Stop Doing That Sh*t (2019) dives into the subconscious to explore how and why we self-sabotage ourselves. Discover why just thinking positively or deciding to change doesn’t help us to actually improve ourselves. Then, learn a method for finally overcoming the hidden thoughts that have been unconsciously ruling our lives.
Overcome the subconscious beliefs that are sabotaging your efforts to change your life.
Have you ever wrestled a sofa up your driveway and into your house on your own, just because you didn’t realize you could ask for help? No?
Okay, try this on for size – have you ever gone into a spiral of doubt and anxiety because life was feeling too good?
Or what about any time you trip up just before crossing the finish line of a longterm goal?
If any of this sounds uncomfortably familiar, don’t worry– you’re in good company.
Author and personal development coach, Gary John Bishop has directly experienced unconscious self-sabotage himself, and seen it at work in countless clients who he’s helped to turn around their lives. So when he explains what self-sabotage is, where it comes from, and how you can stop yourself from unconsciously engaging in it, he knows what he’s talking about.
In this summary, you’ll discover why other forms of self-help might not have helped you in the past. You’ll come to realize and accept the unconscious thoughts that are keeping you from actually achieving your dreams. You’ll take responsibility for your life and your actions. And you’ll find that you truly are in the best of hands – your own.
The cycles of self-sabotage
Have you ever heard someone describing a self-sabotaging friend? We all nod along and agree, their life could be so great if they stopped getting in their own way. But…what exactly does self-sabotage entail?
Well, let’s look at the basics of sabotage first. What does it mean to sabotage something? It means to intentionally destroy, hinder, or hurt someone or something. So add the self part on the front of the word, and we have… that’s right, we have someone intentionally harming themself or their own efforts at something.
But you’d never do that to yourself, would you?
Unfortunately, you almost certainly do. Don’t worry, we’ll dive into how to stop self-sabotaging later in this summary, but right now, let’s stay focused on how you might be self-sabotaging without even realizing it.
Have you ever reached a point in life and thought, hey, my life is really going well?
Then what happens? Do you start to stress about what terrible things might be just around the corner that will upset everything? Maybe you start to make nervous, scared decisions instead of embracing the unknown. Or maybe you pull back from life, scared that you’re about to make some grave mistake.
And then bam, it hits. Your car breaks down at the same time your pet needs a big medical procedure, and then you lose your job. But wait, those are all external issues that just happened to you, right? You couldn’t have caused any of that to happen.
Take a closer look.
Did you skip your oil change because you were so busy worrying about your job that you couldn’t take the time to take your car in? Were you skimping on your pet’s medication because you were worried about some impending loss of income? Had you been distracted and making tons of mistakes at work because you were obsessively trying to predict when your fortunes would fall?
This is self-sabotage at its finest. The worrying, the stressing, the fretting about when the other shoe’s going to drop. It might not seem like it, but these thoughts can subtly – or sometimes not so subtly! – influence your actions, which then leads to the dreaded losing it all. And yet, had you not been so stressed or anxious, you’d still be doing just fine.
So you hit the rough patch, and you tell yourself this time you’ll really make it, this time you’ll work so hard that life will have to be good to you. You build yourself back up, things start looking really good again. Then wham, things explode in your face once more.
And the cycle repeats, and repeats…and repeats.
For many people, these cycles of self-sabotage continue despite all the self-help ideas out there. Why? We’ll explore that in the next section.
The true impact of the past
Ever heard the saying, those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it? But what about those of us who know our pasts and still mess up in the same ways?
There are two big mistakes we make when thinking about our past and how it affects our lives. The first is in thinking the past has absolutely no influence on the present. The second is in thinking the past directly controls the present.
Some disgruntled people claim that society has become invested in blaming parents and grandparents for anything wrong with individuals today. And sure, there’s a point at which looking for past reasons for present behaviors becomes problematic.
For example, saying something like – well my parents were like that, which caused me to be like this, and I can’t do anything about that. Such a mindset is not only unhelpful, it’s simply incorrect. Because – are you ready for this? – you are the only one responsible for your actions from today onward.
You are the only one who can determine what you choose to do today.
This is not to say that nothing in your past has any affect on who you are today. The point is, you are now in control of choosing your actions. You can choose to give up by saying the past has irrevocably hurt you, but that is a choice.
You can also choose to say the past did have an effect on how you are today, but that you’re going to work to change yourself anyway. This mindset, in fact, is the only way to move forward.
And there are some big ways the past affects us. We didn’t have control over what family we were born into. Our genetics, our parents, our siblings, our family’s economic and social status – we had no control over these things coming into the world. And these are the things that often have enormous impact in shaping the blank slate of who we are at birth into who we become.
More precisely, our circumstances and experiences work together to build three very specific, subconscious thoughts in our mind. These thoughts become the guiding forces in our lives, the lenses through which we view everything. They become our personal truths about the world, and they keep us in those cycles of self-sabotage we covered earlier.
So what are they? What are these deep-seated ideas our subconscious clings to as truths?
Uncovering your three saboteurs
Bishop outlines three saboteurs that everyone has deep in their unconscious. These are the three thoughts that keep us reverting to the same unhelpful actions instead of truly breaking free of our past and charting a different course for our life. They take the form of three statements – a statement about ourselves, a statement about other people, and a statement about life.
