In wartime, a saboteur would be someone who damaged enemy equipment by slashing the tires of cars and damaging machinery. There is often an element of stealth and secrecy to the way that sabotage is conducted, so if someone sabotages a political campaign, the identity of the saboteur might go completely undetected. So, what do we mean when we talk about sabotaging ourselves? Does it really mean that there is some mysterious, negative, subconscious part of us that wants us to fail at what we do? Or is there a simpler, more straightforward psychological principle at work here?
A simple, practical explanation for self-sabotage is that it’s a natural result of what happens when someone is conflicted about a particular goal because of a secret/unknown fear they have about some aspect of that goal. For example, a person may want to be in a romantic relationship but subconsciously believe that they are unworthy of love. They may start a relationship and then, when the other person starts to really care about them, they’ll begin pushing that person away, perhaps by starting petty arguments or not returning the other person’s calls, because they feel uncomfortable with the reality of being loved and cared about.
Or a student who is scared that they aren’t as talented as they think they should be might deliberately fail to study, be late submitting assignments, and generally be half-hearted about their academic work. That way, if they do get poor marks, they can preserve their self-esteem by telling themselves that they weren’t really trying on that particular test or assignment. In other words, there is a psychological pay-off — a "secondary gain" — to their sloppy, half-hearted study habits: it allows them to still believe that they are talented despite the average or poor grades they’re receiving in reality.
Some people spend years and years preparing to start their own business – going on courses, hiring a web designer, having business cards made – but endlessly postponing the moment when they actually start the business for real. And again, there’s no real mystery about why they’re doing this. They’re simply scared that their cherished dream, which they may have been fantasizing about for years, won’t work out for them in reality. So it feels easier and preferable for them to cling on to their dream a bit longer by doing a bit more preparing and planning, then a bit more preparing and planning still, and so on and so on, rather than face the fear of actually starting the new business properly.
Now, the fact that you’re reading this post probably suggests that there is an area of your life where you have a specific fear that’s been making you feel conflicted about giving that goal your all and really going for it. Whether it has to do with work, money, dieting, fitness, relationships, or whatever it might be, it’s likely there’s something about that topic, that area of your life, where you’re scared of a particular outcome. Perhaps you’re scared you won’t succeed and things won’t work out. Perhaps you’re scared of what it would be like if you did succeed in that area and how that would go against some long-standing beliefs you’ve held about yourself. But at some level of your mind, you’ve been dragging your feet and avoiding succeeding in an area of your life because of an inner conflict – a private fear you’ve been avoiding facing.
By addressing the subconscious limiting beliefs you may hold about yourself and your life, therapeutic hypnosis is going to help you effectively resolve this inner conflict so that you can calmly, gradually, confidently move forward in this area of your life.