Self-sabotage is a sneaky habit that comes up for every single one of us. My clients are successful, high-achieving women, and yet, one conversation we keep coming back to in our work is the ways in which self-sabotage is showing up for them in their personal and professional lives.
This week, I’m shining a light on how you might be falling into self-sabotaging behavior and inviting you to consider what it’s costing you. The cycle of self-sabotage is almost impossible to see playing out if we haven’t taken a close look at it, so I’m showing you how to recognize when you’re engaging in it, and how to course correct.
Join me on the podcast to discover the most common patterns of self-sabotaging behavior, and why radical self-trust is the antidote to it. I’m offering 5 strategies for turning self-sabotage around, and the questions you can ask yourself to begin identifying where you might be in a habit of undermining yourself.
You’re listening to The Joyful Practice for Women Lawyers Podcast episode number 27.
Welcome to The Joyful Practice for Women Lawyers Podcast. I’m your host Paula Price, lawyer turned certified executive coach. This podcast was created to empower women lawyers just like you to create a life and practice you love. Join me every week for a break from the hustle so we can focus on you, what you truly want, and how you can create it.
If you’re over the overwhelm, done with putting out fires, and ready to create a life and practice that brings you more joy, you’re in the right place. Ready for today’s episode? Let’s dive in.
Hello my friends and welcome back to the podcast. I am so excited to have you joining me here this week. I hope you’re having a fabulous week, and I’m really excited to speak with you today about today’s topic, which is all about self-sabotage.
Before we jump into our discussion about self-sabotage, I just wanted to acknowledge and give a special shoutout to one of my listeners. That listener is my nephew. I know he’s a listened because last night I had a text message from my brother saying that he is a big fan of the podcast. So I wrote back and I said, “Really? That’s so amazing. Does he actually listen to it?”
My brother’s response was, and I will read this to you from my phone. “He asks for it as a falling asleep podcast. He says it’s not so boring that it’s annoying and it’s not so interesting that it keeps him up.” So I guess we’ll use it as a complement. I loved reading that. I had a good chuckle.
If you’re listening right now, I hope that I’m striking the right balance between being interesting and not too boring. I hope that you’re enjoying it. I wish you sweet dreams. And to all of you mothers out there who have ten year old boys who may need some help falling asleep at night, we now have a brand new technique that you might try to help them to fall asleep at night.
So thank you so much for the feedback. Thank you so much for listening. It’s such a treat to have you. For anybody else who has feedback about the podcast, I love to hear it. If you would like to leave a review on iTunes or wherever it is that you listen to your podcast, that would be so great. Because when you leave a review, it helps other people find this podcast. So I would appreciate your assistance with that.
So with that, we are going to turn to today’s episode, which is all about self-sabotage. The reason that I think it’s important to talk about it is because it can be really sneaky. So you may not even notice that it’s happening. It comes up quite a bit in conversations that I have with lawyers, and it came up in the conversation last week. I thought we really need to talk about this. So that’s what we’re doing today.
I’m going to start out by talking about a few ways that self-sabotage can come up for you. I’m also going to offer you five strategies on how you can turn it around. So starting first with how it might come up.
I’d invite you to think about your own practice. I’d invite you to think about what’s going on for you right now. Maybe a situation that’s happening in the past. Maybe it’s not too distant past. Maybe it’s a few years ago. I think we can all identify if we look back on our lives, places where we actually self-sabotage. Whether or not we were happy with what that resulted in, I think it’s really important for us to know when we’re doing it. So here are a few examples.
One is perfectionism. Perfectionism a very good and classic example. I know that my listeners are super high achieving. I know a lot of you can relate to perfectionism. So you may have found in the past that it worked for you. You may also find that it has worked against you.
The way that perfectionism can really work against you is when you are starting out on a project and you are so fixated on making it perfect, on not making any mistakes, that you may put it off. You might procrastinate to a point where you don’t leave yourself enough time to get it done. You might approach the project with so much dread and anxiety that you’re just not capable of doing your best work.
