The Destructive Art of Self-Sabotage

Posted November 15, 2012 by Rebecca Niziol in Life After Five

I’m not sure when we got so great at self-sabotage, but it’s become an art form. I myself have become a master, as have many of my friends, and maybe even you.

Today a great coach and friend of mine pointed out that I was doing what Gay Hendricks would call upper-limiting myself. The Upper Limit Problem (or UPL) is described in The Big Leap as “an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.”

I’ve been working on a new website, and I’ve been struggling with my “About Me” page for about three weeks now. There are all sorts of excuses I’ve thrown out as to why I haven’t submitted it to my web designer yet: It’s too personal, it’s not clear enough, I haven’t spent enough time on it, I haven’t gotten enough feedback yet, I’m not sure if it speaks to my target market as much as it could…. The list goes on and on.

As my friend began questioning me as to what was really going on with the page, it became clear: I was sabotaging myself.

Hendricks explains that our inner thermostat “holds us back from enjoying all the love, financial abundance, and creativity that is rightfully ours.”  Unfortunately our limit is programmed when we are young, naïve, and not fully thinking for ourselves yet. When we start to excel and succeed at something, we begin to hit against that Upper Limit which causes discomfort. Usually, we then subconsciously do something to mess up the success or happiness we are experiencing in order to bring us back within our comfort zone.

I was experiencing an unexplainable amount of ease in launching my new business, and my system didn’t know what was going on. “Why isn’t this harder?” I kept thinking. So, I had to do something to make it seem more difficult. For years I’ve kicked my own butt making things happen, that’s what I know and what I’m good at. But I’ve evolved beyond that, and now I’m moving into this unknown space where things flow, happen naturally, and are actually easy.

The trick is to expand your capacity for enjoyment as you come into more success, love, and happiness. First, you’ve got to recognize where your UPL is, and how you are sabotaging yourself back into your comfort zone. Hendricks points out, “People often experience big breakthroughs… and then find a way to avoid relishing their achievement.”

Here are the most common ways ULPs show up in life. Be aware of your most common self-sabotaging techniques in order to change them.

  1. Worry – This comes into play mostly when we worry about something we cannot control. Check to see if your worry is useful or even realistic. It almost never is.
  2. Criticism and Blame – These show up often in relationships. Notice if either behavior actually produces any sort of desired results. Probably not, so knock it off!
  3. Deflecting – This is the act of blocking or resisting any positive energy from flowing to you. Try accepting positive feedback or praise with gratitude instead of disbelief.
  4. Squabbling – Conflict is such a great way to avoid passing your UPL, because it instantly brings you and those around you down. Stop being a victim, and take responsibility for your actions to eliminate this problem.
  5. Getting Sick or Hurt – Notice the timing of your illness or injury; if it follows some big success in your life, it’s probably an ULP symptom. You can save yourself a lot of suffering if you realize when you’re allowing a headache to block you feeling wildly successful or happy.

Just by noticing when you are limiting yourself, you can eliminate many of those self-sabotaging patterns. Look out for my 2012 Best Books Lists coming soon. It will feature more Career Girl must-reads like The Big Leap.

About the Author

Rebecca Niziol

Rebecca Niziol, ELI-MP, is many things: a life coach, yoga teacher, dancer, event planner, connection catalyst, and your new best friend. Her mission is to empower others to live the authentic life of their dreams. After years of traveling North America and Europe, she is happy to have found a home and community in Chicago.