5 SUBTLE WAYS WOMEN ARE SELF-SABOTAGING

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I’m here for some straight talking today, folks. If I could write this whole blog post in CAPS and be sure it wouldn’t hurt your eyeballs, I would.

In all the work I’ve done with women of all ages and backgrounds over the last decade, there have been some emerging themes of self-sabotage that I have seen with my own eyes; some particular ways that I see brilliant women like you and I tripping ourselves up repeatedly over and over again.

Firstly, I want to lovingly say that this is the stuff of being human. These ways that we minimise ourselves, hand over power, get swept up and let fear lead the way – these things do not make you faulty – they make you human. The first step to being able to move beyond them into a truer sense of who you are is owning them; acknowledging that this stuff is real for you. That’s a biggie. So I want you to read this with an open mind, willing to see where it is that you might recognise yourself.

Let’s jump in. Below are five ways that I have repeatedly seen women sabotaging their own fulfilment and desires and holding back the progress of the sisterhood:

1)    Assuming there is not enough room for you.

Somewhere along the way, we have been fed the lie that when we see someone else doing something we would love to do that it automatically disqualifies us from doing it. Somewhere along the way we have picked up the message that there is not enough room for our version of the same thing. Somewhere along the way we have decided that if someone else is doing it, they now have the monopoly and they must be doing it better. In addition to that, we often fold in the double whammy lie that if we do decide to do something similar that people will think we are copying, we’ll be unlikable, talked about and thought of as a fraud or second rate. So we shut the idea down immediately, tuck in back in our safe zone, we retreat and let resentment and jealousy wash over us.

When we think like this, we are operating out of a scarcity mindset. This is the mindset that says that there is not enough space for us all to move around and be ourselves. This is the mindset that has us moving through the world believing that everything is a race, that competition is rife and that spaces for creativity, fulfilment and innovation are limited.

What we need are women who are willing to see past these lies, who give themselves permission to learn, try and grow and create environments for others to do the same. When we assume there is a limited amount of room for women to do the things that they are drawn to, we make the world smaller for ALL women when in reality, we have an unlimited amount of space to expand and stretch as we need to.

SOME WAYS WE CAN COUNTERACT THIS:

Acknowledge your own desires. Write them down and then tell a trusted friend. Do some light market research. Practice your craft or your offering. Arrange to meet up with someone who triggers jealousy or scarcity in you. Reach out to them and tell them how brilliantly they are doing.

 

2)    Recruiting other women to your pain.

The second way I see women self-sabotaging (and this is a biggie) is by recruiting other people to our pain. We’ve all been there on one side or the other. Wounded people tend to want to rally other people to their cause. If we have been wronged by another woman, misunderstood or failed – the temptation is to bring our people along for the ride. We want solidarity in our pain, to have an ally. Real alliance does not look like taking down the sisterhood because of our own fears or pain.

A few months ago I was faced with this. Someone I love had been hurt by another woman and they were in pain. They were so consumed with their own discomfort over it that they wanted me to join them. They really tried to get me in there in the pit with them. There was even a moment when they couldn’t see past themselves and tried to give me my own (personal) reason to join them in their annoyance, but I could see what was happening and I was able to call it out. My friend responded so bravely and quickly realised what she was doing. We talked it out so she felt understood and seen without adding more pain to the mix.

Don’t look for solidarity in bringing other women down. Stop trying to find someone to dislike the same people as you. One of the most powerful ways that patriarchy can thrive in our world today is when women turn on each other and recruit each other to sides. We can disagree, we can find fault, we can be hurt and hurt back, but let’s not try to grab each other in from the sidelines to join in our pain. This is the kind of sabotage that ripples out and breeds insecurity like a disease.

 

SOME WAYS WE CAN COUNTERACT THIS:

Give other women the benefit of the doubt when you hear things about them. Deal with your own pain. Redirect conversations that would tempt you to get involved in petty talk or that try to drag you into mutual disdain for someone. Challenge negative talk. Be obnoxiously supportive of other women.

 3)    We are not taking ourselves seriously.

Another subtle way I can see women self-sabotaging is by seriously underestimating themselves. I can see clearly where this comes from: if we take ourselves seriously, invest in things, put ourselves out there and it doesn’t work out – then we have egg on our face and everyone will know. If we stay in the shallow, never invest fully, never talk about our offerings with any intensity or authority then we stay safe. No one can shame us.  

The thing about not taking ourselves seriously is that we never move from that place. There is nowhere to go from here. We are stuck. And that stuck-ness will eventually spill out into resentment, frustration, grief and heartache. We will never realise our fuller potential. We will never fail and learn. We will never find the true fulfilment that comes from giving things our best shot and growing along the way.

If you are not investing in your own betterment, if you are shying away from opportunities that will bring discomfort, if you are downplaying what you do or hiding it away from the world – fulfilment is going to be a really hard reach for you. There is rarely any comfort to be found in growth. Take yourself seriously. Take your own growth and fulfilment seriously and watch how you evolve.

SOME WAYS WE CAN COUNTERACT THIS:

Invest in yourself; even something small. Take a course, join a facebook group, book into a workshop, tell people about your products or services. Eliminate minimising language from how you talk about what you do: “my little business” or “just my side-hustle”. (You can also grab my FREE 30 Days of Visibility Instagram prompts to help you talk about the things you have to offer, build community and communicate the ideas you have stored up).

4)    Making our minds up about what other people will pay for, engage with or buy.

We are SO good at assuming we know what people are thinking. We are EXCELLENT at making up whole scenarios and thought processes about how we will be perceived, what other people’s buying habits are, their budgets, their interests, aren’t we?