Ultimately what you end up creating is a project or an outcome that is not your best work. It’s far from perfect, and it almost becomes this self-fulfilling prophecy where you’ve gone into that project with the fear of not making it perfect. What you ultimately create is not perfect. So that is one form of self-sabotage that I see in clients that I work with.
If perfectionism is something that resonates with you, I’d invite you to check out episode number four. I talk about the cost of perfectionism. You might find some helpful strategies there.
Another way that self-sabotage can show up is at work. This was an example that I was talking about with somebody the other day. We were talking about their job and how they didn’t particularly like what it was that they were doing.
As a result of not enjoying their work, they were not particularly good at it. They started to really lack confidence because they didn’t feel enthused. So they would go and do their work. They wouldn’t perform their best. Then they wouldn’t feel confident about it. It was almost like this snowball effect of not feeling good, not performing well, feeling less confident, not liking the work. Then it just kept on cycling.
So that can be a place where you are falling into self-sabotage. Where you’re doing work that you don’t like, but instead of changing that or finding something that you do like, you continue on the path that you’re on and you undermine yourself.
Another way that self-sabotage can show up is in relationships. What I’m thinking about here in particular is with people pleasing. So many of us are people pleasers. I think it’s natural for all of us to want others to enjoy their experiences with us whether it’s personal relationships, whether it’s professional relationships. We want to be helpful. We want to be seen as somebody who they can count on. So we are taking things on. You may be taking things on because you want to please others. You don’t want to disappoint them and you want to be helpful.
Sometimes you can do that at your own expense. You may take things on when you really don’t have enough time to take them on. What ends up happening is you can start to become really resentful. You spend your time working on a project that you don’t really have time for. It’s starting to cut into other areas of your life. Maybe it’s your self-care, maybe it’s relationship with your friends or your family, maybe it’s work projects that you really need to get done.
As you get into that more resentful mindset, then you might start dealing with that person and with that project with that layer of resentment. So ironically instead of being helpful and building your relationship with somebody, you can actually make that relationship worse because of the way you show up in relation to them. If you’ve ever been in that situation then you know that it can be really hard to backtrack from that. Trying to overcome something like that can actually sometimes be more awkward than if you didn’t do anything at all.
So these are some examples of how you may be self-sabotage. It happens at such an unconscious level. Obviously, it’s not something that you do on purpose, but your well-intended actions ultimately undermine you and lead to the outcome that you’re trying to avoid.
Now the reason that this problem exists is not because there’s anything inherently wrong with you. It’s not that you’re doing something wrong or that this is unique to you. There are a number of reasons why people self-sabotage. I’m going to talk about three of them.
One of them is that we focus on what we don’t want, and then we go about creating it. So that really goes back to that example dealing with perfectionism. We don’t want to create something that is less than perfect. Ironically, we end up producing something that really isn’t perfect.
Another example is that you don’t listen to yourself. You don’t listen to your instincts. You don’t follow what you truly want. So this is the work example. You’re doing work that you don’t like. Maybe it’s litigation. You really feel like you’re not one who likes the adversarial nature of litigation, and yet you try to force yourself to do it anyways. Or maybe you’re a solicitor and it turns out that you actually don’t love the detail oriented nature of the work.
The more that you try to force yourself into that particular role, the less well you perform. Ultimately you find that you’re no longer able to exist in that role. So rather than getting ahead of that and listening to your gut and asking for what you truly want or going after what you truly want, it’s almost like you let things happen to you. That outcome is actually what you want. Maybe you don’t want to be in that position. But you haven’t done it in a way that is empowering or that leads you to be positioned to do exactly what it is that you do want.
Then a third reason that self-sabotage can exist is fear. Usually it’s fear of failure, fear of disappointing somebody. It can also be fear of success. Fear that if you actually reached that level that you’re hoping to reach that you’re not going to be able to maintain it or that you’re going to do something to mess it up.
