If there’s a word out there that gets my goat more than anything else (said Sarah, the stodgy old man), it’s self-sabotage.
This ridiculous term, coined by clearly oblivious but obviously unconsciously-declared masochists (I mean, who would sabotage themselves anyway!), implies two things that are simply not true:
- That you can make the wrong choice (and if you don’t stop doing so, you’ll eventually die), and
- That you are trying – whether consciously or unconsciously – to hurt yourself.
Self-sabotaging is a common term we use to describe any behavior that prevents us from achieving happiness, contentment, or any of our declared long-standing goals, such as “finally” starting that business, making a big income, or playing big and putting ourselves out there.
Now, self-sabotage is certainly a valid term, and comes from the respected field of psychology. Fair enough. Of the behaviors we describe as self-sabotage, some are quite literally harmful, as in directly harmful.
But a few behaviors that we use this term for our in our creative space include procrastination; distraction with things like food, alcohol, etc.; confusion or not knowing where to start; delaying or avoiding big decisions and investments; or overwhelming ourselves with a million and one things to do.
And these habits, though certainly detrimental for your business and your dreams, are simply not self-sabotage.
They are self-protecting.
Imagine this situation. You sit down to your computer, all fired up and ready to tackle organizing that new sales funnel, with a new lead magnet, new copy, new content, new Facebook ads, and all the rest of it.
Behind all this content and copy there’s a new version of your message.
And if you’re anything like me (and I know you are, why else would you be reading this), your message is a part of your bigger creative business’ message, which is a part of your big dream, which is a part of you (or at least feels that way).
So really what you’re doing while you set up this new funnel is that you’re putting yourself out there to be seen, to be heard, to be potentially praised, ridiculed, and all the rest of it.
What if you put out this content that you think is awesome and someone doesn’t like?
Will you survive?
What if you put out this message and no one responds?
Does that mean that you’re not worth responding to?
Does that mean that all your worst fears about being your dreams actually being fluff and worthless and that you’re not able to make money doing what you love and that all that jazz about living your purpose and following your dreams that you’re always telling other people is actually totally BS?
And if you put out that funnel, you might have those worst fears confirmed.
So you procrastinate.
Or you make a giant to do list that you never seem to get ticked off.
Or you don’t take any action at all because it feels too overwhelming, too confusing, too many directions that you could possibly take.
But what you’re really doing, on a deeper level, is protecting yourself.
We stay stuck not out of self-sabotage, but because living our dreams, being seen, is terrifying.
It’s terrifying because we open ourselves up to a larger audience, which means that we could help a lot of people and that’s a lot of responsibility, which means that we could be seen by a lot of people who don’t like us and that’s possibly confirming our worst fears.
It’s terrifying, and it will alway be terrifying.
So instead of self-sabotage, let’s call it self-protection.
Steven Pressfield calls this protection resistance. Mastin Kipp calls it survival patterns. Whatever you want to call it, recognize for what it is.
Protection. Learned limited beliefs that we’ve taught ourselves over and over again. It’s resistance to change, resistance to playing a bigger game because we might get hurt and because if we grow too big, we might not be supported.
These protecting habits – procrastination, overwhelm, confusion, stuckness, and whatever other ones you personally practice – come up whenever we stretch ourselves. So whenever it’s time to do the work, to put ourselves out there, to try to live the dream.
Know that it’s going to come up.
Give yourself a break.
Get some support and positivity around you.
And know that you don’t have to decide that your dreams have value and purpose. They already do. You just have to keep believing it, and decide that you’re done protecting yourself.
It’s time to play a bigger game.
P.S. Is starting and growing your creative business part of your big dream? The entrepreneurial journey is scary, especially at the beginning and at every stage of the growth process. If you’re ready to get some personal support through those times of resistance, if you’re ready for support to roadmap your next step and finally take some big action and make that big income and impact, I got you! Book a complimentary strategy call today, and we’ll talk about your big dream, your biggest struggles, and the strategy that will take you from one to the other.