Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Self-Sabotage or Self-Preservation?

There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs with many people who decide to “change” their life for the better. They commit very deeply to the process of change – truly believing they will do what ever it takes to make the change become permanent. But just as they are about to “break through” to the next level, they disengage from the process and go back to their old self.

Why is this? Why do they pull-back from change just as things are getting good?

Is it because they changed their minds and don't really believe in their goals anymore? Or because they don't think the process is working for them?

I don't think so!

Even though they may say and "feel" both of these things, I don't believe it to be true. In fact, I think that just the opposite is true. And the longer I coach, the more I see it happen.

You see, up until the point of backing down, most people actively participate in the change process at a conscious level. They make real decisions to be who they want to be. And they are very motivated.

Unfortunately though, change in the early stages isn't permanent - it's just surface changes. Real change takes time and requires a deeper commitment. It requires changing habit patterns which are subconscious thoughts - and these are not as easily changed.

Sure, they get close to making a real difference long term, but they never carry through because of an incredible strong drive to quit and / or destroy everything they've worked for up to this point. And it feels the longer they fight it, the stronger the feeling grows.

It is precisely at this point that most people quit and go back to who they have always been – back to what feels comfortable every day. It is really a shame, because just as the pull becomes strongest is the precise time that you have to find a way to push through – at a conscious level – because your gut (your inner voice) is doing everything it can to hold you back – to keep you from taking that next step.

And it is doing so more out of self-preservation than anything else!

The very survival of everything you have counted on as “truth” depends on you not going any further. In the next couple steps you take, you will begin to see a new truth. Each step is a challenge to what you have always known and will redefine your world image. Your subconscious knows that you are on the verge of breaking free from your comfort zone as it is right now – and reaching a new plateau in your life. And this plateau in your life will leave the past as simply that – your past.

Up until this breakthrough, the tug of your old self grows with each passing day – until you feel like you can't go another step. Do not succumb to these tugs and go back to their comfortable life. If and when you have the strength to step through that invisible barrier, that is your comfort zone, you will no longer feel that ever-increasing tug. You will find a new freedom and drive to keep moving forward.

Don't get me wrong, you will still feel the tug of your old self. But after breakthrough, with each passing day, the tug will get weaker – and your new path will gain strength. The new you will begin to take shape.

It's not that you forget who you were, it's simply that you begin to see yourself as something new – as something re-defined.

So here, if anywhere, is where you need to find someone to support your journey – to encourage you to keep moving forward – to help you find what lies outside your comfort zone.

Sadly, too often, you can't count on your family or your friends of old on this journey. It's not because they don't love and support you or because they don't want what's best for you. Instead, the problem with those who love you so dearly is that from where they stand (usually inside your comfort zone), the pain you will endure is being caused by your efforts to change, not by the struggle to break from your old habits. They want to you be who they have always know you to be, more so than who you can be.

Many people call this process self-sabotage. Honestly, I think the name is wrong. It's not sabotage at all, it's actually self-preservation. To see it as “against” you is, in my opinion, looking at it from the wrong perspective. And this perspective actually makes it more difficult to overcome. Conversely, when you see it as an attempt of preservation of the old you, it is actually easier to step through and overcome.

It's not you trying to sabotage your dreams – it's you trying to save the only YOU that you ever known – the YOU that you've always been.

Here is the simple truth - "You will always be you." And instead of leaving the old you behind, you will add to it. You will learn new things, new tricks and gain new experiences.

As I said in one of my earliest blogs, Be Willing To Give Up Everything To Get What You Want, you have to willing to give up what you currently have in order to create or get what you want. And now you can see, more than anything else, what you have to be willing to give up is what previously defined YOU – and allow something new to grow and become who you are.

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