Nedra Glover Tawwab (she/her) is a licensed clinical social worker and founder of the North Carolina-based Kaleidoscope Counseling. In this episode, Nedra and I dig deep into the subject of self-sabotage—where despite all our good intentions, we are our own worst enemy. In her trademark no-nonsense style, Nedra goes straight to the root and demystifies these tendencies, sharing where self-sabotage starts, how to spot the trend in your own life, and small shifts you can make right this moment to flip the script and stop getting in your own way.
Nedra’s group therapy practice, Kaleidoscope Counseling (based in NC)
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz
Hi, my name is Melissa Urban and you’re listening to Do the Thing, a podcast where we explore what’s been missing every time you’ve tried to make a change and make it stick.
Today I’m talking to licensed therapist and relationship expert and Nedra Glover Tawwab about something I’m also an expert in–self sabotage. Nedra is a licensed clinical social worker in North Carolina, but I discovered her on Instagram about a year ago and I have been hanging on her every word ever since. A while back she shared an insightful post about self sabotage, something I have experienced in my own life all too often. I immediately hit her up with a request to explore the topic for Do the Thing, thinking the timing would be perfect. We are in the beginning of new year’s resolutions and the January Whole30. I think we can all relate to the idea of wanting something, like really wanting it and then not being able to follow through. Sometimes it’s poor planning, sometimes it’s timing, but sometimes we get in our own way and if this pattern comes up again and again and again, your self sabotaging, so why do we do it?
What does it look like and most important, how do we stop? This conversation with Nedra was more impactful than I could have imagined. I thought thanks to years of therapy resolving my trauma and practicing the work of Byron Katie that I had ended my self sabotaging ways once and for all, but Nedra explains here that self sabotage isn’t all dramatic exits and blowing up relationships. There are so many subtle ways that we sink our own ships, starting with our mindset, our words and our belief about ourselves. In this episode Nedra shares where self-sabotage starts, how to spot the trend in your own life and small shifts you can make right in this moment to flip the script and stop getting in your own way. Towards the end of the podcast, you’ll hear me have my light bulb moment during our conversation and I’m betting you’ll have one too. Now onto the episode. Nedra Glover Tawwab. Thank you so much for joining me today on Do the Thing. I’m so excited to talk to you.
I’m so excited to be here.
I’ve been following your Instagram account for a very long time. I feel like I always get something out of it. It’s almost like I pull up your feed and I’m like, how did she know I needed this today?
I think it’s so interesting because that’s the response I get a lot. And um, of course it’s inspired by so many things, but mostly by myself. And I think sometimes I’m posting the things that I need reminders about or things that I need to hear or even like something I just watched on TV, something they need to hear. So I’m speaking to myself to you, to, to the universe about these things. Sometimes
I can relate to that so much. Every time I share something on Instagram and people say, Oh, that’s so helpful. Or how did you know, I’m always just talking to myself. I love that. So the first question I ask every guest is, what’s your thing?
Well, my main thing is I’m a therapist. I’m a full time therapist. I have my own practice and recently, well I wouldn’t say recently, but sort of recently I’ve become this figure on Instagram where I post almost daily and I help more people, which has always been my goal because in the world of therapists we can only help so many people at one time. So it has truly been amazing being able to speak to and help so many people in all parts of the world. So that’s been really exciting.
I can see that. I feel like therapists on Instagram are definitely having a moment and it gives people so much access and inspiration in a way that I think they haven’t had before. And I think it’s prompting so many more people to seek more help and not be afraid of saying, I need help in this area. So I love what you’re doing. Thank you. So the, the topic I had you on to talk about today is something that I’ve heard over and over again, really relevant to the Whole30. But I think it, it’s relatable to so many people in almost every area of our life. What we’re going to talk about today is self sabotage, the drive or tendency, um, or even just people feeling like they fall into these patterns where they get in their own way. And I want to explore with you where that comes from and what that looks like.
Maybe some of the subtle and not so subtle ways and why we do it and how we can break that pattern once and for all. Are you ready for that? (NT) Yes. I’m so excited about that. (MU) And that was prompted by an Instagram post of yours that I read and it was again so timely kind of coming from the universe where I was just talking to a few people in DMS about this. You know, I’ve done the Whole30 a bunch of times. I do really well. I feel great when I do it and then it feels like I get in my own way when it’s done. So I’m interested to hear your take. How would you describe self sabotage?
