This post is the fourth in a series on the ways we sabotage ourselves. Because self-sabotage so often lies in our blindspots, it is usually something we are unable to see in ourselves. The intent of these posts is to provide some insight into areas you may be letting yourself off the hook (read about the opposite of that approach here). You can read the third post here. I had the following conversation with someone the other day:
Me: So it sounds like what you want to create in your life is more time. More time for fun, for your fitness, for dating, and for just plain relaxing. Do I have that right?
Them: Yeah, that's exactly what I want.
Me: Great, so what about having a coaching conversation about that sometime next week?
Them: ... Well, here's the thing, I really don't have time for it.
When this conversation is written out, it looks like a caricature. But here's the thing, people actually operate this way. Our blindspots really are this prevalent. We can be having a conversation about what we want to create, point to what is in the way, and then reject the very thing that would allow us to change it.
This kind of self-sabotage is about insanity, as defined by Albert Einstein:
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
The thing is that the person above doesn't believe they are doing the same thing. They think that this time, this time, things really are different. Instead of overwhelming themselves with the amount of things on their plate, they'll just say no to everything.
But what changes underneath? Nothing. Their being remains the same. Not only that, but imagine if you will that taking on an overwhelming number of things is a pattern of being for this person that has slowly developed a rut.
Imagine a muddy road. The wagons run from the outskirts of town in to the center of the town, and over time, ruts get created that those wheels run within. Now, with this mental image, notice that choosing to reject anything new is actually just travelling the same well-worn rut, in the other direction.
There's nothing new! The behaviour looks kind of different, but it's coming from the same place. It's coming from the same way of being, and sure enough, from this rut, sooner or later, we'll be back to where we started.
As a former project manager, I'm no stranger to trying to fix an old pattern. I've developed strategies on top of strategies to make sure that things don't slip through the cracks. And when they inevitably do, I judge the people that allowed it to happen. While I am juggling those million balls, there's no room for fun, or relaxing. It's work, constantly!
So, in an attempt to change this, what did I predictably do? That's right - I just stopped tracking things. Just drop the strategies. But you know what? While that may look different, my being was still worrying about the things that were going to fail.
I was doing something different, but internally, there was still an epic battle being waged for my psychic energy and my presence. There was no opportunity for fun and relaxation on either side of that familiar rut.
If we want to create lasting, powerful change, we have to choose something different. We have to get up out of the rut, and choose from a place that is completely new to us. As humans, our default will be to fix whatever we perceive as broken, but this will inevitably keep us in the same rut.
So what can be done? Well, there's really only one thing - create a breakdown. Most of the time, we continue trying to fix the problem, until life eventually hands us a breakdown. Things completely fall apart, and stop working. We can longer move forward along the rut, and going in the opposite direction fails as well. From this place, we have to choose something outside of what is known. It's the only option.
Sound scary? It is. That's why you, and I, and everyone, avoid it. We avoid it until we can longer do so, and eventually life hands us circumstances that will no longer allow us to operate in the familiar context. And then, from that breakdown, we create something new and get to experience the beautiful breakthrough.
Coaching is about creating those breakdowns sooner, faster, and on purpose. Having the breakdown, so that you can have the breakthrough. Creating your life on purpose, rather than as it comes.
Where are you travelling in the same old wagon rut? What breakdowns have you been avoiding?