I know this is a fear that resonates with a lot of you, with a lot of high achievers. Because it can be scary when you reach that next level and you’re in a completely new environment. Everything is new to you. You now have maybe the eyes are on you. What are you going to do next? So these are all ways in which you can find yourself taking actions that ultimately lead to outcomes that you don’t want.
So you might try to cope in a number of different ways. Number one is you might just keep doing the same thing because that’s what comfortable to you. So if you’re a perfectionist, that might be the most comfortable way for you to go about a project. Even though you realize that it has its shortcomings, that maybe it’s not the ideal way for you to perform. You’ve managed to get to where you are by following that path. So you don’t want to change it because you don’t want to risk what would happen if you didn’t do that.
Another way you might try to cope is to change the things around you. So in some cases, that might be the right thing to do. Maybe it’s getting a new job, and you step into a job where you’re so much more aligned with the work and your performance starts to skyrocket. It could also be that you don’t enjoy your work. So you put yourself into a new environment.
What you find is that all the things that were bothering you before, the areas where you were lacking confidence. All of those follow you to the new job. Then after you get over an initial honeymoon period, you might find that the changes that you’ve made outside of yourself aren’t actually doing anything to fix the problem.
So the reason that these coping mechanisms don’t really work is that number one, chances are you’re continuing to put unrealistic expectations on yourself. Whether that’s the expectation of perfection or the expectation that you can do work that you don’t really like. That you can force yourself. That you don’t really need to change anything.
Or it may be that you continue to think that you should be doing everything that you can to please others even when that comes at your own expense. It may also be that you live in fear that you’ll be judged. So these coping mechanisms don’t really dela with the underlying fear that you have of being judged, of failing, whatever that looks like.
Another reason they don’t work is that you never get a chance to experience the thing that you’re trying to avoid and learning from it. So what if you tried approaching a project not from a perfectionistic standpoint but from one where you are simply focused on doing the best that you can.
What if you admitted to yourself that you don’t like your work? That this isn’t really something that you’re well suited for, and that you’re going to take concerted effort to find something that you really like. Maybe if it’s people pleasing that is your challenge, maybe you could learn how to deal with the discomfort of saying no to somebody establishing boundaries and experience what that looks like.
Finally another reason why these coping strategies don’t work is that you’re not actually taking care of yourself. So you’re not really setting up the boundaries for yourself. You’re not properly taking care of yourself. I even venture to say here that maybe you’re not even liking yourself.
The reason that I say that is because when you continue to undermine yourself whether it’s at a conscious or an unconscious level, you have to ask yourself what that does to the relationship that you have with yourself. Maybe this sounds a little bit abstract, but if this was somebody else who was undermining you in this way.
If you had a colleague, for example, who never really showed up to your meetings on time, somebody who maybe took credit for your work, somebody who you couldn’t really count on to do their share of the project. I mean after a while, you’d start to have some ill feelings for that person. If you are doing this to yourself, if the sabotaging behavior is your own behavior, you may start to really find that disconnect internally.
What you end up creating if you don’t make some changes around this is that you may find that you’re getting burnt out. You may find that you’re becoming resentful. You may find yourself totally exhausted, and you may not be creating the results that you want in your life. Whether it’s in your practice, whether it’s in your personal life.
So in today’s podcast, I’m going offer five strategies that you can use to turn this around. Because what I would like to see for you is to move from a place where you have this unconscious self-sabotage to a place where you have the opposite. Where instead of being somebody who undermines your success, you’re somebody who actually contributes to that. So we’re going to dive into those five things right now.
Now the first thing that I would invite you to think about is to weigh out the costs and the benefits of self-sabotage. Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Paula, this is crazy. Of course there’s no benefit to self-sabotage. Really like do we have to go through this exercise?”
But I would invite you to think about something that’s going on for you right now. Whether it’s a current example of a problem that you are not solving, whether it’s an opportunity that you’re not going after, or think about something that happened in the past for you. Maybe it’s a situation like the one I described at work where you allowed your performance to basically be undermined to the point where it was no longer workable.
