36: Subconscious Self-Sabotage is Holding You Back

I continue talking about self-sabotage this week, as I guide you through a simple (but powerful) exercise to identify HOW you are self-sabotaging, WHY you are self-sabotaging, and how to overcome it.

Recommended Resources: 

Podcast Episodes:

Lisa Lahey on Immunity to Change Part 1 of 2 and Lisa Lahey on Immunity to Change Part 2 of 2

Lisa Lahey coaches Brené Brown through the Immunity to Change framework.

How to Speak so That People Listen: #1 Rule for Getting the Support You Need

A deep dive into how our different frames of reference impact how we interpret and react to situations.



Untamed by Glennon Doyle

An easy to read memoir following how Glennon Doyle broke free from society’s restrictions and her people pleasing tendencies to live a life of feeling and joy.

Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey

The book that inspired this workshop.


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G’day and welcome to the Pursuit of Freedom podcast. I’m your host, Rosie Burrows, and I’m on a journey to find my.

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Freedom so that I can help you do exactly the same. Join me each week as I share the stories of everyday people have found their own paths to freedom.

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I’m not going to focus on job titles and accolades because I.

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Don’t care about that stuff.

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And neither should you.

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I want to uncover what truly makes you tick. Who are you? When you step away from society’s expectations and follow your heart. I still haven’t figured it out yet either way. Buckle up, because it’s going.

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To be one hell of a ride. I’m really enjoying doing these spur of the moment episodes, so let me know if you’re enjoying it. I just got out of a workshop in my online community that I put on, and we’re talking about self-sabotage, so I wanted to kind of do an episode and walk you through it. It’s going to be a bit different because we’re not doing that life, but you’re going to get value.

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if you are driving, have a listen, but go back or come back to this episode when you have time to sit down and workshop it with me, because I’m going to talk you through a process that is so powerful. I think it’s going to blow your mind. It did it to me and it did to the people or the women who were in the workshop with me just a couple of hours ago.

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Now, full transparency, the process I’m going to walk you through now. I didn’t come up with. It was heavily inspired by the work of Robert Keegan and Lisa Leahy and their book called Immunity to Change. I will put a link to that book. I’m putting my own spin on that, but I just wanted to say I didn’t come up with it.

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I’ve made some tweaks, but I didn’t conceptualize this. It’s important to acknowledge the people who inspire us and influence what we do. So with that aside, let’s get into it. We are talking about why we get in our way and how to overcome it. All of us are guilty of getting in our way. We’ve got something we really, really want to achieve or work towards, but somehow we’re just not getting there because we’re unconsciously self-sabotaging.

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Why do we do that? And how do we work through it so we can actually achieve our goals? That’s what we’re going to cover. First thing you need to do is think of a goal that you’re working towards or want to work towards. This needs to be a really important goal. So if you were to think about it on a scale of 1 to 5, one being not very important and five being extremely important, life changing sort of thing.

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We’re aiming for a 4 or 5 to have a think of that goal and write it down. You might be able to hear my dog in the background chewing on something and the birds. It’s beautiful. I’m actually recording this on my phone, not even my professional microphone, because I’ve decided I need to just take action. I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from the podcast because it’s I’m burning out a bit, but actually I really enjoyed that last episode where I just picked up my iPad and started recording.

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So that is what I’m doing. I’m enjoying it and I hope you are too. But back to this, back to this framework. Pick. Your goal needs to be really important, okay? Otherwise it’s not going to work very well. Now the other thing that’s important when setting this goal that needs to be something that’s within your control. And something that you want to move towards.

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So if you want to say my goal is to make my friends like be more. That’s not a very good goal. That is outside your control. A better goal would be something like being more present in my relationships. Something you want to move towards and it is absolutely within your control. Next thing, think about why this goal is important to you.

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I’m going to walk you through one of my goals to help demonstrate this. So what goal I have at the moment is to create a signature program, a high ticket program to help women design and lead the life that they truly crave. That’s something I really want to work towards and something within my control. Now, why is this goal important to me?

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Well, I’m passionate about helping women, inspiring women, empowering women, equipping them with the tools so that they can tap into their true selves, acknowledge what it is they truly desire from life, and actually move towards it. And the women I specifically want to help are those who are in the early stages of business or entrepreneurship because they’re using business to create that life.

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And women like you and I who are on that path. Our driving force is to have this business so we can lead the lifestyle we want. The number one priority isn’t the money. It obviously plays a part. So why is it important to me? Because I care about helping women and having this high ticket program will help me fund the lifestyle I want to live.

