When I started to embrace spirituality in my life, the first thing I noticed was how many options were available. I loved the idea of mindfulness. I worked to hone my self-awareness and it made a huge difference in my life. But there were some popular concepts that were not working for me.

When I started my recovery work, setting intentions was the latest spiritual direction. I set my intentions. I did my meditations. I made my vision boards. I wrote my mantras. I did my best to embrace the process. But honestly, it seemed to go nowhere.

As I ventured deeper in to my own recovery work, I found the reason. My traumatic past had separated aspects of my being and these inner parts were no longer accessible to my ego self, the part that sets intentions. As a matter of a fact, the parts of me that I had cut off were not on board with my intentions. More to the point, they were vehemently opposed to my intentions. And without the whole self behind an intention, it will never happen … EVER. I discovered that doing cognitive work with my conscious ego self was essentially putting lipstick on a pig.

Through my process, I discovered three separate parts of self.

1) My ego self who was dead-set on avoiding my past by ignoring all the pain and pushing willfully forward at perfecting my life, even if it required me to fake it.

2) My inner child who was extremely hurt from a childhood of abuse, and who continued to be ignored by my ego self, only making her sadness more intense.

3) My inner teenager who was mad as hell at every adult she had ever met, including the ego self, and would do absolutely anything to sabotage the life my ego self so desperately wanted.

And with a setup like this, who needed enemies. I had the mess of a lifetime within my own being.

I had to take a different approach. There was still room for intention work, but it had to come with some deeper internal communication with the parts of me that were hurting. It required feeling the pain of the past. And it required patience and flexibility, which were not the strong point of my ego self. I began a process, and it came to look something like this.

1) I became the parent I never had. I developed a relationship with my inner child. I started by writing letters to her and giving her the space to write back. Her letters weren’t pleasant, but they taught me so much about my past. Memories and painful emotions came back as trust was developed. And I was able to uncover what this part of me needed. Honestly, her needs were so much more important than the goals of my ego self.

2) I built trust with my inner teenager. To be honest, she is still deciding if she can trust me. She was never able to trust others, so there is bitterness. But the self-sabotage has diminished greatly. And she is willing to give me the benefit of the doubt sometimes. My ego self even makes an effort to slow down so this part can take a break. We all know that teenagers need a break.

3) As I came to know these parts of me, I was able to get a sense of what I really wanted. And it wasn’t what I thought. While they had some foundation in reality, the initial intentions were off base. They didn’t incorporate the whole self. While they would have manifested relief, the joy would have been missing. In some cases, the intentions were exactly what I wanted, but for the wrong reasons.

That first step in setting intentions is not a day’s work for everyone. It requires a deep process of getting to know all of our lost parts. It requires an understanding of the pain that lies beneath our deepest desires. It is in building this deeper knowledge of who we are that the intentions can rest on a solid foundation.

So don’t give up on changing your thoughts. It is important work. But don’t forget to look beneath the thoughts. Inquire in to the deeper undercurrent that may be running your life. It is in that understanding that your life can change and you can manifest your dreams.


If you want help bringing awareness to your self sabotage, contact me about my one-on-one survivor guidance sessions.