How Self-Sabotage Stops Us From Thriving As Life Coaches

Do you suffer from bouts of self-sabotage? If you do, you know how debilitating it can feel when you’re actively working against yourself and your goals, especially when you are a coach. You’re out there trying to help others and yet, here you are purposely undermining your own abilities. In this article, we’re going to get into what self-sabotage actually is, why the heck you are doing it to yourself, how it’s holding you back in your coaching business, and what you can do to break the cycle.

What is Self-Sabotage, anyway?

Though it might sound self-explanatory, it’s important to really define self-sabotage in order to see the ways that might be manifesting itself in your life and in your business. Simply put, self-sabotage is doing things, whether consciously or unconsciously, that prevent us from reaching our goals. In this case, we are talking specifically about your coaching business but honestly, self-sabotage can negatively affect every aspect of your life from your relationships to your education to your health and wellness goals. Self-sabotage includes overt actions, habits, behaviors, and even simply internal thoughts that serve to hold you back and away from your desires and goals. At its most basic, self-sabotage is that inner voice reminding you of all the reasons why ‘you can’t do this.’

Why do we Self-Sabotage the things we really want?

So what’s the deal? Why are you doing this to yourself? You want to be an incredible coach, after all. This is the career that has always called to you, you want to help people, you have the skills, the education, the desire to be a great coach – so why are you purposely standing in the way of yourself? It all comes down to your subconscious wanting to prevent your deepest fears from coming true, to avoid pain and embarrassment, to steer clear of the great (and scary!) unknown, and ultimately to be your protector. There are a myriad of things that your subconscious might be trying to save you from, read on to see if any of these resonate with you.

What Self-Sabotage Might Look Like in Your Coaching Business

  • Imposter Syndrome

This is a big one in the coaching business: imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome includes feelings of constant self-doubt and excruciating fear of being outed as a fraud. It doesn’t matter how much education, certifications, or success with clients you’ve already had: imposter syndrome can strike anyone- though interestingly enough it is more prevalent in women than in men. Imposter syndrome involves an internal struggle between being successful, between putting yourself out there and being seen, and the rising chance that you’re in danger of being “found out.”

Sound familiar? If so, it might be manifesting in your business in several ways. First, you might avoid really putting yourself out there, whether that is on social media or in interacting with your clients/potential clients. You tell yourself that you are all in with your business but in fact, you are still hiding and playing small. Conversely, you may do all the things, but struggle with constant feelings of inadequacy, and fear that your deep secret will be revealed at any time.

Whichever it is, feeling like a fake comes from a deep-seated fear of failure. Fear of trying your absolute best, of putting yourself out there and not succeeding, or fear of being embarrassed in front of your peers.

  • Struggles with Self-Worth

For many of us, self-sabotage has a lot to do with our feelings of self-worth. Somewhere deep down, we feel like we just don’t deserve to be successful in this business. When self-sabotage is due to feelings of inadequacy or a lack of self-worth, many times it presents itself as negative self-talk and inner dialogue. “You don’t deserve that,” “There’s no point in trying that, you’re just going to fail anyway,” and simply “You can’t do that,” are all common self-sabotaging thoughts when you feel unworthy of success. If a lack of self-worth is the reason for your self-sabotage, it might materialize in your business as distracting yourself with busy work, wasting time procrastinating, or overthinking each and every minute decision, leaving you with analysis paralysis and an inability to move forward.

  • Perfectionism

Perfectionism can be a form of self-sabotage if it holds you back from taking action. Perfectionism can be paralyzing in the feeling that things aren’t ready yet, it’s not the right time, or your skills aren’t honed yet. In your coaching business this might look like waiting to share your website or social media account because it isn’t perfect yet; waiting to launch a new program because you find some reason why the timing isn’t perfect; or holding back on taking new clients because you feel your coaching skills aren’t absolutely perfect. Perfect is an impossible standard. Taking imperfect action is better than taking no action at all, which is the other thing you may find yourself doing.

  • Need for Control

If failure is inevitable anyway, it’s better to be in control of your failure than to let it catch you unaware. Or so it seems to those who use control to sabotage themselves. It feels better, more dignified, perhaps, to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to your own failure than letting things go down all on their own. In this case, you self-sabotage your own goals and desires in order to control the fate of your business rather than letting it go up in flames.

  • To Give Ourselves an Easy Way Out

Quite the opposite of the need to control our own fate, we also self-sabotage in order to find an easy fall-guy for our inevitable failures. It’s a way to focus the blame on someone or something other than ourselves. For example, of course, that launch didn’t go well, the marketing was terrible. Or, of course that discovery call didn’t lead to a new client, I didn’t even prepare for it. These reasons, while obviously not the true reasons for the failures, are an easier pill to swallow than what we perceive the truth to be: Of course, the launch didn’t go well, I’m not good at coaching or, of course, the discovery call didn’t lead to a new client, I don’t deserve to have any clients anyway.

Break the Cycle of Self-Sabotage

It is going to take some monumental self-reflection in order to truly understand why you keep undermining your own success, but honestly, that is where the magic happens. Taking the time to get in touch with your own deep-seated issues leads to greater self-awareness, personal insight and can even help you narrow down your actual goals and desires. Being able to identify why and how you are self-sabotaging your coaching business can give you the perspective needed to allow you to begin making the necessary changes to move forward.

Fear is really the underlying reason for all of these forms of self-sabotage. Whether it’s fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear that our negative inner dialogue is right, or fear that we’re simply not good enough- fear is what’s holding you back when it comes to being successful in your coaching business. It is preventing you from reaching your full potential, from seeing new challenges and attacking them, and it is creating enough hesitation to cause you to question whether you’re on the right path in the first place. To break the cycle you’ve got to replace all that negative, self-limiting talk with thoughts that encourage you, inspire you, and build you up.

Once you identify the specific ways that you are sabotaging yourself, whether it’s playing small and trying not to be seen, holding off on launches or new programs, waiting for the perfect time or perfect website, or distracting yourself with busy work trying to feel productive, then you can start actively changing your self-sabotaging behaviors.

Lay out solid plans, habits, behaviors, etc that move you away from the self-sabotaging behavior. Having these plans in place allows you the confidence to move forward. They might be uncomfortable and scary, but ultimately, that’s the point. Everything you’re searching for, everything you’re after is on the other side of that fear. This is how you can take back control of not only your business, but your entire life, and rid yourself of this self-sabotaging behavior for good.


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