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Martina Wagner

Martina Wagner

Do your efforts to succeed regularly get derailed? Is following through on your plans a big challenge that you can’t master? Do you do stupid or impulsive things when you know better? Do your relationships start promising, but often go nowhere?

If any of these descriptions ring true for you, you may be guilty of self-sabotage. If you’re disciplined enough to work hard at accomplishing a goal, yet routinely do something rash or imprudent to undermine it, you might be unconsciously “planning” your failures to make sure you won’t succeed.

Self-sabotage can be any behavior or action that counteracts your intent. Have an important deadline coming up? You procrastinate until the last minute and either miss the deadline or work all night and turn in an assignment that is sub-standard. Trying to get off the extra pounds? Can’t possibly forego the delicious meals on the holidays, those calories don’t count!

Traumatic experiences can result in a lack of self-worth that often manifests itself through a negative inner dialog along the lines of – “I can’t do this” or “I don’t deserve to be loved.” As a consequence, you talk yourself out of trying anything new or making the effort to look for a new relationship.

Most of the self-sabotage strategies are counterproductive, designed to keep you from reaching your goals. These behaviors are self-defeating; they are proven “success” strategies of the past that you have adopted to overcome emotional uneasiness, traumatic situations. The underlying programming that continues to compel your behavior is counterproductive, to blatantly irrational. They are defense mechanisms that you are mostly unaware of, that trigger decision-making and behavior to protect you from feelings of anxiety, guilt, or shame.

There are countless ways you can sabotage yourself, but procrastination, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, overeating from stress, and interpersonal conflict are among the most widely used. Since they are, in many cases, subtle, they go unnoticed, and as they may even have a calming or relaxing effect, you might use them as a coping strategy to feel “safe.” In many cases, you established these coping strategies during childhood, or you created a new defense mechanism to deal with traumatic situations you’ve faced as an adult. As these habits get formed, self-sabotage builds and becomes very difficult to overcome.

This process of self-conditioning creates deeply ingrained patterns of self-sabotage that become part of your Physical Intelligence. These patterns are composed of mental, emotional, and physiological aspects that — unbeknownst to you — impact the quality of your thinking and actions. Like wearing rose-colored glasses, these patterns influence every decision you make and, as a result, drive your behavior and the direction your life takes. The sad part is that as you repeat these sabotaging behaviors, you strengthen the impact of this programming through the sheer force of habit.

Awareness is the first step to genuinely overcoming these counterproductive thoughts and emotions and discover a new way of being. An effective strategy to overcome your thoughts and behaviors of self-sabotage, and discover the real source of your dysfunctional behavior, is to connect with your center. During the process of Centering, you develop a sense of self. You develop a clear sense of who you are as compared to the outside influences of your environment. This process allows you to become aware of the patterns responsible for self-sabotage.

Please join us for a daylong workshop on overcoming Self-Sabotage on Sunday, Feb. 2 in the beautiful healing setting of Solage Auberge Resort in Calistoga. You’ll join me and Dr. Robert Bartner, psychoanalyst for an interactive, powerful workshop to learn how to successfully overcome self-sabotage. Bring your questions to get insights from a unique point of view.

Cost for the event is $120. Register at Eventbrite or visit www.physicalintelligence.guru for more information on courses and seminars.

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Martina Wagner, Ph.D., is a Calistoga resident and author of ‘Physical Intelligence: An Introduction.’

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