TED Conversations

Marcus Cauchi

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Why do we repeatedly do what does us harm or doesn't serve us, even when we know by doing what we've done before we'll get the same result?

Self-sabotage is rife in life, in business, in sports and in families to name a few. Experience tells me that the starting point of self-sabotage comes from toxic beliefs that were never true, aren't true any more or aren't true in 100% of cases.

Can you tell me what causes you have observed for self-sabotage in your lives or the lives of those you engage with?

If you could structure your responses around the following framework:

1. Issue or presenting symptom
2. A specific example to give context
3. Impact

And if you have learned how to replace old patterns with good patterns of thinking or behaviour:

4. How did you replace your old pattern/script or work around your self-sabotaging behaviours?


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  • Sep 8 2011: I have four self sabotaging behaviours, eating too much, biting the skin around my nails to make them bleed, picking spots so that they take longer to heal than they would have had I left them and worrying about the future.

    Why I have them I have no idea and I have tried to find out to no avail. In general I think it probably has a lot to do with living in such a modern complicated fast paced world in which we haven't learnt to keep up with emotionally and depending on environment and genetics we find something that gives us immediate relief.

    The way I have learnt to deal wtih them is to work out what happens immediately before I engage in the behaviour and deal with that. So preventition is what I am talking about which of course I can only do now that I have become aware of what I do, when I do it and how. So for example I worked out that I bite the skin around my nalls because it feels rough which I sensed with my other fingers or my lips. Solution : keep skin around nails soft and smoothe. I still bite the skin but to a much lesser extent.

    I also try and work out something simple I can do (Wiseman 59s) to prevent self sabotaging. When it comes to overeating I make sure I start the day with seeds, porridge etc., to stop worrying I use conscious connected breathing (C Sisson - Rebirthing made easy) and the spots I have worked out is much due to what I eat so if I eat better then I have fewer spots to go at. All sounds quiet simple really doesn't it.

    I don't believe there's one easy cure for everybody but I do believe it is about self awareness, taking one small scalculated step at a time and never giving up even if you appear to be going backwards.

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