Sneaky Self-sabotage: Are you getting in your own way?

Do you ever feel like you’re working really hard to make changes but you just aren’t getting anywhere? Like you don’t see results no matter how hard you work? It might be due to a sneaky form of self-sabotage.

It’s interesting to me how this scenario seems to emerge in certain specific pockets in our life. In the consulting and coaching work that I do, I hear about it most from clients who are struggling with their weight or with reducing their stress. Clients will often describe what feels like an invisible set point that keeps resisting any efforts to create results.  The scale doesn’t budge. The self-care never happens. The stress keeps recurring and they feel hopeless and like they are spinning their wheels.

When this situation comes up, one of the most helpful things that we can do is look at what’s going on with our thinking, our beliefs, and our mental approach to the challenge or the change we are facing. The head game is incredibly powerful and it’s pretty amazing how well we can self-sabotage with our thoughts and our mindset. In fact, I really think that the smarter we are, the better we are at self-sabotage.

I’m not talking about the blunt-force kind of sabotaging yourself that we’re all sometimes guilty of. We all know it’s not helpful to discourage ourselves or talk ourselves out of our goal.  I’m referring to a more subtle kind of self-sabotage that I see happening all the time—in my own life as well as in the life of my clients. It has two parts.

Self-sabotage Part One: The belief that what you want is impossible

Think about a change that you are finding difficult to make. Is it something you really want and not just a passing fancy? If so, do you really believe it’s possible? Can you feel the possibility deep down in your bones? Can you envision either what it will look like or (better yet) feel like to be the person who has achieved it – to be actually living the change?

If you’ve been caught up in vicious cycles in this particular area of your life, you may find that you don’t really believe you can achieve what you want or you’re really not clear on what the goal actually is. Sometimes we are so hell-bent on stopping a habit that we DON’T like that we haven’t really created a vision of what we want to do or to be instead. Being unable to visualize positive results can cause all kinds of havoc when it comes to being successful. In this situation, there are three steps that can unstick self-sabotage beliefs and thinking:

  1. If you haven’t already, spend the time to envision the look and the feeling of your success. Create a vision of what’ you are striving for that’s as detailed as you can make it. Write it out and revisit it often.
  2. If you feel stumped by the vision or realize that you don’t believe what you want is possible, start by working toward a smaller sub-goal or a smaller change that you do believe is possible and that you can see clearly. Don’t worry about it being too small.  This will move you toward the bigger goal and help you create empowering clarity and effectiveness.
  3. Get help by enlisting a perspective or expertise outside yourself. When we’re stuck in our thinking, one of the fastest ways to shift to a more successful mindset is by getting outside of our own mind. Working with someone to help you get clear on your vision or untangle your doubts, hopelessness, or limiting beliefs can make a dramatic difference, often pretty quickly.

Self-sabotage Part Two: Future tensing your change instead of BEING the change

When it comes to taking action and defining who we are, the only moment we actually own is THIS moment. Unfortunately, we often self-sabotage it away by focusing elsewhere. This starts with our thinking, our beliefs, and our self-talk.

The more we talk about and focus on the future (what we are going to do), the less we are being who we want to be in the NOW. When it comes to your thinking, are you the woman who is achieving her goal now or are you the woman who is going to do it . . . someday?

I challenge my private coaching clients to take a stand for who they are NOW – with their thoughts and their self-talk. When they take me up on my self-talk challenge, no longer are they the woman who says,  “I’m going to start back with healthy eating on Monday.” This becomes, “I am the woman who eats healthy. Now.” They are not “going to stop mindless eating at work” they are “the woman who eats mindfully and savors her food.”

A client recently changed her talk from “I’m not going to be so disorganized” to “I am the woman who completes things.” This simple sentence changed her actions and her attitude almost instantly.

Think about a goal or change where you feel stuck. How have you been talking to yourself about it? How will you BE the change you hunger for – starting now?

Complete the sentence:

“I am the woman who ______________.”

Take good care,




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Emotional Eating Coaching Program

Your Missing Peace: The Coaching Club is the group coaching program where smart women discover their power to create freedom from overeating and peace with food – with more ease and joy than they ever thought possible.

If you’re a smart, busy, high-achiever who’s tired of going in circles with overeating and emotional eating, and you're ready to create results that last, check out The Club today!

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