Our inner saboteurs are linked to survival so we can use what’s happening in our bodies to recognise when they’ve hijacked us and make a change to stop them and be present to ourselves and our surroundings.
I’ve got a 2 step process for you:
Recognise it’s happening. Whatever your usual ways of self-sabotage are, they all share something in common: they affect our bodies. They send us into fight, flight, fawn or freeze, which affects heart rate, adrenalin production, voice tone, and facial expressions.
If your heart is racing, you have a dry mouth, and you’re agitated, or your heart rate is slow, you feel numb and your voice is flat, your inner saboteurs have put you into survival mode.
Focus on your breath or one of your senses for at least 2 minutes. As you mindfully pay attention to your breath or a sense without judging, it brings your prefrontal cortex online, which means it’s easier for you to come out of survival mode and begin to be more present to yourself and your surroundings.
This is a quick fix to get you out of survival mode. The long term solution is healing your saboteurs by softening your relationship with them and the disowned parts of you they hide – self-compassion all the way! If you’d like help with this, reach out to me for your free 30 minute consultation. You’ll get some great insights and tips at the very least!
How to engage your willpower to change ingrained habits
What kinds of ingrained habits?
Coping mechanisms that used to work but now hold you back like…
Not being in your body
Quickly moving from one thing to another
Some others could be:
Anything that used to feel good but doesn’t any more and you want to stop doing it but it’s a habit.
Coping mechanisms become habitual.
Habits can become a way of recognising yourself – “I exist because I do this.” Does that make sense?
When you begin to change them questions like, “who will I become?” might arise.
You could journal on who you want to become to counter the anxiety around this:
Use details – what kind of days will you have?
Use all your senses to describe what it will be like.
Write about it regularly.
It allows the anxious parts of you to get used to what it will be like.
And then there’s purpose – why do you want to become that person? You could journal on that too.
It might be because:
It will feel better
You want to be able to do things that you used to be able to do
You want to learn from it and teach other people
I’ll share some of my purposes that have helped me change habits over the years.
In 2012 I wanted to overcome social anxiety.
In 2018 I wanted to be able to feel my feet so I could climb better.
Recently I wanted to enjoy the transition between waking and getting up.
There were brilliant by products to me using my willpower to achieve these things:
I got out of the black hole of depression, anxiety and PTSD and I got a degree that prepared the way for my Master’s in Creative Psychotherapy.
I became more embodied, which allowed me to be more in touch with my feelings and emotions in a mindful way, that allowed me to be more authentic and meet my needs better.
The gentle sensory transition from asleep to awake and getting up that I use somehow allows my creativity to kick in first thing and I find myself writing content that flows quickly and easily.
So how can you use your willpower effectively to change your ingrained habits?
Kindness and curiosity are key.
Trauma does not involve kindness.
So using willpower in ways that are unkind is another form of trauma.
How can you tell?
Unkind – as you use your willpower:
Your teeth might be gritted
Your self talk could be: “come on, get on with it!”
You might find yourself really having to push to do it.
Kind – as you use your willpower:
You feel gentle and relaxed
Self-talk could be: “it’s okay for you to –” or “that’s it. You’re doing great.”
You’re more in flow and feel curious and you create experiments to see what’s possible for changing your habit.
HOWEVER, if you’re unused to being kind to yourself it might feel odd and that’s okay.
The more you do it the more normal it becomes.
Imagine yourself as your own best friend and talk to yourself like that.
What do you want to change?
Why do you want to change it?
How will you change it? What experiments will you try?
I’d love to know so feel free to comment or message me!
And if you’d like help with it I offer Therapeutic Coaching where I hold space for you to find your answers within yourself.
My fees are a sliding scale from £45 to £225 per session and what you pay depends on your budget and how you like to use money – some people like to use it as an accountability tool – we can chat about this.
Reach out for your free 30 minute session where we delve into your current situation, what you’d like to have happen, and what might help you get that.
This is an old notebook that I repurposed as a collage sketchbook. I love that it has no purpose other than for me to play. It will never be sold or exhibited. It is simply for me to stick things in and doodle on.
I very much enjoyed sticking and doodling yesterday. It’s been a while. I’d gotten into the habit of do, do, doing. This is, of course, self-sabotage. I call this particular saboteur the Hyper Achiever.
The Hyper Achiever saboteur, along with the Avoider saboteur, help me to avoid painful situations or emotions by constantly doing. I’ve made a tool to help you identify your top saboteurs (awareness is the first step to creating change): https://www.subscribepage.com/identifyyoursaboteurs.
I feel like there’s a lot of self-sabotage like this going on for a lot of people at the moment because of all the anxiety created by media messages of fear and judgement around Covid and what we should or shouldn’t be doing.
What helped me was stopping for a few days with a good friend. We played together. We made cacao and had ceremonies, leading into creative activities. It helped me unwind and reflect on where I was at.
I have a business that I love, but my boundaries had loosened around the hours I was putting in. I’m doing a Masters in Creative Psychotherapy and I had not been giving myself time to process from those sessions. Instead I was trying to tune out with TV. I was feeling unhappy about my living arrangement but because of all the other things, I hadn’t felt like there was time to sort that out.
It’s all about priorities and taking regular breaks to check in with myself and be, create, or whatever I need to do to be with myself authentically. So I started playing again. Giving myself space to play without purpose and it feels GREAT! And also to listen to the traumatised parts of me, but that’s another story I’ll tell you another time…
What’s your favourite way of playing? Leave me a comment below and let me know.
Love Julia xxx
P.S. Want to have a chat about how I can help you with embracing your saboteurs (imagine that!)? Let’s jump on a clarity call – you can book yours by clicking this button:
Mantras are excellent ways of using time when you don’t need to think, like when you’re driving, walking, or washing up. You can still do these things mindfully while you say your mantra. One of the mantras I’ve been working with is this:
Infinite Spirit, open the way for my great abundance. I am an irresistible magnet for all that belongs to me by Divine Right.”
Florence Scovel Shinn
The first time I used it, I said it over one hundred times. At first it was just words. Then I noticed I began sitting up straighter. I felt more me somehow. I began using it every day. I said it whilst driving. I found I stopped getting annoyed at other drivers and enjoyed driving even more (I love driving). One day I giggled as I really began to feel into myself as a Divine Being and that there is abundance that belongs to me by Divine Right. I feel powerful in a good way when I say this mantra.
Mantras help to retrain your brain. Imagine all that time I spent saying the mantra over and over. Now imagine I’d let my mind wander in that time instead, perhaps getting annoyed at other drivers, then replaying some times when I felt annoyed by someone else, and so on. I would have felt grumpy. Our brains do not seem to naturally think of what we want. They dwell on what we don’t want. So giving them something to focus on, like a mantra, primes them for what we want.
My mantra helped me move from a saboteur hijack that only allowed me to begin writing my book (coming soon!) one day a week for 1.5 hours to turning up every weekday for 1.5 hours. It helped me assert my boundaries without question when I needed to. It helped me tune into the sovereignty of being that each of us has by Divine Right and this allowed me to be in sage mode more often and feel more ease and flow.
What is your experience of using mantras?
I love anything that helps me, my clients and the world to be in sage mode and feel more at ease and in flow. I’m really excited to share more with you about this in the upcoming Art of Self-Compassion masterclass series. We start 29th November 2021 with the aim of expanding your self-compassion so you feel more ease and flow in your life, work and relationships. Will I see you there? Click here to register.