Understanding Why We Self-Sabotage
I’m a procrastinator. The more my mind sees a task as disrupting my life, the more likely I’ll do everything in my power to avoid it.
Still, over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to temporarily shut my inner procrastinator down to set some incredible habits which are now non-negotiable:
- Make the bed every morning
- Go to the gym 3 times a week
- Eat healthy meals (most of the time)
- Write my morning pages every day
- Clean the kitchen before I go to bed every night
To some, these might seem pretty easy. They’re things a “normal” person would do without thinking twice. But for me, they’ve taken time and tenacity to build into habits I am no longer willing to break, except on rare occasions, and usually with good reason.
Getting Past the Blocks to Completing My Memoir
My biggest obstacle these days is the rewrite of “Forgotten Victims”. I start each day with every intention of picking it back up again, but, until yesterday, hadn’t been able to bring myself to do it. I realize it’s merely another obstacle I must conquer, but to do so, I need to grab hold of the ladder and put my foot on the first rung.
Instead of just sitting my butt down, opening the file, and starting, I used the time, when not contemplating my navel or playing games on the computer to psychoanalyze myself and my lack of motivation.
Getting Out of Our Own Way Towards Setting New Habits
Every new habit we set out to establish was daunting at first. It’s easier to make excuses, or worse, analyze our reasons for avoiding the thing entirely than to dive in and do it.
Years ago, I had an employee who tried my patience excessively. Every time I’d ask her do something a little different from what she was used to, she’d spend two hours whining and complaining about what I was asking her to do, and making excuses for why she couldn’t. Eventually, she’d do what I asked, in about 1/10th of the time she’d spent complaining about it.
I see a little of her in myself when I do everything in my power to avoid something, whether it’s going to the gym (which nowadays I am excited about instead of dreading), cleaning house (I still hate it, but I hate walking barefoot across gritty floors more), marketing my business (still trying to figure that one out, but building relationships in the meantime), or working on one of my five (yes I really do have five going at once) writing projects.
Focusing on Our Accomplishments
So why is it I can conquer the menial, boring, passionless tasks, but when it comes to what I really love, my passion projects, I am continually mired in excuses and, let’s be honest, an Everest-sized mountain of self-doubt? With everything else, I learned long ago to look at what I have accomplished rather than what I have left to accomplish. Where am I losing sight of it with my writing which I truly love?
With that in mind, let’s take stock. What have I already accomplished writing-wise?
- Consistently writing 3 blog posts a week
- Completed several writing projects for clients
- Wrote and revised over 103,000 words for “Sasha’s Journey”
- Wrote over 90,000 words for “A Dubious Gift”
- Wrote over 70,000 words for “Hannah’s Chair”
- Wrote over 70,000 words for “Forgotten Victims”
- Re-wrote an entirely new first chapter for “Forgotten Victims” which I LOVE!
- Re-wrote 4 more chapters (as of 6/6/18) for “Forgotten Victims”
- Wrote 4,500 words for “Frederick the Gentlemouse”
Not to mention what I wrote during my years as an Accountant
- Wrote volumes of detailed desk instructions
- Wrote procedures for an ISO 9001 project
- Wrote Cost Volumes for government RFP’s (Requests for Proposal)
- Wrote countless responses to management, government agencies, clients, and more
My mind is especially blown when I realize I recently started the 6th 200-page spiral notebook of Morning Pages, and have filled the better part of another with writing prompts. And let’s not forget more than 1,200 blog posts for my website and blog site.
Do More, Think Less
The point I’m making (more for myself than anyone else) is when I didn’t waste time making excuses or talking myself out of moving from the safe, boring place in which I was currently sitting, I did some amazing things. In fact, from the day I swore to my daughter I couldn’t possibly write 50,000 words in a month, and did it with words and time to spare, I have consistently overachieved—as long as I got out of my own way and didn’t over think it.
Therein lies a problem many of us face. We see, not the first step in a journey, but the entire mountain we believe we need to climb. We allow the part of us that hates change (and maybe exercise too!) to fill our heads with negative self-talk, excuses, and fear. And for what? So we can remain in the rut we know we hate forever? How dumb is that? Yet every one of us is an expert in self-sabotage.
That doesn’t mean many aren’t wildly successful. Just because you develop expertise in something doesn’t mean you have to pursue it. Sometimes, we need to learn everything about a particular topic or behavior pattern so we understand what’s needed to overcome it or conquer it.
It Isn’t Always Necessary to Know Why
A few days ago, I was talking to Linda Clay about my lack of motivation to finish “Forgotten Victims” and she started throwing out questions to help me figure out why I was self-sabotaging. When I finally picked it up and started re-reading so I could start re-writing, I realized something really important. The time I was spending trying to figure out why I wasn’t writing was keeping me from writing! (cue light bulbs, fireworks, and neon banners blazing across the sky)
I suddenly realized it isn’t always about understanding why you’re avoiding something. Trying to figure it out is adding to the list of avoidance measures you’re using. Sometimes you have to stop overthinking the reasons behind the problem and get back to the business of doing what you do best. In my case, remembering that I could be the most amazing writer on the planet, but if I never finish and publish anything, none of my lofty dreams will ever bear the fruit I seek.
Our minds will do just about anything to maintain our status quo. It’s safe. It’s known. It requires little effort. But it’s also boring as hell. Our amazing brains atrophy from disuse just as our muscles do when we do nothing but sit in front of the TV all day. We need to scramble those brain cells. Keep them moving and stretch them in new and different ways.
Between you and me, a healthy, challenged body is nothing without a healthy, challenged mind. Is it time to stop asking “why?” and start asking “why not?” Each of us has to answer that question ourselves, but if you’ve been stuck in a rut too long like I was, I can pretty much guarantee it’s time.
A Gratitude a Day…
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for a mind which, despite the odds, thrives on being challenged.
- I am grateful for new people and ideas which are coming into my world these days. Whether or not they ever know, they challenge me to strive to be the very best me I can.
- I am grateful for finally breaking the writing block that kept “Forgotten Victims” from becoming a reality.
- I am grateful for people who continually encourage me even when they don’t know exactly what it is they’re encouraging me to do. They know the what is less important than the why.
- I am grateful for abundance; perseverance, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, role models, support, entrepreneurs, friends, family, my cats who are there to encourage and sometimes distract me from myself, peace, harmony, love, happiness, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author