In the first session of this four-part series, clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula and hypnotherapist Grace Smith, discussed the science and similarities behind hypnosis and traditional therapy. In session 2, Dr. Ramani and Smith dive deeper into how our subconscious houses limiting beliefs, how and why we self-sabotage, and what we can do to achieve our goals and break our bad habits.
What is Self-Sabotaging?
According to Dr. Ramani, self-sabotaging is when a person undercuts their ability to achieve a goal or intention. From daily health habits like getting enough sleep, eating healthy, or brushing their teeth, those who self-sabotage will subconsciously set themselves up to fail. She often tells her clients that self-sabotaging is way to support your dysfunctional hypothesis and believes that more than half of the clinical population she works with struggles with self-sabotage.
Why would someone keep themselves, even inadvertently, from successes? One theory points to a need for control.
If someone believes they are a failure and they subconsciously set themselves up to fail, they can be “right” about their belief – providing a sense, and evidence of, control.
Common Types of Self-Sabotage
Grace Smith has worked with clients who have sabotaged their finances due to buried subconscious limiting beliefs.
For example, suppose you highly respect your father who never made more than $75,000 / year. As an adult, you can’t seem to make more than your father made. Of course, there are many things that affect earning potential, but consider the theory that you consider it disrespectful to earn more than your father and therefore you sabotage your earning efforts. Of course, you could also sabotage your finances by many other limiting beliefs such as; you don’t deserve the income.
Smith also encourages you to look at the way you view and think about wealthy people. Are you angry at them? Do you believe they are bad because they are rich? These types of assumptions, Smith argues, could be getting in your way of building wealth.
Negative Mood States/Cognitions
Dr. Ramani explains that many self-sabotage by spending too much time in a negative state. Using phrases such as, “I’m never going to get married” or, “I’ll never be able to lose this weight,” can keep people from taking the right steps to achieve their goals.
Where Do Limiting Beliefs Come From?
Some experts argue that many of our core beliefs are formed by the age of 7. This gives parents and caregivers a window to influence their child’s beliefs. Dr. Ramani says the best way to care for your child during these critical developmental stages is to first ensure that you have done work on yourself.
Many limiting beliefs are “transferred” from generation to generation until one generation takes a stand to uncover these beliefs.
Identifying Limiting Beliefs
Through therapy, many find they are able to more quickly uncover their limiting beliefs. Common forms of therapy include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Acceptance and commitment therapy
- EMDR therapy
- Somatic therapy
Limiting beliefs can sometimes be uncovered by asking yourself “why.”
For example, if you wish to be in a romantic relationship but have been single for many years, you can ask yourself “why am I still single?” This can uncover behavior that you may be inadvertently conducting that is sabotaging your chance at love.
Perhaps in answering this question you reveal that you never, or rarely, approach anyone you are interested in nor do you take any steps to put yourself in social situations that could result in finding a partner.
Being mindful of this behavior can be a pivotal step in stopping the cycle of self-sabotage.
Reframing Through Hypnotherapy
Reframing is a process that is done during the theta state which is achieved through deep meditation and/or hypnosis. Reframing involves looking at an event through a different lens so that some sort of healthy resolution can be achieved.
For example, a client of Smith had a habit of picking her fingernails. Through hypnotherapy, it was revealed that the fingernail picking started as a way to cope with anxiety caused by the client’s middle school teacher who had disciplined her when she had not done anything wrong. In a hypnotherapy session, the client is able to “talk” to her younger self and explain that she is not at fault for the teacher’s rash actions. Also, the patient is able to confront the teacher from a place of understanding and empathy. The reframing process turns this former negative experience into one that is inspiring and empowering.
Many of these concepts can be found in traditional therapy as well.