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  • Writer's pictureChristy Murdock

Tame your inner saboteur (with apologies to RuPaul)

Let me tell you a story about a Friday evening gone completely wrong, with no one to blame but myself.

I finished work an hour or two earlier than expected, which is practically unheard of.

I made the dinner I had really been craving since I had all of the ingredients conveniently on hand.

I had ordered a little just-for-me gift and it had arrived unexpectedly early. Everything was set for the perfect Friday night.

When I walked into the kitchen, my daughter was opening the package since I had kept it sitting around for a few days, waiting to open it until some "right" time that never seemed to come along. That annoyed me for some reason and set off an emotional chain reaction that ended with me pouting in my bedroom: no relaxing evening, no fun just-for-me gift, no favorite dinner.

Of course, we all have those days when our best-laid plans go awry or when we're not at our best for whatever reason, but when I started taking an honest look at this particular evening, I started realizing how many of my bad days or bad evenings are tied to things I'm particularly looking forward to.

For example, I'm famous for making a special dinner and then losing my appetite by the time it's done. I'll make plans to go somewhere fun then decide that I'm suddenly too tired or too busy.

I see it play out in my professional life where I know there are things I should do to scale my business or to integrate passive income, yet I don't get them done, spending that time on less productive tasks. I see it in my financial life where I prioritize short-term wants over long-term investments.

If you've ever watched RuPaul's Drag Race, you're familiar with the concept of the "inner saboteur." It's RuPaul's name for the voice inside that tells you you're not good enough. It's the bad habits you've developed or the emotional reactions you go to that undermine you and keep you from accomplishing your goals.

We all have inner saboteurs. For some of us, they're the result of a lifetime of conditioning. In my own case, it's that little voice that says, "You don't deserve that nice evening, that nice dinner, that nice gift. I'll make sure you don't get it." Who knows where that little voice comes from?

Maybe you had a mother who told you that it's selfish to want anything for yourself. That you should only do for others. That rich people were evil and the Lord didn't love them. That would sure make it hard for you to get your financial house in order and take care of yourself, and your money, properly.

Maybe you had a father who told you that women weren't smart enough to run a business or had no right to make more money than a man. That would sure make it hard for you to do what you need to do to grow, no matter how determined or ambitious you are.

You may have heard of the concept of generational curses. It's the idea that some people grow up with bad habits or behaviors or ideas that have been passed down to them and that make it more difficult for them to be successful.

Think about some of the things you may have grown up hearing — sayings that are so ingrained that you don't even think about them anymore. These are a few of the sayings I regularly heard in my Southern household:

  • You just can't win for losing.

  • Don't brag on children; they'll get the big head.

  • If it's not one thing, it's ten.

  • Don't set your hopes too high; you'll just set yourself up for disappointment.

  • People from [your town, your social class, your background, your gender] can only go so far in life.

  • You're getting too big for your britches.

What most of these sayings come down to is that there is a limit on what you can accomplish and what you should aim for. Consciously or unconsciously, they are meant to hold back people so that they don't surpass their elders, relatives, or peers. Everyone stays the same and that way no one feels embarrassed or left behind.

We can feel guilt when we accomplish more than our parents did or our siblings or our friends. We can feel uncomfortable when we make more money than our spouse or significant other. We can be put in an awkward situation when we make more money than our relatives if they are struggling and we are not.

If you grew up in poverty, it can be very difficult to know how to manage money when you're out of it. If you used to be bad with money, and if everyone you've ever known was bad with money, it can be hard to unlearn your bad money habits. However, it can be done. Even if you're older, you can learn to take better care of yourself and your finances.

Stop being your own worst enemy and start being a friend to yourself. Most of all, next time you find yourself sabotaging the very thing you want the most, ask yourself some hard questions:

  1. Who am I attempting to protect by sabotaging myself?

  2. What relationship am I attempting to preserve by sabotaging myself?

  3. What false narrative am I buying into by sabotaging myself?

  4. What resources are available to help me stop sabotaging myself?

  5. What action plan can I put in place to help me set and accomplish appropriate goals?

You don't have to be ashamed of working hard. You don't have to be ashamed of having a thriving business. You don't even have to be ashamed of having exactly what you want for dinner or buying yourself a little something special. In the words of the great Moira Rose, "There's nothing wrong with treating yourself, dear."

You freakin' deserve it.


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