As life dissatisfaction sets in, you start wondering why. After all, there must be something you have not done that made that feeling arise. Have you been working hard enough on achieving all your goals? Is there something missing that could make you happier and more fulfilled? If your answer is no to the former and yes to the latter, you might consider self-sabotage.
When you study the term “self-sabotage”, be it online or in a self-help library, you find it largely connected to the themes of professional growth and entrepreneurship. Self-sabotage is highly associated with failure in achieving success, or as Brenner (2019) puts it
“Self-sabotage occurs when we destroy ourselves physically, mentally, or emotionally or deliberately hinder our own success and wellbeing by undermining personal goals and values.”
The problem of “self-sabotage” does not exist in a vacuum, but it stems from a culture of finding happiness via “success” and “achievement”. Such culture has its eyes on the ultimate goal, while it ignores the journey. It limits our appreciation of experience to the attainment of material goods and validation. As happiness seekers, we become dependent on good feelings – triggered by external factors – to nurture a sense wholeness and life engagement.
So let’s go back to you wondering where it all went wrong. According to the self-sabotage theory, all you need to overcome your dissatisfaction is to roll up your sleeves and get something done. But what if your body knows better? What if it secretly understands that even if you achieve all your goals and feel a surge of happiness, you will eventually go back to your personal baseline? Organically and without your awareness of “the hedonic treadmill”, it has decided to get off it.
Before rushing to dismiss your bodies’ wisdom, take a moment to sit with your discomfort. Become the observer of your own feelings without engaging with them. Notice their natural ebb and flow, without being swayed by them. With openness and curiosity, surrender to the moment alternating the focus of your attention from your inner to outer experience. As your concentration becomes more intense, notice how perception changes, moment by moment. As you feel more present with what is, invite a sense of acceptance and contentment into your body. After a couple of minutes, start contemplating life again. Do you still feel a burning need for change?
Brenner, B. P. (2019). Stop sabotaging yourself: Tips for getting out of your own way. Therapy Group of NYC. Retrieved March 13, 2021, from https://nyctherapy.com/therapists-nyc-blog/stop-sabotaging-yourself-tips-for-getting-out-of-your-own-way/