When it comes to the day to day life of a working accountant and mom, you’re probably doing your best to support your family, raise your children, and have a successful accounting career.  You also most likely have dreams as well, like having better health, improving your relationships, making more money, and overall having a better, happier, more balanced life.

Even with the best of intentions though, working moms are unfortunately the most susceptible to self-sabotage.  Ironically we often wind up being our own worst enemy, consciously and unconsciously sabotaging our best efforts. 

The interesting thing is that since so many of us are home now more than ever due to the pandemic, our self-sabotaging patterns are becoming more evident.  Maybe you’re now noticing unhelpful behaviors like not scheduling focused work time, not sticking to your healthy diet, spending more time watching Netflix, or staying up later than you should, to name just a few.

So the question is – is self-sabotage happening more or are we just having the space to notice it now?  I actually think it’s a combination of both; we are living in unprecedented times which lends itself to self-sabotaging behaviors and our lives have been forced to slow down a little so we’re able to notice it more.   

There’s no denying that being an accountant during this pandemic and economic downturn can be confusing and stressful.  The impact of needing to understand how to advise clients when there are so many things that are unknown, can really take a toll on you, both physically and emotionally.

Plus, the added pressure of being a mom and wanting to keep your children safe, while also dealing with so many unknowns like whether they should go back to school, will their education be affected by distance learning, and when will it be safe for them to play with their friends, is just adding another layer of overwhelm.  All the new decisions that need to be made can also weigh heavily on your already overburdened shoulders.

All this personal and professional pressure is just the unfortunate perfect storm for working moms to become victims to self-sabotage and its aftermath.  Before you know it, your desire for better health, better relationships, more money and a more balanced life are once again left as an afterthought, delegated to some future moment in time when things are less hectic.

If you resonate with this, I encourage you to understand your self-sabotaging programming now, so that you can get a handle on it rather than wait for the dust to settle and you’ve missed out on achieving your goals and dreams.  This perfect storm really is the perfect time to uncover and recognize those things you do that make having what you want, so difficult.

This week I’m going to discuss where self-sabotage comes from and how you can end the struggle with it.

Where self-sabotage comes from

When it comes to self-sabotage, it’s actually much more common than you may realize.  You’re definitely not the only working mom who is consciously or unconsciously undermining her wants, dreams, goals and desires.

The interesting thing is that the word “sabotage” has such a sinister definition; it’s defined as intentionally destroying something, usually perpetrated against a rival or enemy.  For example, you can’t stand your mother-in-law so you sabotage her holiday plans at her house by taking your family away on vacation instead.

Sabotage is often described as an attack or sorts, or the undermining of others efforts.  It’s synonymous with disabling, vandalizing, or crippling.

So if sabotage is such an attack with an intent to destroy or disable, why would we ever turn on ourselves by self-sabotaging?  Why would we undermine ourselves as if we were a rival or an enemy?

The surprising reason why we undermine ourselves, and the reason it’s so common, is because self-sabotage is really quite easy.  Not only is it easy, but it can often feel much better in the moment, than it would feel sticking with some long-term goal.

Interestingly, it might feel awful when you notice it after the fact, but at the time, it’s often the path of least resistance and the path of most relief.  The reason this happens is because the part of your brain that is running your life most of the time is highly motivated by relief and instant gratification, whether it’s helpful to you or not.

The key to understanding where self-sabotage comes from is knowing that self-sabotage happens when you really want to do something, but you also have other desires that are also competing on a high level.  It doesn’t matter how strong your desire is to start or stop doing something, if there are competing desires and goals, self-sabotage can easily occur without your awareness.  

For example, you may have a goal of not yelling at your kids so much, but if you also have the desire for more peace and quiet in the house and they’re making noise, it’s going to be easier to self-sabotage your goal of not yelling.  If the noise in the house was making you stressed, then the instant stress relief you get from yelling will often win, overriding the feeling of pride in the future when you are a mom that doesn’t yell as much.  

It’s also important to note that when you consider all the long-term goals and desires you have for yourself, those were all imagined and created with your higher brain and your higher level of thinking.  As humans, we are the only species that has this incredible ability to think, plan and execute goals for the long-term.

The issue though, is that the lower human brain is also incredibly powerful as well, and it likes things to stay the same as they are, and to not feel uncomfortable or challenged.  It only has the ability to react in this moment, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain as much as possible, and doesn’t have the ability to delay instant gratification.

For example, you may have had a rough day at work, and although a glass of wine isn’t on your diet plan, it may look like a really good idea once the kids are finally in bed.  When the long-term goal of losing weight and getting healthy is staring at the immediate gratification of a glass or two of wine, the one that wins is the one that often sounds better in the moment.

