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Rebelling Against Yourself? Yep.


Yeah it’s a little tricky, but we somehow manage to rebel against our own expectations, right?

We all know the classic image of a rebel. The guy or gal who insists on doing things his/her own way. Rebels won’t be told what to do or how do it. Rebels hate authority and think for themselves!

Of course, this is a misconception. No one invites more intervention from others than a good rebel. Nobody asks for close monitoring like someone who refuses to cooperate.

Imagine lining up 10 employees. Nine of the 10 are basically cooperative and do their jobs. One of the ten is a rebel. Which employee will attract the greatest amount of heat from the boss? The rebel. Rebels, by virtue of their behavior, are begging for heat!

Why do rebels ask for so much attention from authority? Well, they have unresolved issues with authority and need to keep themselves caught up in the push/pull drama.

Now, to the point.

Do you rebel against your own expectations?

I do. And I am trying to become much more aware of how I do it so that I can stop.

Here is the primary way you might rebel against yourself:

You tell yourself to do something, then feel resentful and refuse to do it. Expect something, then rebel against the expectation. I feel myself doing this from time to time. I’ll be thinking that I need to exercise, or take out the trash. Then, I’ll feel myself pushing back against the expectation and even feeling annoyed. Sort of like, “Hey, I can do what I want.”

But wait a minute. I am the one who wanted to exercise or take out the trash!

Now, I am acting like two separate people: one who wants to exercise and one who refuses to take orders. Is this normal?

Yes, it’s the most normal thing in the world. I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the years who experience this push/pull inner dynamic. It doesn’t take much for our compartmentalizing mind to create this simple game.

How to get out of the cycle of giving yourself orders, then rebelling against those orders? Some thoughts.

Observe the process. Most of the time it happens on autopilot. We end up being the victim of the little game we play with ourselves. So, watch the game as an observer might and see what you can learn. If the game feels a little nutty, then you’re onto something.

Rephrase your orders. Sometimes we bark orders at ourselves that would cause even the most cooperative flinch. Stop. When you want to do something, tell yourself that you get to do it. And be nice. “Oh, I get to exercise now if I want.”

You might not think this is strong enough. It is. It’s strong enough to prompt you to exercise. “Get on that elliptical, dammit!” will only backfire in this case.

If you cannot bring yourself to be nicer, to slow down and observe what you are doing, then you might want to learn more about how self-sabotage works. Rebelling in this way is, of course, a form of self-sabotage. At the iNLP Center we consider it part of a control attachment. In the grasp of a control attachment, you unwittingly seek to be controlled – or to feel out of control.

Again, it’s what rebels typically do. Rebels invite more control into their lives by virtue of their rebellion. In other words, they unwittingly get more of what they hate the most, then do it all over again.

If this process is on autopilot inside your own mind and body, then you should seek to let go of the control attachment. To learn more about how psychological attachments create self-sabotage, watch this free and enlightening video.



Rebelling Against Yourself? Yep.

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2015). Rebelling Against Yourself? Yep.. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Aug 2015
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