Subtle Self-Sabotage: When Ending Overeating Feels Impossible | TMOHP Episode 091

When you’re breaking patterns of emotional eating or working to stop overeating, self-sabotage shows up in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s incredibly subtle or sneaky. In this episode, I’m discussing two forms of self-sabotage you might not have identified because they’re easy to miss. Let’s talk about self-sabotaging thoughts and approaches related to belief and to future-tensing. I’ve also included steps you can take to prevent these self-sabotaging mindset traps from short-circuiting your work to create freedom from overeating.

In this episode:

  • The problem of focusing on what you want to change but not having a clear vision of where you want to GO
  • Three steps to take when you’re not sure you believe you can succeed
  • Future-tensing your change vs. being your change

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Not sure why you’re overeating, or what your Hidden Hungers are? Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz and get a free set of resources matched to your results. 
  • Your Missing Peace  is the program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Private Coaching. One-on-one coaching is for you if you’re looking for something completely individualized and specific to your situation. Openings are limited. Learn more here.

Episode Transcript

Hello everybody, welcome back. When we are talking about changing patterns of overeating or emotional eating, we cannot talk about how to create lasting success without getting super aware of the ways that we get in our own way. This is not about self-blame. This is not finger pointing at you specifically. We do this as human beings all the time. 

So if you have ever felt like you were working really hard to make changes, but you just weren't getting anywhere. Or like you mentally are putting so much effort into trying to figure out how to get results, and they just aren't showing up. It could very well be due to one of the sneaky forms of self sabotage, and I'm going to talk about two of them today.

It is so interesting to me how this particular scenario seems to emerge in certain specific pockets in our life. I have said before, you know, I tend to work with smart women. Capable women who have done amazing things in their life who often feel like they're eating, their weight, the overeating habits that they have are just like the last piece.

People say this to me all the time, like, this is it. I have conquered everything else, or I've made great results out of everything else in my life. I feel really happy with my life. Except for this. And it is really interesting how, what I'm going to talk about today shows up sometimes in very specific ways, in very specific areas.

I see this pattern a lot in women who are struggling with their weight or reducing their stress or their overwhelm. Sometimes with sleep. Clients will often describe what feels like this invisible barrier that keeps resisting any efforts to create results. So the scale doesn't move. The self-care never happens. The stress keeps recurring. The patterns just keep repeating. And over time they feel hopeless. And they feel like they're spinning their wheels, they are spinning their wheels. Right? It's, it's like a hamster wheel. 

When this situation comes up, one of the most helpful things that we can do is get out of the work harder, push harder, keep doing the same old things. One of the most helpful things we can do is look at what is going on behind the scenes. And that means looking at what's going on with our thinking, our beliefs, and our mental approach to the challenge. Right? Or our mental approach to whatever it is that we are trying to change. 

The head game is so incredibly powerful. The head game, our head game. Call it your mindset. Call it the stories you tell yourself. Call it your attitude. The whole package of your head game is such an incredibly powerful and important piece of creating the kind of changes that you want. 

The flip side, the inverse is how well we can self-sabotage or set up barriers for ourselves with our thoughts and with our mindset. In fact, I really think that the smarter we are, the better we are at this kind of mental self-sabotage. This kind of using our stories and our thoughts and the energy that those things create to get in our own way. 

Today, I am not talking about the commonplace self-sabotage that we're all familiar with. That kind of blunt force setting ourselves up to not succeed, that we are all sometimes guilty of.

We all know that it is not helpful to discourage ourselves or to talk ourselves out of our goal. Right? We all know some of the things that we do that are not helpful. Today I want to talk about what I think of as subtle self sabotage. It is a subtle kind of self sabotage that I see happening all the time in my own life. And also in the lives of my clients and my friends. And it has two parts. So we're going to talk about both of those today. And hopefully I will describe this in a way that you can recognize where and if it is showing up in your life. So that you can take care of it and so that you can get yourself some better results.

So subtle self sabotage is not going out and filling up your cupboard with all the cookies. Right? Or letting yourself get too hungry. This subtle self sabotage happens in your mind. And the first part of this that I see quite a lot is the belief that what you want is impossible. 

So, think for a minute about a change that you are finding it difficult to make. And I'm going to assume that this is something you really want and not just something that just flooded through your mind. Right? Think about something you really want, a change that you're finding difficult to make. 

