Are You Sabotaging Your Authentic Self? Here’s How to Stop

Kelly Coffey

One simple tip to get a grip on self-sabotage and start living in line with what you want most.

We’re alive, and most of us want to stay that way. Underneath all the inner noise we experience every day — including the preferences and prejudices that shape our experiences — most of us just want to live as comfortably as possible, for as long as possible. Right? We want to be able to play in the world with the stuff we like and the people we love doing the things we want to be doing for as many years as we can. It’s simple, and for most of us, this is our deepest truth. Our fundamental drive is to do things that will keep us strong and healthy.

But most of us also identify with the impulse that runs directly counter to this drive: Self-sabotage. That twisted something in us that keeps us from getting or staying strong and healthy. That voice that tells us that we are too lazy to accomplish a particular goal, that we aren’t smart enough to read that book we’ve been meaning to, that we are too tired to go for a run.

When faced with the choice to follow through with or disregard a commitment we’ve made to ourselves and our health, the voice of self-sabotage chimes in: “Oh, screw it,” “It’s not worth it,” or “Maybe later.” If you’re anything like me, it takes every chance it gets to slap me with “Exercise? Eating well? Who the hell do you think you’re kidding?”

Got some inner conflict. Yeah, I can relate.

Got some inner conflict? Yeah, I can relate.

This undermining, insulting voice is not aligned with our deeper, authentic truth. And the sooner we allow ourselves to recognize it as a separate entity from ourselves, the better off we are. For this reason, I like to call my self-sabotaging voice “the Beast.” That way, when I remember that it’s the Beast’s voice urging me to quit, or not even try, I can listen critically to it, instead of just going with the flow. Seeing the Beast as separate from me gives me some space to remember my truth: I want to live, and live well — and to act accordingly, which means keeping the commitments I’ve made to myself.

One of my commitments is to work out every day, because it makes me feel breathless and alive and sexy and it ramps up my energy (I have two toddlers, and I can use all the energy I can get). After a long morning of working out my personal training clients, I’m tired, and the thought bubbles up that “I need a break.” I’ve been here enough times to know that taking that “break” (sitting, snacking, losing an hour to Facebook) will suck the life right out of me and set me up for a crappy, lethargic evening.

After years of practice, the moment this kind of self-sabotaging, undermining thought pops up, my radar goes off: “That thought isn’t coming from me.” I know it’s the Beast, and I know that listening to it will yield me the exact opposite of what I want most, which is to feel fully engaged in my life.

And it’s that little mental shift that helps me walk into the gym, even after a long workday.

The beast is a bitch.

The beast is a bitch.

Odds are there’s a beast living in your head, too. I suggest giving it a name — you’re welcome to use the same one I do. When self-sabotaging ideas bubble to the surface, practice labeling them with the name you’ve chosen. “I’m too tired to work out.” That’s probably your Beast. “One cigarette won’t hurt.” Most definitely your Beast. “Eh, one more date with the guy who treats me like a piece of crap won’t be the end of the world.” Beast once again.

I work to every day to disempower the Beast in me and to give my clients the tools to disempower theirs. Today, my Beast tells me not to bother blogging because nothing I write will ever be good enough. It tells me not to bother giving people tools to end self-sabotage. It tells me I’m a fraud for trying to live a healthy life, nevermind trying to teach other people how to do it, too.

Because I default to self-harm and self sabotage, I need to keep my deep desires — to be comfortable in my body, to be available to my children, and to be a resource to women like me — front and center in my mind. When a thought comes up — to do or not to do something, anything — I ask myself “Is this in line with what I want most?” If it is, that’s me. When it’s not, that’s the beast. Try it for yourself — you’ll be amazed how easy it is to figure out who’s talking.

Another way that I keep the beast from controlling me is to share the fact that it exists with you, so thanks for listening. If you relate to my story, and you’re lugging around your own self-sabotaging demon, I hope to hear from you. I have more to share about how women (and men) like us can get a handle on self-sabotage, and live the lives we want: comfortable, strong, and free.

Showing 5 comments
  • Lara

    Hi 🙂
    I truly enjoyed your webinar last night. Thank you for sharing from your story…your hair looked great!
    Will you have more of the content available on your site or for purchase? I used to work with small church groups for women who had been wounded by people in their lives. Many times it was parents who were struggling with their own demons. Anyway, ending misery addiction and self sabotage has been part of the curriculum but you do such a wonderful job of putting it all out there in a way that is succinct and USEFUL. Anyway again, I was wondering about sharing your stuff with my old group? Don’t want to infringe on copyright or take the gluten-free whole grain bread off your table But I know it would benefit my friends back in Wisconsin. Oh, and there are men’s groups too, I just didn’t lead those. Ok, well I guess that’s my question. I seriously wish we could sit down and talk; we are different but the same where it counts. I look forward to hearing a lot more from you Miss Coffey, you’re doing a good thing with all of this.
    ♡ Lara

    • Kelly Coffey

      Lara, is it feasible for your group members to sign up for my course in April, and to work the Principles together? I’d be happy to talk to you about a group discount. groups of folks who committ to work the Principles together tend to get a tremendous lot out of it. We don’t develop or self sabotaging defaults in a vacuum, and we don’t tend to develop healthier defaults as easily in isolation. Email me at coffey@strongcoffey.com to talk about it, and thanks for being there last night!

  • Kat

    Thank you so much for the webinar! It was life changing for me, honestly. Being able to identify who is speaking, relying on my own data and tapping into my power NOW, in this moment, were concepts that were brand new to me and are real tools to help me identify the Beast and stop self-sabotaging. I want to encourage you to never stop doing what you are doing. You are really helping people. You are tapping into your truth, your purpose, and it can and will, help so many. You encouraged me last night and now I want to pay it forward and encourage you. This is what you are meant to do. I hope in the moments when you are tired, stressed and overwhelmed, you remember one woman in Washington State who will never be the same again, because of you. Thank you.

  • Renee Rizzo

    I really enjoyed reading how to fix the devil in my head. That’s his name by the way. I wrote all your thoughts down and I’m planning on reading this every night before I go to bed. My problem is that I sabotage my relationships. Especially, in my love life. I think “It’s going to end anyways”. “Nothing lasts Forever”. I had these horrible thoughts in my head for years. I’m trying this though. Thanks Renee

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