Stopping ourselves from doing what we want, being successful and happy, doesn’t make sense and yet we all do it. Overthinkers are particularly good at self-sabotaging as we overthink and talk ourselves out of so much. But when we pay attention to ourselves we can start to address it.
In this episode we look at:
Pressing Pause Podcast episode 49 Are you getting in your own way (aka self-sabotaging)?
Welcome to Pressing Pause, the podcast for overthinkers.
I’m Gabrielle Treanor and I’m here to share with you ideas, inspiration and actions to empower you to spend less time overthinking and worrying and more time enjoying your life.
Hello and welcome to episode 49. Before we get stuck in to today’s topic I want to give you a heads up that the doors close to enrol in the Worry Less for Life course on this coming Friday, the 29th March. So, if you’ve been thinking about joining me to discover how you can worry less, calm your mind, build resilience and enjoy life more, now is the time to go to worrylessforlife.com and join. You’ll find lots of information about how the course can help you, and in turn those around you, what is included, the bonuses you get and there are a couple of payment plan options too. Head on over to worrylessforlife.com after this episode and take your place.
Now, in today’s episode I’m tackling the sticky subject of self-sabotage. This is simply any action you do that gets in the way of you achieving your goals, living to your full potential. On the surface it sounds odd, why would you want to stop yourself from doing what you want, from being happy and successful? But, we humans are complicated creatures and there are times when we really do get in our own way.
So, how does self-sabotage show up in life? Well, it can look like procrastinating, self-medicating with food, alcohol or drugs, or getting into conflict with other people. There’s a job you really want, with a great salary and career path but you spend so much time over the application you miss the deadline. You have a day where you don’t stick to your diet so you give up on the whole thing and eat twice as much as you normally would. Your relationship is getting serious then you get into a massive row and break up.
Self-sabotage has a lot to do with things like imposter syndrome, our sense of self-worth and the fear of failure, and success, which I talk about it in episode 41. If we don’t really believe we deserve something, or that we’re capable of it, our inner saboteur can spring into action to make sure it doesn’t happen. So if there’s something you want help with, whether it’s learning to stress less or learning to speak French, if you don’t really believe you can do it, you’ll find a way not to by not signing up to the class or telling yourself all the reasons why it’s not the right time for you.
If previous relationships have ended and deep down you believe that you can’t have a happy, stable relationship you’ll break it off before the other person does to save yourself the hurt you feel is inevitable. If a career opportunity comes up and it’s more than you ever hoped for, it ticks every one of your boxes plus some you hadn’t thought of, but it feels far out of your comfort zone and you don’t really believe you deserve it or that you’re capable of it you’ll find a way to sabotage the opportunity so you can stay in the safe, comfortable, familiar box you’re used to being in.
No-one is immune to self-sabotage, it’s something I’m working on, and us overthinkers can absolutely stand in our own way as we dissect and analyse and overthink every aspect of life. I know so many creatives and business owners, and I’ve been guilty of this myself, who make something wonderful for people to buy but they barely tell anyone, in real life or on social media, for fear that no-one will like it, no-one will buy it or that they’ll be seen as pushy, salesy or a show-off. So the fear of the imagined what ifs stop them from sharing their valuable creation, product or service, and the people who could benefit from it never get the opportunity because they don’t know about it.
There are so many ways we can sabotage ourselves so what can we do to stop getting in our own way? Well, it’s not easy because most of the time we’re not doing it consciously. So we need to start paying attention to our own thoughts and behaviour to increase our awareness of how we can be limiting ourselves.
When you feel yourself resisting something get curious and notice any negative thoughts or feelings you’re having, and how you’re behaving. Are you putting off doing something? Are you coming up with lots of reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t take action? Are you scared of making a mistake, of not living up to expectations? Are you trying to stay in complete control of everything?
It helps to write down your observations because over time you can start to notice self-sabotaging patterns emerging and the limiting beliefs underlying them. These beliefs could have been formed by how you reacted to experiences in the past, comments from other people or what you’ve learned and observed. What matters is that you recognise these beliefs because then you can start to challenge them and by doing so address your self-sabotaging behaviour.
It can be tricky, and uncomfortable, to identify your limiting beliefs so you may find it helpful to talk it over with someone you trust and feel comfortable sharing this with.
Go easy on yourself as you work through this, you may find yourself getting really frustrated but if you get cross with yourself it won’t help you, it’ll just make you feel worse.
When you’ve identified some of the beliefs that are holding you back, stopping you from living as you really want to, you can start to address them by coming up with new beliefs to replace them with. One way to do this is to get two pieces of paper and on the first page write your limiting beliefs. Then on the second page think of new, affirming, positive beliefs to replace the old ones with. For example, a limiting belief could be ‘I don’t deserve a job that pays me well’ and the new belief you replace it with could be ‘My skills, training and experience are valuable and I deserve to be rewarded financially’. Or perhaps you’ve been telling yourself ‘Things always go wrong in my life and I’ll never be happy’. Instead you can give yourself a new message to believe in like ‘I am in charge of my own life and I’m allowed to be happy’.
Looking for evidence to back up your new beliefs can help add weight to them so think back over when things have gone right, your achievements, when you’ve dealt with adversity – any evidence you can find to support the positive beliefs you’re going to focus on.
Then, still with your two pieces of paper, on the first page write out how your limiting beliefs have been contributing to your self-sabotaging behaviour and stopping you from living the life you really want. And then on the second page write down how the new beliefs could impact you and your future. Really flesh out the positive future you can envision for yourself and make it as real as you can.
Now, this is when it would be useful to have another listen to episode 43 where I talk about positive affirmations. We want to swap the stuck record of limiting beliefs in our brains to the new shiny, positive, inspiring, life-affirming beliefs. This is going to take time and effort but it will be worth it. Write out your new beliefs on post-it notes and put them all over your home. Or write them at the top of your to do list each morning or in your diary. Set an alarm to sound a few times a day and repeat your beliefs several times to yourself.
Think about what action you can take, what positive behaviour can replace your self-sabotaging behaviour to keep you moving forward. Make a list and break it down if the end goal feels too daunting or scary. Take one small step each day – dust off your CV, draft the email, buy the course, enquire about the personal trainer, join a dating site – whatever it is and get the support you need to help you by keeping you accountable, challenging you when your old habits, behaviours and beliefs start resurfacing, and cheering you on when you take steps forward.
It’s not like life is going to be instantly fixed with a few affirmations and a to do list, some days you’ll make progress, some days you’ll feel like you’re going backwards but by paying attention to how you’re feeling, thinking and behaving, recognising when it’s not helpful, and continuing to take action, however small, you can weaken the power of your inner saboteur.
And if you want to feel calmer, stronger, better able to cope and to have a little more fun and joy in your life, but you think you’ve been getting in your own way, I am here to help you take those steps forward to living the life you want to. As I said at the start of this episode, my online course, Worry Less for Life – how to calm your mind, build resilience and enjoy life more – closes for enrolment on this coming Friday 29th March. So, go to worrylessforlife.com to find out all about how the course can make a difference to your life, and in turn your loved ones too, and join. There’s not long to go before the doors close.
And as usual you’ll also find the show notes including the links for the other episodes I mention at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast.
Thanks for listening, until next time, lovely people.
Throughout this website and my work when I refer to women I include people identifying as women.
If you have, or think you may have, a mental health problem that requires professional diagnosis or treatment, please consult a mental health care professional and your GP.
You can also talk to the people at Mind on 0300 123 3393 or SANE on 0300 304 7000 or Samaritans on 116 123.
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