I keep being asked what forms self-sabotage takes, so here is what I have observed having worked with hundreds of professional female leaders – those working for large firms and corporations and those who run their own businesses.
For clarity, I decided to put all the different forms into three categories: thoughts, emotions and behaviours, as these are the three areas that have to be in alignment with our goals and desires if we want to make them become reality.
Believing every thought: for centuries western culture has been built around dominance of our minds, leading to a false belief that our thoughts are us. Whilst it’s not an easy concept to wrap our heads around, once we gain the mindful ability to separate ourselves from our thoughts, we are often met with an unmatched level of freedom.
Over-thinking: a state of over-analysing a situation so that a decision or action is delayed or never taken; often a lot of energy is spent on going round the same scenario – energy that could be spent on figuring out alternative solutions or next steps, ultimately leading to a desired outcome.
Focusing on a negative: our brains are wired for negativity – it’s a defence mechanism that kept us alive since the beginning of humanity. We no longer need to fear for our lives in the same way as our ancestors did. Key here is to remembering that what we focus on expands; be careful where you invest!
Letting limiting beliefs define who we are: beliefs are subconscious constructs created mostly by the age of 8 that guide the way we interpret what’s happening to us and around us – and what’s possible to us. If the interpretation is discouraging (eg. showing as a harsh internal monologue), it is likely to significantly jeopardise our efforts.
Lack of vision for life and career: We carefully plan our holiday destinations – where we want to go, when, what experiences we are looking to have when we get there, how we want to feel in result – but when it comes to life we often drift without a plan, resulting in either being off course or missing the target completely.
Getting stuck on negative emotions: consciously re-living past negative events (by eg. telling everyone the same story over and over again or complaining) is not only a drain but it also stops us from connecting to our heart centre which is responsible for our values and desires.
Ignoring and/or suppressing our feelings: as humans, we always run away from pain and towards pleasure; therefore it’s not surprising that we may want to avoid getting involved with those more difficult feelings. The bad news is that not allowing the hurt to surface and express itself doesn’t solve the problem – it just pushes it away (it’s like sweeping preverbal dirt under the carpet). Only by acknowledging how we truly feel we can move on.
Ignoring power of emotions as a guiding force: negative emotions are usually there to tell us something important; ignoring them without listening to the massage they carry may lead to a life that is out of touch with one’s values, resulting in increased unhappiness, anxiety and depression.
Lack of self-compassion: self-compassion offers significant benefits that can help us become more successful as it increases motivation, boosts happiness, fosters resilience and contributes to stress reduction. Increasing awareness and ability to treat oneself with kindness is the first step on the journey.
Living in contradiction with our values and desires: have you ever heard: “I will be happy, when…”? The problem is that the life is happening now, and when may never come, which is often a root cause of anxiety and depression. Living your life in alignment with who we are is not a luxury but a necessity.
Staying stuck in a bad situation: whether it’s a relationship or a job that is no longer serving us, staying put eventually leads to behavioural and emotional passiveness (victim mentality), which is often a start of a vicious circle.
Lack of comprehensive preparation: for meetings, interviews, appraisals… working out how we want to show up in terms of content, non-verbal communications as well as emotionally (‘how do I want to feel on the inside whilst doing it?’) is key to success; missing even one of these elements can challenge our performance.
Not asking for help: with a project, emotional struggle, work/life balance, re-inventing your life – you name it; high achieving women are brilliant when it comes to ‘even if I am going to drop, I will do it all’ attitude which often leads to even more overwhelm, stress and exhaustion.
Staying friends with energy-suckers: “you are an average of 5 people you spend most time with” – choose your five we care! They can be your friends and family or role models and authorities that you may decide to follow.
Unsupportive nutritional habits & lack of exercise: eating foods that don’t serve us and not taking care of our bodies may be our mind’s way of saying – ‘I am hurting & I am afraid’. Listen out carefully.
The work I do with my clients is to get to identify and overcome root cause of sabotaging actions, help them to develop new habits as well as create a vision of what they desire and a plan to achieve it.As one of my clients said after the first cycle of working together: “I have read so many self-help books and articles but I have never done what they said and then blamed the solutions offered for not being effective enough. The most surprising discovery I had working with you, in addition to pushing through what I thought were my own limits, is that this stuff actually works and it’s so easy to implement”.
Have you been stuck in self-sabotaging behaviours for way to long? Now – you have a choice. You can continue to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Or you can end what doesn’t serve you right now, gain clarity and create the energy to up your game!
I’d like to talk with you about how we can make this happen.