Though these saboteurs, or sabotaging statements, take the same form for everyone, they are unique for each person. Your set of hidden beliefs will be different than your best friend’s, your parents’, your partner’s. So what are the statements exactly?
Let’s look at the I-directed saboteur first.
The statement about yourself always begins with I, and it could be something like I don’t matter, I’m incapable, or, I suck. This is the hidden lens that influences all your other thoughts or assessments about yourself. You might consciously be saying to yourself that you are a winner, that you’re capable and you’re truly going to get your life on track this time. But if you aren’t aware of the hidden saboteur influencing your deep feelings about yourself, you’ll inevitably choose actions that go against whatever outcome you’re trying to achieve.
How do you uncover what this persistent, underlying evaluation of yourself is? Well, some deep journaling could definitely help. Talking with a therapist or other licensed professional could help. Whether you’re working alone or with some else, consider what your thoughts tend to circle back to when you fail at something, or when things seem to be going against you. What’s that sinking feeling you get about yourself in such cases? Do you get a sense of inevitably, thinking of course this happened to me, I’m a…
A what? What do you fill in there? That’s a big clue as to your I-saboteur.
Now what do you think about other people?
The statement about people generally takes the form people are… fill in the blank. People are what? Again, don’t go with whatever you consciously tell yourself about people. Chances are, deep down, what you think about other people is another saboteur keeping you from achieving your dreams.
This thought influences every interaction you have with others, even the positive ones. Maybe you think people are deceitful. Then, even if you have good relationships with others, you’ll be unconsciously watching out for what they might be lying about, what secrets they hold that will blow up your relationships. And if you’re constantly on the lookout for something wrong, you will find something wrong.
Two down, one to go.
The third saboteur is your deepest belief about life.
Life is unfair? Life is hard? Life is impossible? Again, this might take some roundabout methods to discover what your saboteur regarding life is. Think again about how you feel when you’re scared something’s going to go wrong, or what you think immediately after things go wrong.
It might take a while to figure out what shape these three hidden thoughts actually take for you. Once you’ve got a hold of these three saboteurs though, you’re ready to move on to actually making significant changes in your behaviors and your life.
The final steps to improving your life
Alright, so you’ve figured out what three thoughts are sabotaging your best efforts at improving your life. Now, you can start actually working toward the life you want to be living.
Part of the reason those three saboteurs have such a great impact on our lives is that we humans need to feel secure. We like to know what to expect from life, other people, ourselves. And so, if our underlying conclusions about those things are negative, we inevitably search for evidence that life really is unfair, or that we really are unworthy, and so on. That’s what leads us to choose actions that counteract our conscious goals and dreams – the subconscious need to be proven right about those three hidden saboteurs.
So how do we get out of the cycle of self-sabotage? How do we escape from our three saboteurs?
The first step you’ve already taken – figuring out what your personal saboteurs are. The next step is to truly accept where you are in life. Accept that based on your past experiences, based on everything you’ve thought and done and experienced up until now, you’ve developed the three saboteurs. Sit with the knowledge for a while.
This is really hard. It is. But to truly be able to move on, to truly escape the grip of the three saboteurs you’ve subconsciously developed, this is an absolutely crucial step.
If you can’t come to fully accept your saboteurs, they will still have power, working away in the back of your mind to undermine every step you try to take toward a better life. Only by acknowledging them, by shining the light on them, can you start to dissolve the saboteurs and release yourself from their shadowy clutches.
Alright, enough of the imaginative language. It’s probably pretty apparent by now that you can’t move on until you deal with your subconscious.
So once you’ve discovered your saboteurs and fully accepted them, what then?
The fun part!
The last two steps toward improving yourself are to dream big, to imagine what you actually want from this life. Then, you work backward to figure out what actions you need to start taking to get there.
But wait, you say, that seems rather simplistic. You’re right! It is simpe…once you’ve figured out and accepted your saboteurs, of course.
See, the key to actually transforming your life, to getting past the cycles of self-sabotage, is really dependent on those three saboteurs. Until you’ve done that work, no other self-help ideas are going to help you.
It’s hard, it’s challenging, but you’ve got everything you need to figure out what your saboteurs are and accept them. It’s literally all up to you.
Remember what we said way back in the introduction? You’re in the best of hands – your own. Hopefully by now you see how much power you really have. You have the ability to uncover your subconscious beliefs, to accept them and to move forward despite your past. You have the ability to truly change your life, if you can just uncover and accept your personal saboteurs.
As you move forward, remember to check in every once in a while. Our saboteurs are wily things – you might accept and nullify one set only to find a new set crops up.
If you notice yourself trying to slip back into bad habits or choosing actions out of fear or anxiety instead of anticipation of your desired future, pause a moment. Dig through your motivations and deepest thoughts again and figure out what thoughts are trying to sabotage your efforts.
Stay vigilant, stay focused, and dream big. You’ve got this.
About the author
Gary John Bishop began his life journey in Glasgow, Scotland. The grit and wit of his early life has contributed to his irreverent, tough-love, in-your-face approach to personal growth. The one-time Senior Program Director to one of the worlds biggest personal and professional development companies, Gary has created the kind of no-frills message that cuts through the fog of people’s lives to transform the real issues that consume and anchor them to their self limiting behaviors and beliefs. As one of the leading Personal Development experts around with a reputation that has impacted millions of people worldwide, his “Urban Philosophy” approach represents a new wave of personal empowerment and life mastery that has caused miraculous results for people in the quality and performance of their lives.