I was scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday and a random article about Adele (the singer) popped up, along with some click-baity headline about how her fans feel betrayed by her recent weightloss and transformation. Earlier that morning, I had recorded a training session for JoyRide on success thresholds, and self-sabotaging behaviors, and some of the less obvious reasons why we might derail our best efforts to get ahead.
Before I go any further into this, I want to say that I don’t actually believe there is such a thing as self-sabotage. While it might appear that we might do things that are frustratingly out of sync with our ultimate desires, at the heart of it all, it’s just a fervent attempt of our unconscious to keep us safe. Until we get ourselves into a position where our resources outweigh our stresses, you’re going to find it hard to elasticize the edges of your comfort zone.
But back to Adele. This is a great example of how we can create a change and then unconsciously undo any of the work we have put in to cycle back to the place we were before. I’m completely making this up for the point of discussion, but let’s say Adele picks up the paper and reads that headline. Consciously, she might brush it off, but underneath it niggles at her. If she is is more heavily geared towards pleasing other people than herself, she might inexplicably find herself reverting back to her “old ways” and not really understanding why she is doing so. This is the internal tension that’s created between two different ideas or states of being; one where she finds the way she looks currently linked with the possibility that she is no longer going to be accepted or liked. You can see how things might start to unwind, even if it doesn’t make sense on the face of it.
I see examples of this all the time. Someone starts to get ahead in their riding, change up some behaviors, or feel better about themselves and their horse. And those changes create friction in their peer group. Before long, they find themselves cycling back and they don’t understand why. These are very real examples of how easy it is to disengage from taking action on things that are important to you if they challenge the status quo and the connections of which you are a part.
Social pain is real. Change creates kickback. It’s important to factor that into your understandings so you can be aware of any internal resistance you feel in response to that and separate out what serves you and what ultimately needs to be left behind.