Breaking Through Self-Sabotage – You eat well all day, and then, suddenly are overcome with cravings. You cave. You have the drink, the cigarette, the food- usually carbs, you text that person, you skip your workout, you go to bed too late and then wake up regretting it. You have tried willpower but nothing works to control these self-destructive patterns.
This is Self-Sabotage.
The solution is connecting to your Inner Child to get the inner vulnerable parts of yourself on board with your Adult “real-world” goals.
Connecting to your inner child is life changing for High-Performance as well as overall life satisfaction.
In 2008, I was in Psychotherapy School and one of the homework assignments was to access our Inner Child using a journalling exercise. At the time, I was 26, I was incredibly defensive and guarded about my vulnerable self. I resisted the bajeebers out of this homework assignment. My cognitive mind could not understand it, so therefore it was ‘dumb.’ But, it was also important for me to “get an A” and be a star student, so I of course did it.
To my astonishment, the inner impulse of my vulnerable self was to sit on the floor and use a crayon, rather than a boring pen and paper at my desk.
My left hand began writing and the information this part of me shared was not anything my Adult logical self would have ever been aware of.
The inner child feels feelings without knowing all the facts. The inner child might feel rejected because someone didn’t text back, but in fact that person was genuinely unable to text yet. The inner child might not understand why you hate your body so much and deprive it and make it work hard all the time, and then out of sheer frustration will act out in your body as pain or injuries. It is really a real thing, and when we begin to access it, we can better care for our whole self.
The information from an inner child part is usually direct and vulnerable.
“you are too mean to me”
“I need to play more”
“Im tired, when does the hard work end?!”
“no one likes me”
“Im scared of all the responsibility”
More often than not, the inner child is scared or sad. Both feelings people rarely allow themselves to feel if there seems to be no logical reason. Feelings are not logical by definition. The inner child is the realm of feelings.
These are examples of what an inner child voice would sound like.
When I guide my clients through these processes, they seem to lighten up, visibly soften, and usually cry tears from so much pent up energy from holding it all together.
When we can stop abandoning our whole selves, we can start experiencing a much more aligned life where we can feel successful, rather than just look the part.
The Inner Tantrum
An inner tantrum is an experience of having overwhelming emotions arise for seemingly no reason.
I mostly experience my inner tantrums like storms about to roll in, or like I’m under water and do not know up from down suddenly. They are a disconcerting experience!
Most people’s inner child tantrum will react by shoving their needs down, and not paying attention to what the acting out behaviour is trying to communicate. It rarely occurs to people that it is a part of themselves that needs love and attention. It is NOT coddling. Coddling is allowing non-productive behaviour in the guise of love, this is not what I mean.
Paying attention to our feelings before they become an inner tantrum saves us from these awkward moments socially or at work where the feelings takeover and you are stuck managing your defences rather than being in the moment, and being present to your life.
6-Year Old Mind HiJacking
Imagine if a 6-year old ran your life.
Had your credit card,
Decided on your diet.
Bedtimes, deadlines, errands and obligations, planning ahead, speaking to people when upset, just imagine how that might look…
An unruly, uncared for, denied inner child is the source of all or most of the bad decisions people make.
Then people beat themselves up and allow mountains of guilt to overwhelm them leaving them feeling helpless and insecure. Not feeling able to manage your life and reach a goal is the main reason for lacking confidence. If we only treated ourselves with more compassion we would feel so much more relief while feeling in charge of our lives, and our capacity to reach our goals.
In Psychology, regression usually deals with habits from childhood to soothe stress like sucking a thumb, or other child-like behaviour. But, what I see in my clients who are otherwise high performing, capable Adults are these moments of regression that come in the form of eating habits, sleep patterns, procrastination, snapping at loved ones, or isolation.
Regression is when you get triggered by an event or are in a slow burnout decline and don’t have your full brain capacity, and suddenly you are reacting in ways you wish you could reel in. You wish you could put the chip bag down, but you can’t, you wish you could get off social media and get your work done, but you are compelled, almost possessed to engage these behaviours until you snap out of it, or you fall asleep from exhaustion. Few people can catch themselves mid regression and pop out of it.
This is normal, and once we know what it is, we can tend to the parts of ourselves that need attention, and avoid the frustrating experience of 1 step forward, 2 steps back in our lives.
Lucia Cappacchione, www.luciac.com, literally wrote the book on Left hand Right hand Dialoguing. This was the main book in my psychotherapy training we used to access these abandoned parts in order to clear unwanted addictions or self-sabotage. The unwanted behaviours and addictions were seen as symptoms or a cry out for attention, not a flaw or an inability to ‘get it together.’
How to do Left hand, Right hand Dialoguing to Access Your Inner Child
Get your Journal, or just a random piece of paper, and a Pen, Pencil, Marker or Crayon,.
- Using your dominant hand write a question to your inner self. “How are you feeling today inner, little me?” (suspend your overly critical inner judge for this exercise).
- Be Patient! Because you have not paid attention to these parts they may take some time to write the answer.
- Switch to your non-dominant hand for the answers.
Avoid any perfectionism here. No grammar, no rules. Just write and let your hand move. Do not judge yourself or try to jump in and fix yourself. Just let the inner child part speak through your hand.
This simple journaling exercise can change your life! Seriously. If you keep it up, and develop a relationship with these inner parts. You can get back in the drivers seat of your life and better plan your outcomes.
Sabotage is really nothing more than fear. If you let your fear run your life, you will sabotage. If you let all of who you are be embraced and accepted in your life, you will thrive.