Episode 98: Why do I sabotage myself?
I have this evening routine that really works for me. Once the kids are down for the night, I put music on while I tidy up the kitchen. Then, I light a candle, do some relaxing yoga, meditate and then read until I fall asleep. When I do it, I feel amazing. It is good for my mind, body and soul. I feel rested, relaxed and proud that I prioritized myself and set myself up for a good night’s sleep. In the morning I feel ready to take on my day.
SO THEN, WHY THE HELL CAN’T I MAKE MYSELF DO IT?
Instead I find myself mindlessly scrolling through my phone, eating lucky charms and staying up til midnight watching back to back Catfish episodes!
I know what is good for me. I genuinely enjoy it. Why the hell do I keep sabotaging myself?
Parent Educator Answer:
Self Sabotage is when we actively or passively take steps that prevent us from accomplishing our goals.
The reason you can’t understand your self sabotaging behaviors is because you think you already have the answer. In your mind, the mystery has been solved, but it’s solved in a way that keeps you stuck in the same pattern.
Let’s say you stay up late playing Candy Crush on your phone while keeping up with the Kardashians. You look at the clock and see it’s after midnight. No yoga, no tidying, no meditating. Your brain gets annoyed and asks, “Why do I keep sabotaging myself?”. Your subconscious mind answers with something like: “I suck” “I’m lazy” “There’s something wrong with me.”.
Instead of going to bed with a good brain puzzle like “I wonder why I didn’t do my night time routine that I really enjoy?”, you go to bed feeling ashamed. Shame likes to live in the dark so we close the book on that topic, thinking we’ve solved it. You come up with some blanket assault on your character, “I’m just a terribly unmotivated person” and you don’t get curious and try to understand yourself from a place of compassion.
All of this is subconscious of course. You aren’t deliberately trying to create evidence to prove you are a lazy, unmotivated person. This is just how cognitive bias works.
Life Coaching Answer:
You want to do your evening routine, but you don’t. This is living outside your own integrity.
When we live outside our own integrity, there is always a reason. My hunch is that you have two competing beliefs, one saying, “I want this lovely, healthy, evening routine.” and the other one says, “I’m sick of being good. I want to indulge, to relax. I want a reward. I don’t want to work anymore today.”
I’m going to guess that Veronica is a pretty hard worker. She probably places a high value on hard work, cutting herself very little slack during the day. Her evening routine, although lovely, is probably a little too noble for the tired part of you that just wants to relax and play.
Maybe you are thinking, “I relax too much, Torie. I’m constantly going on social media when I really should be getting dinner started.” Guilty avoidance is not the same as relaxation. If you sit down and relax for 10 minutes while “shoulding” on yourself, “I should be folding laundry” “I should be answering that email” you will feel MORE exhausted afterward, not rejuvenated.
Genuine relaxation involves putting your brain and body in the same place. I am sitting on the sofa reading my book and my brain is also on the sofa, telling me this is the best place to be right now. Playing Solitaire on your phone can be relaxing if you are thinking, “This is so lovely, I am really enjoying this.”
You can expand this into noble pursuits as well. When you fold laundry, try to focus your attention on the feel of the clothes, the warmth, or as Marie Kondo says, “Bless them and thank them for their service.”
My hunch is that the only time you think good thoughts about yourself is when you are working. If a child only receives praise when she is diligently working, she will learn to spend many hours diligently working. But that doesn’t CHANGE the nature of a child from a playful free spirit into a cog in the machine of productivity. It just means that she learns to push through her natural desires and pressure herself to do what feels UNNATURAL.
The reason you are self sabotaging is because you are tired of being so good and noble. Your subconscious mind is yearning to be a playful, free spirit and have some fun. The remedy for this is simple, give yourself permission to play, relax, break a rule, do something naughty, indulge and have fun.
Think about self-sabotage, not as a sign that you are a bad person, but as a message from your spirit saying you are out of balance. When you can work freedom and relaxation into your day, it will be easier to be noble and good at the end of your day. When you schedule time to slack off, indulge, or break a rule, your playful spirit feels seen and heard so she doesn’t have to create it behind your back.
Supermom Kryptonite – “Procrasti-working”
All you hard working Supermoms listen up!
If you are someone who only compliments yourself for working, and condemns yourself for rest and relaxation, you might notice yourself “procrasti-working”. Procrasti-working is doing busy work to avoid doing something difficult. There’s a difference between focused, productive work that moves the needle forward towards accomplishing your goals, and mindless, busywork to avoid that mean voice in your head that scolds you for relaxing.
Checking email, online shopping, researching summer camps, social media, can be a rabbit hole of procrasti-working. Next time you catch yourself in that mindless, unproductive state, get up and clear your mind. Open up a blank page in a journal, go outside and listen to the birds, do 10 jumping jacks, and start again.
Ask yourself, “Is my spirit yearning for rest or accomplishment?” If it’s yearning for productive accomplishment, set a timer on your phone and accomplish one task. If it’s yearning for rest, do something that feels delicious to your spirit.
Procrasti-working drains our energy, making us feel like we worked hard all day but didn’t accomplish anything. Be aware of this toxic Supermom kryptonite.
Supermom Power Boost – A “Do Nothing Day”
When my Supermom clients are resistant to relaxation but clearly yearn for it, we turn relaxation into something noble and good. I love assigning a “Do Nothing Day” as homework. When the GOAL is to do nothing productive, it turns relaxation into a chore. This appeals to the “responsible obliger” inside my clients who value getting good grades on their homework. Once they put a “do nothing day” on their calendar and they get to experience how amazing the benefits are and what a better mom and wife they become, it fuels them to do it again.
Veronica did this by making a relaxing evening routine into a chore but it didn’t work. For her, she would be better served by doing yoga while watching Catfish, and practice meditation while eating her Lucky Charms.
I got a text from a client recently that says, “Hey Torie, I wanted to let you know I’m on a plane heading on a hiking trip with my girlfriends. I never would have let myself dream of a trip like this before the work we did together. Yes, it was a challenge leaving my kids but I need to miss them and fill up my tank. Thank you, Thank you!” When you combine something fun with exercise, it makes it easier for our noble selves to say yes.
When I started to take weekend getaways in hotel rooms by myself, I justified it by saying I was going to get a lot of work accomplished while there.
If you are stuck, worshipping your to-do list, unable to allow yourself relaxation, and noticing signs of self sabotage, you are the perfect candidate for my Supermom is Getting Tired life coaching program. You would be amazed how your life can transform to becoming more fun, playful, restful and productive. Schedule your free call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me
Quote of the Day:
“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” Mary Oliver