What’s Your Flavour of Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage. We all do it. Maybe you’ve set out on a new exercise regime or healthy diet that tanked. Maybe you started a course and never finished it, or didn’t get as much out of it as you’d hoped.

If you think you don’t self-sabotage, chances are your self-sabotage techniques are just particularly sneaky and refined.

The tantric scriptures outlined the three top flavours of self-sabotage. It’s funny how this stuff was outlined thousands of years ago. While so much has changed in our environent, the human body-mind-spirit complex is still the same.

The tantric scriptures outline the process of how unified conscious, ‘the One true source’ (some might call this God) descends and diversifies into the the multiplicity of the manifest universe. The ‘One’ becomes the many, including you, me, the sky, the sea, the rocks…you get the idea.

You may have had the experience of tracing your way back to the source and experiencing a sense of interconnectedness, that feeling of oneness we get from plugging into the ground of being, the original ‘One’. More often than not though we identify with the separation, the differentiation. You are you, and I am me, and we are fundamentally different and separate.

This is the the great illusion, what the tantrics call Maya. We default to this place of contraction where we live from our our seemingly separate ego-identity. And from here the sources of self-sabotage.

Our self-sabotage comes from a contraction. Whenever we try to expand into something new, whenever we take on a new endeavour or challenge, we will experience a pingback. Resistance and self-sabotage are inevitable as our reptilian brain tries to keep us within the safety of the known.

Your particular flavour of self-sabotage is likely to be linked to the contraction of either your third eye, heart or navel chakra.

Here’s what each contraction looks like. Can you see where you fit in?

 Anava Mala: Contraction of the heart centre, our centre of love and connectivity.

When our heart centre contracts we feel alone, isolated. We disconnect from the other hearts out there and descend into self-pity. We might feel unsupported, like no-one care, and like no-one else is possibly going through what we’re going through.  We don’t reach out for the help we need because, who could possibly understand or help us? We might feel sad and helpless and like the world is generally an unsafe place to be.


We desperately desire to feel connected and understood and seen, but we hide ourselves in fear thus assuring that no-one can help us and reinforcing our belief that we’re alone.

The cure: Reach out! Notice the contraction and start to open up your heart centre by connecting with other hearts. Ask for help. Let people know what you need. Train yourself to feel connected again.

Mayiya Mala: Contraction of the third eye, our centre of intuition and perception.

Mayiya means to measure. When our third eye is contracted we’re stuck in measuring. Measuring isn’t necessarily a problem except when it creates separation that keeps us from evolving and moving forwards.  We stumble on our judgements: I’m better than/not as good as so and so, which leads to feelings of jealousy and worthlessness, maybe an inferiority complex, which prevents us from sharing our light with others. Others can’t benefit from what we have to offer because we’re busy measuring it up and judging it as too lacking to share.

Or maybe we just get too caught up in looking smart and appearing to be perfect. We convince ourselves we’ve nothing to gain or learn because we’ve already nailed everything.

Either way it prevents us from getting on and doing what we need to do. We sabotage our desired goals by getting trapped in measuring and comparing.

Measuring usually turns to judgement and oftentimes we judge ourselves most harshly. This can turn into perfectionism. Another great way to ensure you sabotage your goals is to make them unachievable from the outset. You then seamlessly enter the realm of ‘all or nothing’ and guarantee that you ultimately come out with, you guessed it, nothing.

The cure: Allow the critical mind to do its things, to measure, but look at your desired outcomes and take a big exhale. As you inhale, how can you open your heart and your third eye to allow the critical nature of the mind to move you forwards in humility and in connection?  Adjust your goals so they don’t trigger your perfectionism, make your goals do-able and enjoyable. Be kind to yourself and to others, drop the judgement and be reasonable, this dissolves the contraction.

If this is your prefered flavour start training yourself to notice when you enter into judgment mode and start to dissolve this by practising empathy with yourself and with others. Relax into the ground of being, the field of connectivity that’s behind the seeming diversity and separation that we see.

Karma Mala: contraction of the third chakra, our centre of power and will

Karma means action. When our third chakra, our centre of power, of expressing our will in the world, is contracted it means we fail to take action.

We may desperately desire to eat better but then fail to take any actions that might help us do so, like buy healthy foods, plan a healthy menu for the week, learn a new recipe that aligns with how we want to nourish ourselves. We might sign up for a course but then fail to schedule time into our week to do the coursework, we don’t get organised. This often looks like procrastination. We’ll come up with a million and one excuses why we’re not taking action. It’s too hard. I don’t have time right now. I just need to do this other thing first.

The cure: Simply take action! However small it is just take action towards your goal. If you want to exercise more it might just be taking a five minute walk after lunch today! The smallest, tiniest action starts to break down karma mala.

So what’s your flavour of self-sabotage? Do you shut down and separate yourself from others? Do you allow perfectionism to stop you doing anything? Do you procrastinate and fail to take action? Maybe you play with a cocktail of all three!  Whatever your flavour or combination is NAME IT! Bring it to light. Call it out and work out a strategy to deal with it ahead of time, because, you can count on it to show up to sink your ship whenever you attempt something new.

Author: Sam Vale Noya

Yoga instructor currently living and teaching in Reading, UK.