Maybe you’re people pleasing and you’re taking on too much and you’re in the middle of it right now. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’ve committed to too many projects relative to the amount of time that you have for them. So I really invite you to think about what it is that’s going on for you, and to think about what it is costing you to be conducting yourself in a way that causes self-sabotage.
So number one is you’re probably not getting what you’re want. Number two, you’re probably not feeling very good. I mean think about what it costs when you don’t go after what you want. Giving the example even of success. Maybe you’re acting in self-sabotaging ways because you have a deep rooted fear of what success would feel like.
So maybe you have a project that somebody has offered you. It’s your dream project. Instead of sending out the proposal, you’re finding other things to do. You’re checking your email. What is that costing you? Whether it’s submitting that proposal late and appearing less enthusiastic. Whether it’s not doing as good of a job as you want to. I mean really look at where it might be showing up right now and think about what it’s costing you.
Then turn that around. I mean think about it. If you were not sabotaging yourself. If you were out there doing your best and really supporting yourself, imagine the outcomes that you would create. Imagine how good that would feel if you had that project that you always wanted. You step into that project. You are performing at a level that is consonant with your desire to do that work, with your ability to do that work. How amazing does that feel?
So before you go any further, I would really just invite you to think of a real life situation, whatever that situation might be, and put yourself in that position. Think about how amazing it would be if you were able to do away with self-sabotage and really go all in on that. Go all in on yourself.
So the second thing that I would invite you to do is to embrace a concept of radical self-trust. This is going to be a little bit tricky for me to explain, but bear with me. The concept of radical self-trust is one that I’m borrowing a little bit from an interview that I heard about a year ago involving a woman whose name is Renée Taylor. She wrote a book. The book is called The Body is Not An Apology.
Renée Taylor is an author, obviously, a speaker. She is an artist. She was talking about radical self-love and distinguishing that from self-acceptance. Chances are, like me, you’ve heard this concept of self-acceptance which has kind of a lukewarm feel to it.
Usually we talk about it in the context of there’s something about ourselves we don’t particularly like whether it’s our body, whether it’s our personality, whether it’s our tendency to procrastinate, whatever that happens to be. The idea here is to accept our flaws for what they are and to embrace ourselves for the person that we are.
It all sounds fine until you hear Renée talk about radical self-love. I cannot do justice to the way that she described it. But what I would like to share with you is the concept that just kind of blew everything out of the water for me, which was going beyond this idea of self-acceptance to radical self-love.
Instead of saying, “Oh well I guess I’m okay in spite of all of my flaws,” she turned it around and presented it in this way of, “Why would you not love yourself? What benefit is there from just simply looking at yourself as kind of this lukewarm thing that you should tolerate as opposed to really embracing and loving who you are.”
It might be easier to sort of conceptualize this if you think about other people in your life. So if you’ve got children, for example, if you’ve got a wonderful nephew like I do, for example, a partner. If it’s your best friends, maybe it’s your work colleagues, people who mean a lot to you in your life. Imagine if you walked around telling yourself, “Oh yes, I accept them.” My friend, well sometimes she doesn’t call me when she says she will, but I think I’ll just tolerate her. I’ll just accept her.
Versus what if you felt radical love for that person? Maybe this is a little bit out there, but I really invite you to think about what that feels like. The difference between radical love and acceptance. So taking that radical concept and how much better that is than just acceptance or even plain love. Let’s turn that around to trust.
As lawyers, you know what trust is. You make your living based on trust. For clients to work with you, they absolutely need to have that trust in you. I’m inviting you to take that concept of trust and to apply it to yourself, to apply that relationship of trust to the relationship that you have with yourself. Then I want you to go beyond just trusting yourself to radically trusting yourself.
Because I would encourage you to think about how different things would be for you if you were to radically trust that you have your own back, that you could radically trust that you will say what you’re going to do. That when you commit yourself to yourself that you follow through every single time. It makes such a world of difference.
