What was your New Year’s Resolution? Are you still working on it, or perhaps it’s been abandoned with a little mental note to think “I’ll try again next year”. We all do a bit of self-sabotage, but when does it start to cause havoc in your work and personal life? In this episode, learn what self sabotage is, why we do it, and how to take action towards change.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] What was your New Year’s Resolution? Are you still working on it, or perhaps it’s been abandoned with a little mental note to think “I’ll try again next year”. Now a sabotaged New Year’s resolution that may seem quite benign, but all things considered chronic self-sabotage can lead to bigger more destructive outcomes in our personal and professional lives.

[00:00:27] In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the topic of self-sabotage. And frankly, we all do it in one scale or another. Though, little bit like a gravity, it happens whether you know about it or not. So it’s best to find out what your particular type of self-sabotage is, how it might be playing out and what tips you can do to help remove this sense of self sabotage.

[00:00:52] So firstly, what is self sabotage? And official definition: self-sabotage occurs when we destroy ourselves physically, mentally, or emotionally, or deliberately hinder our own success and wellbeing by undermining personal goals and values. Look, it’s accurate but maybe a little bit stuffy. How about I explain it to you in a little bit more of a practical way.

[00:01:17] Someone with a fear of failure might wait until the last minute to work on an important project, unconsciously avoiding the prospect of advancement. Or perhaps you might be a little bit like me and have a bit of perfectionism in you. I tend to leave things to last minute, so it forces me to get it done in a shorter amount of time. But I also tell myself, “well, of course I could’ve done a better job if I had more time. It was pretty good with the amount of time that I’ve had.” That’s also a form of self-sabotage.

[00:01:48] So now we know what self-sabotage is. How can we see it?

[00:01:53] And how can we take better control?

[00:01:55] At the end of today’s episode, I’ll be sharing a website where you can do a free test on what your self-sabotaging style is. And this is called a Saboteur.

[00:02:08] Why do we self-sabotage?

[00:02:10] If you think about it, our self sabotaging actually was formed early in childhood. The way we sabotage or these saboteurs, they helped us to survive either physically or emotionally as a kid, and we recruit these to help us with something. So as opposed to thinking this is something that’s bad, these self-sabotaging tendencies have been there to help us survive in one way or another. So, this is not about feeling embarrassed or shame about them. It’s about understanding what it is that this sabotaging tactic has helped you with.

[00:02:44] So, as I said, the saboteurs, they form an early childhood, but they greatly limited potential as an adult to the first step in weakening these saboteurs that we all have is to identify and expose Because you can’t fight an invisible enemy or one pretending to be your friend.

[00:03:02] Let me read you through a few of the saboteurs, so you really understand what I’m talking about.

[00:03:09] The Avoider: focuses on positive and pleasant in an extreme way, avoiding difficult and unpleasant tasks and conflicts. This is definitely one that I have had and one that I’ve worked on over the years. With this type of, self-sabotage kind of hope that things will take care of themselves, perhaps if you look the other way.

[00:03:30] Another one is The Controller: anxiety-based need to take charge and control situations and people’s actions to one’s own will. High anxiety and impatient when that’s not impossible.

[00:03:42] The third one, Hyper- Achiever: dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self validation. Latest achievement, quickly discounted, and you need more. I can definitely relate to this one.

[00:03:56] The fourth one is the Hyper Rational: you can have an intense and exclusive focus on the rational processing of everything, including relationships. It can be perceived as uncaring, unfeeling, or intellectually arrogant. And remember with each of these saboteurs. We get something from it. So a Hyper- Rational, this could be a way of keeping themselves safe and being non-emotional because that might be seen as successful for them.

[00:04:21] The next one, Hypervigilant: continuous intense anxiety about all the dangers that could go wrong. Vigilance that can never rest. Again, with this one, this person has always got the eye out for something that could go wrong and you can see how that could be helpful. But if you continuously have intense anxiety about all the dangers, you can see how this could sabotage yourself.

[00:04:44] A Pleaser: this person indirectly tries to gain acceptance and affection by helping pleasing, rescuing, or flattering other people. This person can lose sight of their own needs and can become resentful as a result. Again, you can see how this would have been useful for somebody, making sure that they fit in or liked. But when you use this into an extreme sense, it can sabotage your own success.

[00:05:09] The final two: Restless. Restless is constantly in search of greater excitement and the next activity or continuous busy-ness rarely at peace or content with the current activity.

[00:05:20] And the final is Stickler, perfectionism, and a need for order and organization taken too far. Anxious trying to make too many things perfect. I also have a little bit of this.

[00:05:32] So as I read through those, there might’ve been a few that you resonated with maybe not the whole sentence, but maybe a few parts of it. And it’s useful to think “ah, how has this helped me? And how might this be hindering me?”

