The other day I was talking to my dear friend, Kevin Michael about his dreams and aspirations.
“You know,” he said, taking a long, dramatic pause, “this,” and he waved his hands in a circular motion around him, “this is the side hustle. The real dream is to perform onstage to 200 million people – to do more with my music.”
I paused to take it all in. The excitement in his voice was palpable, the vision so clear I could feel it.
“How often do you work on your music?” I finally asked.
“I really don’t,” he told me, “Haven’t done much in a while.”
“What do you think is holding you back?”
Without hesitation he said, “Me. I’m the one holding myself back. And I know it.”
I was taken back by his raw vulnerability and no B.S. awareness – in fact, it’s one of the many things I love about our friendship and life talks. I mean, how many of us, when given the chance to complain or accept personal responsibility, do the later?
Calling ourselves out on our own B.S. is on the bravest things we’ll ever do.
“But,” he continued, “no matter how much I try to put the dream aside because ‘I don’t have time,’” and he used his hands to gesture big quotation marks, “it keeps coming back to me – like this is what I am meant to do.” Tapping his hand to his chest, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “It’s in my soullllll.”
I knew that very feeling all too well. The calling. The feeling in my soul, the very core of my being.
Then he added, “It reminds me of something a friend said to me years ago. She said, ‘No matter how much I try to f*ck my life up, life keeps reminding me of my greatness.’”
How many of us – knowing or unknowingly – try to f*ck ourselves over with procrastination and excuses, telling ourselves it won’t work or that we don’t have time?
How often do we self-sabotage our efforts, deny our innate talents and gifts or sell ourselves short by comparing ourselves to someone else?
The irony of self-sabotage is we decide we want something, but subconsciously we screw ourselves over to ensure we don’t get it.
Even more, self-sabotage is so subtle that most times we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
It took me close to a year to realize I was totally sabotaging my success. I kept trying to convince myself that I was 100% in the dream – that I was committed to a vision of teaching teachers, facilitating trainings and creating programs – but, I was holding myself back because the one path I thought would take me to the dream didn’t.
Sure, I invested hours into planning my classes and I was incredibly present when I was teaching – I was 100% all in…but only when I had to be “on”. Outside those doors, I was holding onto anger and resentment, I was complaining about my circumstances, and worst of all, I was outright refusing to rewrite the dream for my career, telling my life coach I just didn’t “have” a dream anymore.
But, there was a nagging feeling underneath the anger, a nagging voice whispering behind the complaints, a nagging tug in my gut that kept saying, “You are meant for so much more. Step it up.”
No matter how much I tried to f*ck myself over with procrastination and excuses – no matter how much I shoved the dream aside because I didn’t know what to do with where I was – it kept coming back to me. It was something I felt in my soul.
No matter how much you try to f*ck up your life, life will continue to remind you of your greatness and your path.
In order to align with the feeling in my soul, in order to get back on my path and rekindle a relationship with my purpose, I had to dig deep and figure out why I was stopping myself from success.
Why was I hiding my greatness? Where was my resistance and why? What were the fears holding me back and how true were they?
Something that struck me on the intenSati retreat in California last week was how closed off I was in terms of the dream. I realized I was holding onto anger and resentment because I was afraid of getting hurt again. I was afraid of losing everything, as if my worth was dependent upon my circumstances and what I had or didn’t have. And while I logically know that my worth is not defined by these things, the fear was real, and I was acting in a way that supported this false belief. Without realizing it, I was telling myself that it was easier to complain about what wasn’t working than it was to get really clear on what I wanted. It was easier to stay stuck rather than get curious and clear on the dream (side note: I legit only rewrote the dream for my career last week after months of my life coach pressing me for it).
To a greater or lesser degree, we all practice self-sabotage:
We hold ourselves back from taking risks
We refuse to take proactive action because we’re afraid of making mistakes
We don’t take the time to plan ahead or make time for the things that matter
We don’t take the time to consider the consequence of our actions
We continuously indulge in comparison and measure our value based on what others are doing or what others have
We are always complaining about the same circumstances and blaming others for our “bad lot”
We tell ourselves, “It won’t work. I can’t do this. I’m too busy. I don’t have time. I don’t know what to do. I’m not good enough.”
Self-sabotage is a defense mechanism to avoid pain and uncertainty, distancing us from the things we actually want the most. And while it’s a dangerous cycle, it doesn’t have to be permanent or become a self-fulfilling prophecy, In fact, self-sabotage can be remedied by increasing awareness through intense and purposeful self-work and personal development.
Kicking Self-Sabotage to the Curb
Define and Envision Your Version of Success
What is it that you really want? Dig deep and create a detailed vision of what success means and looks like to you in any area of your life (If you need help crafting the dream, The Handel Group offers an amazing overview of what this process looks like and it’s a great tool to get you started. For deeper work and accountability, you can also hire a life coach to work with you through this process).
Once you define the dream, or your version of success, imagine how amazing it feels to achieve it. If you make this – reading/writing your dream and envisioning yourself there – a part of your daily ritual or morning practice, you’ll begin to see success as an integral part of your future.
Observe Your Behavior
The first step to changing any behavior is to recognize and acknowledge it. You have to literally call yourself out on your B.S.
Do you complain about the same things over and over again? Is procrastination your M.O.? What limiting beliefs come up when you think of the dream? And what actions do you take as a result of those beliefs?
Start to see these behaviors, the ones that hold you back, as flashing neon warning signs in front of you – and use them as your pause to redirect your actions.
Once you catch the behavior before you are in it, then you can redirect. Caught the complaint before you went into a full-on bitch session? How can you redirect it to gratitude – gratitude that you caught it, gratitude for what you do already have in your life? Caught the urge to procrastinate? Begin by investigating why. Remember that redirecting isn’t always about the doing or the action. Sometimes you have to sit and get curious about why you’re doing what you’re doing. And know that there’s no wrong way to redirect. Make it your own process of uncovering greater levels of self-awareness where you can catch the behavior and redirect it to something that is more beneficial for you and the vision.
Finally, know that while awareness is a powerful tool in creating change, it’s not easy – and it requires a lot of practice. In the moments you notice that you went to the excuse or complaint, acknowledge it and redirect from that point, rather than chastise yourself that you “did it again”. Remind yourself that it is a process. The only way to help yourself change the behavior is to get on your side and you can’t be on your team if you’re constantly judging and beating yourself up.
No matter how much you stray, you will always be guided, protected and directed to the work you are meant to do. And the Universe will keep you reminding you that you really can’t f*ck this up.
PS: While my boy Kevin Michael doesn’t have sold out shows of 200 million YET, he does have some incredible music he’s already produced. You can check him out on Spotify (“We All Want the Same Thing” is my personal favorite) and follow him on Instagram to watch his journey to the dream.