Prison Lesson 2 – Self Sabotage

today I taught my second class at the Utah State Prison. The subject was “Self Sabotage,” something we have all done. Below are the notes for the material I taught.  Enjoy!

Identifying and clearing self-sabotaging behavior: 

What is self sabotage? 
Ruining something that would have been good for us, blowing an opportunity, or simply not even taking the first step towards an opportunity, or even not being aware that what we need is right in front of us. 
Why do choose behavior that hurts us? We have all done it. 
The Law of the Harvest says you harvest what you plant. If I am picking green beans in my garden, I must have planted green beans in my garden.  Maybe I don’t like green beans, and I planted them on accident; I thought I was planting peas. On harvest day that doesn’t matter. My action led to a result. 
Why do we take action, make choices, that produce results we don’t like? 
I’m going to say this stems from our thinking; what we believe, our assumptions about life and about ourselves. 
How did we end up with ‘thinking’ that led to choices that led to results we don’t want? 
It is the information we been feeding our mind since birth. Information from family, TV, school, friends, movies, church, and our own ‘self-talk’ as we repeat and reinforce faulty information. 

Information -> thinking -> choices & actions -> results & circumstances 

Self-sabotage happens when a person seeks to make changes in their ‘results’ by making different ‘choices’ before they have changed their ‘thinking’ and the ‘information’ that led to that thinking. If the information they are feeding their mind stays the same, their thinking will stay the same, and even though they are trying to improve their circumstances, eventually they make choices that take them back to about where they were before. 
What are you feeding your mind? Who do you get your information from?
People who have the results you want are who you should be listening to!
Don’t get financial advise from broke people. Don’t take piano lessons from a welder. Don’t take tennis lessons from a football player. Don’t get relationship advice from people with bad relationships. Don’t learn about God from an atheist! Don’t ask the Mazda salesman why you should by a Ford! 

Last week we spoke about your identity. Your identity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because it is your ‘thinking’ about who you are and how your life should be. One of the challenges in  changing our ‘thinking’ about who we are is that there is a part of us that resists change, even good change that we want. As we seek to let go of our layers of false identity and align with who we really are, we step outside our comfort zone. This is really just a familiar zone, we step into new territory which is unfamiliar to us. Even though we made a change for the better, a part of us is uncomfortable, there is uncertainty and vulnerability. Sometimes a person can make a good choice, have anxiety, and then turn around and reverse the decision and stay in a bad place. They are not comfortable being in a good place, even though they are miserable where they are. It can be confusing; a person may say, “I would do anything to have a better life,” and then when given the opportunity to change, they sabotage it, and they can’t figure why nothing works out for them. It is because they have defined who they are and where they belong, and they won’t allow themselves to change, and their choices reflect their identity (their ‘thinking’ about who they are). 
Sometimes I call this, “Breaking your own rules.” We make up the rules for who we are, where we belong, and what is possible for us. Friends, family and the culture around us contributed to the rules, but ultimately we are the ones who accepted them and made them our truth. Once we have these rules in place, we are very uncomfortable crossing a line that would break our own rule. 
For example, I worked with a women who was beat by her father almost every day when she was growing up. She married a man who cheated on her and abandoned her. She married a second man who took her through cycles of abuse. She came to me and I helped her create new healthy patterns in her life. I gave her information that helped her change her thinking.  She was ready to change and made amazing progress. She no longer made choices that allowed abuse in her life. After about 3 months of doing really well, she came to visit me looking very sick. I asked her if I should take her to the Emergency Room. She said she was considering that, she had just vomited on the lawn outside, but she wanted to see if I could help first. As we visited, what we uncovered was that she had been feeling good for too long. The rules for her life said she was supposed to be in pain, she was supposed to abused, her life was supposed to be in a crisis. And now she was making good choices and living a happy life. It is as if a part of her said, “I have been feeling good for too long! I am not allowed to really be healed and be happy. I am supposed to be in a crisis, that is how it has always been for me.” And since she was no longer making choices that created a crisis in her life, her body manufactured one. Once we identified this, we did about 5 minutes of the “tapping” on the idea: “I’m not allowed to feel good, I am supposed to be miserable, abused, and in a crisis. But I am changing that now. I am deleting the old rules. I am allowed to be happy, to live a joyful life, to have healthy relationships consistently, God intends my life to be good despite adversity!” 
After that her face changed, she had a smile on her face, she no longer looked like she needed to go to the ER. As she left my office she shouted, “I can’t believe how good I feel!”

