The unexpected secret to self-sabotage – and how to stop it (Part 6)

Last week, in Part 5, I talked about two things, both of which go hand in hand:

  1. Intentions
  2. Perseverance

But there is something else which is equally important.

Reprogramming your brain also involves keeping your emotional engine topped up.

This is something I mentioned many times in the past but always in the context of nourishing yourself and keeping your emotional engine topped up to enable you to continue to give with an open heart.

But now, having read Rick Hanson’s ‘The Buddha Brain’ which started me on the journey of writing this series of blogs, I understand this point more deeply.  The way he puts it is,

To reprogram your brain it’s important to be good to yourself.

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it but, if it were, we’d all be doing it!

As I explained in Part 1 of this series, we’re hard-wired to be negative.

One way is by being self-critical and beating ourselves up for real or, more likely, for imagined flaws.

This is definitely not being good to ourselves.  Worse, it stops us from being happy.

It is a behaviour that is fuelled by the belief that we’re not good enough and that we need to be perfect to be loved, valued and appreciated.

By the way, there’s a world of difference between trying to be perfect and trying to be the best we can be.  Trying to be perfect goes hand-in-hand with pretending we got it all together, that we don’t need any help, that we have no doubts.

Aiming to become the best we can be means admitting we don’t know everything, that we need to learn – and that asking for help, advice, suggestions, ideas is the way to help us move in that direction.

But, back to perfection.  As a woman I used to think that I always had to look, if not perfect, at least well presented – a little make up, good hair (bad hair days were confidence sapping!) – to be considered attractive.

This belief was shattered on this absolutely horrible, rainy, windy day, too windy to hold up an umbrella.  I was drenched and my hair was plastered against my skull.

Paul looked at me and exclaimed “Oh! You look so cute!”  I thought he was teasing me.

More examples followed – when I made a mistake, when I was overwhelmed with self-doubt or felt insecure or scared about something.  In other words, when I felt vulnerable.  This is when he’s at his most accepting, tender and supportive.

I couldn’t understand it.  It made no sense to me at all.

Eventually, I asked him – “are you serious?”  Paul explained, “When I look at you, all of you and see the real you without pretending, I love you all the more because then I know I can also be myself without being judged.”  And he added, “I’m just an ordinary bloke!”

I’ve come to understand that this comment, “I’m just an ordinary bloke” is his way of saying he worries that he might disappoint me.

This comment raised two thoughts:

  1. I don’t see him as ‘just an ordinary bloke’. I knew he was different from other men when I first met him – and, over 2-1/2 years later, I still do.
  2. My belief about what it takes to be loved flew out of the window.

These reflections address one example of what it looks like when you’re not being good to yourself such as trying to be perfect.

Moving on, another way is a habit that is often regarded with admiration by others but which can end up making us feel drained, overwhelmed and exhausted:

Putting other people’s needs and wants ahead of our own.

This was certainly encouraged by my mum who was a giver par excellence.  This is not intended as a compliment as she also believed that doing something for yourself was selfish.

Only now, with the benefit of hindsight, experience and masses of research, do I understand that doing things for yourself is not only not selfish; it is also essential which is what Rick Hanson’s point is all about.

He explains that being good to yourself reprograms your brain.  This, in turn, alleviates suffering and builds internal resources such as inner strength, resilience and confidence.

So here’s my suggestion:

List at least 5 things you can do that would make you feel good about yourself, replenish your emotional batteries and re-energise you.  Make sure they’re fun.

Once you’ve done that, ask yourself,

“What shall I do first?” – and then do it!

With love and gratitude,



P.S.  If you believe I can support you, please contact me on or text me on my mobile – 07903 795027 for a free, no obligation Obstacle Smashing Exploratory Session.

You will walk away with at least 3 options to get you started on a happier path – whether or not you choose to work with me.

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