Stopping Self-Sabotage [Part Two]

In the last post, we looked at the reason behind our apparent self-sabotage: we do it because, at its core, it has a positive intent.

We talked about learning to associate pain to our self-sabotaging behavior and to create new, positive associations to the behavior that we would like to carry out instead. If you want a refresher, go back to Part One of this series.

Now, I want to look at the mechanics of how to actually implement this change practically in our lives.

Catch Yourself in the Act of Self-Sabotage

So once we’ve associated pain to the old behavior and pleasure to the new behavior, it’s time to become aware of when the self-sabotaging behavior comes up in our lives.

If this behavior has operated in your life for long enough, you probably recognize it when it comes up (if not, there’s still hope for you – keep reading!).

When it does, it’s time to “interrupt the pattern” as Tony Robbins says.

Interrupting the pattern means catching yourself in the act of self-sabotage – noticing the pattern – and altering it.

In the video I pointed to in Part One of this series, Tony mentions something called the Eraser Technique which is, essentially, creating a new mental association the thoughts/feelings that trigger the self-sabotaging behavior. Tony calls it “scrambling” the memory. Here’s more information on how to scramble a bad memory from the ChangeYourLife blog.

If you do this technique, you eventually find that you can’t really remember the memory in the same way because you’ve associated new images and ideas to it. It’s kinda cool!

Another way to “interrupt the pattern”, maybe a little more directly, is to notice it when it happens and simply practice replacing it with a thought that favors you, meaning a thought (or even a mental image/movie) that creates positive feelings around the situation.

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, words have power. In practicing replacing the sabotage-triggering thought with an empowering one, we begin to retrain our minds to respond differently to the event.

Over time, and with practice, we begin to transform our association to the event that causes the self-sabotaging behavior, which leads into the final step in stopping self-sabotage, which is to rehearse how you would like to respond instead.

Practice Visualizing the New Behavior

We can do this as part of a daily ritual, spending 5 or 10 minutes a day mentally putting ourselves in the challenging situation and rehearsing in our minds how we’d like it to go or how we would like to respond.

This is the same as visualization, an incredibly powerful mental technique used by individuals who want to train their mind and bodies to perform in critical situations.

Basically, when we visualization a situation in our mind, our bodies can’t tell the difference between our imagination and reality, so the body responds as if the situation was really happening.

Eventually, the next step – and my personal favorite – is to take action!

Take Action!

There is so much power and magic in taking action. Although mentally rehearsing an event is a great technique, it’s worthless if never put into action. Taking action can be daunting but its where the rubber meets the road and where life really happens. It’s also the most critical step of them all because, without it, the others don’t matter!

There’s a lot more that could be said about taking action. Maybe I’ll write about it in a future post! For now, I will leave it there.


So there you have it: my interpretation of Tony Robbin’s method for dealing with and overcoming self-sabotage.

In summary, the steps are:

  1. Become aware of how you self-sabotage and start to associate pain with this old behavior
  2. Imagine what behavior you’d like to do instead and associate feelings of pleasure with carrying out that new behavior
  3. Catch yourself in the act of self-sabotage and interrupt the pattern, either by intentionally using your mind to replace it with something better or by practicing the Eraser technique
  4. Take action and start putting into action that new, better behavior

I would love to hear if you put these steps to use and what kind of results you saw. Please leave it in the comments below!


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