I describe it as internal unconscious messaging that we have. And when you talk about something like Whole30 and people try and get and they can stick to it and then they fall off. I think about what messages are you telling yourself about your ability to stay consistent?
Oh that’s so interesting. So aside, not even before we get to the behavior of self sabotage, you’re saying there are internal dialogues we have with ourselves that almost set ourselves up to self sabotage?
Absolutely. Because when you say I’ve tried it and I’ve tried, like you’re speaking that into existence. Like I’ve tried it three times, I’ve tried it four times and I’ll do good. So you’re saying I can do good with this thing for a short period of time and then I fall off and that’s what’s happening because we are saying this is what happens when I try this. I’m only good with this thing for a short period of time.
Oh. So we feel like, I almost feel like when I say things like that, Oh, I’m not good at this. Or while I can handle this for a little while, I almost feel like I’m doing myself a service because I’m being honest about my experience. But what you’re saying is you’re putting that out into the universe and that’s not a very good growth mindset.
Absolutely. It’s, it’s not a growth mindset. It’s actually a stuck mindset because we say these things with the intention of, like you said, I’m being honest with myself, I’m being authentic. But you’re also manifesting all of these things that are not what you say you want. You say you want to stick to this thing. What if you were to say things like, I can do this. I can complete this and I can make this a part of my lifestyle. This is not a part time, um, diet program. There are ways, you know, you post so many things about when you go out to eat, how to be conscious about ordering food. I listen to you on a podcast talking about Halloween candy. You know, I mean there’s so many things that people can do, but if you have it in your head that this is something I can do only for this amount of time, then that’s the amount of time that you will do it for.
Oh my God, that’s so powerful. Just shifting your mindset before you even embark upon the thing you’re saying can have a positive impact.
Yes, absolutely powerful.
I love that. What are some ways that you see self-sabotaging showing up in your clients’ lives? Like what are some examples of ways that we sabotage ourselves?
The biggest one for me has been seeing people in and out of unhealthy relationships. Whether that’s going back to people who we know are unhealthy for us, continuing to have toxic relationships with various family members, dating the same type of person I’m making up with friends who haven’t shown any improvements. So a lot of what I see is in the relationship, um, sort of system where people are continuously doing the same thing. And I get why they do it. We want people to change. They, you know, people will come to us and they say, okay, this is what I can do now. No proof. This is what they’re saying. Right? And we say, yes, I really want this for my friend and two days later, you know, the friend is, you know, being themselves and they’re not able to uphold that thing. And we’re like, because it’s so hard for us to, except that you know, people are capable of change but we have to see it before we say, okay, this is something I’m willing to step back into. That’s really hard for us to accept.
Yeah. It’s funny when I think about self sabotage in terms of relationships, I’m thinking back to my own experience before I had done all the therapy and when my trauma was still very unprocessed. I would be in a decent relationship. Like he would be nice and he would take care of me and he would be like a good guy and I would blow it up because in my mind I knew that it was going to end poorly. This was my story. I knew that I didn’t feel like I deserved someone to be nice to me and so I would rather control the ending versus have it end and like it not be in my power or my control. What you just described sounds a little more, I don’t want to say passive, but like I don’t know that I would have thought of that as self sabotage. To me it’s like, wow, maybe I’m a little gullible. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’m trying to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if that shows up over and over and over again in your life, is that really a form of self sabotage?
Yes. I think it’s more subtle than what you’re talking about. That’s a little more, okay, I’m creating this experience and that is also self-sabotage. When we say, you know, I really want to be in a healthy relationship, we get the healthy relationship and then we destroy the healthy relationship because secretly we believe I can’t be unhealthy relationship.
Oh my gosh. Yes, exactly.
So you know, I think, I think it can be so many things. I think it could be procrastination. I think it be being in situations that you know are unhealthy for you. I think it can be, you know, you going back to unwell environments, when I think about addiction, you know, one of the things that they say in AA is change your environment. And so many times we self sabotage because we go right back to the environment. And that’s a big piece of maintaining change. And that could apply to, uh, if you change as a person and you say, you know, I’m, I’m a better person. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. And you, you go to these environments, the, the risk is there for you to re-engage. If you say, I am a healthy person, this is how I want to show up in my relationships.
