Mindful Bytes: Self Sabotage / Growth Mindset

I get tagged often on social media responses to posts of people who are at a loss as to why they can’t control themselves, and the term “self sabotage” gets used. A lot.

Other than assisting you with accountability, I really can’t stand that phrase. On a bunch of levels. There’s nothing I can do to stop people from shifting their journey vehicle into “negative overdrive”, but I hope I can re-cast this whole category of negative thoughts to nudge your mindset forward.

Growth mindset is usually used to discuss being open to new things. The opposite of avoiding change (insert excuses here). Even more holistically, a growth mindset encompasses an openness to feedback because constructive feedback creates an opportunity for growth more than success does.

I don’t even have to define “self sabotage”. for all of us to understand what I’m talking about. It’s like our secret handshake. We know.

The next time you’re tempted to assess a situation as “self sabotage”, try this shift in mindset: it’s just feedback. Self Sabotage or any unwanted outcome is simply feedback on the particular set of behaviours or mindsets we’re using. Unfortunately we’ve made a habit of ripping ourselves to pieces after mistakes to the point where it’s an involuntary reflex. We’re going to make mistakes. I make them every week. But when we get emotional about failure we cut fast and deep with our self talk, and then try to move on from the experience as quickly as possible to avoid the discomfort dwelling on that failure.

For me this healthy journey is a search for the set of behaviours/mindsets that ultimately works. It’s like a code. Or puzzle. And it changes over time too. Behaviours and mindsets that worked when I started may not work today. It’s easier to find improvement in failure than success, but it still takes significant self reflection to pull something constructive out of a binge or some other unplanned behaviour.

Kobe Bryant’s former life coach is all over TikTok with a clip of himself saying that in order to achieve hard things our minds have to be stronger than our feelings. He challenges people to think of bad decisions in their lives, 99% of the time those decisions were made emotionally or based on some feeling, instead of sticking to a rational thought that is more logical. We may know that we have to get up early because we have a really busy Saturday but we don’t “feel” like getting up so we sleep in instead.

I don’t completely subscribe to that opinion. Sometimes my passion for something can be emotional and very motivating to do hard things, but I’ve told myself that in general I have to approach my mistakes like a scientist instead of an artist. Being agnostic about self reflection increases my probability finding growth in feedback.

Why did I overeat this weekend? It’s not because I’m weak or destined to fail or some other emotional response. For decades I couldn’t see the opportunities to improve because I was too wrapped up in my emotional reactions. It’s uncomfortable to face our failures in detail instead of sailing past quickly in the name of “moving on”.

When I’m emotional my analysis always starts and stops at willpower. I don’t have enough. When I have some I can’t maintain it. Just constantly blaming a lack of willpower for everything. Of course we need some willpower daily to achieve our health goals but after a few years of looking at my mistakes like a scientist instead of an artist, i can see now that relying on willpower was my only strategy. I didn’t understand the importance of mindset, or planning, or shrinking my focus to the choices right in front of me, instead of getting caught up in the past or the future.

And just to be clear, I don’t think it’s healthy to try and live like a robot with no emotional reactions. But after we’ve given ourselves an opportunity to vent and rant a bit, it’s tike to put that aside and get to work. I know that’s easier said than done. If it helps use the Tiger Woods 10 step rule. When Tiger hits a horrible golf shot he gives himself 10 steps walking to his ball to just get ripping mad about the shot. But after those 10 steps, he becomes very tactical about what to do for his next shot.

Our mistakes are feedback on our behaviours and mindset. Being open to feedback is critical to improving, and we make that process harder when we cloud our judgment and response with negative emotions. Being tactical about mistakes is a skill that takes practice to develop, but it accelerates growth and starts to reform our emotional perception of mistakes so they become less painful over time.

When it comes to “self sabotage”, be a scientist, not an artist

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