By Laura Wilson at Wafflemama
Throughout my life I’ve had many ups and downs and I have formed a terrible habit of just blaming myself and tearing myself down every step of the way. I start a piece of art, decide it’s rubbish and get rid of it. I start a diet then a week later wonder what the point is, and quit it. I hate myself, love myself then hate myself again and it’s exhausting. I don’t really know why it started or why I hate getting compliments to the point that it can actually make me feel angry that people are lying like that. I know it all sounds a bit mad and I feel it too, but I’m just so sick of self sabotage and hating myself that I’m working really hard to get out the habit, to not expect everything I do to turn out perfectly and to try and take compliments for what they are instead of undoing them and bringing myself down.
The silver lining for me is that I’m not alone in this and after a lot of research into this subject and things like imposter syndrome, it seems that to some extent, almost everyone suffers with this, only mostly not quite to the extent I have for some reason. I hate that others suffer, but it is nice knowing you’re not alone with your troubles and that there are people that relate, and best of all – create content that really helps.
If you’ve not heard of imposter syndrome, it’s a real name for a real thing that many of us have. I feel that giving something a name or a diagnosis makes it far easier to recover and learn from, so I thought I’d share a little on the dreaded I.S that can bring us down, especially when we are trying to better ourselves or build a business.
Imposter syndrome is basically the feeling that you are a fraud, that you’re really not good at (whatever it is you’re doing) and that at any point, no matter how successful you are, that someone will suddenly discover you’re a fraud and everyone will realise that you’re actually as hopeless as you think you are. Obviously we are not fraudsters, we have got to where we are in whatever field because we have talent and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be there. Telling yourself that though is a different story entirely when you’re in the midst of self doubt and wondering why people read your work, buy your products or follow your socials.
I know I’m not the only one that battles with self sabotage and it can be a real kill joy in all areas of life, ruining perfectly good relationships, depriving yourself of sleep, being unhealthy, over spending etc etc etc. This comes in many forms and for me, many all at once and it’s a habit that’s really tough to break. We are actively preventing ourselves from reaching our goals and although we know it’s happening, we know we are doing it, but we can’t stop it, well not easily anyway.
I thought as I am learning and growing myself, I would share some tips that I am working through that really help to break the cycle of self hate, self doubt and all that other grim stuff that we do to ourselves that stop us getting to where we want to be.
How to break the habits
FIND THE PATTERNS
First of all you need to take a good long look at your life and write down all the habits that are having a negative effect on you. You need to identify the patterns in your behaviour, what leads to them, what your triggers are and only then can you make plans to break the vicious cycle.
IDENTIFY THE TRIGGERS
Once you have an idea of the patterns in your self sabotaging behaviour, you can identify the triggers that set you off on a downward spiral. This will be different for everyone, but I can bet there will be some triggers that are the same for many people. One big thing nowadays is social media. We need to see the positive side of social media, the idea of finding your people, of following accounts that call to you, that inspire you, but don’t make you feel negatively about yourself. Sometimes, you may follow accounts that have a similar theme to yours but they may be raking in the cash, have thousands of followers or have really ‘made it’ leaving you in the dust. Instead of their success making you feel like you have failed, you should instead try and look at them as inspiration, what did they do to get them there? Even the most successful vloggers, sellers, performers etc will have been where you are at some point. If seeing these accounts just brings you down, makes you feel like you’ve failed or will never be good enough, then you simply need to not follow these people. Not seeing accounts that bring you down will instantly remove some of the triggering content that sends you down a rabbit hole of self doubt. For something like weight loss, you may see people that have lost tonnes of weight in no time and instead of feeling inspired, you may do what I do and reach for the cake. After all, it’s totally unachievable right? The thing is that as much as we want to be inspired by successful people, it can sometimes have the opposite effect, so if this is you, stop seeing that stuff and find your own community that makes you feel loved and inspired.
THINK ABOUT THINGS LOGICALLY
Take time to think things through logically or talk through with somebody. Things like losing followers for example can lead you to think that what you’re posting isn’t good, or that you are not good enough. In actual fact them not following you doesn’t change anything in your life, so your content may not be for them, but it will be for someone else, so just do what you love and find the right people. You may feel that your diet will fail so why bother, when actually you just need to make smaller goals and do what works for you, not what everyone else is doing. With things like relationships, if you feel yourself pushing people away because you just feel you’re not good enough, think logically because they are with you for a reason! Sometimes our mind can jump to conclusions, but I think we need to take more time to break things down before we make decisions, so that we have to actively make the choice to self sabotage which often means we would choose not to.
Seeing the positives is always a good thing and in reality we do sometimes have to force ourselves to do this. So for me when it comes to weight loss for example, I’m losing very slowly, but instead of doing what I’d normally do and binge, I’m trying to remember that I actually had two glasses of water today which is good for me, that I chose not to buy treats in the shop today or that I didn’t have any snacks yesterday after tea. I may not have done anything amazing, or suddenly lost the ten stone I need to drop, but I made tiny steps in the right direction and those tiny steps will get us there in the end. Work wise, I may not have a huge following or have made a million sales, but I have made sales, people have actually paid money for my art, purchased a book I wrote or read my blog post. Sometimes it’s really easy to overlook the things we have achieved, just because it isn’t that huge goal we’d love to reach.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
I’ve had people start blogging on the back of seeing me blog which is great, but they get disgruntled after a few weeks that they haven’t been approached by any companies, that they only have a handful of social followers or that they haven’t been sent any ‘freebies’. On the face of it they see me write and think that all just comes straight away, but I actually spent a good couple of years building things up before I got anywhere near that point. What I’m trying to say is that when setting goals, don’t focus on that big end goal straight away, because you are most likely setting yourself up for failure. Instead of that big goal for example ‘I need to lose ten stone to get healthy’, instead think of a few smaller goals that you can build on. These might be something like drinking at least a litre of water a day, walking the long way home or having a healthy breakfast. Trying to do it all at once rarely works! Whatever it is you need help with ( for me it’s all areas of my life right now) set those goals small so that you get to feel that sense of achievement, and as these small habits build, you can add more and more.
JUST BE KINDER TO YOURSELF
It’s easier said than done, but just be kinder to yourself. Imagine saying the things you say to yourself to your child, your best friend, your parent. You most probably wouldn’t, so why do we feel it’s OK to say them to ourselves? Your project right now is you and breaking those habits, so whatever self hating or self sabotaging behaviours you need to curb, make sure you are kind to yourself as you are to others and take those small steps to get to your goals. We all strive for perfection, but nothing ever really needs to be perfect. Letting go of that expectation of everything going perfectly is really freeing!
In short, we need to consciously address our issues, find out why we are doing it, what triggers it and identify some small starting steps to help us in the right direction. You can achieve what you want to achieve and absolutely no-one gets success in an instant! I hope this strikes a chord with someone and helps, please feel free to message or leave a comment if you’re healing too.