How Unconscious Goals Create Self-Sabotage and What to do About It

How Unconscious Goals Create Self-Sabotage and What to do About It

December 4, 2018 Off By Caroline Silva

These are notes on an iNLP Center student webinar about NLP and unconscious goals. 

Clients come in with goals. Some of these goals are conscious and some are unconscious.

The unconscious goals are more important.


The unconscious mind:

  • Has more influence over our thoughts and behavior than the conscious mind.
  • Often sees the world through outdated filters
  • Can sabotage any conscious goal
  • Can set and reach goals independently from the conscious mind


Why does this matter?

When your subconscious mind pursues goals that conflict with your conscious goals, self-sabotage is the result.

Interesting Facts

  • Conscious goals are often desires (wants) while unconscious goals are imperatives (musts). This is why the unconscious mind usually wins the battle when there is a goal conflict.
  • By definition, an unconscious goal is one that you consciously do NOT know about – at all!
  • Our conscious tendency is to deny unconscious motives that conflict with conscious motives. This is a one-way ticket to failure.
  • Magical thinking is the number one culprit in denial of unconscious goals. We believe we will make unconscious goals come to pass if we acknowledge them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Solution

Make unconscious goals conscious. You can’t change what you’re unaware of.

This principle should be priority number one for people seeking to become life coaches or NLP practitioners.

How to Make Unconscious Goals Conscious so you can Deal with Them

  1. Identify a result you’re getting that you do not consciously intend.
  2. Assume the result is the fulfillment of an unconscious goal.
  3. Consciously acknowledge the goal.

You can use this template:

I want to (conscious goal) ___________________________, but instead I (unintended result)_______________________.

My unconscious goal is (unintended result) _______________________.


I want to eat healthily and lose weight but instead I eat junk and remain overweight.

My unconscious goal is to remain overweight.


I want to stand up for myself and speak my mind,  but instead I avoid saying what I really think and feel invisible.

My unconscious goal is to feel invisible.


I want to start my new business, but instead I procrastinate and feel trapped in my job.

My unconscious goal is to feel trapped.


What to do after you have identified an unconscious goal:

Own it patiently. Live with it in consciousness.

Each time you find yourself pursuing the unconscious goal, own it.

I am now pursuing (unconscious goal) ________________________.

Each time you find yourself pursuing the unconscious goal, question it.

Do I really want to do this or is doing this just an old habit?

Call forth and negotiate with the part of you that holds the unconscious goal.

The most important thing of all:

RESPECT your unconscious mind. It is more powerful than you are. When you understand it’s unwavering motive to protect you (even if it’s working with outdated beliefs) it helps!