Yeah, why the hell do we do this to ourselves when it goes against everything we want to have? Want to do or be? It just seems crazy and illogical.
But as Margaret Williams talks about in our conversation today, it makes perfect sense, because we often sabotage because we are just trying to keep ourselves safe. But from what? You ask. Well, from several things we may not even realize.
She compared our subconscious (the part of the brain that protects us from danger) to a doting mother who tries to keep her child from running out into the street. I agree with her. If we have any past experiences where we really did feel unsafe, from growing up in an abusive or toxic family, to experiencing loss or bullying, we have memories of reality showing up and making it dangerous to just let go and trust. We thus learned to self-protect, to not take unnecessary risks, and by all means not fail. Here are some of the reasons…
We Are Afraid to Make a Mistake. Yes, the Prison of Perfectionism I call it, because if we are afraid we can’t do it perfectly we simply won’t do it – especially when we cannot control all the variables (which is really just an illusion but don’t tell us that.) and therefore cannot guarantee success. Perfectionism is born out of a child’s struggle to control something in a chaotic family that places conditions on self-worth, such as behavior, perfect grades, and compliance.
We Fear Making the Wrong Decision. We don’t trust ourselves and/or the universe to “know and go” with what feels right. We fear we may choose wrong. I think this has more to do with not being solid with what our values are. What we find meaningful and what matters most. And why.
We don’t feel strong enough to detach from what others think. If we grew up getting the vibe that we weren’t allowed to have our own wishes, needs or feelings, it might be hard to think we are “separate” enough to do our own thing.
We Are Afraid of Being Disappointed. Now, of course, life will disappoint everyone at one time or another. But if you grew up being let down, manipulated and/or abandoned, your wounds run deep around not being able to trust others or circumstances to come through for you. Learning how to trust trustworthy people, have boundaries in our agreements and being more realistic yet hopeful helps to bring about better outcomes.
See you’ve just been trying to protect yourself from more wounding, not purposefully trying to hold yourself back. But you cannot have it both ways. It’s either stay safe and miserable or begin stepping out of your comfort zone and start following through on some things. You will notice that you CAN trust yourself as you go, and begin to feel more empowered and efficacious. This will help you feel strong enough to take bigger, badder (but gooder!) risks that will take your life in the direction you’ve always wanted to go but was afraid to make it real.
You deserve to go after your dreams, and even though you will still have anxiety and some self-doubt as you do that, the extraordinary payoff of making it real for yourself will blow all that away.