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So for me, at the moment, that’s living in my van, traveling Australia, enjoying nature. I’m listening to the birds right now. I can feel the sun on my skin. I’m watching my dog sun bake. It’s beautiful. I can feel the gentle breeze on my skin. It’s a little bit cold. That’s the lifestyle I want to continue. But my business is barely profitable at the moment.

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I’m relying heavily on savings and that is not sustainable. So it’s important to me to achieve my goal of creating, releasing, selling a signature high ticket program. So that I can help women and continue to lead a life I love. Next step. What would you need to do differently to achieve this goal? So if I focus on myself again, to give you an example, what would I need to do differently?

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I would need to. Have an action. Sorry a bias towards action. So just take action. Stop getting caught up in analysis paralysis. So if I was to frame this as a positive statement.

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I would say instead of stop getting stuck in analysis paralysis, it would be embrace a bias towards action. I need to adopt a growth mindset. I need to embrace taking risks. So just come up with some things you’d need to do differently. This is high level stuff. Notice that I’m not talking about specific tasks. That’s getting down in the weeds.

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He could take that approach if you like, but I encourage you to take a big picture approach. And let’s not worry right now about how you going to do these things. We’re just putting them down.

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Next. This is where we delve into how we self-sabotage. So I want you to start thinking about the behaviors you do and behaviors you don’t do that are self sabotaging. They are getting in your way of achieving your goal. And I just want to say that.

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Desperately wanting to move towards your goal is not enough. It is not enough that motivation is required, but by itself, it’s not enough. You and I know this because we’re doing this work because we keep getting in our way. It’s not because we don’t desperately want to achieve the goal. So don’t let anybody put you down. It’s not because you don’t want it enough.

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No way. So the behaviors you do or the things you do. Let’s walk through my example. The things I do that demonstrate how I self-sabotage. I get caught up in analysis paralysis. I just want to research financial. The information. I also focus on all the possible ways it could go wrong. Things I don’t do. That lead to me self-sabotaging.

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I don’t spend enough time considering the upside. What are the potential benefits of achieving this goal? Not the downsides. What are the benefits? Let’s lean into the positive stuff. I don’t do that nearly enough. Come up with as many things as you can. Now let’s step into why these self-sabotage.

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This is split into three different things competing commitments, big assumptions, and your frame of reference. That probably sounds like a lot of gibberish to you right now, so let’s go through it. Competing commitments. The idea of unpacking this is to show you that actually, there are very logical reasons behind why you self sabotage, and actually you could interpret it as not self-sabotaging.

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You’re actually serving a competing commitment. So let’s discover what a competing commitment is. Let’s start by thinking about this question. Why?

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Does stopping your self-sabotaging behavior feel so difficult, so uncomfortable, so scary to you? So if you go back to the beginning where we listed out what you’d need to do differently to achieve your goal, why does thinking about doing implementing those things feel so scary make you feel uncomfortable and just feel too difficult?

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For me. It feels super risky and it feels like.

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I would be throwing away my safety. By having a bias towards action. By adopting this growth mindset. That’s really scary to me because it goes against what I usually do. So if we think about, well, what would you lose by stopping these behaviors? Okay. What would I lose by getting out of analysis paralysis? You know what I’d lose or what I feel like I’d lose is my safety net.

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Because it’s risky. Again, I’m going through these relatively quickly. I want you to spend the time to go really, really deep. And in the workshop I put on in my community, we went through this in detail, really in-depth. It was like a group coaching call, really, but in this case, you’re leading it yourself. So the next question to consider when looking at competing commitments.

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Think about.

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The losses you identified just before and why you feel so scared. And frame it like this. Think about it as your commitments. I have a commitment to not blurt. So for me. I have a commitment to not take unnecessary risks. I have a commitment to ensure financial stability. I have a commitment to remain accountable for my actions. So when you consider those commitments, it’s like, oh, no wonder.

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I’m finding all the information I can about what could go wrong because I’m trying to protect myself. I want to be safe. I want to make sure I’m across all the risks so that I’m not taking an unnecessary risk. And I’m being reckless. So hopefully when you go through this, you will begin to see, hey, just because these behaviors are going against the goal, I want to work towards that, actually protecting me because I have a competing commitment.

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And let’s jump to the big assumptions. So if we think about our competing commitments, what are the big assumptions we are making? I’ll give you an example. Big assumption I am making is that. Having a bias towards action will mean I lose my safety net.

