The gentle art of self-sabotage


Last week I shared a few wins I have had in recent months from a writing and designing point of view. It’s safe to say that where I am now in my life started with this epiphany and has been the result of nearly a year’s worth of solid hard work and laser focus.

Preceding this epiphany though was roughly three months of inadvertent self-sabotage and reverting to type.

In August last year my husband took over running my business and sent me home to rest and recuperate from what had been a fairly torrid 12 months. The intention was that I would take a month away from the office before returning refreshed. Less than two days into my sabbatical the chatter in my head started:

“Why should you get to stay home and rest? There are people the world over who are unhappy with life and they just soldier on”

Thankfully this chatter coincided neatly with my first visit to a psychologist. A psychologist who took about ten minutes to determine that “Kelly, your major problem here is that you are exhausted.

I don’t think anything else she could have said would have had as much impact as those words.

“You are exhausted”

They totally validated that taking this break from work wasn’t just a ‘good idea’, it was something I NEEDED to do. For my health, for my family, for everyone around me.

First bit of self-sabotage dealt with. Phew.

So I spent the rest of August doing a lot of sleeping. I was pregnant at the time and every day I’d need to sleep for three hours in the middle of the day just to get away from the morning sickness. Good timing on the whole ‘take a break from the office thing’ hey?

As September approached I decided I needed another month away from the office. I was starting to get the hang of this rest and recover and look after myself thing!

Then I lost the baby.

This was quite devastating because the pregnancy had to that point been completely trouble free. And if the level of morning sickness one feels corresponds directly with the viability of a pregnancy, then this pregnancy was VERY viable indeed.

How did I deal with losing the baby? The only way I knew how – I started to do too much again.

By this point I’d decided that I wasn’t going to return to Swish Design in my previous role and that Ant would continue running the business indefinitely. This of course started me on the path of overcompensation. Since Ant was copping all the stress and fun of running the business, I needed to be super-wife and homemaker. I also needed to make up for the hit that our household income would be taking given he wasn’t going to be returning to teaching anytime soon.

So I started saying yes to every money making opportunity and request that was presented to me. I started saying yes to things that caused me a lot of stress and things that I didn’t really enjoy doing. As Ant pointed out, I was reverting to type – doing, doing, doing, more, more, more. Sabotaging myself and undoing all the good work I had done in taking time out to rest in the first place.

Not surprisingly I started to fall back into the pits of despair. I felt trapped by my own personality. I felt like the hamster on the wheel who just keeps running because he doesn’t realise there are any other options.

Then I had my epiphany …

And here’s what happened post epiphany