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Tantric concepts speak about 3 different flavours of self-sabotage we can experience. Before getting to that concept and looking at solutions of how to defeat them, let’s take a look at how self-sabotage can show up in our daily life.

Self-sabotage: When you’re your worst enemy

Self-sabotage is the tendency to make life difficult for yourself by setting limits and creating complications that prevent you from achieving your goals. This can happen consciously or subconsciously.

If you think back of your past, you will probably remember some situations where you could not achieve your goal without understanding why you failed. One possible explanation for this is self-sabotage. In the short term, it can protect you from failure. In the long run, however, it will also prevent you from having more success and developing yourself further. Consequently, people who sabotage themselves create obstacles because their subconscious is convinced that they cannot do what the situation requires.

Some sneaky signs that you do self-sabotage:

  • Lack of commitment and consistency.
  • You feel quite frustrated about your job. But are you actively trying to change it?
  • Your relationship has no basis anymore – nevertheless you continue it.
  • The course does not match your expectations and talents. But you still continue.
  • You don’t feel comfortable in the place you live in. However, you are not looking for other options and solutions.
  • You put on weight and don’t feel good about it. But are you doing more exercise and following a healthier diet?

Other typical variants of self-harming behaviour, as psychologists call it, are:

  • Postponing things that should really be done;
  • Not being able to say NO, even though we are feeling more and more stressed;
  • Putting other people’s interests first and thus increasingly suffer from your own unmatched needs;
  • Boycotting yourself by constantly reconsidering your own shortcomings and weaknesses or by convincing yourself. Typical sentences in this context are, for example: “It doesn’t work at all!”, “I can’t do it anyway.”, “Why should anyone care?”;
  • Distrusting others and tending to see the negative in people and accusing them of bad intentions;

The fear of success

When we get more successful, we may at the same time as well attract more attention and usually rise in reputation and hierarchy. For many it is a wonderful idea. But others, however, feel under pressure, insecure or even scared: with every triumph, their own demands on themselves and expectations from the outside increase.

Questions could rise up such as: Are there any shadow sides coming to light now? What was previously sufficient in terms of know-how may no longer be enough. Old, loved habits have to be abandoned, new ones have to be implemented. Moreover, you may wonder: Will there be still enough time for private life, for the family, for fun?

These worries and fears can all be part of the self-sabotage process. Let’s look now at the 3 different types of self-sabotage and how to overcome them.

What are the 3 different types of self-sabotage?

For understanding better which patterns of self-sabotage we might have, let’s take a teaching of tantric yoga. That will help to understand what happens in our body and mind when we start sinking our own ship and standing in our way. Often we tend towards one type predominantly but can experience a mix of them as well. There is always a lack of integrity that goes with it. We start to question ourselves or another person and to have doubts.

1. Mayiya Mala: contraction of the third eye

Mala is a Sanskrit word meaning amongst others impurity. The forehead chakra, often referred to as the third eye, is the sixth main chakra in the middle of the head, between the eyebrows and slightly above them. If this chakra is in harmony, we have a clear vision for our life path, follow our intuition and find it easy to express our deepest desires.

But if imbalanced, this type tends to measure and compare themselves and others. Often we can see wrinkles on the forehead. There is a huge tendency to judge and value oneself and others with the motivation to be the best or most successful person in something. This leads to a feeling of separation from the environment. The mind dominates and gets disconnected from the heart. As a result, this can lead to a feeling of inferiority or superiority. They are thriving for constant perfection and can get quite frustrated when not matching their own expectations. 

Emotions may arise such as feeling:
  • inferior or superior to others
  • tense esp. in the neck (e.g. headaches and migraines)
  • frustrated and defeated
  • lost
  • confused about what to do in life
  • overwhelmed
  • overcritical
The cure for this state:
  • The need to develop more self-love.
  • Organise your projects differently. Doing little steps towards your goals instead of wanting to do too much in a short time. You need to set realistic goals.
  • Develop more empathy and put yourself in other people’s shoes instead of judging them.
  • Start one new project or thing at a time and finish it.
  • Spend time in nature to deeply nourish yourself and to connect to yourself.
  • Meditate to connect with your own wisdom.
  • Give your critical mind a break and recognise how you separate and disconnect yourself from others. You have much more in common with others then you might think.

This flavour of self-sabotage is often seen at Pitta dosha types. You don´t know your dosha? Then take the test here.

2. Avana Mala: contraction of the heart chakra

The heart chakra is located in the middle of the chest at the height of the heart. If in balance, we can easily trust ourselves and others, give and receive love, feel devotion and are able to forgive and grieve. However, when our heart centre contracts, we will start feeling isolated, alone and misunderstood. We don’t reach out for help and hide our true feelings from others. As a result we can feel emotionally aloof, indifferent, hardened and have difficulties or refuse to allow real closeness in relationships.

Emotions may arise such as feeling:
  • unsupported
  • isolated
  • alone
  • unsafe
  • insecure
  • self-pitying
  • misunderstood

And these are exactly the things that we miss out on in our life. This can lead so far that we experience the world as an unsafe place to live in and do not want to trust anybody. 

The cure for this state:
  • Connect and reach out to others to lift yourself out of self isolation. Telling others how you really feel and with what you need help with.
  • Show our vulnerability and get seen. You will be surprised about how much closeness and connection you will experience when letting others see your true self.
  • Get the help you need in a specific thing e.g. creating a new habit to drink less alcohol, finding a new job, ending an unhealthy relationship, etc. 

People love to help and support each other but they need to see and feel that we are in trouble.

Vata doshas often tend to have contractions of the heart chakra.

3. Karma Mala: contraction of the solar plexus area

The word Karma is describing the result of a person’s actions, the cycle of cause and effect. As per the theory of karma, a person experiences what they caused by their actions. The third chakra, the solar plexus, spins around the area above the belly button up to the lower part of the chest, the sternum. If in balance we have will-power, self-confidence, drive, take responsibility and set limits. Having said this, we can easily detect when being contracted in the solar plexus area. As a result we will start procrastinating things that need to be done and hesitate to take action to get where we want to be. We might have the impression not to advance at all in our life but do not take action.

Emotions may arise such as feeling:
  • disorganised
  • apathetic
  • unable to act
  • passive
  • lethargic
  • frozen
  • disconnected
The cure for this state:
  • Stop procrastinating things.
  • Take action and get an accountability partner.
  • Do something! And if it is just a tiny baby-step.

Kapha doshas have a tendency towards Karma Mala.

Name your type of self-sabotage and write down how it shows up in your life. Tell someone about it and talk about your difficulties. Bringing light into the shadow helps to overcome the obstacles.