Self-sabotage: How you can nip it in the bud using these three techniques
We’ve all done it, listened to that little voice in our heads that constantly reminds us of our doubts, fears and worries. There’s a few names for it but the outcome remains the same; self-sabotage.
Truth is, a little bit of doubt doesn’t do us any harm. In fact, it can help us from making rash and reckless decisions. So taking it with a pinch of salt is healthy, it’s only when we begin picking at things so much that we can’t do anything does the self-doubting gremlin fully take hold.
Self-sabotage is a sad byproduct of imposter syndrome which is also the big bad cousin of perfectionism. It can take many forms and speak to you in a myriad of ways, but the most common denominator is berating yourself, questioning your self-worth, and asking who the heck you are to do anything.
You may have heard your gremlin easily dismiss your successes, or perhaps explain it away. This is a form of self-sabotage because you have no room to reflect on what you have done right, only what you think you have done wrong. The difference is that everything you do takes on a negative spin. How is that productive when you’re trying to move forward?
Do you focus on why you might not be good at something rather than the actual doing? You’re holding yourself back and failing by default. Putting pressure on yourself to be perfect the first time around is an impossible task. Think of the first time you drove a car, or even the first time had sex. I can bet on it that you wouldn’t have been able to do a three-point turn or reach a mutual climax first time around but that doesn’t mean you fail or are bad at something. It means that you’re doing it without experience, so there is room for improvement and that is a fantastic place for learning to take place. Perfection will limit you by setting an unachievable expectation.
Dr Valerie Young writes that; “Remember that your first draft, first presentation, first painting, or first anything is never going to be as good as your second – or your two hundredth”.
So how can you quell the voices that pick and pick at everything you do? It’s not easy, but here are three tools that I use to help ground out the self-doubt and in the words of Taylor Swift, shake it off.
1. Listen to your fans
You have fans. Did you know that? They are the ones always cheering for you on the sidelines, in the group chats and in the meeting rooms. They’re fighting your corner and showering you with love.
Listen, I know how hard it is to believe the people that love you, especially if you’ve been fooled before. But you can’t let that distrust stop you. If you’ve ever thought;
“they don’t really mean it”, “they’re just saying that to be nice”, or “they’re my family they’re supposed to love me” then your listening to your saboteur.
They do really mean it. And trust me there are plenty of families out there that don’t show the love and affection yours might. They want you to succeed. Listen to their praise. Let their cheers outweigh the self-sabotage and watch how quickly you begin to move ahead.
I bet you didn’t know that you can be your own biggest fan too, did you? Well you can. There is nothing wrong with believing in yourself, on the contrary there is everything right about it. Believing in success will help you manifest and visualise your goals, which you are more likely to achieve when you believe you can reach them. Give yourself permission to achieve.
2. You can’t be a failure and you can’t be a success. But, you can learn from experiencing both.
If you’re thinking ‘whaaaaat?’ then I don’t blame you. But hey, it’s true. There is no universal measure of success or failure. This means that it can’t be something that you are. You may be successful in your subject, but you won’t be universally successful and this is important.
To some people, success looks like money in the bank, to others it could be sobriety. Success is a concept that is entirely personal to the individual, and it isn’t a fixed point like the end of a race where you’re given a medal.
You can experience successes, and if you’re taking point one on board you will celebrate them with all your might. Why? Because success only lasts as long as it lasts. There are very few people who have cracked the code to surf the wave for a long old time. And, let me let you in on their secret; they failed a bunch of times to be able to do that.
When you experience failure you need to remind yourself that this isn’t your destination. Finding the right language to speak inwardly and to yourself is important because let me tell you, your saboteur loves to see you fail.
“I told you so”
“See, I knew you couldn’t do it. Why do you embarrass yourself like this?”
“You’ll never get ahead if you keep failing”
Sound familiar? Yeah, all too familiar if you ask me. But what if you changed the conversation?
“Well it didn’t go how I wanted it to, but I plan on looking at why that is so I can get it right second time around”
“I didn’t get the job, but that’s okay. I gave it my best and now I can do better with the feedback I was given. I’m disappointed, but now I know what I can do to get me where I want to get to”
See the difference? Acceptance and growth. There is no such thing as a failure, only failing and when we fail we have the opportunity to pivot, to learn and to grow.
3. Ditch the bad company
Bullying, it’s cruel. It can inhibit you and be a sure-fire way for you to a) stop doing the thing or b) never start the thing in the first place. Bad company is the worst but the best part is you don’t have to have it in your life. We get to choose our friends and sometimes our family too, so show the people who bring you down to the door and let it hit them on the way out.
Remember, negative people and bullies have a lot going on themselves, but it isn’t your duty to save them. Help them out where you can but don’t martyr yourself. There’ll be no remembrance for your sacrifices. In the end, you’ll be out of emotional pocket and likely be feeling pretty sore about what you gave up.
Spot the wolf, or indeed wolves, in sheep’s clothing. If they’re only in it for part of the ride or elevate your self-sabotage and let them pass you by. They don’t deserve a place at the table. Make room for someone who elevates you and you can elevate.
How do you deal with self-sabotage? Have these points been helpful? Let me know what you think in the comments at the end of the page.