“We don’t understand the importance of our attitude. My attitude at any point is like the sunken part of the iceberg. I start out from the conscious affirmative part which is like the tip. I’m quite surprised-and unprepared-to meet resistance from this unconscious part. Yet my attitude is largely governed by this resistance. You have to see the resistance. You have to be more aware of the wish to not work-at the same time as you are holding the wish to work.” ~ John Pentland
I came upon the above quote some time ago and have to say I LOVE IT! It is so true, from a coaching perspective, on how we sabotage ourselves, even as we pursue the goals we want to create in our lives.
So how often and to what degree are you sabotaging yourself? “I’m not!” you may say.
“Well, let’s look,” say I…
As I write this newsletter, I’ve baked some scones, called a friend, pruned a houseplant,
checked my banking, fixed my DVD player, made a pot of coffee, translated some French
(I seem to have lost the English version of my DVD manual) and anxiously tapped my fingers.
I’m only on the seventh paragraph…
I’ve been engaging in self-sabotage.
One of my ways is sabotage myself is to delay doing something until I run out of time. I want to get to my goal — just not too fast. But faster than I am — but not faster than I am ready to arrive. Part of me is “s.c.a.r.e.d.” of putting myself out there for…who knows what! It’s a big unknown that I have no idea about. Thus best to tiptoe into this potential, since diving in may result in my discovering I can’t swim as well as I thought.
It’s like wanting to drive to California — if I only drive two hours a day, every turn takes me
towards Florida, and I keep forgetting the road map at rest stops…how can I get to California
anytime soon? I can’t. Eventually I may. But I might be a ninety-year old man who has to give
up his driver’s license when I do…
We all sabotage ourselves in very subtle ways — like filling our time with things “we have to get done,” or promising our time to other people who need our help “for worthwhile ventures.” Or by spending time chatting online, watching TV or by suddenly needing to go clean the bathroom. Or our
uncatalogued CD collection suddenly is driving us crazy. Funny, it’s been uncatalogued for fifteen
years, but right when we sit down to start that new business venture, write that novella, or type out
our resume…”Good Lord, how have we lived without it being alphabetized and meticulously
And how conveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenient that it also just happens to place our “goal”
(also called “our stated priority”) on hold…
Coincidence? I don’t think so.
It’s the part of the iceberg we aren’t seeing — the part that is not committed to arriving at our “port of call” — also called our “goal” or “stated priority.” The quotes are on purpose, because until we get
our whole iceberg unified to going in the direction of our “goal,” it isn’t really our goal — it’s an idea
we are toying around with creating. Also called a fantasy. And fantasies don’t cost us a dime we
don’t want to spend or cause us to take risks we don’t feel ready to take.
The iceberg could also be called our head and heart energies — our mental conviction and
our emotional conviction. And until the two are in unison, we will engage in self-sabotage. By
delaying and finding other things to occupy our time. Or by listing all the reasons we aren’t able
to do something and all the reasons it can’t be accomplished. Basically, by creating as many myriad excuses we can think of for not getting to where we want to be.
And that’s where we life coaches come in and scream, “Get off your butt and…”
If we engage in self-sabotage, then we have fear and feel unable to “meet the challenge” our
goal represents. And while we are not feeding our inner-self the nourishment it is seeking, then
the frustrations we feel inwardly, will probably manifest in our outer life in any number of ways.
Reigning in our inner saboteur is difficult, but not impossible. It just takes practice, discipline and
self-awareness as to where it is jumping into the driver’s seat of our life.
Funny, I’ve sat here and written the bulk of this newsletter and not moved for 40 minutes. My feet
having been bouncing up and down, I soooooooooo want to get up and go to the gym. I have an
“urgent” need to surf the web and read some news or pickup the phone and call someone. All
worthwhile things to go do. But do they get me to my stated goal. Not really. Thus I have to be
an adult and make myself tenaciously eat my “metaphorical spinach” of concentrating and focusing on finishing what I’ve begun…because it’s good for me.
Next time we will look at more fully grasping what is making up the underside of the iceberg…