In my previous post I explored the havoc that illusive little Gollum who lies in ambush in your brain can cause. So, how do you track him down? What signs do you look for? Does he wear size 14 combat boots? Does he leave footprints—or paw prints; disturbed earth; over¬turned rocks; trampled grass, or broken bushes?
Well no—but a disturbed self image, overturned career, broken dreams or trampled relationships—absolutely!
Does he make you put unrealistic pressure on yourself or spend or borrow irresponsibly? Maybe when you do, you rationalize or minimize the consequences of this. Does he persuade you to indulge in I can manage martyrdom by shunning advice, constructive criticism or a helping hand, or cause you to overreact to temporary setbacks or minor challenges? Perhaps you neglect or abuse your health, indulge in a destructive lifestyle, or are prone to compulsive confrontations.
Maybe he makes you abdicate responsibility and blame your team when a plan doesn’t come together, or fail to provide the praise and appreciation that drives motivation and loyalty. Maybe he’s caught you in the Super(wo)man trap, and you have no idea how to break free. It could also be that his influence causes poor impulse control, or an inability to set healthy boundaries.
Just as the wind erodes footprints in the bush, or overgrown vegetation obscures possible ambush sites, tracking your inner Gollum takes skill, vigilance and courage.
One of the easiest ways to find his hiding place is to shine a light into your blind spots.
Notice when someone’s critical comments push sensitive triggers. If you instinctively get defensive or overreact, that’s your Gollum feeling uneasy about being discovered.
Look for those excuses you’ve made so often and for so long, that you never pause to consider whether there’s truth in them or not.
Excuses are just lies masquerading as facts.
The things that are keeping success, health, wealth and happiness out of reach commonly hide in plain sight. And they’re often prefixed by BUT…..
BUT that would mean I have to take responsibility
BUT I know what to do – I don’t need help or advice
BUT I might fail and look an idiot
BUT this is what everyone does
BUT I don’t care about the consequences – this is what I want – now
BUT I don’t have the time, money, resources or skills
BUT that would mean I’d have to make changes or alter course
BUT that would mean asking for help
No, these excuses (and many more) aren’t just the wind whistling in your ears, they’re the voice of your Gollum whispering:
No my precious, don’t go that way—you’ll get lost, stay here with me, STAY WITH ME in the excuse zone and you’ll be safe!
They’re the result of old belief programs that haven’t been updated – or shouldn’t have been installed in the first place. And they’re almost always motivated by fear—fear of losing something that is of value to you, fear of losing status because you failed, fear of having to change, fear of having to admit you don’t know everything (welcome to the human race), or fear of doing a less than perfect job.
An experienced self sabotage tracker will instantly pick up these excuse-whispers, know where they come from and interpret what they mean, while you may be completely oblivious to them, or see them as harmless habits.
So how can you learn to recognize when you’re sabotaging yourself?
Just as self sabotaging excuses are often prefixed by BUT, the solutions are often prefixed by WHY?
1. Why do I keep starting things and not finishing them?
2. Why am I so afraid to take responsibility?
3. Why do my words not match my actions?
4. Why is it so important that I appear to know all the answers?
5. Why am I so afraid of failing and losing face, that I’m willing to risk getting it wrong repeatedly?
6. Why am I so afraid of using a different strategy?
7. Why is it so important to do this right now, when I know there will be negative consequences?
8. Why can’t I shift my priorities around, so I do have the time, money, resources or skills?
9. Why am I so afraid of making the changes necessary to achieve this?
10. Why do I avoid reaching out for help or advice?
You see when you start to question your automatic responses you break the Gollum’s spell over you. You no longer accept those excuses at face value.
Don’t underestimate the power of that little word WHY.
It’s a powerful weapon; a razor sharp sword that cuts away disguises and reveals the truth. It can put a stop to the excuses that keep you running scared and rob you of the power to make positive changes. I’ve witnessed it many times breaking disempowering habits that have sometimes been in place for a lifetime. It stops your saboteur in its tracks. It enables you to face that Gollum and say I see you, and I’m not listening to your lies any more!
Saboteur tracking like bush tracking is a skill that develops with time and practice. If you’d like an experienced Gollum hunter on your team click here.