What to Do When You Keep Sabotaging Yourself - Christine Kane

My dog had been beaten and burned with a lighter.

That’s how I found her.

And that’s how we began together.

With a lot of training and love, she made leaps and strides over the first few years.

Until one day, she had a setback.

A worker was at the house across the street. His pickup truck backfired. Loud.

I sprinted outside because my dog had been lounging on the front porch.    She was nowhere to be found. So I began running through my neighborhood.

I didn’t catch up to her until I was about a mile from my house.  She was in a frenzied trance.  Running for her life with no regard for anything around her.

I shouted her name.

Hearing my voice broke the trance. She stopped. She looked at me, panting and terrified. As I ran to her, I could see her come back into herself. She was shaking.

I didn’t say, “What the hell? We’ve come so far! You keep on getting triggered! What’s up with that head of yours?”

No. Here’s what I did…

With my arms tight around her, I said, “You’re totally fine. And you’re totally safe. Let’s go home and begin again…”

I remembered this moment when I got an email this week from someone asking about intention. She wrote that she has a pattern of getting to a certain point in creating her vision.  And right when things are going well, she’ll find a way to mess it up.

Her words:  “I sabotage my success.”

And it struck me.

Sabotage is one of those words that seems to come with its own military units and artillery.  It’s big and heavy.  

Sabotage says, “Don’t question me. I am scary.”

So it can be a challenge to see it clearly.

On the one level, I totally get the idea of messing things up right when they’re going well.

I get how scared you can feel when things are looking like they might just be working.

And I get that being scared can make you go unconscious just to escape the uncomfortable feeling of fear. (Going unconscious = anything from eating five pieces of cheesecake to endlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed to watching Netflix until 3am.  Name your vice.)

And I get that fear might make you do something dumb. Or do something mean. Or do dumb and mean things for six months until you’ve alienated pretty much everyone.

Until you find yourself back where you’re comfortable — in the land of Things-are-Awful-and-I’m-to-Blame.

A Pattern’s Just a Pattern. You’re Never Done.

Okay, but here’s the thing:

The minute you realize you’ve gone unconscious, or when you catch yourself in the midst of that trance… what stops you from picking yourself up, looking around, dusting off, cleaning up, putting down the cheesecake, apologizing for the stupid things you said and, yes, starting again?

Because let’s be clear… that is the issue here.

Not the sabotage itself.

Because nothing is ever done until you decide it’s done.

We all do stupid things and mess up and go unconscious. In Buddhism, it has a name: Unskillful.  I love this.  It simply means you didn’t have the skills yet.  (And as far as I know, Buddha never once used the phrase, “Wow, you totally fucked that one up.”)

The question is this:

How do you know you’ve ruined everything?

See, a word like “sabotage” requires that you give in to the belief that “all is lost.” It’s like you have your very own entertainment industry executive in your head who says, “You’ll never work in this town again!”

And the problem is not that he’s there.

The problem is you believe him.

Sabotage As Your Teacher

If you have a knack for sabotage, then guess what? This pattern is actually your greatest teacher.

And what it might be teaching you is persistence. Or commitment.

These are key here. You can either sit back and say, “Look how awful I am. I’ve done it again<.” Or you can say, “I’m learning to commit. So, today is another day. And with eyes wide open, I begin imperfectly.” It will be painful. It will be uncomfortable. It will piss you off. And it will grow you in ways you can’t imagine. I know from my own experience, it’s challenging to have an emotional temperament and go for your dreams. It’s so much easier to sit back and say that it’s all too hard, or that I’m not cut out for this.

But when you stop engaging, you only elongate the story, continue the trance.

Instead, take steps, and take them with openness. (And for God’s sake, stop using the word “sabotage.”)

Be Unbelievably Kind to Yourself

The opposite of the voices that say “All is lost!” is reminding yourself that all has never been lost.  And remembering how far you’ve come in your process. Monitor how you talk to yourself. Stop and correct any negativity. It only serves to keep the pattern alive.

In your story, you have the opportunity to be the one who is kind and the one who persists in knowing that you’re never going to give up on yourself or your life. Whenever you shift into that unconscious mode, just gently walk yourself back home and start from there.

Do that for yourself constantly.

And then do it again.

49 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • janet

    This article hit home for me. I am so emotional, fearful and afraid to step into my greatness and success. Old beliefs, fears and doubt are filling my every move. I am setting an intention to let go of that energy and direct my energy and focus on my skills, personality, product, insight generosity and creativity.

  • Rayette

    Thank you Christine for your encouraging words on handling fear and self sabatage. I needed to hear this from you as I am experiencing what you are talking about.
    I am taking your words of advice and being very kind and forgiving to myself as I continue my journey.
    Thank u,

  • Andrea

    Thank you Christine… I definitely needed to hear this..it’s almost like you’ve been watching me..lol (spiritually of course).. going in and out of the trance. I am specifically here because I want to get CLEAR…CRYSTAL CLEAR!!❤

  • Roxanne

    What a lovely post. Your dog is so sweet; your story made me cry…I can’t imagine… “…just gently walk yourself back home..” such wonderful advice, thanks, Christine.