If you look at the self-sabotaging behavior, where is it coming from? It’s coming from fear. That fear that you’re not going to be able to do the thing that you wanted to do. It’s coming from that denial of what you truly want. It’s coming from denial of asking for things that you need. If you’re able to do those things for yourself, if you’re able to trust that you will ask for what you need, that you will take care of yourself, imagine how different your outcomes will be.
So this is a really important step. Radical self-trust. Here I want you to know that you can handle whatever shows up. Whether it’s failure, whether it’s judgment, whether it’s judgement that somebody else makes of you or if it’s judgement that you impose on yourself. Know that you can handle success. If you are to achieve the success that you really want deep down inside that you can handle it. Because chances are it’s going to come with some challenges of it’s own, but you can do that. You can handle that.
Another part of radical self-trust is simply being a better friend to yourself. I recorded a podcast episode about being your own best boss. I think it was episode number 11, but I may not have that number right. It will be in the show notes. Again, it goes back to establishing that relationship with yourself the way that you talk to yourself.
Here I would invite you to take that concept of radical self-love, of radical self-trust. Think about it in relationship to another person to start out with if you need to, and then think about how you would treat yourself if you believed that to be true.
Finally when it comes to radical self-trust, I want you to focus on what’s already working for you. We know that at a neurological level, we build on our strengths. When we focus on the things that are missing, that has a completely different effect on our bodies, on the way that we think about things. It is so counterproductive and undermining. So when you are going through that exercise of self-trust and thinking about what it is that you do well, I would encourage you to make a list of those things and to lean on those things and build on them.
There’s a wonderful concept. I’d encourage you to look it up. It’s called appreciative inquiry. I learned about it when I went through my coach training. It’s basically a paradigm shift. If you’re like me, you probably grew up learning about problem solving and people who are good problem solvers or they weren’t. I tended to look at problems, like a legal problem or a business problem or a relationship problem as a problem. Then all of my energy would go into fixing the problem.
Appreciative inquiry has a completely different perspective. In that situation you might take a system that isn’t working at its optimal level. But rather than sit there and look at all the problems, you would sit there and focus on all the things that are going well. Then you build from that place. In theory, the more you build on the strengths, the less you need to deal with the problems.
So I would encourage you to take that approach in terms of the relationship that you build with yourself. If you spend more time thinking about the things that you’re doing well and giving yourself praise and support in relation to those things and less time focusing on the problems, chances are you’re going to create fewer of those problems. So that’s step number two is that radical self-trust.
So the third thing that I’d encourage you to do is to start to look at patterns and notice the unintended outcomes. So going back to the perfectionist example. The way that I would recommend approaching this is to focus in on your thoughts, your feelings, and your actions. If you’re familiar with cognitive behavioral therapy, these are the three criteria that are considered because there’s a direct relationship between all three of them.
So in the perfectionist example, you might have a project that’s ahead of you. The thought that you may have is “I’m not going to do this to the standard that I want or this isn’t going to be good enough or I’m not the right person for this.” So pick a thought, a perfectionist type of thought.
Now when you think something like that, you’re then going to have a feeling about it. Chances are if it’s one of those thoughts, you’re going to be feeling a lack of confidence. You may feel anxiety. You may feel like this is something that you want to push off.
As a result, the action that you take would be to procrastinate or to do the work but do it in a way that’s icky and comfortable where you’re not really giving it 100%. Maybe again it’s that self-sabotage. If you only give it a certain amount of effort and it doesn’t work out so well, well you can blame the fact that you didn’t put in much effort instead of having to own that you just weren’t able to do the project or something like that.
So there’s this correlation between what you think, how you feel, how you act, and then of course the outcome that results from that. So in this case, it’s the project isn’t done at an optimal level because you either didn’t give it the time or the energy or the effort, whatever that might look like for you.
