About five years ago, just when my business was on the cusp of really flourishing, I almost ducked out of the game. It’s true.
Big things were starting to happen with my business, people were coming out of the woodwork because they not only saw the value in what I do but RELATED to my struggles on a deep level and all I wanted to do was crawl in a safe little hole. Suddenly, I decided I needed security above all else. I applied to a steady 9-5 health-coaching job for an insurance company and got pretty far in the process (these jobs are far and few between and not so easy to get).
It was a lovely work environment, a steady paycheck, health insurance and all that jazz. I convinced myself it felt right. Security felt right. Sort of. I went through four separate hour-long interviews, met the entire office, met with the COO. I decided if I got the job, I would take it. Even though, in my bone, something didn’t feel quite right.
Thank the universe, I didn’t get the job. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have told them I still planned on building my private coaching business on the side.
The point is, I couldn’t be happier that they chose someone else. It saved me from sabotaging myself.
As soon as I heard that “No,” I knew I was given a freebie. I knew it was time to hit the “On-switch” with my practice. In that moment, I decided I was going to succeed. I decided it wasn’t the time to play it safe. It was time to step into my fear in a bigger way than ever before.
So many times we start to self-sabotage just when things start to expand, just when we are on the cusp. When things start to expand, the fear mongering thoughts step in to try to keep us comfortable, to keep us safe. Suddenly, we are trying to crash down and stop progress in its tracks.
The bigger the opportunity, the easier it is to instigate “the crash down.” Then, at least, we are in control of how we go down in flames. We don’t have to sit and wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. Only problem with this is self-sabotage prevents us from jumping at the pivotal moment when success is almost within our grasp, when the trapeze bar is inches away. The exact moment we are tempted to step back tends to be the moment when we are on the verge of flying.
Does this sound familiar?
I have gone so far as to weigh myself, hit my goal weight, feel on top of the world and then go on a HUGE eating binge. Next time, I knew, when I weighed myself, the feeling accompanying that number would feel a hell of lot more familiar. Feeling angry and disappointed with myself felt a whole lot safer.
One client recounted to me some big time self-sabotage. When showcasing (this is like an actor’s coming out party), she was called in by a big deal agent. The self-sabotage was so overwhelming, she simply never called the agent back. The idea of deserving a big deal agent was enough to make her want to hide in a cave for a few months. No thank you success. Maybe next time. Or never. Never would be preferable.
Except never wasn’t preferable. The idea of never was anxiety-inducing and incredibly painful.
Let’s get real here! Success can feel SUPER scary. If we succeed, then people might expect more from us. We might expect more from ourselves. We can fail in an epic way. We can fall. We can hurt. We can doubt ourselves. We are risking big time. We are, as one of my favorite speakers (Brene Brown) would say, “daring greatly.”
The fear mongering thoughts are given a huge feast to gnaw on.
We may even start to mentally rehearse super uncomfortable scenarios as a way to prepare for the pain or humiliation of failure. If we rehearse the pain, then maybe we will be prepared. I used to do this with auditioning all the time. It never worked. It hurt every time I didn’t get the job or call-back. Mentally rehearsing that rejection only kept me playing it safe in the audition room.
So, how do we circumvent the sabotage?
1. Recognize self-sabotage for what it is. It is simply a safety mechanism. It is this exact safety mechanism that keeps us stuck in our comfort zones with our body, our relationships, our career, our spirituality. It is what keeps a glass ceiling directly over our heads. You can acknowledge it, shake hands with it and decide to push past.
2. Start to view fear as a positive. It points us directly to our next steps in life. It is like our own awesome inner-compass. It’s like, “Hey you! Idiot! That’s where we’re supposed to go!” Fear is almost always a state of excitement. We are just holding our breath, and because the excitement has nowhere to go, it creates anxiety.
3. Do the exact opposite of what your fear is telling you to do. Quite literally, take the exact opposite action. I have started to practice this. The scarier it is, the faster I try to do it. I rip that off like a band-aid. Okay, I do this like 60% of the time (I’m still a work in progress). When I’m ripping off that band-aid though, let me tell you, it’s quite an adrenaline rush.
4. Acknowledge your shadow thoughts.
Notice the fear mongering self-sabotaging thoughts and start to become fluent in their language.
Most of the time, they are simply screaming, “You don’t deserve this!”
Smile at them and say:
“Oh, hey! Thanks for keeping me safe for so long. Awesome job. You are no longer serving me bitches. I’m gonna start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.” I took that last part from Jillian Michaels.
On some level, you may already know but this is how REAL and SUSTAINABLE change starts, from the inside out. Sustainable change comes from stepping into fear and shedding your self-protective behaviors.
It starts when you dare to envision walking down the street and feeling on-fire in your skin and saying, “I deserve that.”
When you can envision the job that makes your soul lift and say “I deserve that.”
When you can feel the future love of your life in your arms and say “I deserve that.”
When working with clients, there are three places they tend to need a lot of support when it comes to self-sabotage; as they are deciding to work with me, when they come very close to achieving their vision and right after they have fulfilled their vision. Their thoughts will start to scream that they are out of their comfort zone, that it would just be easier to go back to how things used to be.
Rock On and Be Well,