  • Linda Easterling

    Thank you so very much for reminding me that I need to be kind to myself and accept that I’m imperfect and that it’s ok to begin again imperfectly. I am adding that I need to remind myself that everyone else in my life is also imperfect and that, it is ok, and that I need to allow them to begin again also imperfectly.
    Love you.

  • Bonnie Bradley

    Thank you Christine. Life has been throwing me some curve balls and I let it take me off the field. I am just now getting back in the game. Being so far behind in this course has made me go nuts but last night I got on the call and I decided to recommit. I know you are the “One” for me.
    Thank you!

    • Christine Kane

      What a nice thing to read this morning, Bonnie! And hurray for you! Keep me posted. 🙂

  • Michael LaRocca

    I’m surprised at how recently I figured this out. Thanks for the reminder!

    Oh, and I love the dog photo. I brought home a pound puppy who turned into the most awesome dog, but she never did get over her fear of loud noises.

  • Maylin

    Thank you for this beautiful message! I love it and it was so right on time! Many blessings to you and yours!
    Maylin 💫💞

  • Debi

    I’m learning to commit. Today is another day. And with eyes wide open, I begin imperfectly.

    And I just did. Thank you!

  • Barbara

    Seems like this is always with me, and popped up as the core of a meditation/journaling exercise I did THIS morning. The lining up of and clinging to shred of “evidence” that really, I’m not cut out for this or not enough of whatever and wallowing instead of taking a step. And later in the afternoon, someone called me on it when I prefaced a sentence with “I’m an idiot, I should have…” I don’t even remember what. And when she said it, I had no awareness that I’d said it.

    Timely post! Thank you! (Sorry for the long and possibly circuitous comment.

  • Sharleen

    Or you can say, “I’m learning to commit. So, today is another day. And with eyes wide open, I begin imperfectly.”
    Thank you for this today!

  • Fiona Kiriakidis

    Absolutely love this Christine. Thanks for making crystal clear what I have slowly come to learn. Shared to Facebook!

  • Yvette

    Learning to be kind to oneself when you are “off-track”, not yourself, feeling low, depressed, fearful, unmotivated, etc., etc., can be difficult. I am trying to afford myself the same grace I provide others…not so easy, especially when you you are used to being an “achiever”. Each day is its own and a new beginning. Thank you for your perspective.

  • Dr. Anna Garrett

    I love love love this post. Sharing with my FB group. And so good to see sweet Ima.

  • Peggy

    This is so wise and SO important. OF COURSE we hold our beloved pet and give them the support and reassurance they need. But to do it for ourselves? Lots of times there are deep issues getting in the way, but following your suggestions each time we have screwed up will go a long ways in healing the issues. Thank you for sharing. Your insights are always on right on.

  • Gigi

    Thank you so much for your intuitive words of wisdom. They were definitely the confirmation & encouragement I needed. As a self-professed commitment-phobe I never related that fear to the self-sabotage I engage in daily. I understand why nothing changed & I was stuck repeating the cycle. Now I know my life will be greater enhanced if I take every opportunity to break the “trance”. So the challenge, which I gladly accept, is continuing to push forward despite any setback. In other words, fall but don’t stall.

  • Sue Kindred

    Christine … I’ve been a lurker on your site and with your blogs/videos etc. for a while. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! It’s so spot on. I just put a sign above my desk that says, “And … with eyes wide open, I begin imperfectly.” Exactly what I needed to read today! Thank you thank you thank you.

    Sue

  • Liz Wright

    I have been listening to “The Big Leap” for this very reason. And the “trance” that you were talking about, I always feel like complete shit afterward, (my guilty pleasure is a Netflix binge.) But at least I am starting to recognize the pattern and the cycle, as well as the importance of self-love and starting again.

  • Natalie

    Loved reading this. Thanks Christine. Really hit home for me 🙏🏻

  • Ellen

    Thank you for that! I tend to punish myself when I feel I have failed at a business concept or project. I am good for starting, sticking for a while but fizzle out. With my current endeavor, I am trying to be committed to the process, and become clear on who is my ideal audience. (and secretly not agree with my husband who says that it won’t work)!

  • Stephanie

    Christine-
    That was very powerful. Thank you for the truth message, I can feel it resonating in my heart.

  • Suzanne

    Thank you Christine.
    Unconscious is exactly what I was being, up until reading this (at 2:35am).
    Now I have started my vision board and refocusing on building my business (perhaps after a bit of sleep!)
    Thank you again.

  • Steph

    JUST what a I needed to hear today – thank you for your work and for your willingness to put it out there! <3

  • Tina

    Love love love this post. I promise I will never say that word again. Thanks so much for sending this today.

  • Maryse Cardin

    I love how you wrote to “gently walk yourself back home and start from there.” It really does make a difference when you are kind and compassionate to yourself. Again, and again, and again.