Conversely, you can use this in a way that is more empowering. So maybe instead of thinking I’m not going to do a very good job, maybe it’s, “They asked me to do this because I’m the best person for this job. I’ve done something like this in the past. I know I can do it.” A feeling that you then generate might be one of confidence. Maybe it’s one of determination. Maybe it’s one of curiosity.
Of course the actions that you then would take would be along the lines of jumping into the project, doing your best work, doing it on a timeframe that gives you time to go back and make corrections if you need to. Of course, the outcome would then be a better product.
So when you are engaging in acts of self-sabotage, what I would encourage you to do is to first of all identify them. So think back on situations that have happened in the past. Where have you self-sabotaged? What were you thinking at that time? How were you feeling? what were you doing? If you were to go over and do that another time, how would you do it differently and how would the outcome be different?
You can start by doing that on things that have happened in the past. Ultimately what would be amazing would be to be able to recognize when you are engaging in self-sabotaging behavior and to be able to course correct before you actually reach the conclusion of that cycle.
So the next step is step four, which is to accept the pain of the journey instead of resisting it. Okay this probably isn’t selling very well. I just had a conversation with my dear friend Mylène who you’ve all met now on the podcast. She’s amazing.
What we were talking about is how sometimes when you go after something, when you go to do a project whether it’s a project that you’re doing as part of a coaching experience, for example. Maybe what you’re looking for is a new job. You really don’t like the idea of networking, of putting a CV together, of taking time out of your already busy schedule to find a new job. So you put it off. It’s something that is totally unpleasant. You don’t want to do it. As a result, you carry on where you are even though you’re not happy.
What we were talking about is that sometimes what you must to do get to where you want to be is go through this really excruciating and painful journey. Now it’s not always going to be painful or excruciating. When I work with people, I try not to make it painful and excruciating, but sometimes it is going to be painful. It’s going to be really difficult.
When we look at it that way, maybe the temptation is to not do it. Okay well this is going to be painful. I’m much better staying where I am. It’s safe. It’s predictable. I may not love it, but wow. It is so much better than having to go put myself out there on LinkedIn or reach out to people or talk to people that I’ve never met before. To expose myself, to be vulnerable to put in an application. When you weigh those two things against each other, you end up not doing anything at all. Which of course is self-sabotage if your true goal is to do something completely different.
So here in terms of steps, what I recommend is accepting the fact that the journey that you’re going to go on may be painful. It may be difficult. Chances are you’re not going to get it right the first time, and to be okay with that. Because if you allow yourself to kind of kick and scream but do it anyways, eventually you’re going to get to the other side. It is so great on that other side. That makes it worth it.
Finally the fifth step is to do the self-care. Now if you’re self-sabotaging, chances are you’re also self-sabotaging in the are of self-care. Looking at the example of people pleasing, for example, or looking at the example of your being in a job that you don’t like. What’s going on there is that you are denying yourself of something that’s really important to you.
If you’re in a job that you don’t particularly like where you don’t resonate with what you’re doing, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to find work that you really do enjoy. Something where you do feel like your strengths and your values are much better aligned with what it is that you’re doing on a day to day.
If we’re looking at people pleasing, it is such a classic example of putting other people ahead of yourself, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As a lawyer, as somebody who people place their trust in, sometimes you’re going to need to put other people’s needs ahead of your own. That’s totally normal. It’s something to celebrate. However, if you do that in such a way that you are always putting the needs of others ahead of your own needs then there’s only so much that you can do of that before you start to be depleted.
There’s that whole analogy of the airplane mask. When you’re taking off and the flight attendant is explaining how to proceed in case of an emergency, the request is always that you put your own oxygen mask on first because you will not be able to take care of others without your own oxygen mask intact. If you have small children with you, your instinct may be, “Well, it’s my child. I need to help them first.”
If it’s your client, you may think, “They’re having an emergency situation. I need to help them first.” But sometimes you need to think about whether or not you’re able to do that from the position that you’re in or do you need some self-care to actually be able to help that other person.
