Are you self sabotaging to please someone else?

Facing Fears Blog Are you self-sabotaging to please someone else

This is a very candid and deep share about an experience I had just today where I discovered I was self-sabotaging to please someone else. And…I was totally mortified to uncover, the person (or people) I was self-sabotaging my relationship, my success and my happiness to please, are my abusers! Yes, you read that right! Seriously!

The only two people on this planet I thought I would never care about pleasing but subconsciously, I have found, that was what was driving my self-sabotage. Here’s how it unfolded and I share this only as a reminder for myself as to how powerful life experiences (especially those at childhood) can be and in the hope, it might help you if you’re self-sabotaging to please someone else.

I always know when there is a lesson I am about to learn because it’s like there are signals everywhere I look. Sometimes though I don’t see those signals until they clobber me over the head (and yes, that can often be literally which, FYI isn’t a good way to learn!) I’d noticed within myself an unrest, little things were annoying me more than usual, my fiancé was driving me nuts, and I just didn’t feel like I was in my flow in my businesses.

With a major launch in two of my businesses happening this month and the wedding date rushing towards me at a rate of knots I became acutely aware that I was self-sabotaging. I found myself procrastinating like a master! I was taking longer at the gym, fluffing around on the computer when I had a million other things to do, missing appointments with people I cared about, and not responding to the important tasks that needed to be completed until the very, very last minute.

These are all tell-tale signs of sabotage being in control but I thought it was just because of the impending possibility of success that my fear was simply playing out. So I took note and implemented the additional support I needed to overcome the fear of success and focused on the opportunity and excitement of that success happening. Little did I know there was something much more sinister at play.

Finally, after putting my head in the sand for another few days it culminated in an argument with my fiancé about money. There was an experience I wanted to do that was going to cost more than my wedding dress (the gauge at the moment) and he didn’t agree with the importance I was placing on it.

Just to give you a bit more context, we rarely argue (which in itself is incredible considering we work and live together) and I hate arguing more than I hate spiders (another good gauge). Needless to say, it was the clobber over the head I needed to take a time out and reflect deeper within.

Because the issue of the argument was over money I thought it must have something to do with that and I have been following Denise Duffield-Thomas for a little while now so I jumped into my emails to find a three video course she did recently when she opened the doors to her Money Bootcamp again. Watched the first video and downloaded the workbook and started filling it in only to discover it was all about, you guessed it, self-sabotage!

Hey, I thought we were going to be talking about money here?!

Here I was answering questions about my habits, thoughts, and beliefs around why I self-sabotage and through this process, I had a huge aha moment when I realised I was self-sabotaging because I didn’t believe I deserved to be happy, enjoying life, and financially wealthy. I also recognised it was tied to my childhood and uncovered that I felt guilty and “wrong” when I was happy, filled with joy and financially free. Thank you Denise Duffield-Thomas for her magic (am so signing up for your next bootcamp!)

This in itself could have been enough for me to go on and change my belief because you don’t necessarily need to know the details of the past in order to change your future. However, for me, I wanted to dig deeper to know and understand the details of the connection I was feeling to my abusive parents. I’ll admit it troubled me, and it was something I felt I needed to shift the energy around. So I went to bed to let it percolate over night and left the workbook open on my computer so it would be the first thing I saw in the morning.

Awake before the alarm my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs were all still swirling around so I launched into the day as I usually do. Four hours later I had a call with my coach because I was still no closer to what the connection was between my self-sabotage and my abusers. After listening to me intently, she came out with one simple statement, “Maybe life was better when you were pleasing them?” And there it was, the tears started flowing as the statement resonated in the depths of my soul.

After I had composed myself and thanked her for her gift of what she calls bluntness and I call truth, we then discussed it further to gain the clarity I needed to understand what it meant to me. We talked about how it had served me as a child and how it no longer did as an adult. I became grateful for what it had done for me and how it had protected me during my darkest years. I made a promise to not get mad at my self-sabotage when it showed up in the future and instead be grateful for what it was trying to do.

We then discussed where else in my life I was self-sabotaging to please someone else, who I now knew was to please “them”, and I came to realise I had been doing the same thing in my relationship as well as in my businesses and even my everyday lifestyle where I was denying myself the happiness of love, joy and success.

It’s so important to recognise the signs when a lesson is upon us and to take the time out to look within ourselves on a deeper level, (as long as it’s not every day) so that we can continue to learn and grow. What I discovered through this process was that I had a lot of guilt around feeling happy, loved and being successful because I didn’t believe I deserved these things.

My adoptive parents lived in poverty and were unhappy and abusive. They taught me through their actions, and told me verbally, that I didn’t deserve to be loved, I didn’t deserve to be happy, and I was a failure and always would be. So, for my inner child and sub-consciousness, if I was happy, loved and successful then I was going against them and despite their abuse, they were the only parents I knew during my formative years. Back then, life was much better when I did the “right” thing by them and that was the behaviour I had learned that many times, ensured my survival.

Therefore, as an adult, I was simply repeating this behaviour that I subconsciously knew as the “right” thing to do and I was self-sabotaging to please someone else…them. But, with this new awareness, I am now well on my way to changing that belief, with a strategy and the support I need in place, and my focus is now on the benefits of pleasing ME! This includes acknowledging that I am worth it, that I deserve to be happy and loved, and that success enables me to give more to this world during my lifetime.

Share below in the comments if you are self-sabotaging to please someone else or if you have become aware that you are self-sabotaging for other reasons and lets kick this self-sabotage monster to the curb together!


  1. Marcus Nicholls on August 28, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Lovely and truthful to read.
    Although my life can never be compared to yours I total understand what you have been doing.
    Looking forward to watching you grow out of it.

    • Tegan Mathews on September 1, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Thanks Marcus, I’m glad you could relate and got something out of the article 🙂

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