And then you go back to toxic interactions with your healthy self, the risk is there. So it’s, it’s not about our power to do that. You know, like I’m strong enough to be in these environments, but it’s about our willingness to say, this is not an environment I can be in and be whale. This is no longer the type of environment that I need to be in. (MU) I can really relate to that idea of risk taking behavior as a form of self sabotage. Because even in thinking back to my own recovery, the first time I recovered, which didn’t stick, and I ended up having to go back into rehab, that was exactly what I did. I was, you know, not using, but I was putting myself in those risky situations telling myself I could handle it, but like in the back of my mind, there was something about the risk that was feeding me or fueling me.
And you know, I, I can really make that connection between putting yourself in those risky situations and knowing that there’s a chance that you’re going to have negative consequences in it. But there’s almost a, a way for me to say now, well, you know, I did the best I could. I just made a bad decision. And that way I get to opt out of the responsibility of no, you put yourself in this risky situation and now you have to accept the consequences. Go back to procrastination. For me if you would. I don’t think I ever considered procrastination as a form of self sabotage until I read about it on your Instagram feed. How are they connected? (NT) Well, I think when you know that you have something to do and you know that this thing could move you to the next level or that this could be the thing that you really said that you wanted and um, unintentionally or intentionally you don’t do it or you wait till the last minute or you have facet, you are making a commitment to yourself that you don’t deserve this thing you’re getting in the way of having this thing that you say that you really want. And so I would consider that self sabotage.
Yeah. It’s funny, I think until we are able to look at our own lives and all of the ways that we may be getting in our own way, it feels impossible to change this pattern or this habit. Like I said, coming into this conversation, I only thought about self sabotage in terms of me blowing up a relationship or you know me stating that I have a goal and then deliberately sending myself off the rails, but there are so many more subtle ways that this shows up in our, in our lives.
I completely agree and I think that, you know, when you talk about committing to something that’s poor, poor follow through, that’s what I see that is like you say, you know, I want to commit to eliminating these things from my diet and you know, the minute you’re presented with a cheeseburger, you’re like, there goes my diet. You’re not keeping a promise to yourself. You’re not honoring your commitment for whatever length of time. And a part of that is, I’ve heard people set goals and say things like, I don’t know how long I’ll be able to stick with this. Don’t hold me to it. We’ll see where I am with this in a week. You are self-sabotaging before you even start, whatever this is. It could be journaling for 30 days. If you start with the intention of, let me see how long I can stick to this. I don’t know how long you’ll stick to it because in the back of your head you are already saying, I don’t trust my follow through.
Yeah, that, you know, it’s, I tell people that about the Whole30 all the time. If you give yourself an out, well I’m going to do the Whole30 for 30 days. I do have a birthday party coming up still. We’ll just, we’ll see how that goes. If you give yourself the out, your brain is going to take it. Your brain wants to do what’s rewarding and what’s easy. And it’s almost like giving yourself permission to fail from the get go almost certainly means that you will, because there’s going to be a time where it’s hard and you’re going to need to stick with it and you’re going to need to use your willpower or remind yourself of your why. And if you give yourself that out, you’re going to take it.
I love that. I think that giving yourself that out is a failure before the failure. (MU) Oh, I like that. That’s so quotable. I love that. Nedra, why do we do this to ourselves? If you asked anybody out there, you know, do you, do you really want this goal? Do you really want to eat healthier? Do you really want to be in a healthy relationship? I guarantee you 100% of us would say, yes, I really do want this healthy relationship. I really do want to finish the Whole30. Why do we get in our own way so much?
For some of us it could be trauma, right? When we have this background of trauma, particularly childhood trauma, our thinking is mixed up and we think a lot about our ability to actually control what we can do and the willpower to actually set a go and stick with it can seem so overwhelming that we give up. We’re not used to, you know, getting the things that we want. And I think for people, particularly with trauma is very challenging to do the everyday thing sometimes. So to add to that, um, I’m going to change the way I eat or I’m going to be in healthy relationships. And I have the power to do these things because so many times we feel like unhealthy relationships or issues with work, life balance, all of these things are outside of us. Like there needs to be something else that comes in and corrects these things and it’s, it’s us and we have to take that ownership.
