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  • Writer's pictureMegan Filoramo

The answer to self-sabotage

Discounting yourself, downplaying your achievements, is an unexpected precursor of self sabotage. 


Let me give you an example: you set a goal, maybe consciously, maybe unconsciously. You decide that you want to get to work five minutes earlier so you aren’t as crazy when you start your day. You decide to eat more protein or drink your water. You decide that you want to work out three days a week or be less reactive when your children or your coworkers are difficult. Generally goals fall into the buckets of health and wellness, relationships, or finances/career.


Making goals is often prompted by some type of event, some awareness, that you would like something to be different in your life. 


With this awareness, you decide to take action. Hooray!


And maybe for the first week or two, you keep up with it.


But then life happens and your streak of taking successful action is interrupted. You oversleep, you blow up at your kids when they push your buttons, you get to the end of the day and realize you haven’t had one drop of water. With the initial interruption of the streak comes disappointment, disappoint in yourself, your inability to follow through, or the disappointment of your end goal (health, relationship, finances) seemingly slipping further away.


Or the disappointment is delayed. A few days go by and you realize, “oh right, I was trying to drink more water or eat more protein”. You realize that Doritos and wine are not exactly on track for that. 


It’s this moment that we discount what we have done and how we have been successful.


It’s easy to quickly shift into a different story, to shift from the intention of “I want to change something in my life” to a story about not following through, not having enough willpower or not having enough autonomy to actually make the change that you want. If we're not careful, this shift will lead us right back to where we started, where we decided we didn’t want to be in the first place.


Many would suggest that changing the way you think about your failures is the answer here, and it could be. But there is a different approach that may have tremendous rewards and in fact feel better to do.

Instead of focusing on the things that we need to change or the different ways we need to think in order to keep taking forward action, we can start with not discounting the success that we’ve had. Not drinking water on day four does not immediately discount all the water that you drank for the three days prior. Yelling at your kids day 10 doesn’t mean that the four times that you managed to stay calm were for nothing. 

You may not even be aware that you’re doing this. 


It is often easier to be aware of other areas that we discount ourselves; when we say yes to something that we don’t want to do, when we give up our time to exercise, when we don’t speak up at a meeting at work despite knowing what we have to say is valuable, when we don’t stop to go to the bathroom because we have too many patients. We have made a habit of discounting ourselves in other parts of our lives so it slips into our routine. 


This isn’t to say that choosing intentionally to put someone else’s needs above your own is a bad thing to do, but it should be done with intention and with choice, not out of disregard of yourself..


So getting back to self sabotage…

If we can manage to not discount ourselves and the actions we have taken, we can use that positive reinforcement to not give up. Instead of focusing on what we haven’t done and how we fell short we can focus on what we have done and how we succeeded.


To bolster this further, we can also into account the other things that we can do to support our end goals. Drinking water and eating protein are not the only ways to support our health. Maybe you didn’t drink water during the day but you did walk with a friend after work or skipped the cookies in the breakroom. Maybe you didn’t say what you wanted to in your meeting but you went out of your way to help a colleague. When the “failures” seem to be staring you in the face, see if you can peek at the successes that have piled up behind them.


If you don’t say to yourself “I’m doing nothing” and if you continue to focus on the fact that you decided to do something and move forward with it at all, then having a setback or two is really a non-issue. 


You are the person who is learning to become less reactive. 

You are the person who is working on your health. 

You are the person who is speaking up for what is right in a loving and compassionate way and trying to improve your work environment.


It’s important to remember that downplaying things is not inherently bad. There are many times that you may want to downplay something. Choosing to not stop for two minutes and go to the bathroom at work because you have things to get done for your patients is different from choosing not to go to the bathroom because you don’t want to miss your child crossing the stage at graduation. In that situation you may discount the discomfort of wiggling in your seat and it may be very helpful. In fact, it can be a big skill to downplay things when it serves you. 


It doesn’t ever serve you to downplay your success, don’t take away the reward of your hard work just because you got distracted by a pause in your streak of action. 

You’re going to need your success to keep going.

It will make self-sabotage a thing of the past.


Need a little help making change in your life that sticks? Shoot me an email at and we can schedule a time for a consult. This can help clarify what you want in your life and if working together will help you get there. I can't wait to hear from you.

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