say we want something and then go out making sure it doesn't happen.
We need to ascend beyond our own petty Resistance, our own negative self-judgment and self-sabotage, our own "I'm not worthy" mind-set.
Steven Pressfield Unquote
Self-sabotage is one of those terms you hear thrown around a lot, but understanding what people actually mean by it is perhaps not entirely clear.
Put simply, Self-sabotage is when you undermine your own goals and values.
In other words, you acknowledge that there’s something out there you genuinely want and believe is good for you, for example losing weight, but then you do things that directly conflict with that goal (e.g. late-night fast-food runs).
Have you ever set out to get something important done and then found yourself just minutes later looking at your social media or doing some other far less important task instead? That of course is procrastination and it’s a classic case of self-sabotage. It’s not anyone else’s fault, though. It’s yours. We don’t set out to do these things but it happens all the time. Self-sabotage comes in many forms and procrastination is just one of them. Today I’ll talk briefly about 10 different types of self sabotage but I will mention a few others too. The first one is procrastination.
Procrastination is likely the most common form of self-sabotaging behaviour and stems from the fear of failure or even fear of success. The irony being that when we procrastinate, we end up fulfilling our own self-prophecy so next time you feel the pull to put things off, acknowledge the discomfort and do it anyway. I know it’s easier for me to say this stuff than for you to actually do it but if you acknowledge that you are procrastinating, then you are a step closer to taking action to combat it.
Another action that can be classed as self-sabotage is when you avoid anything that runs the risk of pain – when we feel like we’ve been burned in life, we might find ourselves avoiding situations that leave us open to experiencing the same pain again. That’s certainly why I’ve not made a second feature in the 10 years since my first. In fact I’ve had sooo many bad experiences in film-making that it really hinders me when I come to tackle new learning in the subject or when screenwriting or when it comes to going out and shooting. I am the most limiting factor in my film-making journey.
Another self-sabotaging behaviour is the use of alcohol and drugs. They might help numb the pain in the short-term, but they tend to cause us damage in the long run. If you find yourself turning to the bottle to stuff down difficult emotions or to “get through” social situations, this is a sign you might be self-sabotaging.
This one may be a little more left field but I recognise it. Being a FIXER – someone who is constantly looking after other people could very likely mean that you are using it as a distraction from facing your own issues or working on your own stuff. Do you recognise that in yourself? I find it easy to see in other people if I’m entirely honest about myself I do find it’s easier to help someone else out than to work on my own projects. This links in with saying no to things that don’t further your own goals which I’ll talk about in a second.
Being a control freak may mean that you are self-sabotaging – when we try to control situations – or people – we block our own growth. That could encompass perfectionism too btw. I’ve covered this in earlier episodes. Don’t aim for perfection. Aim for good enough. You can always refine it later.
Another cause of self-sabotage might be that you suffer from low self-esteem – when we don’t believe ourselves to be worthy of the good stuff, we might subconsciously set ourselves up for failure. People often set much higher standards for themselves than they do for others. When you fail to meet these standards, you might give yourself some pretty harsh feedback: Thing’s like:
“I can’t do anything right.” or
“I won’t make it, so why should I bother?”
Whether you criticize yourself in front of others or have a habit of negative self-talk, the same thing can happen: Your words may eventually be taken as truth. Believing these criticisms can promote an attitude of self-defeat and keep you from wanting to try again. Eventually, you might give up before you even begin. This is an important one. It can limit the amount of effort we are willing to put in in the first place and the lesser the effort the more likely we are to fail.
Stress Eating is another one and I am certainly guilty of this. Many people turn to food as a way to deal with stress and anxiety in their lives because it temporarily makes them feel good and distracts from their pain. But they know in the long run it’s sabotaging important values like maintaining a healthy diet or being physically fit. I can take control of my eating but I find myself constantly giving myself excuses for putting that time off.
You are also sabotaging yourself when you can’t say no – People-pleasing is one of the most socially accepted forms of self-sabotage around. Control yourself. Don’t make the word yes your default word. Make no your default. I have a full episode about the power of NO available to listen to in season 1. Go check it out. I think it may even be episode 2.
Giving up too easily is next- There’s nothing wrong with moving on from situations that don’t meet your needs. This might be the best option sometimes. But it’s usually wise to take a quick step back and ask yourself first if you really made an effort.
The final indicator on this list is one I see all too often and I have certainly suffered from myself. It’s Negativity. I see this constantly in people. Some people always have a negative comment about everything. People who self-sabotage are more prone to expressing this negativity. This turns into accepting self-judgments and abuse that you would not so easily accept from other people. I’d add to that the more negative you are, the less that more positive people will want to be around you. I’m not a particular believer in The Secret but I can certainly say that with a positive frame of mind you are more likely to succeed. With a negative frame of mind you are far far more likely to fail.
RuPaul said that Negativity is basically laziness. It takes a lot of hard work to remain positive, but positivity always pays off.
Sometimes you won’t be successful simply because you are too lazy. I urge you to go back and find my episode on the microwave mentality that covers this in some detail. https://www.filmproproductivity.com/post/episode23
Self-sabotaging behaviours are often deeply ingrained and hard to recognize and once you do recognize them, noticing how you hold yourself back can be hard to come to terms with.
Keep in mind though, that by recognizing these behaviours, you’ve taken the first step toward changing them.
Psychology today suggests that once you have identified your self-sabotage behaviours that you choose which pattern most hinders your success. It suggests that you identify the triggers for that behaviour and that you make a plan for actions to take instead the next time it comes up. For example, if negativity is a problem at work, plan to make one positive comment each day. Embrace improvements, rather than elimination, to make incremental progress toward your goal.
Call to action:
As a swift recap we have covered these indicators of self sabotage:
· avoid things that run the risk of causing you pain
· the use of alcohol and drugs
· being a FIXER
· Being a control freak
· you suffer from low self-esteem
· stress eating
· when you can’t say no
· Giving up too easily &
Your call to action today is to decide which one of these self-sabotage indicators most limits you and to make a plan to combat it. Use incremental changes over the next few weeks to conquer that self-destructive habit.
Scare Scotland was set up 8 years to bring together like minded people who wanted to work in the scare attraction industry and they provide specialist actors and extras for the postions that tv and film productions struggle to fill. They created training courses for their people to upskill them so their skills are transferable and they are very proud of their Zombie horde and their Undead Academy. It has developed over the years to include many different things beyond zombies. They give their people training for free, provide free headshots, and in the future they hope to try and offset some actors costs to pay for things like spotlight. They are also about creating opportunities for those who may not have them. Their achievements are many including a number 1 show at the Edinburgh Festival, working with Richard Gere, and on many TV productions, films and over 60 scare attractions, including the award winning Dread.
Next week’s show will be all about a very simple but very useful productivity method. The Pomodoro Technique. If you are struggling with procrastination, you HAVE TO CHECK IT OUT.
Let me finish with more words from Steven Pressfield who wrote the excellent book THE WAR OF ART. That’s one well worth checking out btw. He said that
Turning pro is a mindset. If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we’re thinking like amateurs. Amateurs don’t show up. Amateurs crap out. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.
Now take control of your own destiny, suppress those habits of self sabotage, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!
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