[00:05:46] Saboteurs start off as guardians to help us survive the real and imagined threats to our physical and emotional survival as children. By the time we are adults though, we no longer need them in the same way, but they have become this invisible inhabitant of our mind. Our saboteur patterns of thinking, feeling reacting become soft-coded in our brain through neural pathways.

[00:06:09] And when these neuropathways are triggered, we are hijacked by our saboteurs and instantly feel, think, and act using their patterns. Your saboteurs claim they are good for you. My sense of perfectionism certainly does.

[00:06:24] Perhaps, if you constantly badger yourself over your mistakes and shortcomings, you believe it will cause you to improve and achieve. Thinking “that’s a great thing if I’m really hard on myself”. Look, we all know pain is good for you. If you put your hand on a hot stove, it would be good to feel pain. So you take corrective action.

[00:06:42] Negative emotions, similar to pain. are only helpful for a quick second to alert you. You only need a moment to know to take your hand off the hot stove. But if you stay in these negative emotions, if you stay stressed, frustrated, or unhappy, you have tunnel vision and not be capable of finding out the best solution to your problems, which your positive brain CAN do. So if you’re in a negative emotion for more than one second, your saboteurs are holding your hand and the hot stove, and then complaining why life is so hard.

[00:07:19] So the content that I’ve been sharing today is from a website called Positive Intelligence, where you can go on takes about five to seven minutes to do their free quiz. And learn which of these saboteurs come out for you. Which is the one that might come up the most?

[00:07:37] As I’ve said, one of mine is procrastination. But the reason I procrastinate is it means that I can have the sense of perfectionism. That it forces me to get things done. But I don’t beat myself up so much that it’s not perfect because I have the excuse that “well, if I had more time, I would have done a better job, but I did a good job in the time that I had”.

[00:07:59] It seems a little bit crazy procrastination and perfectionism work hand in hand.

[00:08:04] So now, you know a little bit about what self-sabotage is, I’ve talked through what the saboteurs are, and I’ll give you a link in the show notes from Positive Intelligence of how you can do your own quiz. I bet you’re wondering, ” how does this impact me in my life and for my leadership? What action can I take from this?”

[00:08:24] To make any change, you go through a three-step A-A-A process. So the first step is Awareness. You need to discover your saboteur and when it comes into action, start to notice when it’s at play. For me, I start to notice when I’m procrastinating “why am I procrastinating? Is it because I don’t understand what I want to do and I can’t make it perfect. Or is there another reason?”

[00:08:48] The second “A” is Acceptance. Noticing that this is something that I do, and it has been helpful for me in the past, but perhaps it’s not so helpful for me now because I spend a lot of time procrastinating. It would be great if I just actually got a few things done and was accepting of the standard that I did it, instead of needing to procrastinate from my perfectionism.

[00:09:08] And the third “A” is Action. It’s only once you understand what your saboteur is and accepted on how it plays out, the good and the bad. Can you move to the Action stage. The Action stage is finding a “Wise Sage” version of your saboteur.

[00:09:28] And this Wise Sage version might have a name or it might have a catch phrase. So for my perfectionism there’s a few phrases that I find quite helpful. “Done is better than Perfect”. There’s a phrase from Seth Godin that says “ship it”. He’s all about getting it out there.

[00:09:48] Where does your saboteur come into your leadership? There could be a few different ways. You could be sabotaging for Fear of Failure, or Fear of Success and any of these saboteurs can come into it. For example, you might be someone that avoids things because of a Fear of Failure. You know, you have to have a conversation with somebody in your team, but if you can avoid having the conversation, you can avoid the discomfort. That impacts your leadership.

[00:10:17] Or perhaps if you have a bit of Hyper-Achiever, like I do. It can be challenging for your team because you have a certain way or a certain expectation that things should be done as opposed to giving you the opportunity to do it their own way.

[00:10:31] So your tasks from today is to do the Positive Intelligence test. You can then go on to do a paid program if you wish, but it’s not necessary. You’ll get enough from the free quiz to give you an idea of these self-sabotaging techniques.

[00:10:44] Then have a think about how this plays out for you in your life and in your leadership And just notice when it comes up. We say notice with grace, only once you see it can you start to act and judging it is not helpful.

[00:10:58] The final is to put a flip on it. What’s the “Wise Sage” version of your saboteur.

[00:11:04] You might give it a name or you might give it a phrase like “done is better than perfect” or just “ship it”.

[00:11:11] Self-sabotage is something that we rarely talk about. And often we don’t realize how prevalent it is and how much everybody does it. It is very common.

[00:11:21] As I said, it’s like gravity. It happens whether you know, about it or not. We all self-sabotage to a different degree in different ways. And the more you are aware of your own, the better in control you can be of it.

[00:11:36] If you found today’s episode helpful, make sure you hit the follow button on your favorite podcast platform so you get alerts when each episode comes out every week.

[00:11:45] Thanks for listening.

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