As the mean and vindictive definition of sabotage points out, self-sabotage sounds even more horrible and unhelpful, but is completely understandable when faced with the choice between a better feeling now or a better feeling later.  Even though it’s common and easy, thankfully there are some powerful ways to end your struggle with self-sabotage. 

How to end the struggle with self-sabotage

If you have been dealing with self-sabotage, you’re not alone.  In a Forbes article titled “The Nine Ways Women Self-Sabotage” the author discusses the following ways we tend to self-sabotage:

  • Thinking too small
  • Worrying
  • Misunderstanding yourself
  • Dishonesty
  • Holding back
  • Not taking time for reflection
  • Inhibiting desires
  • Isolating
  • Disempowering other women

In my own experience coaching accountant moms, I would also add:

  • Not having goals
  • Lack of awareness
  • Being past focused
  • Procrastination

If any of these apply to you, don’t worry; I’ve got you covered.  The frequency and ease at which women, especially working moms, tend to self-sabotage is something that I am passionate about helping uncover and eradicate.

In order to end self-sabotage you first have to look into your beliefs about you.  A lack of self-awareness and self-confidence, is a big part of why self-sabotage is so prevalent for working moms.

When you lack self-awareness and self-confidence you will often do one of three things – procrastinate, buffer or quit.  These are the easiest actions to take when you are feeling challenged, overwhelmed or stressed, despite having good intentions.

For example, you may have a desire to be promoted at work, but a conscious or unconscious belief like, “I’m not sure I’m really capable” will most likely lead to procrastination, where you either don’t talk to your boss or don’t get the paperwork done to show your interest.  By doubting yourself and procrastinating, you then perpetuate the belief that you’re not capable, by not going for the promotion.

Also, remember that when you have two competing desires happening, the strongest one will most likely win out, often being the self-sabotaging behavior.  In the example of the desire for a promotion at work, that desire may also be competing with the desire to not be challenged by a new position, to not have to work more hours or to have a balanced life.

When faced with the choice between keeping things the same, rather than pushing you out of your comfort zone, the comfortable, more familiar desire will make self-sabotaging the promotion pretty easy.  Before you know it, you’re stuck and beating yourself up for not being able to advance your career.

Once you’ve addressed your beliefs about yourself, you then need to manage your emotions by becoming aware of how you are feeling before your self-sabotaging behavior.  What I often see with clients is that they believe that life should be comfortable or happy all the time, which prevents them from pursuing their goals. 

I strongly encourage you to take back your power by accepting that negative emotions are part of life and then be willing to process those emotions all the way through.  When you acknowledge that it’s okay to feel worry, fear, or doubt, and still take action to get the results you want, that’s when you can get in front of self-sabotage.

It’s important to understand the trade-off – you either feel discomfort now in order to go after a goal or desire, or you feel discomfort and disappointment later when you have once again let self-sabotaging behaviors get in the way.  When you can acknowledge that your resistance, in the form of not having goals, looking to the past for evidence of what’s possible in the future, and procrastinating, is only prolonging your discomfort, you can begin to end self-sabotage.

Just like putting a destination into your car’s GPS, but then driving with the emergency brake on, you are slowing down the speed at which you can accomplish your goals, dreams and desires when you don’t address self-sabotage.  Thankfully ending it can change the speed at which you can get the results you want.

Imagine for a moment what your life would look like if you ended self-sabotage; the goals you would achieve, the desires you would be able to fulfill.  Don’t let the ease of self-sabotage lull you into complacency and self-judgement, and instead acknowledge it and address it.

Since you wouldn’t sabotage someone you really cared about, it’s time to stop doing it to yourself as well.  Give yourself the same kind of love, appreciation and encouragement that you give to your family, and end your struggle with self-sabotage once and for all.      

Summary  

  • Even with the best of intentions though, working moms are unfortunately the most susceptible to self-sabotage
  • The key to understanding where self-sabotage comes from is knowing that self-sabotage happens when you really want to do something, but you also have other desires that are competing on a high level
  • A lack of self-awareness and self-confidence is a big part of why self-sabotage is so prevalent for working moms
  • Once you’ve addressed your beliefs about yourself, you then need to manage your emotions by becoming aware of how you are feeling before your self-sabotaging behavior
  • Just like putting a destination into your car’s GPS, but then driving with the emergency brake on, you are slowing down the speed at which you can accomplish your goals, dreams and desires when you don’t address self-sabotage