And I think when we get stuck in the story of I am a person who cannot, I was not able to, we continue that message and when we become adults, it turns into self sabotage. We’re not able to do these things because we have this programming of I cannot control this. I don’t have the ability to, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. And it, it really blocks our ability to, you know, do so many of these things that we say all the time that I want to do. I want to do these things. Yes, I want to do these things and we can stick with it. I say all the time. Um, I think the hardest thing to quit is to stop smoking. It is the hardest addiction to quit. I have worked in facilities where people have given up drugs and they can’t give up cigarettes.
Every time someone says I’m going to quit, this is my last day. They really believe it. And then they surround themselves with all these triggers, right? Like all these triggers, you just go back to that behavior. And so if you really want to quit smoking, you have to change so many of those other things. And that’s the real hard part for us that if we want to stop or start doing anything, there are so many micro behaviors that we have to start to implement so that we’re actually achieving the thing that we say that we really, really want. Yeah.
That’s the whole purpose of this podcast. That’s the entire philosophy behind Do the Thing is an exploration of the fact that it’s actually not enough just to do that one thing. If you want to quit smoking, you can’t just stop smoking. You have to incorporate all of these other, as you said, micro behaviors and mindset changes and um, behaviors that shore up the foundation of the fact that you are now a nonsmoker, that you are a healthy person with healthy habits. So I think that makes so much sense.
Is there a piece from the trauma? And I’m thinking about my own trauma and my own life that um, drives us towards almost thriving in chaos or drama that might lead to self sabotaging behavior. I always felt like before I processed my trauma, I did better when things were a hot mess, when I was a hot mess and if everything was going well, it made me so nervous that I turned my life into a hot mess. Is that like a real thing or is that just me?
No, I think in an odd way chaos can be predictable cause you already know what’s going to happen. It’s going to be messy. When you have something that’s like, Oh wow, it’s quiet. This is peaceful, what’s going on? You’re like, what’s the problem here? It’s like, Hey, there’s no problem. Chill out. It’s like, okay, when is something gonna happen? You’re always on edge, so why not be in the chaos? So you’re like, okay, this is what I know. This is what I know. This makes sense. Everything is loud. This guy is doing this, this girl is over here. It feels like our normal. So we can really want things to be like peaceful and not chaotic. But with the trauma, I think we get so used to that being a part of our story that we recreate it and all these other scenarios. Another piece, um, in terms of the trauma is the powerlessness.
I think because we’ve become so accustomed to not being able to have power that we just don’t exert any in our own lives. But outside of trauma, I think that self-sabotage, it’s just our way of unconsciously getting in our own way. And I think we do it not because we really want to hurt ourselves, B, but because we don’t have the tools to do better because most people in S in some sort of way self-sabotage. Um, you know, last week I was speaking with someone about procrastination and you know, this idea that everybody procrastinates. You know, I think it’s only a problem if you never do it right. If you stay up all night and get whatever done, then you know, okay, but what is it about, that’s that chaos piece. What is it about you that wants to stay up all night and pressure yourself into a deadlock? Yeah, that’s the thing that we need to work on. Not the procrastination because everybody’s doing it, but what is it about that behavior that gives you some sort of like, Oh, I feel so satisfied. Is that the only way? Yeah. What other ways?
Good. The scenario you just described where everything’s peaceful and everything’s going well used to give me so much anxiety because I’m waiting for the shoe to drop because I know it’s going to drop because this is my experience. So I think that makes so much sense. Is there even something just as basic as a fear of failure or maybe even a fear of success in these self sabotaging behaviors?
Absolutely. I think one of, one of the biggest fears that I’ve seen is not just failing or succeeding, but what other people will think about you if you do either of those. So if we could like live in this secret world and become like great people and nobody knows about it, I think we would try more stuff. But because most of the things that we try, we have to expose this to someone else. We won’t even try it because there’s this fear of what will they think, what will they think? If I say I want to start, you know something and it’s not successful
and isn’t that only reinforced when we do try something like changing our diet to eat more whole unprocessed foods and we get crap from friends and family, you would think that they would be so psych for us that we were trying to be healthier and live a better lifestyle and they’re the ones who give us the most difficulty. And so then I think that puts even more fear in us that, you know, obviously they have their own issues around food and these behaviors, but they’re projecting it on to us and that makes us even less likely to want to try and succeed.
