Kicking Self-Sabotage To The Curb

Kicking Self-Sabotage To The Curb


I jumped on a call with a client and we started talking about a big win in her life. She immediately stopped me and said, “Caitlyn, we don’t talk about the win. In my culture it will jinx it and the good will no longer come.”

I was floored! I took a breath and in return said, “if the good is not celebrated, how do you experience joy?”

As children, we learned right and wrong. When something happened, we observed the reactions externally as well as the feels and stored those observations in our minds as good or bad based on those many contributing factors. This is often where we also learn the behaviors that eventually lead to self-sabotaging. 

The process of self-sabotage goes even deeper than the external learning though. It goes all the way into our subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind’s entire job is to keep us safe. It does so by storing experiences, thoughts, and then making assumptions on those about how to proceed in the future. It tries to keep us safe! Often though, these “safe” behaviors or messages also keep us small. They keep us in a comfort zone and say we are safe because based on past experiences we have an assumption of what will follow. Well, I am sure I am not the first to share the saying that, “ Assumptions make an ass out of you and I.” 

This rings true in the case of self-sabotage. 

Our subconscious keeping us “safe” in the way it does is a very contradicting process. Think about this, the brain craves stimulation and challenge. That is how we grow! So if the subconscious tries to keep us in our comfort zones to know what is coming next, we are not being challenged or stimulated, which in turn means we become passive in our growth. This makes a ton of sense. As we grow older, we are less focused on new challenges and growth, but rather our daily tasks, jobs, picking up the kids, the bills, etc. 

Now, this is not to say we don’t grow. We do face challenges in our daily lives, but as the stress and obligations grow, the energy attached to the challenge is different and we are not making an active effort to fully engage in the learning! 

This is where self-sabotage thrives. We are not taking an active stance in growth and our goals appear to be farther away than we originally thought. We fall into the daily to-do list. 

So, when we think of these amazing dreams and goals, self-sabotage creeps in whether through negative self-talk, fear, anxiety, and more. 

When talking with a client about self-sabotage and their overwhelming to-do list, I asked why he has continued this to-do list and pace of life when he dreads it daily? 

He said to me, “Well Caitlyn, I guess because humans are creatures of habit and don’t like change.” 

This is a loaded response and believe me we dove into it, but for times sake, let’s scratch the surface of this. This is again a huge contradiction in our lives. We can sit and say as humans, we don’t like change, but EVERY SINGLE THING that we strive for is change! 

All our dreams, goals, desires are changes to where we are now. 

Time for a HUGE mindset shift with change.

If we can take a step back and look at change as neither “bad” or “good”, but rather fluid and constant, we can come at all changes from a much lighter space!

We can do this and we do have the power to create within us. We have the power to embrace change and let go of the learned behaviors that we blindly accepted as true. We can stop and say, “Why do I need to label this change?”

After we can address the attachments we have to change, we can step into addressing our self-sabotaging behaviors. 

This is where the work comes in. 

We have to start with identifying our values…. Cue the drum roll…. 

When I did an activity with values in an addiction treatment facility I worked in, the amount of resistance was alarming. Many people would say they know their values and spit off things like family, health, and wealth. Yes, those are values, but I would always stop and say, “I can hear that you value those things, but are they the most important values to you?” 

We can all come up with things we value, but the real challenge is to have a list of 85 or more values in front of you and someone tells you to break them into categories of very important, important, and not important. 

Now, you can have as many as you want in the important category and not important, but you can only have three in the very important category. (By the way, if you look up Personal Value Card Sort, you can do this exact exercise throughout time. Values can change based on your life!)

Those three in the “very important” category are your core values which dictate every action you take! As humans, we operate on our values. We react from our values. We experience information through the lens of our values. Knowing our core values provides us with insight to ourselves about why we do what we do including self-sabotage. For example, if “stability” is a core value of yours, if you self-sabotage yourself in times of fear, it will be because in your mind you are telling yourself your next action could jeopardize the stability. 

Once you have a grasp on your core values, it is time to the next part of kicking self-sabotaging to the curb which is checking in on all your resentments, resistances, and judgements. This one is TOUGH, but where growth is truly occurring. When we can sit with ourselves, dive into the discomfort and question why it is there, we open ourselves up. 

I want to share something vulnerable with you that occurred when I started inventorying my resistance, resentments, and judgements years ago. 

I have always felt I had a really open mind. In the fields I have worked in and with all the people I meet, I hold a lot of compassion. When I took a look inward one day, I noticed the judgement coming out in other places in my life rather than in my professional life and the close mindedness. This shook me. I felt I was really divided in how I was showing up and it took a toll. I am a very upfront and open person so when I work with clients, what I teach, I implement in my life as well. I stand strong behind the idea that I will never ask someone to trust me in anything I am not willing to or have done on my own. So, knowing in my heart I was not doing that, I dug in. 

I noticed that where I was triggered, I was judgmental and close minded. For example, I was cheated on in a very abusive relationship years ago and took this to mean something was wrong with me. I grew very insecure and very jealous of other women. I started comparing myself constantly to the point where I didn’t want to go into public. Yes, it got that bad! 

Hearing that now, I am like “dang girl you were really hurt!” and I really was. It took a ton of healing to get to a place where I  can see women as beautiful and am not playing into the comparing game. I had to embrace myself to do this, all the flaws, resentment, feelings, and more. I embraced me and stopped externally letting someone else decide my worth, but I want to say here, we aim for progress, not perfection! It is alright to still get triggered by our wounds now and then because we are healing. We are not broken. We are HUMAN! (Really quick too, when I say triggered, I am meaning when an emotional response is brought up because of a wound in your past.)

I am sharing this because, in that time of hurt, I could go to working with clients in the mental health treatment facilities I worked at and be in a place of ease, but when I would go out to dinner with family, I would be judging left and right about women simply because I was driven by my own resentment, pain, and hurt. This was a learned behavior though. Reacting in that way and playing the comparison game was learned and a great way for me to be engulfed by self-sabotage. I am not beating myself up for this. I forgive myself and know this was a part of my journey, but not the entire journey. The point here is that we have to look at resistance and resentments in ALL areas of our lives and it is hard, but it is also the most powerful thing we can do for our growth. It is how we heal and break free from those chains. 

Brene Brown said an amazing thing in her book, “Daring Greatly” about perfectionism. To paraphrase, she said we cannot prepare for the hard times. We forbade joy by holding back from celebrating or recognizing our wins or the good times. It is time to build a reserve of gratitude and use it in hard times. 

My friend, this is the most important part, through all of this, we have to celebrate our daily wins! We have to celebrate the small things! Celebrate the big things and all the messy things in between!

 We again strive for progress not perfection because perfection is NOT REAL! Perfection is something in society we have deemed the goal, but progress is the goal, growth is the goal, and happiness is the goal! 

So to wrap this up and put a beautiful bow on, to break the chains of self-sabotage, dive deep into your values, look at your resistance, resentments, and judgements in all areas of your life, and celebrate your daily wins! Build that gratitude reserve.

Last by certainly not least, this is not a timed process! This is a lifelong commitment to yourself.

 I went on this journey of identifying my values and taking a deep dive into myself with a coach and I personally think it was so valuable! You will hear me say it again and again, “We are not meant to do this alone!”

Let’s get kicking self-sabotage to the curb because growth is way more fun and OUR PURPOSE!!

Sending you so much love! 

Caitlyn Dorsey

P.S. I also have a blog about Celebrating Your Daily Wins with some great ideas to help you jump on board!

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