Now, I want you to ask yourself, do you really believe it's possible? Does it really feel possible that you can make this change? Think about it in terms of your eating, the changes that you want to make with your eating or your weight, or the kind of food that you eat, or whether you binge in the evening or don't binge in the evening, or don't think about food first thing when you walk in the door.

Do you really believe it's possible? And can you feel that possibility deep down in your bones all the way down? Can you envision either what it will look like? Or better yet can you feel like what it would be? I said that backwards. Can you envision what it would feel like to be the person who has achieved this thing? Can you envision what it would look like or feel like to be actually living this change?

If you've been caught up in vicious cycles in this particular area of your life, and I'm going to assume we're talking about overeating and emotional eating. So you know, if this is something that has been an ongoing issue for you, you may find that you don't really believe that you can achieve what you want. Or you're actually really not clear on what the goal is.

Sometimes we're so hell on stopping a habit. We have something that we don't like. And we are so determined to not do that thing. That we haven't really created a vision of what we do want. Or who we want to be instead. So we know what we don't want to do, but we often, and I know this will maybe sound silly, but it's true, we often don't actually know, have a clear picture in our mind of what it is we really want.

If you're not able to visualize those positive results. That can cause all kinds of havoc when it comes to being successful. You don't really know where you're aiming. You don't really have a picture of what it is you want or who you want to be. In the situation there are three steps that I have for you that can unstick this subtle self-sabotage, lack of belief actually, and the thinking that goes into it.

The first step, if you have not already, you're going to want to spend time. Give yourself time to envision the look and the feeling of your success. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Create an actual picture in your mind of what it is that you're striving for. That is as detailed as you can make it.

There is so much power in creating a vision that you can see and that you can feel. It's, it's pretty amazing. So if you haven't already, you want to really create a vision of what it is that you're aiming for. Of who you want to be, of the change that you want to create. Take the time to see it, to feel it. Actually write it out. There's a detailed process that we use for this inside the Missing Peace program because it works. And I cannot tell you how often on coaching calls, in the Facebook group when I'm answering questions, we go back to this vision. So you want to write it out and you want to revisit it. You want to remind yourself of what it is that you're doing. 

If you don't have a vision, if you feel stumped by the vision. Or maybe you realize that I can come up with this vision, but I don't really believe it's possible. I have this vision, but it seems so perfectionistic. Spoiler alert, it probably is. Cuz that's what our brain does.

So maybe you have a vision that just does not even feel anywhere near attainable for you. Here's your second step. Start by working toward a smaller goal. Aim less high. Create a sub goal or create a smaller change that you do believe is possible. And that you can see clearly. It does not mean you can't want the bigger thing that you want or the longer term goal. It doesn't mean that you have to give up on that. But you will subtly sabotage yourself if you're aiming for something you don't really believe that you can do. 

So create a smaller change goal. A goal of a smaller change that you believe is possible, that you can see clearly. Don't worry about it being too small and work on that. It, it's going to be a stepping stone toward the bigger goal, because guess what? When you get that smaller, doable, attainable thing achieved? Then you're going to move to the next one and the next one. But you are going to be constantly moving towards something you believe in. That you can see. That you can envision. That you have a feeling that you're aiming for. And this stuff is powerful.

When you take these steps, you are not only moving yourself out of the subtle self sabotage, you're actually doing the opposite. You're creating some good momentum and motivation. 

Okay, so those are the first two steps. The third step is to give yourself permission to get help. Be honest with yourself. If you do not believe that what you really want is something that you can achieve. If you don't believe it is possible. Then it is going to be tremendously helpful to enlist a perspective or to take on the help and expertise of someone that is outside of yourself. When we are stuck in our thinking, one of the fastest ways to shift to a more successful mindset is by getting outside of our own mind.

And when you work with somebody to help you get clear on your vision or to untangle your doubts or your hopelessness or the beliefs you have that are limiting you. This can make such a dramatic difference, and it can often happen pretty quickly. I see this all the time in the group coaching calls in Your Missing Peace.

Both from people who show up on the calls and I am coaching them around a limiting perspective they have. Or a belief they don't even know has got them stuck. But I also see it in this incredible dynamic that happens where one person is getting coached and somebody else who is there on the Zoom call attending, you know, attending the coaching call, listening and they hear their own limiting beliefs being shared by somebody else. Somebody else has those limiting beliefs or similar ones. And they are hearing that person get coached. And it creates this amazing awareness. 

