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Have you ever f*cked something up for yourself and didn’t know why?
Maybe you were trying to get a promotion, but you started pulling sickies? Or you met someone, really liked them, but you started an argument over nothing and called it quits on the relationship? Or maybe you decided that you wanted to get really fit and healthy, but you couldn’t stop yourself from binge eating chocolate and skipping the gym?
It all starts with an urge.
An urge to sabotage ourselves by doing what is familiar, a habit, something that triggers us to do something that makes us feel safe but is often not what we really want to do.
But you can break the self-sabotage cycle with a pause.
Getting that sabotage-y feeling?
The moment between the trigger and the action is a place where magic can happen. Space can literally change your life, help you reset, and choose again.
It’s so easy to react—we are primed and ready to go at every ping and notification. Fingers on the button, counting likes, getting messages, emails, phone calls (well maybe not this one), and having other people’s sh*t piped directly into our homes and our minds.
No wonder our anxieties and comparisonitis are constantly on overdrive.
It’s all in our biology.
All of us have a reptilian brain (yep, you read that right). A good, old primitive lizard that controls our fight-or-flight response. This is our amygdala, and it can override the “sensible” part of our brain, our prefrontal cortex (PFC).
The amygdala is on high alert for danger (or our pinging phones), and it often interprets elements of our modern lives as a threat. It can hijack the PFC when we experience emotions such as jealousy, fear, anger, and hurt. It can lead us into self-sabotaging behaviours, such as picking arguments with loved ones, binge eating chocolate, or reaching for a drink to soothe ourselves.
It’s looking for the habit that is going to make us feel safe and satisfied again, even if that habit is the exact thing we are trying not to do.
What’s the solution?
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor Frankl
Well, we can’t stop the lizard from doing its thing, and to be honest, we kinda need it to keep us safe from actual danger. But we can recognise the urge, the itch, that moment before the reaction usually kicks in.
Noticing the signs, the tightness, the tension that can stop us careering headlong into a habit-fuelled sabotage binge.
Good news! Now that you are aware of the cycle, you can take a pause.
Take a dance break.
Need to pause? Pick a song and shake it until the song ends.
You already have a grounding? Then you’re good to go. Not a meditator? Find a short YouTube or Spotify guided meditation you like and get practising.
Take a few deep breaths. Breathe out for longer than you breathe in. You could use scent to help make it fancy too.
Walk barefoot on the grass, or just look at nature around you. Can’t get outside? Listening to birdsong has been found to be just as effective.