Well, I would say one of the things that I’m really big on in terms of self sabotaging and many other problematic behaviors is depersonalizing every single thing that other people say to you. Because it is so hard to stick with what you say you want. When you share those things with other people. And then they say, well, why do you have to eat this type of chicken? Or why do you have to, we have to think about the messenger and say, Oh, this person really likes to eat cheap chicken. You know, this person really likes to eat, you know, this chicken that’s not healthy or this person really likes to eat, you know, whatever. This person really likes to date this sort of person. Like they’re not speaking to me. They’re saying things about themselves to me. Yeah, and I think that’s really hard because of who sang it.
When it’s your mother, your sister, your friend, you’re thinking like, Oh, why would they say this to me? They’re not saying it to you, they’re saying it to themselves. They’re just saying it out loud and you are the person who is hearing their message. Exactly. Exactly. I see this a lot with people who just decide to do a not drinking experiment. I’m not drinking right now, I’m doing the Whole30 or I’m just going to take a month off from alcohol and I feel like the people closest to them are the ones who are pressuring them and telling them they’re no fun. And really that’s not about you at all. That’s about them and their relationship with alcohol. But if they’re saying things that are already insecurities in the back of your mind, it’s going to make it really hard to stick with it. That will pressure you right into self-sabotaging if you have made a commitment to yourself to not drink.
I think also you will have to make a commitment to yourself to set some boundaries. So when people say things to you about your drinking or about whatever lifestyle change you’re trying to make, um, you have something very clear and assertive that you could say back that will stop them from continuing to say things to you about it. Um, because we have to like, if this is your go, you have to advocate for your go. Yeah. And that’s, that’s the difficult piece. We think the easy part is like, Hey, I wrote my goal down there already is, and it’s like, that’s not the work. Yeah. That’s the writing. The, the other w the work is advocating for your go of holding your goal. That’s the part that that’s not as easy as writing it down. Yeah. It’s not, especially if you don’t expect it, if you don’t expect that part of your not drinking for 30 days goal is gonna involve setting boundaries with the people you’re closest to, to be able to maintain that behavior.
Like it’s going to feel like it comes out of nowhere and you’re not going to know how to handle it. Yeah. But I think those other people, they’re planting the seeds and you’re reinforcing what you already think. So it just puts you, um, you know, in this spirit to forego this promise that you may see yourself. Like when you talk about people setting goals and saying, well, you know, I can do it for 30 days, but on the 15th, it’s my birthday. Um, I’m sure the people in that circle are also saying, but it’s your birthday. You can, you can have a drink on your birthday. And it’s like, no, this is, this is my goal. So you have to advocate for what that thing is.
So I like sharing practical information on this podcast and I feel like we’re going to have a lot of practical information to talk about here. Where I wanted to transition to is how do we break out of this self-sabotaging behavior? And as you’re talking, I have so many ideas about where you start. Do you start with really dialing in on your why? Why is this behavior important to you? Or are we starting with mindset or would you start with making sure that your goal is really concrete? Like what’s the first step in breaking this self sabotage cycle? Would you say?
I think mindset matters the most because mindset will put you in a space to really be clear about all of the other things necessary to achieve the goal. Yes. So we have to do that internal work first. Of course having a clear goal, but mindset is committing to I want to be a healthy version of myself. And then from there you can iron out, um, a clear goal, a short, sweet, simple, clear, go and get to work from there. And then, you know, come up with your action steps. But I think the biggest thing is creating space for you to really think about it and commit to it and making sure that it’s something you really want to do. I’ve noticed that sometimes was self-sabotage. Um, we sabotage things because we are doing things that we think we want to do, but they are not actually the things that we want to do. They are the things that sound good to other people.
Oh my goodness, how do I know the difference? How do I know if I really want to do it? Or if I just like don’t really want to do it, but I think it will look good on paper or I think it will make someone else happy. How do I know?
I think that’s where the internal work starts. Like why do I want to do this? Why is this important to me? How will doing, how will doing this thing change my life? What is the benefit to me? Because you know, you, you hear all the time of someone saying, well, I took this job because my parents say it that it would be a good idea for me to be an attorney or for me to be a doctor, but I really hate this. And so you’re in, you know, medical school and your felon, all your exams because you don’t really want to do it. Yeah. And so that’s your way of self sabotaging. Like, Hey look, I can’t really do it but I’m in the middle medical school. Right. And so it’s very important that we tune into why we want to do this and it, you know, it does take a certain level of courage and being brave to say that this is not something that I want do.