Some of us are so quick to write off our own ideas, sabotaging them before they get out of the gate that we have never let our ideas out into the air to breathe so they stay within us, choking us up. Let me tell you, there is a whole WORLD out there of people who need to hear what you have to say, who may need to hear things from your perspective to find healing, who may need to engage with your product to find a solution to their problems.

The ever-expanding ways that people are able to consume or connect with things in the world today means that we just cannot write off who might be interested in what we have to offer. If there is something burning in your soul that you feel drawn to put out into the world, you owe it to yourself to set it free. We cannot control who buys it or who can afford it or if it will sell – we simply have to be true to the thing that we are being called to do.

SOME WAYS WE CAN COUNTERACT THIS:

Do your research! Ask your target market about the things you are considering offering. Use social media to build community and offer value to the people in your orbit. GET SOME INFORMATION! Stay curious and open to possibilities. Stay true to your pricing. Don’t look around at what other people are charging for things (they could have major issues around this stuff as well!) – figure out what you want to offer, how much it costs you to make or produce and what you want to be paid and then ASK FOR IT!  

Finally… 

5)    Being consumed by perfectionism.

Oh my goodness, I get this one. I totally do. I am a recovering perfectionist. It is hard work. It has cost me a lot to be consumed with perfection and striving.

Let me give you a little example: Just this year I finally decided to turn my e-course ‘Down to Earth’ into a book to sell on my website. I spent ages going through the content, compiling it and converting it into a PDF. I agonised over fonts and settings and colours. Finally I let it out into the world and a bunch of people bought it! I made some money from it!

Then I went through it again recently and you know what – there’s a whole paragraph missing on one of the pages. A whole freaking paragraph, just sitting there, half written.

Two years ago this would have crippled me and kept me up at night – hopelessly obsessed that people would think I was a fraud, that I was unprofessional, that I wasn’t to be trusted (the drama of my inner critic is obscene). Two years ago me would have taken it down from my website right away and had it redone and made a big public apology to all my readers and resent it to them again.

This time, I just cringed and then laughed. Of course there was a mistake in it! It was 80 pages long and I’m not a professional editor. It’s one tiny paragraph and it doesn’t take anything away from the overall goodness of the book. It’s still on my website, still for sale, in all it’s imperfect glory.  

If you are waiting around for the perfect website, perfect branding, perfect whatever before even dipping your toe in the waters of the thing you want to do then can I please encourage you to stop and just start. This perfectionism is a guise for hiding. This need to get everything just ‘so’ before you present it to the world is wasting your precious life minutes and is just fear showing up in a different outfit.

 

SOME WAYS WE CAN COUNTERACT THIS:

Set yourself deadlines for doing things and STICK TO THEM! No more pushing back timings because of polishing things endlessly. If something feels too big and you’re really not ready, find a smaller way to get it out there in the time being. Go for good enough when you can. Don’t be a slave to an algorithm. Try and inject some spontaneity into your day. Look back and reflect on how far you have come. Make a point to celebrate small milestones. Remember your own humanity and the humanity of others. Give yourself a freaking break.

Do you see yourself in here anywhere? Is there a part of you that might be self-sabotaging and wants to move through it? Leave me a comment and let’s chat it out. I am SO here for women who want to move through some of these sabotaging behaviours and mindsets. I need these reminders in my life too. It is not easy to look this stuff in the eye and own it but we desperately need women in our world who know how to evolve with grace and dignity. We need women in the world who can see their own BS and decide that they are done with it and ready to shed the skin they are in and become truer versions of themselves.

P.P.S. If you are local to Northern Ireland I am now recruiting for my Movements Group Course! Movements is a 6 week course for a small group of women (there are currently only 5 places left!) who: a) have an idea brewing and need to put things in motion or b) women who are ready to level up with what they are doing at the minute. We will meet every Tuesday at my home in Co. Armagh for 6 weeks from the 3rd of September - 8th October (plus a Day Retreat on the 1st of September). We’ll have brunch together each week and dive deep into all the ways we are holding back and discover the tools we need to bring our ideas into the light.

It is going to be AMAZING and I LOVE delivering this course so much…

Check out what previous course participants have said below:

Movements was AMAZING.

The support and encouragement has been invaluable. As I work on my own a lot I find it quite isolating and it is heartwarming to know that I have a new group of ladies who have each others back. Since completion I feel that I have a clearer direction and more clarity of who I am trying to serve. I have established money blocks and limiting beliefs and am working on the focus of abundance in all its forms.

The Movements course gave me the opportunity to look inside and listen to my desires and aspirations, develop clarity and a greater focus on my business. It was a supportive and caring space to share with other like-minded women who are looking to better themselves and the world around them.

Then there’s Mel, well what can I say, she’s the best friend everyone needs with a warm heart, a caring personality and is a compassionate coach.
— BEVERLY BECK, EDUCATION SPECIALIST
I feel more grounded. I have made SO many movements towards starting my own business and I feel ready to take steps that I was holding back from. The thing that has shifted the most is the belief that what I have to offer is valuable and worth being heard. My voice matters! It has been everything I expected, and more. I knew I would be able to develop my creative ideas but I have developed in so many ways that I wasn’t expecting, and made friends with women who inspire me.

Mel is a natural bringer - together of people and made us feel so at ease. She creates a safe place for us to be the best that we can be. Thank you so much!

Every penny was worth it and more! Investing in myself has been so valuable. I would recommend anyone to take the step and sign up. You’ll not regret it.
— ANITA FIRTH, FAMILY BUDGETING MENTOR