I set the intention this week to be in bed by 10pm for at least six nights out of seven. I didn’t think it was too ambitious and my desire to be better rested and awake early seemed like a good idea to further my yoga practice.
I made a chart to track my progress and by the end of the week it was covered in sad faces. I’d actually gone to bed every night later than the week before.
So what was all that about? Self sabotage. When you want to do something to benefit yourself but create the opposite instead causing problems in daily life and your goals. Apparently the most common behaviours include procrastination, self medication, comfort eating and self injury.
It’s like having a rebellious teenager inside of you who pops in to ruin the party.
I’m my experience (and I have quite a bit), we self sabotage to keep ourselves small. By small I mean, who we are and where we are in life.
If you dare to do something outside of who you know yourself to be (like a person who goes to bed early and is well rested), your ego starts to get a bit squeamish. It feels threatened and unsafe as all of its constructed beliefs and definitions about who you think you are and how the world really is would be compromised.
So the ego creates thoughts, emotions and situations which lead you to self-sabotage. And all of those thoughts, emotions and situations seem completely reasonable and normal at the time. Its as if you are a victim of something outside of yourself and not a victim from something within. It’s very clever and in that, it can be difficult to really see what is going on. So you continue to live thinking that we must try harder next time or we just give up altogether (victory for the ego). And when I say you I mean me!
At this point, I want to interject to say that your ego isn’t bad or evil. It’s not trying to hurt you or ruin your life. Quite the opposite, it just wants to keep you (and it) safe from the perceived dangers “out there”. Keeping you safe means keeping everything the same, replaying the same stories and patterns from childhood so it can deal with life.
But there is another way. Phew! The answer is to be super vigilant for the tricks and deception of the ego. It takes a lot of awareness and focus and dedication to practice. But the outcomes far outweigh the effort, I think anyway (we’ll take about this in another post).
You can cultivate the awareness you need by switching your mode of perception from first person to the observer or seer. In the observer, you can step back and start to witness what the ego is doing and in which direction things are heading. Just watching what is happening inside of you. You then have a true choice, to continue down the same old path or to switch paths.
Yoga helps you to strengthen your observer awareness. The observer mode of awareness is like a muscle that you can easily strengthen just by using it. Yoga offers us the chance to practice daily both on and off the mat.
If you let the ego or in my case the rebellious teenager rule your life, the only choice available is to remain in the story of the ego wondering how and where it went wrong and how we can fix it.
I’ll post be posting a practice here shortly to help strengthen your observer muscle. Sign up here to receive blogs, practices and details on my events by email