Even if this is really healthy, I don’t want, I don’t want to quit smoking. I don’t want to, you know, go on an elimination diet. Maybe I like dating, you know, a certain type. It’s okay if that’s your thing, but you have to be honest about that. And that’s the really tough part because we are thinking about what everybody else would, what will people think about me smoking? What will people think about me? I’m dropping out of medical school. What will people think about the, I’m not going on a diet and I’m having this issue.
I think there’s another lesson here too that could be really powerful, which is, especially coming from a background of trauma, I felt like I couldn’t trust myself for a very long time. I wasn’t, I couldn’t depend on myself. I couldn’t take care of myself. This was sort of the story I had in my head because of my experience when I was so young. But tapping into this idea of like, what do I really need in this moment? What do I really want for me? Just for me, what’s going to serve my highest good I think can help kind of get to that goal, but it can also be a really nice experience of I trusted myself and now it’s moving me forward.
Thinking about, do you want this for yourself? Is it serving your highest good or are you just doing something to kind of benefit others? We talked about mindset. Having that obviously growth mindset, going into something truly believing you can do it. What if you don’t really believe you can do it? Should you fake it?
I don’t believe in faking it til you make it. I believe in manifesting it until you are it. Right. And so one of the ways that I absolutely love and always suggest to manifest is starting with I am and just write down, I am well, I am committed to my health. I am, um, eliminating things from my diet that are not good for me. I am eliminating relationships that are toxic. I am. And then just, just write that, write it for a few days and then start to consider what behaviors align with you being that way. I love that word so much. Not words, but what behaviors can you implement as a result of the things that you say you truly want? [inaudible] I think lots of times when we think of affirmations, we say, I would like, we say, um, I want and I’m like, Nope, that’s not, that’s not assertive. You have to be it because I want an I would like that is faking it til you make it. Yeah. And I don’t want you to fake it til you make it. I want you to be the thing and to be the thing I am and man,
I bet that if you write that down, I am well… You can, if you’re looking for it already, find examples of behaviors you are doing in your life right now to support that. And aren’t those just like immediate small wins for you?
And I am noticing my small wins. Because I think sometimes we are unable to see our progress because we are not noticing our small wins. We are not noticing, when I say I am well, how I made a choice to cook at home versus ordering through Postmates. It’s like that that supports I am well. That’s you feeding into your health. You making a decision to not answer that phone call because you know this person is draining. That’s supporting I am well.
I love that. Okay. So what happens if I am well and I find 10 pieces of behavior to support that and then I do something that doesn’t, how do I not tell myself? Well it’s all over. I messed it up now. Might as well quit trying. Cause I think that’s something that so many people struggle with is, you know, y’all like get a flat tire and slash the other three.
I am human. (MU) Oh, I like that. (NT) And I am human for me is grace and I, and it’s, it’s compassion is it’s kindness. Because so many times we forget that we’re human and as humans we make mistakes. We don’t always get it right. Sometimes we have an attitude. We don’t always, um, commit to stuff. If you are, you know, committed to being in healthy relationships. And you have that one day where you have that call and you’re like, Oh, I knew I shouldn’t have answered. It’s okay. I am human. Yeah.
And you can’t expect to change what is likely decades of patterns or that negative mindset or that self limiting mindset like that’s not going to happen overnight. So I love that approach. I am human on top of whatever that goal is. When I think about my own self sabotaging behavior, there’s always a moment before I act where I know in my own head. I’m saying to myself, Melissa, this is not a good idea. This is not acting in your highest interest. This is not doing what you think. This is going to go horribly wrong, and then I do it anyway. What could I tell myself in that brief moment of pause where I recognize I’m about to act outside of my own interest? How can I turn it around in that moment?
Don’t commit to it. You know, even in your example you committed to, Oh, you committed to it like you. You can change the way that you say that. Don’t commit to that wording because you’re kind of giving yourself permission to do it. You know, it goes back to what we spoke about in the beginning. We give ourselves permission to not stick with a goal. We have like, you know, you’re about to do this bad thing and then you keep doing the thing that you say you don’t want to do because you’ve given yourself permission to commit to it.