So what does that look like? Well, it may mean that you need to ask for what you need. It may mean that you need to start setting up some boundaries with other people. It may mean that you need to say no to things. You need to say no to people and experience the discomfort of what that feels like so that you can carry on so that you’re not making things worse by taking on projects that you really don’t have the bandwidth or the energy to do.
So to recap, the five strategies that I’m offering today are number one, to think of the cost and benefits of self-sabotaging behavior and to really run that through. The second is to embrace a practice of radical self-trust. I want you to feel like you have your own back. I want you to know that you can always count on yourself. That no matter what comes your way, whatever happens at work, whatever happens at home that you have got this. That is so important.
The third step is to look for patterns and to notice the unintended outcomes. Once you start seeing where you have sabotaged yourself, then you can start thinking about how you can go about changing that in the future. So that’s looking at what you were thinking in the moment, how you were feeling in the moment, and the actions that you took and how you could do that differently.
Number four is to accept the pain of the journey. Instead of resisting it, going ahead and experiencing that. So that really is just saying, “You know what? I know this is going to be hard. This is going to be so uncomfortable, but I’m going to do it anyway.”
I think I’ve mentioned it on this podcast before, but I’ll mention it again. I have a journaling practice. Part of my journaling practice includes writing out something that I’m willing to feel uncomfortable around during the course of the day. I’m willing to experience the discomfort of eating dessert first.
What do I mean by that? Well, maybe I’m going to put in some self-care head of work-work, which is something that I did today before recording this podcast. I went out and I took a walk around the neighborhood because I just needed some breathing space. Normally my instinct is always to get the work done first and then the desert comes second.
Maybe you need to push yourself a little bit and flip that around. So whatever might be uncomfortable for you, you might journal that in the morning. I’ve recommended it to clients and they have reported that it is really effective for them because it really takes the sting out of it. It allows you to accept that yes, this is going to be difficult.
You can blame me if you are in the moment and you’re thinking, “This is really hard. This is what Paula suggested. Ah I could kill her right now.” Well believe me. That’s totally fine. I would encourage you to think about how things would be different for you if you weren’t resisting the discomfort of something that will ultimately help you grow.
Then finally step five was to do the self-care. So maybe that’s the thing that you need to embrace, as I just mentioned a moment ago. Think about where you might be falling short. Are you not asking for what you need? Are you not setting boundaries? Are you not being honest with yourself? Are you not giving yourself the health attention that you need? Whatever that happens to be, I would encourage you to do that.
When you take these steps, this is going to change things for you for a number of reasons. Number one, you will stop looking outside of yourself to the outer world to fix what is ultimately an inner problem. Another thing that you’ll be able to do is that you’ll catch yourself before you snowball too far. So once you get onto yourself, once you start to see your patterns of self-sabotaging behavior, you’ll be able to catch yourself before you get there. Hopefully you don’t end up in those situations.
Another reason why this will work is that you’ll develop a much stronger relationship with yourself. So if we go back to that idea of being your own best friend, of knowing that you can trust yourself, you’ll start to feel so much better. You’ll feel so much less inclined to engage in that self-sabotaging behavior because you’ll just feel better.
I mean it’s almost like if you’ve ever had sort of an unhealthy diet where maybe you feel like you’re eating foods that aren’t really serving you. You don’t feel all that great. So you switch over. Maybe you cut out sugar and some other things that aren’t really working for you, and you start to feel amazing. You see, I don’t know, a cupcake or a Twinkie. Something that’s not particularly high quality and you no longer feel like you want to go there, right. You feel like, “No, that’s a thing of the past. That’s no longer for me.”
It can happen with relationships too whether it’s a relationship with a person in your life that was somewhat of a toxic person. It may be that was somebody who was part of your day to day. Then you moved away from that person and you no longer have people like that in your life. So when you now find yourself around that person, it’s almost jarring because you’re just not used to being treated that way.
So I’m suggesting that the same thing can happen for you when you start to treat yourself better, when you really start to take care of yourself. When those self-sabotaging instincts come up, you may really find it easier to resist them because you now recognize them for what they are and they don’t really belong in this new life that you’ve created for yourself.
