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Elephants In The Room: Are You The Saboteur of YOU?

Updated: Jan 31

"The alarm clock sounded. This is the third day she didn't get up to work out. She was never going to feel better if she didn't start actively taking care of herself. 'Maybe tomorrow,' she said as she turned off the alarm and went back to sleep."


"He was an idea machine! The insights and vision came so easily when the company needed to make a change. Something happened during the execution phase, though. Now he was on a performance improvement plan, and he wondered if he would be able to make the changes needed to keep his job."


Self-sabotaging behavior. You may have heard the term regarding people who just can't seem to succeed no matter how much they try. You may have even felt this way yourself. According to Psychology Today:

"Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems in daily life and interferes with long-standing goals. The most common self-sabotaging behaviors include procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating, and forms of self-injury such as cutting."


Do any of the above examples resonate with you? Do you struggle with meeting a goal, even though you sincerely want to complete it because, "something just went wrong?" If the elephant in your room is self-sabotaging behavior, here are some things for you to consider and address.


Own the behavior, even if you don't understand the reasons behind it. You may not know why you are doing it, but you know the behaviors: waiting until the last minute, mindless eating, using alcohol or drugs to "escape" or other "go-to's" when you aren't doing what you committed to do.

Examine the reason(s) behind the behavior. Is there a core belief in you that you are not capable and completing a project is impossible? Do you feel that giving your best isn't good enough, so why try? Do you secretly believe the life you want to live is above what you can have? Are you eating not because you're hungry, but to calm anxiety? As you examine what mindsets are behind the behaviors, don't rush through it; sit with your feelings about the distractions you are allowing, and ask yourself why. If a goal was important enough for you to set, what part of you doesn't want to accomplish that goal? What voice is speaking to you underneath all the distractions and behaviors?

Find sounding boards and accountability. This one can be difficult because it requires we admit some painful truths about ourselves to someone else. Having people with whom you can safely share places you have missed the mark, or self-defeating beliefs you may have, is invaluable. If you are not comfortable sharing with family, friends, or co-workers, consider hiring a coach, consulting a therapist, or making an appointment with a minister. Accountability is also important because finishing a task, so you don't have to explain why you did not do what you committed to, is a powerful motivator.


Here are just three ways to start dealing with the elephant of self-sabotage that might be hanging out with you. Remember is to show grace to yourself: don't run from what you are doing or feeling. Do yourself the honor of looking at how your own behaviors could be sabotaging your efforts to move forward, and then be the boss of those behaviors. With help and determination, you can change those sabotaging behaviors into high-yielding exploits.

Michele Aikens is Lead Coach of Sepia Prime Communications & Coaching, Inc.


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