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

Building on my introduction – or teaser – from last week, I’d like to start by describing the kind of journey you’re embarking on – but first, a word of warning:

You’ll need to stick at it, something which is not always easy.  But, if you do, the rewards are amazing.

This is not just about rebuilding your self-confidence but about developing the inner peace that comes with letting go of the trivial stuff that overwhelm us with anxiety and guilt.  It’s about letting go of the pressure, letting go of the knee-jerk reactions that trigger conflict, anger, frustration and resentment.

How do we do that?  By noticing the Gremlin or our negative inner chatterbox that focuses on us – our own inadequacies and flaws – on other people, their inadequacies and flaws, and life in general – the unfairness of it all.

Let me describe the journey with an example.

Starting point – Stage 1

Your partner comes home.  You asked them to bring milk but they forgot.

You react angrily.  “All you had to remember was the lousy milk!  You don’t care how busy I am and how much I do around here!”

You go on and on, and can’t let go.  From the milk you go on about how they leave off the cap of the toothpaste or always squeeze it in the middle or leave stuff all over the floor and on it goes.

Stage 2

You actually notice what’s happening but can’t stop yourself bitching and whingeing about the milk.

Stage 3

You notice what’s going on within you and, while you’re still irritated, you remind yourself of the things your partner does for you and recognise that staying upset doesn’t help. 

Stage 4

Your partner forgets to bring the milk but you don’t get upset.  You say something like, “Don’t worry, Sweetie.  I was planning to do (x).  What do you think I could do instead?”

Notice you involve your partner.  This is important.

Here’s another way to describe the 4 stages:

Where you’re now, Stage 1, is known as ‘unconscious incompetence’ where it doesn’t occur to you that there’s another way to interpret and experience an event.

Stage 2 is ‘conscious incompetence’.  You realise that your approach doesn’t work but you don’t know what to do instead.

Stage 3 is ‘conscious competence’.  This is hard.  You try different approaches – some work, some don’t.  You find one that works but you keep reverting into old habits.  Then you notice again and keep trying.  A bit like one step forwards and two steps back – a place which is very discouraging and where we often want to give up.

Yet by just moving that one step forward is where you’re making real progress.

Stage 4 is ‘unconscious competence’ – where you’re just doing it without even thinking about it.

Your mission – should you wish to accept it – is to keep aiming for stages 3 and 4. Keep at it and you will definitely get there.

I know.  I’m there.

I only realised when I read the description in Nick Hanson’s ‘The Buddha Brain’!

I began to notice the things people get upset about which, to me, feel really trivial until I remembered I used to get upset about the same stuff!

It looks like I had been on this journey without realising I was which is probably why it took me so long!

The good news is that, when you know what to do it won’t take you as long – at least, not if you persist.

So here’s how to start:  with baby steps.

As Rick Hanson says in ‘The Buddha Brain’,

“On the path of self-awareness, keep going!  Lots of little moments of practice will gradually and truly increase your contentment, kindness and insight.”


This exercise comes in 2 steps:

Step 1

Deliberately look for positive facts, e.g. somebody smiles at you, you notice your rosebush has a new rose, you finish a difficult job, you eat a really enjoyable dish.

Step 2

Turn those factual events into experiences.

Stop and enjoy the fact that someone smiled at you, even if it happened so quickly you didn’t have the time to smile back.

Stop and look at the new rose.  Take time to admire its beauty.

Take a deep breath after you finish that project and take a few minutes to allow yourself to feel good about it.

Savour the meal, enjoy the taste and the flavours and the pleasure of eating it.

Here’s the important point:

Make each of these experiences last 5, 10 or, if you can, 20 seconds.  Don’t let your attention wander.

As I commented in Part 1, to change the way you experience your life and your relationships you need to reprogram your brain.

Making your positive experiences last is the beginning of the process.

I will go into more detail in Part 3.

My question to you is, how important is it for you to learn to leave your knee-jerk reactions behind and aim for inner peace?

The difference you will experience in your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing will be massive and well worth the effort.

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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