After all my work on consciously being aware of self sabotage, I had to admit that all this year I have been self sabotaging in business. After the most successful year ever in business, I am having a much much worse year. I see that I have created this by taking on risky and unprofitable projects.
It seems that every time a big leap and improvement in life conditions happens then I have some sort of backlash, a downturn. This seems to happen with happiness levels and with finances. If I get too content, I find myself starting to entertain worry thoughts. Too successful and decisions are made to limit this to bring things back into the realm of what I am used to, back to struggle and stress.
So after reading Gay Hendrick’s marvellous Upper Limit book, I understand that early on in life a thermostat setting was fixed for us by our caretakers and parents. This thermostat setting determines how much love, happiness, health, wealth we allow into our lives. If we are brought up by parents with a happy marriage or one full of conflict that is what we are likely to have ourselves. If we are brought up with wealth or poverty, we are likely to expect that in life for ourselves later on as this is what is normal to us.
Whenever we step beyond this thermostat setting and raise it then a part of us feels that something is ‘wrong’. It is not what we are used to, not what we feel (on a subconscious level) what we deserve. So we find ourselves acting to limit our success.
“I have a limited tolerance for feeling good. I have a limited tolerance for my life going well”. Gay Hendricks
Yes, I can see this. However these last couple of years I have been gradually inching my upper thermostat up by extending periods of contentment in my life and removing obvious sources of stress. First I have made the decision and commitment to allow more happiness in (even though on some level it terrifies me). I spend time in nature every day, practise mindfulness, go to the gym and look after my health, and reduce money stress by saving. This is the main practice for raising the inner thermostat. Nothing too wild or risky here! Just gradual little steps in a consistent direction of feeling happier.
Even these small steps have led to a degree of discomfort though. It takes some getting used to after a lifetime of complaining and being a victim of some outside circumstance. I take responsibility that these outer circumstances originated with me. I see now that all of the struggles with money and struggles in unhappy relationships were of my own making through the choices I made. I found the damaged guys more attractive than the ones who could offer love and stability. I found struggle more attractive because that was normal in our family household. These early experiences can be so very ‘sticky’ and hard to shift. This is why I am taking small steps.
Taking the initial steps into new happier more successful territory isn’t the difficult part though. We can make a decision to dump the bad habits, the toxic relationships, and join the health club. It is the consolidation and integration after the step has been taken that is where the permanent gain is made. It is easy to slip back into old habits. It is like any addiction really. So we need to be very gently and kind with ourselves.
I am coaxing a scared child out into a bigger life, that’s how it feels to me. The child needs to know it is secure. So the first thing I have been doing is just to linger longer in the good feelings. Stretch them out a little, revel in the good feeling, witness that it is safe to do so, that nothing bad is happening as a result. Observe the feelings that arise as a result. I noticed fear and also some guilt are common responses that I have.
I am persevering. Its a slow process, and patience is necessary. Softness too, self compassion in abundance. I see that I allow periods of well being to stay for longer, and how self sabotage comes almost like clockwork as a result. I am continually watching this cycle and being as gentle as I can when I see the sabotage at work. It is a natural part of the process.