This pattern is very common, and if a person isn’t aware of what is happening, all too often they sabotage the progress they had made. So many people are frustrated because they work hard to improve their circumstances, seem to do better in some way, but after a period of time find themselves back in the same (or very similar) circumstance. They could be sabotaged by feelings of anxiety, depression, or stress. They could sabotage by feeling inferior or ‘not good enough’ for better circumstances. They could sabotage better circumstances because they feel they have betrayed family or cultural expectations. For instance, somebody could have an opportunity to get a good job and make good money, but they have never made that much money, no one in their family has ever made that much money before, and suddenly they feel very uneasy about the new job, and they sabotage the final interview and don’t get the job. Or they get the job but end up getting fired. They end up where their identity tells them they belong, they line up with the rules they have accepted for where they belong in life. 

With the right information and the right tools, it is possible to break out of these sabotaging patterns and create a new life. You can become the person you have always wished you could be. Your past does not have to predict your future. 


Identify what rules you have accepted for your life. Look at your past and find the emotions and circumstances  that seem to keep coming back. Try finishing this phrase:

I always end up….

failing, stuck, frustrated, hurt, disappointed, sad, alone – or something else?

My life is always….

in a crisis, chaos, upside-down, stressful, overwhelming, depressing – or something else?

I am not allowed to be….

happy, healthy, successful, loved, in a safe relationship, wealthy, free to be me, Etc.

 Once you have defined the limiting rules for your life, find positive replacement ideas that line up how your life should be. For instance, if the statement, “I am not allowed to be happy,” connects with you, a possible replacement idea could be, “I am allowed to be happy, I find it is easy to be happy, I am happy – even in difficult circumstances.” Use the tapping process by first tapping on the negative statement for about a minute, mentioning all the events from your past that reinforce it, and then spend at least two minutes focusing on the positive idea, using the most appealing language possible. As you do this consistently daily, you will find over time that the old ideas no longer have any sticking power, they won’t feel true for you at all. You will naturally find yourself making choices to sustain the new identity, the new rules, rather than the old ones. You will find yourself moving forward and sustaining a higher quality of life with greater happiness! It will be easier to be who you have always had the potential to be, the real you!

Exercise 2 – Funeral

Imagine you are at your own funeral. As the people speak about you, what kind a person do you hope to be described as? Imagine your spouse speaks – what kind of a wife were you? One of your children speaks – what kind of a mother were you? A neighbor speaks, what kin of neighbor were you? A co-worker speaks, what would they say?  What are the qualities and characteristics that are most important for you to develop? Wha kind of a person do you want to become?

Exercise 2 Light vs Dark

Homework – mirror exercise

Repeat positive affirmations looking yourself in the mirror. Repeat your funeral talks looking in the mirror. 

Also be sure to find information through good books, friends, audios, church, mentors, that reinforce better thinking, that help you elevate your thinking, support who you really are and encourage you to be better. We don’t just need information, we need encouragement, we need to spend time with people who believe in our divine worth and potential and give us a hand up, rather than pulling us back down to where we have always been. 

If a there are two crabs in a bucket, you don’t need to put a lid on the bucket, because when one of the crabs tries to climb out, the other crab pulls him down, and neither can ever escape. Don’t spend time with crabs! 


About Arden Compton

I love helping people be the best that they can be. Addiction, stress, limiting beliefs & emotions, and bothersome memories are my specialties. I am happily married to my wife Cheryl, we have 7 robust, growing children. I like to ballroom dance, play volleyball, and enjoy the beauty of nature!
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