Self-Sabotage No More – Part I: Connecting With Your Inner Voice
Coaching clients often come to me feeling frustrated because they aren’t moving up in their careers. When we delve deeper into the underlying reasons, oftentimes the culprit is self-sabotage.

What Is Self-Sabotage?

Adam Sicinski, creator of the Overcoming Self-Sabotage Mind Map at, defines self-sabotage as “…a conflict between conscious desires and unconscious wants.” In other words, your heart is saying one thing and your head is saying another, and if the heart doesn’t like what the head is saying or doing, it finds a way to rebel.

Many of my clients who deal with self-sabotaging behavior often say they want success in their respective jobs, but then unconsciously undermine themselves by engaging in behaviors such as habitual tardiness, missing deadlines, speaking out-of-turn in meetings – even extreme modesty.

Exit Strategy

A client, I’ll call “Jane”, came to me wanting to get to the bottom of why she wasn’t moving ahead in her accounting career. When we looked more closely at her work habits, she realized she was routinely late to work and taking extra long lunches. After doing some soul-searching – digging deeper into the reasons she was undermining herself – Jane came to the realization that she was not happy in her profession – that accounting had been her father’s dream for her – and that she was truly interested in pursuing work as a writer.

Success Shield

Poor self-esteem is also fertile ground for self-sabotaging tactics. If a person doesn’t feel deserving of success, any evidence of it is likely to be blocked/deflected since being successful simply doesn’t compute – it’s not a part of the comfort zone.

This was the case with “Linda” who regularly deflected praise for her work as a marketing coordinator. If someone complimented her for her performance, she would routinely respond that it was “no big deal”, “a team effort”, or that she was “just in the right place at the right time.”

Sarah was unconsciously using over-the-top modesty to convey her feelings of unworthiness and fear of success. By deflecting the compliments from her managers, Sarah was saying, in a roundabout way, “You’re wrong. I’m not as good as you think I am – don’t choose me,” and, as a result, they didn’t. Sarah didn’t get the promotion she assumed was her next step.

Go Within

While we can all fall prey to self-sabotaging behaviors every now and then, regularly “shooting yourself in the foot” or being “your own worst enemy” at work warrants going within to assess your true desires as well as your fears. Is there something you’re not admitting to yourself? Something you’re running or hiding from?

Conducting a personal inventory to find out where you’re working against your own best interests, and getting to the bottom of what your own best interests actually are – can move you beyond self-sabotaging habits.