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That’s pretty scary and that’s a big assumption. There will be lots of assumptions. List as many as you can. Another one I assume that entrepreneurship. Means I won’t have financial stability. I’m. Wonder why I think those things. Let’s start thinking about your frame of reference. You might have heard about this before. Maybe under a different umbrella. Your frame of reference is an amalgamation of your beliefs, your values, your opinions, and how they inform how you experience the world.

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It all shapes how you judge, how you behave and how you respond to situations. And your frame of reference comes from many different places. It could be from something you were told or exposed to as a child, an experience you’ve had, the expectations you’ve been surrounded with, by friends, by family, by society, whatever these things are, write it down.

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I don’t want you to overthink. Just write what pops into your head. For me, I was raised. To ensure financial security that was really, really important to my parents and that was instilled in me. So I am always considering the risks. How do I ensure that my financial needs are going to be looked after?

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I was also taught not to take unnecessary risk by my family, by my friends, by society. Leaving your 9 to 5 is considered extremely risky by society, extremely risky. Let’s write down as many things as you can think of next. And this is exciting because we’re going to talk about how to overcome these self-sabotaging behaviors, but got a better idea of why we do it.

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It’s actually quite logical. It’s to do with our frame of reference, the big assumptions we’re making, the underlying commitments we’re trying to uphold. So, okay, you might say, Rosie, that’s great, but what do I do with that? Information is not helping me. So here’s what you do. And it’s not a quick fix. I’m sorry to say. But here’s a good starting point.

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I want you to remain curious, with an intention to learn about your assumptions.

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Are your assumptions true? Some might be. Others won’t be. In fact, many of them won’t be true. Think of it as an experiment. Test your assumptions. Do they hold up to scrutiny? Just remember, stay curious and stay kind. I want you to think of three examples. Three examples in your life that demonstrate your assumptions. Don’t have to be that way.

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So for me and thinking of an action towards bias removing my safety net, well, actually I took action straight away when I moved into my van within a matter of months I was in, I wasn’t worried about the risk. I left my 9 to 5. I left my long term relationship. I was in the van. Off we go.

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Didn’t have a full plan. And you know what? I have never been happier. But definitely breaks my assumption and goes against it. It shows it doesn’t have to remove your safety net. So think of some examples in your life. And once you’ve done that, think of some ways you can test these assumptions just in small ways, and then you can work up to bigger ways.

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Just keep testing it. You’re not trying to prove them wrong, you’re just leading with curiosity. And having that growth mindset will help you. Move towards achieving your goals. You have the awareness of why you are self-sabotaging. You have the awareness of how you were self-sabotaging. You might not have thought about that much before because we do these behaviors unconsciously, it is very rare that we are self-sabotaging on purpose, but we do it.

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And when we reflect on it, we go, why the heck was I doing that? It’s not helping me move towards the goal that I so desperately want. Well, why you were doing it? To do a to do with your your frame of reference, the assumptions you’re making, the underlying commitments you’re trying to uphold. There are very logical reasons for why you were doing what you were doing, but it stops you moving towards the goal that you want, towards leading the life, running the business that you so desperately want to.

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So to overcome it, stop testing those big assumptions. Become aware of the self-sabotaging behaviors you are doing. Keep testing the assumptions. Keep being brave and let me know how you go. If you want to dive into the work that inspired this little workshop I’ve run you through now, this exercise, read the book Immunity to Change by Robert Keegan and Lisa Lahey.

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It is based on decades of work. It’s fairly business focused. It is a bit of a dry read, but it is in-depth and is. And if that is your sort of thing. Definitely read it. I would suggest borrowing it from the library. It’s about $40 in my currency, so I borrowed it from the library when I read it.

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And honestly, I did skip a lot of pages because some of it was was a bit dry for me, but I got so much value. And that’s why I’m walking you through this exercise. As I said, I have put my own spin on this, that it is very much based on their framework, which they call immunity to change.

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Or I am calling self-sabotage. I’ll list some other resources that I recommend in the show notes, and I’ll catch you next week.

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If this episode resonated with you at all, could I please ask that you share it with a friend who you think could get value from it? And whilst you’re doing that, make sure you follow and subscribe to the podcast so that you never miss another episode. And whilst you’re following us subscribing, please leave us.

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A rating, preferably five stars and also a written review.

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Doing each of these things is going to help this podcast reach more people and impact more lives, which is at the end of the day, is what we’re here to do. Thank you so much, I appreciate you. Remember, you matter. You’re worth it and you are so, so capable. Take care of yourself and I’ll see you next week.