  • Trecia Davis

    Wow Christine, so many diamonds in this story. Your dog’s experience is one I’ve had. My tender parts are always there and sometimes they get poked and out of pain or fear of pain, I run for the hills. I am lucky, as is your dog, to have someone in my life who comes along side me with warm, loving arms and says, “It’s okay, this is not your past, we are right here, right now, in the present,” and I get the lovely gift of beginning again. Sometimes, in that beginning again, my saboteur shows up. Instead of falling prey to it, I’ve chosen to give it a persona. It is irreverent, witty, cautious, cunning, and strategic. I envision it as the swashbuckling Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, all cavalier, clanky, and sharp, I know it’s main purpose is to keep me ‘safe.’ Now, when I’m able to feel the resistance sabotage brings (mostly around my capabilities), this vision helps me engage in conversation with it, “Why are you here?” “What’s scary about this?” “How can I work through this?” “Who can I go to for help?” or the best “Go Away!! I don’t have time for you today!’) It sounds a bit crazy but it’s helping this creative push through some old, old blocks.

  • Barbara Reid

    What a great post! Very relatable and helps us all see that we are not alone. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • morton

    Love the reframing of the word. Great story. Very powerful message which resonated today. I like the advice to be kind to yourself. Loved this message, very timely.

  • Brenda

    Great post Christine, so nice to know I’m not the only one who does that:)
    You made my day!

  • Sarah

    Wise. It’s easier and kinder to acknowledge the pattern with love rather than hurt ourselves more telling ourselves off. Then the change can come in – like the dog popping its head round the door saying I like it here where you care about me.

  • jk

    Christine, your post comes on the day after I had a day like your precious dog – triggered, freaking out and shaking like a leaf – and navigating through the self-blame for being so emotional, and so alive 🙂 ….Thanks so much for the reminders of forgiveness, kindness and growing trust in this ever-adventure of being human. I so appreciate you, your work, your consistency with being there (for all of us) and your generosity.

  • Rachael Hamilton

    Thank You, I am still working on this also, great blog!

  • Sandy

    Excellent. Absolute best description of and answer to sabotage. Snapping out of it now.

  • Teri

    I SO needed to hear this today! Thank you.

  • Danielle

    Absolutely loved this and perfect timing!! Thank you for this… reminds us that we’re all okay ☺

  • Jenn Barr

    I cannot fully express how this affected me–I cried. I was up until 4am this morning…sabotaging myself. I recognized it, I knew it, and I was at war.

    I just copied your last paragraph and hung it on my monitor as a reminder. I have just walked myself back home.

    THANK YOU!!

  • Gerard

    Hey Christine thanks for the great article and the inspiration to keep going. Business can be a struggle at times and I agree you must push through the hard times to see the rainbow or good times. I enjoy reading your posts keep up the great work.

    Thanks again

    Gerard

  • Laura

    This came into my box at just the right time. I was beating myself up this morning. What I felt from this post is the love, the gentleness, the kindness and it made me tear up. Thank you. I will learn to break through the pattern and move forward and I will make progress. Thank you.

  • Tessa

    Very touched and inspired by this article, Christine. I am deeply connected with animals and the vision of being compassionate with myself as I would an abused dog is very powerful. “You are safe now, let’s go home and start again”… that truly speaks to my heart ❤️

  • Nancy

    The perfect thing the imperfect me needed to read this morning. Thank you!

  • Bonnie

    This is a great way to address the “all or nothing” feeling that so many people get when they mess up. It reminds me of what people would confess in Weight Watchers meetings (“I had a bite of cake so I figured I might as well have the whole piece… the whole cake… which led to falling off the program for the whole week.”)

    Self-sabotage is a way to give oneself permission to fall back into old (comfortable) negative patterns, rather than quickly returning to the more uncomfortable actions required when you strive for something better.

  • Kerry

    Perfect timing. I am in the process of finding a venue for my VB workshop. Feeling discouraged at the cost and battling the old ‘you can’t do this’, routine. Onward and upward!

    Thank you for the boost.

  • Jodi

    Right on time, as usual Christine. There’s this place where you can see the pattern, know the work is to move through it, but still not be able to. I noticed reading the article that it feels impossible to be as kind to myself as I am to my dog, like something too heavy to lift or a glass that’s just wide enough you can’t grip it. Love the photo of Zoey.

  • Jill

    Thank you, Christine. I am truly grateful for this post. More than I can say.

  • Geri

    Love this. I’m a lot like the dog…I go along well and then something happens that triggers me and pulls me back to a place (a mindset) of not running wildly but rather being frozen. I understand now where and why, and work through it each time: Begin Again! Words for today! xx

  • Heléna

    Thank you so much, Christine. Just what I needed today. :-)X

  • Christine

    Thank you. I needed to hear this today.

  • clara

    This is me all over! Except I’m actually trying to break the pattern. It’s a battle, but I’m trying to focus on, as you put it, ‘being kind to myself’.

    Continuing journey. Thanks for the wisdom.

    x C.