I literally just spoke the words that come up in my head before I do this and it never occurred to me the way I word them. I never say to myself, Melissa, you’re thinking about doing this and it’s always like you’re, you’re going to do it. It’s not going to go well I do. I commit to it before I actually do it. So if you can change the way you’re thinking about it, maybe you’re just coming from more of an observational standpoint as opposed to, wow, Melissa, you are, you’re thinking about doing this right in the middle of your, you know, 30 day workout challenge. You’re thinking about skipping a day, where is that coming from and what do you think you’re going to get out of that? And like, why, you know, why is that happening at this point in time? Do you think that just just questioning it versus committing to it could make a difference?
Absolutely. And I think that, you know, a part of my personal value system is not to commit myself to any one thought. And so if I’m not committed to the thought of failing, then I can change it so I can change it in any moment. I can, you know, say Hey, you’re going to have a 10 minute limit on Instagram and wind up scrolling for 30 30 minutes. So once I realize it, I can say to myself, you can put it down right now, not you’ve given up on yourself. You’re going to keep going. Look what you did. Now you’re honest. I can put it down right now. I’m not committed to because I spent more time on it. Now I have to spend more time it, yeah. Yeah. Or beating yourself up over it. I’m not, yeah, I’m not committed to that. I think that I can change in any moment.
Wow. That is so powerful. These are, I think, gosh, I don’t know that I ever thought about these tools in this fashion, but it’s an instantaneous flip that you can employ at any given moment to turn something around. I think that is so magical. I imagine if we do notice ourselves slipping back into these old self sabotaging behaviors that once again that same mindset flip and the grace comes into practice because I think what happens all too often is you know I now I’m employing these new mindset tips and I do the Whole30 and then something happens and I choose deliberately to go off plan and now I’m beating myself up. My negative self talk is at an all time high. It’s creating stress. I’m doing more of the behavior that makes me feel bad in the first place as a punishment is there again another like shift or flip. We can say if we do notice us slipping back into old behaviors so we don’t have to cycle through like hating ourselves.
It is normal to slip back but you don’t have to stay there. You don’t have to stay there. And I think that we do beat ourselves up when we are not continuously committed to something, but it’s okay to have slip ups. And you again, you have to allow yourself to some grace to be a human, to make mistakes, to not always keep your promises, but to do your best. So much of it is we feel like we have to beat ourselves up when we don’t stick to, um, the things that we see it, that we want it to do. We tell other people how horrible we are and then we allow them to tell us how horrible we are so we can continue that message in our head. And even when they’re no longer around, we can hear their voice because we have bought into the idea that I am unworthy. I cannot commit to things I don’t deserve. And so it keeps us in that cycle of self sabotage. Yeah.
I have learned so many things about self sabotage and changing my own mindset. And even surprisingly, the way I talk to myself now that I think I’ll be able to implement to hold my habits even better. But at the end of every episode I ask my guests, what’s one thing you could recommend to our listeners who are ready to Do the Thing?
The best book that I’ve ever read, um, is the four agreements. It’s super popular and is the annual read for me because the information, it’s simple, it’s to the point. And I really think it helps us think about the way in which we commit to ourselves and we commit in relationships. There’s a lot of metaphors that are used throughout the book that I think can be really applied. So the things that we’re going through, um, I think the four agreements is the best thing that I could think of. I could not agree more, take nothing personally. So we’ll make sure to link to that in the show notes. Nedra, where can people learn more about you and your work and do you have anything exciting coming up that you want to share with us? Yes. So I am on Instagram and my handle there will be listed in the show notes and I’m so excited.
I am working on my first book with penguin random house. So yeah, I will be talking about relationships in this book so it’ll be really exciting to get to a space where I can share all of these things that I’ve shared in very small ways on Instagram because people are always like more and more and more and I think it would be so lovely just for people to have all of this information in one space. I can’t wait. I hope I can get a sneak peek of it. Absolutely. Thank you so much. I’m going to make sure to include all this information in the show notes so people can find you. I know they’re going to want to follow you. You are one of my favorite Instagrammers Nedra Glover Tawwab. Thank you so much for joining me today on Do the Thing. Thank you.
Thanks for listening!
Continue the conversation with me @melissau on Instagram. If you have a question for Dear Melissa or a topic idea for the show, leave me a voicemail at (321) 209-1480.
Do the Thing is part of ‘The Onward Project,’ a family of podcasts brought together by Gretchen Rubin—all about how to make your life better. Check out the other Onward Project podcasts– Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Side Hustle School, and Happier in Hollywood.
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