The unexpected secret to self-sabotage – and how to stop it (Part 1)

This is the first of a series of blogs about a subject that is close to my heart:

How we sabotage our confidence and what we can do about it.

Here’s an example:

I’ve always preferred being in small groups, ideally just one or two other friends.  Larger groups make me feel uncomfortable.

People who know me well are puzzled because I tend to come across as confident, even the life and soul of the party!

The problem is that this preference can get in my way.

In the business context I’m not comfortable going to networking events.  This is probably the reason why I haven’t gone for more than 5 years preferring to focus online instead.

But this reluctance hasn’t really served me.  When I connect with someone new I tend to come alive but finding someone with whom I feel a sense of connection, even temporarily, isn’t all that easy for me.

I only became aware of (one of) the causes of this when a very old memory surfaced unexpectedly.

I’m 14 years old.  I’ve been invited to my friend Olguita’s 15th birthday party.  There’s music and lots of young people having a great time and dancing.

But not me.  Nobody speaks to me or asks me to dance.  I feel rejected, ashamed, humiliated and I run home, crying.

My Dad, in his wisdom, tells me that, in the scheme of life, dancing is unimportant.  He believes he’s comforting me.

Tell that to a 14 year old girl who stood against the wall, feeling rejected and humiliated!

Fast forward to today and it appears that that memory has been festering in my subconscious to this day causing me to feel uncomfortable in groups!

But it looks like help is on the way.

I just started reading a fascinating book, ‘The Buddha Brain’ by Rick Hanson where I found an explanation.

It turns out that I’m not odd (Phew!)

The explanation lies with our Gremlin, our negative inner critic and how it saps our self-confidence and damages our relationships.  I’ve been writing about this for a long time as well as working with my clients to reduce the volume of that negative inner chatterbox.

The thing is that I believed that our Gremlin is driven by our mindset which developed as a result of messages received in our childhood, school, religion and the media about how we should and should not be, think, feel, believe, act, and so on.

Instead, it turns out that the problem is not personal; it’s biochemical developed over millennia to help us survive as a species!  How about that!

The way Rick Hanson put it, in our efforts to pursue the carrot and avoid the stick, our ancestors focused constantly on the stick – if they missed the stick they would not be around to enjoy the carrot!

This is how our brains came to be hardwired to focus on the negative – a survival mechanism which today, not just personally but as a species, no longer serves us.

Mostly interpreting events and other people’s behaviours – whether intended or just careless – in a negative way and focusing on our limiting beliefs cause a diffuse sense of stress, mild, unfocused anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.

Worse still, this has a negative impact on our physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing:

Nick Hanson, supported by masses of other research, gives some examples of physical damage to our health:

A weakened immune system which causes us to catch more colds and flu from which we take longer to recover, reduced levels of energy, reduced enjoyment of activities which we used to love.

More severe outcomes include increased high blood pressure, hardened arteries which increase the likelihood of strokes, even a lowered libido.

Emotionally, we experience worry (justified but often unjustified), guilt, low self-confidence and a low sense of self worth (the “I’m not good enough” syndrome which is far more widespread than I imagined).

Can you imagine the impact on our relationships and life circumstances?

Fortunately, there are ways to counter our biochemistry and the answer lies in reprogramming our brain.

Over the next few weeks I will share with you approaches and resources that will do just that so watch out for the huge difference you will experience in your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing!

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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2 thoughts on “The unexpected secret to self-sabotage – and how to stop it (Part 1)

  1. Thank you, Sue! Wonderful blog with important information, particularly for the “over 50” women who are now trying to find their way through all the sabotaging chatter that goes on incessantly in our brains!

    • Hi Martha, thank you so much for your lovely comment! I really appreciate it. I hope you will continue to enjoy the series!

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