Finally, the reason that this will work is you’ll feel more self-confident. As you stop undermining yourself, you’ll create better results in your life. You’ll start to feel so good about those results, and you won’t want to let that stop. So these are all reasons why these strategies will be effective.
The skills that you need to embark on this and to apply these strategies is number one, you’re going to need to feel discomfort. You’re going to need to be willing to feel the discomfort of change. So if you’re used to being a perfectionist and you’re used to having all this stress around work that you do, if you’re going to change into a new way of working where maybe you don’t have all that stress. You don’t have all that anxiety.
It might feel like you’re not working hard enough. That’s uncomfortable. Even though ultimately, it’s creating something better for you, it might feel really awkward. So that’s one of the things that you’ll need to develop as a skill is feeling that discomfort.
Another thing that you’re going to have to develop is a willingness to risk disappointing people, especially if you’re a people pleaser. You’re going to have to learn what it’s like to have a conversation with somebody where maybe you don’t do exactly what they want, and that can be uncomfortable for you. But on the other side of that, you will be able to have more honest relationships. You will be able to take better care of yourself and ultimately have better relationships with others and with yourself.
Finally you’re going to have to develop the skill of being willing to ask for what you want. If you are anything like me, if you’re anything like a number of the lawyers that I work with, chances are you may not want to ask for that. You might feel uncomfortable. When you start to learn to ask for what you want, you’ll be surprised to see that you may start attracting and bringing into your life more of what you want.
When you do these things, the result that you’ll create, number one you’ll produce better results. So going back to the perfectionism example, there’s a wonderful study that was done where they asked a number of students to make clay pots. One group of students was asked to make a single clay pot and make it perfect. The other group of students was asked to make as many clay pots as they possibly could.
When they looked at the results at the end of the experiment, it wasn’t the students who were asked to make a single perfect clay pot who made the best clay pots. It was the students who went and just repeatedly made clay pots.
So I would encourage you to think about how this will affect you. If you go out and you simply execute. If you’re a perfectionist instead of stalling yourself, instead of not doing it at all, instead of procrastinating, if you just go and do the thing that you’re wanting to do. Think about what that’s going to look like over time when you simply keep doing it.
Another result that you’ll create is you perform better and find work that you love because you’re willing to take the risk of asking for it and doing any of the uncomfortable things you need to do in order to get there.
Finally if people pleasing is something that has been a problem or a challenge for you, you’ll lead to having better relationships because you’ll be honest with others. You won’t take on projects that you don’t want to do and become resentful of them. So ultimately, you’ll have better relationships with them, which is what you wanted in the first place.
So that, my friends, is what I have for you in today’s podcast episode. Thank you so much for joining me today. Before I sign off, I would like to invite you to join me for the third and final webinar of a series that I have been putting on. It’s a free webinar series. The first one was all about reimagining your practice. The second webinar was all about decluttering, decluttering your desk, your calendar, and your habits.
The third and final webinar is all about amplifying your impact. It’s very much on point with today’s podcast episode because what I’m going to dive into are some of the limitations that we put on ourself. So self-sabotaging behavior is obviously a limitation that we impose on ourselves. Unfortunately those can be some of the things that really hold us back from going after our dreams. Fortunately because they’re internal, we also have a lot of control over dealing with them.
So if that’s something that resonates with you, I would love to see you there. The registration information will be linked to the notes that go along with this podcast episode. So you can sign up there. If you don’t know where that is or you would simply like to send me an email or send me a note on LinkedIn, do that and I will send the registration information over your way. I’d absolutely love to have you here.
So thank you everybody for joining me today. My wonderful nephew, if you’re still listening, sweet dreams. I am so glad to have you as my favorite listener. Thanks again everybody. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Bye for now.
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Thank you for listening to this episode of The Joyful Practice for Women Lawyers podcast. If you want more information, visit www.thejoyfulpractice.com. See you next week.