Maybe they didn't even know there was this limiting belief and then they heard somebody say it and they think, oh my gosh, I think that too. Or they knew they were stuck in a story that wasn't serving them. But they didn't know how to untangle it. And then witnessing somebody else untangling it starts to show them some possibilities and give them ideas. And they may not do it the same way. But being able to experience this other person's coaching, shifts things for them, begins to give them a different perspective.

So step three is giving yourself permission to get outside of your own brain. And enlist the help of somebody else. Okay, so that is the first piece of subtle self sabotage I wanted to talk about. Which is not believing in the future that you're trying to create. 

Here's the second part, the second place where this subtle self sabotage can really get you stuck, and that is, I'm going to call it future tensing your change instead of being the change. Future tensing instead of being, what do I mean? Well, when it comes to taking action and defining who we are. The only moment we actually have control over is this moment. Right now. The present is the only thing we actually own. And it's human nature. But unfortunately, we often sabotage the present away because we are focused elsewhere.

And again, our focus is our thoughts and our beliefs and the stories we tell ourselves, the way we talk to ourselves. The more that we talk about and focus on the future. Which shows up in terms of, thinking about what we are going to do. What we are planning to do. The more we talk about and focus on the future, the less we are being who we want to be in the now. When it comes to your thinking, I think it's really important to ask, are you the woman who is achieving her goal now? Or are you the woman who is waiting until that goal is achieved? Are you the woman who has all these things on hold until someday? 

So many people create a goal. Let's say it's a weight goal. And then they have this long list of things that will happen after they lose the weight. When I lose the weight. Are you the woman who is achieving her goal now? Or are you the woman who is going to do it someday? Right? 

This also comes up if you are in that pattern where you feel like you're not doing it well enough and so you're going to need to start over. You blew it or you fell off track, and so you need to start over. And somehow here is your present right now. This time you have control over, but you're really focusing on when you're going to start over.

As if this now, which is where your power is, doesn't count. Do you see the problems this causes?

Your power is in the now. Subtle self sabotage. Actually very dramatic self sabotage happens when your mind is focused on feeling bad about what's already happened. And what you are going to do, or who you are going to be or the wonderful things that you imagine are going to happen in the future. 

My challenge to my coaching clients, to members of Your Missing Peace is always to take a stand for who you are now. And to do that with your thoughts and your self-talk. It is almost comical how much our brains want to focus us in the future. Right? I cannot tell you how many times, and I'm laughing because it's just so human, but how many times I hear I'm going to start back with healthy eating on Monday. I'm going to get back on my plan on Monday. And I, I don't see the value in that.

And so what I challenge the people I work with to do is like, what are you doing now? How can you be I am the woman who eats healthy now. Right? I'm going to stop mindless eating at work. Wait a minute, who are you now? How can you be the woman who eats mindfully and savors her food and eats mindfully at work? Or who doesn't eat at her desk at work? How can you be that woman now? What does that look like if you are her right now? 

So I have a client who recently changed her talk from, I'm not going to be so disorganized to, I'm the woman who completes things. I am the woman who completes things. Uh, a client who wanted to, take some hikes on a vacation that she's taking at the end of the summer. Right? I am going to be doing these hikes. I am the woman who is in training to be a hiker. Or I am the woman who is walking most mornings. 

Who can you be right now? How can you take your power back? How can you own what you're doing right now? I am the woman who's creating freedom from overeating. I am the woman who's taking doable steps to eat more healthy lunches.

I am the woman who. Who are you now? Who do you want to be now? This is the way. You get out of that slowing down plateauing kind of cycle of not getting anywhere. Because you are focused on the future. 

Subtle self-sabotage. Self-sabotage. It sounds so heavy. It sounds like such a big thing, but we do not have to do big hard things to break the pattern. It can be simple. So think about a goal. Think about a change that you want to make where you feel stuck. Be honest with yourself. How have you been talking to yourself about this goal, about this change? And then ask yourself this question, how will you be the change that you really want, that you really hunger for? How will you be the change starting now? 

Do not overcomplicate this. This does not have to be, a really dramatic thing. Just complete the sentence. I am the woman who. I am, the woman who fill in the blank. I would love to hear what you come up with. Okay? 

I'll talk to you soon. 

Take good care.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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