How to Stop Self Sabotage and Welcome Joy into Your New Year

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion.
These are your greatest treasures. Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.” — Lao Tzu

by Joyce Marter for Huffington Post

To find out more about UB’s insurance-friendly counseling services please visit the Urban Balance Contact Page. With 6 Offices, and over 50 therapists serving Chicago and north suburbs, UB offers comprehensive therapy services for individuals, couples, and families.

The new year brings an opportunity for a personal transformation or, in other words, a true metamorphosis: a conscious termination of self-defeating behaviors and patterns, and a welcoming of new positivity and possibility into your life. Like a snake shedding its old skin, a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, or a phoenix rising from the ashes, you will let go of what is old and no longer needed to grow into a version that is closer to your highest and greatest self.

Desire, awareness, will, and dedication are required to become your better self. Not only is this growth attainable, it is absolutely necessary for the evolution of your mind, body and spirit.

Through my practice, I see how we all unconsciously recreate what is familiar until we choose something different. In our earlier life experiences, we may have adopted dysfunctional patterns of thinking or relating that hold us back from the life we want. Today, I encourage you to identify these self-limiting habits, and replace them with positive intentions that will help make your dreams a reality.

To begin this healing and self-affirming process, quiet your mind and body through deep breathing and stretching. Reflect and identify 5-7 self-defeating behaviors. Write them down on a sheet of paper or in a journal. The following are examples from my practice:

1. Giving more than I receive, over-functioning in relationships.
2. Putting my needs last.
3. Buying things I don’t need.
4. Needing to be right.
5. Feeling shame about my finances, weight, home or myself in general.
6. Being overly busy and distracted.
7. Zoning out with the internet, TV, food, alcohol, etc.
8. Pushing people away and isolating myself.
9. Not putting time and energy towards my dreams.
10. Caring to much about what other people think.

Second, cross out these self-defeating behaviors with a single line so that they are still legible, but have been negated. Underneath them, replace each self-sabotaging behavior with a corrective positive intention. According to Wayne Dyer, author of The Power of Intention, “Our intentions create our realities.” Intentions are conscious ways of living, rather than measurable goals, e.g., the difference between, “I live a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and exercise,” and “I want to lose 10 pounds.” Intentions should be written in present rather than future tense so that they are already the truths by which you live. Refer to the following examples:

1. I allow and maintain a healthy, mutual balance of giving and receiving in my relationships.
2. I know that I must take care of myself first or I will be of no use to anyone else. I will be my own good parent and take care of my needs as I would somebody I love dearly. I release any undue guilt or anxiety.
3. I only allow things I need and use on a regular basis to occupy my time, space and energy. I free myself of all else.
4. I detach from my ego and do not to sweat the small stuff. I do not need others to validate what I know to be true in my heart.
5. I know I am exactly as I should be and my “issues” are “how” I am, not “who” I am.
6. I consciously bring my awareness to the present moment by focusing my quiet attention on my breath — that which connects my mind, body and spirit.
7. I spend my time doing things that add value and meaning to my life and not those that I believe insulate me from pain.
8. I welcome love and real support into my life.
9. I am dedicated to my dreams — each day is a step towards their fruition.
10. I care most about whether or not I like myself as a result of my actions.

Now that you have replaced self-sabotaging behaviors with positive intentions, it is time to create space in your life to welcome joy, success and all that is good. In a culture dominated by materialism and technology, it is easy for our minds and hearts to become cluttered and blocked. Jot down your personal thoughts about how you will practice each of the following components of creating SPACE:

Simplicity: Make life easier by streamlining material possessions, activities, communication, etc.
Patience: Free your mind of negative emotions by choosing to be patient with yourself, with others, and with life.
Acceptance: Let go of that which you cannot control, trusting all is as it should be.
Compassion: Soften your heart by extending compassion to yourself and others.
Empathy: Diffuse tension, invite intimacy and promote connected consciousness by implementing what is perhaps the greatest relational tool.

Finally, it is time to develop your personal and professional vision or mission. This is an important process in mapping out your dreams, so that you consciously create the life you want, rather than simply allowing outside influences to determine your path. To do this, create a vision board by cutting out pictures or words from magazines and post them on a poster board (or cut and paste onto a digital document.) Pick images that represent the life you want. Aim high, trust in the abundance theory and welcome all that is good. Consider making your vision board your screen saver on your phone or laptop, or the cover of your journal.

Commit to this transformation. Develop a daily ritual during which you reflect on your intentions, your ways to create SPACE in your life, and your vision board for at least 3-5 minutes during times of meditation, prayer or reflection.

Say good-bye to your former self and thank him or her for all you have learned. Welcome your BEST self in the new year and watch your dreams come to fruition!


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On July 30th, our current electronic health system will transition to a new and advanced system to better serve you: Athena. Prior to the transition date, you will be sent a registration link to create a new patient account in Athena. If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your therapist, or call our office to speak to a staff member.