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Self-Motivation: how to get past self-sabotage or loss of momentum

self-sabotage momentum and positive emotion

It can happen to all of us. One day you’re bounding out of bed and smashing through your to-do list, ideas are coming to you freely, you’re feeling positive, upbeat and there’s a sense of momentum.

Then, there can be times where you simply say,

“Well, I don’t know what to do and what’s the point because it doesn’t lead to anything and ugh I'm just stuck and don't know what to do so I'm not going to do anything"

And we throw all the toys out the pram.

This can last for an hour or weeks.

When you work for yourself, and you are your own boss, sometimes it's hard to self-motivate when you don't have direction. At time I've been crying out for someone to tell me what to do, feeling lost and asking meditation for answers and receiving none. Feeling frustrated and angry that 'there are no answers' this has then led to a period of inaction which, when coupled with a lack of fun can quickly spiral into focusing on the problem, feeling demotivated, which just prolongs it with repetitive negative affirmations such as "I am just so lost" replacing your normal amazing can-do attitude. But a lot of the time, we do know what to do we just lose our mojo. We know what to do or else we wouldn't have come this far. It's our minds that are tricking us. It's self-sabotage. We stop ourselves from being brilliant. More on that later.

Self-sabotage can come when we were doing really really well. It can also come when there's a break in the momentum. Therefore to get a hold on self-sabotage we want to do all we can to maintain the momentum of success, progress and positivity.

Abraham Hicks highlights two things create momentum:

  1. The absence of an unwanted vibration - An object in motion will stay in motion until it meets an unwanted force.

Taking the brakes off a car will cause the car to catch momentum and roll down a hill. This means stopping the negative momentum. This requires some awareness and a conscious effort. What are you actively doing? What are you telling yourself you can't do?

Successful people who have big dreams are not sitting around moping and waiting for it to come to them. There is a balance between doing and being. They are driven, relentless, passionate and committed. Yes they probably did have days of apathy. Yes, it’s Ok to accept your feelings and recognise them. Sometimes we need to feel them in order to let them go. Yes it is also OK to have days off. But if you're feeling annoyed about nothing happening, USE that anger. Use that frustration. When we tell the brain we are not where we want to be, that dissatisfaction is what motivates us to do something about it. So it's good to get really pissed off about it because it will spur you into action. Write down your dissatsifaction about that area of your life and then write a belief about yourself that would really help you to reach where you want to be and remember that hard work takes effort.


I have some pretty big goals! I am a life coach - I understand goal setting. I work with clients to reach their wonderful distal and proximal goals. I've read lots of books and papers on positive psychology, beliefs and motivation theories etc. There is LOADS I could be getting on with. Yet that feeling of 'stuck' comes in and it can really take the wind out of your sails... if you let it.

And we do let it. We let ourselves feel stuck, unmotivated, passive because of a self-sabotaging phenomena. Interestingly, a book I was reading just yesterday (The Valkyries by Paulo Coehlo) talks about breaking a pact we make with defeat:

‘I’m talking about your pact with defeat.’ Paulo thought of what J. had said – about destroying what we love most.

The silence within the mine was worse than in the desert. Not a sound was heard, except Valhalla’s voice – which sounded different.

‘We have a contract, you and I: not to win when victory is possible,’ she insisted. ‘I have never made any such pact,’ Paulo said for the third time.

‘Everyone has. At some point in our lives, we all enter into such an agreement. That’s why there is an angel with a burning sword at the gates to paradise. To allow entry only to those who have broken that pact.’

Yes, she’s right, thought Chris. Everyone has made this pact.'

Upper Limiting

Self sabotage is also referred to by Gay Hendrix, in his amazing book, The Big Leap, where he points out the notion of Upper Limiting. We all have a set ‘thermostat’ which is a success-o-meter in all areas of life. It was set one day when someone told us our shining brightly was potentially harming them. It wasn’t outlined as clearly as that. It was learned behaviour in that we learned if we do something well, it might make another person feel bad. E.g. don’t play your clarinet that loudly, your sister is studying. We then have a deeply ingrained subconscious fear of success. Success would mean other people may not like us. However, you now know that this is not true and that everyone’s birth right is to be happy and successful and it was a learned behaviour that our ego fostered for us in order to stay in our ‘safe’ comfort zones. Hendrix continues that this can happen when a particular area of our life is going really well, we will cause something to happen in another area, so that it cannot all be going really well all the time. We turn down our own thermostat when it goes past that set limit. Having an awareness that the set limit is a limiting belief is where we can set ourselves free. Therefore recognising apathy as an upper limiting behaviour, driven by your own ego in order to keep you in your comfort zone is also freeing.

2. The second way to increase momentum is to increase attention to it (positive).

Increased positive attention towards the thing you want to gather momentum. Such as 'OK, well let’s look at what is working as opposed to all those thoughts flying around your mind as to what is not working.'


An amazing tool for this is to keep a gratitude journal. Make a list of as many things you can think of that you are grateful for that you have in regards to where you want to be, then expand it out so that it encompasses all the things you have the are amazing in your life. Please include as many as you can, including items such as pens to write, the internet, skin, eyelashes, lips, a kettle to boil water to make tea. You’ll just feel better and better the more you write.Gratitude works by changing your thoughts from negative to positive. Similarly to a topic of another post confirmation bias - what you focus on you create more of.


Another exercise would be to write down the things you’ve achieved that you’re proudest of and take a moment to reflect on them. Was there a time you hadn’t even imagined these things could or would happen? Keep them somewhere you can see them for a daily reminder.

Lots of things can sabotage a good period of momentum, for example consuming things which lower your vibration or immune system such as drinking, drugs, sugar, refined carbs or not getting enough rest, the words you use (yes they have an effect) or how much you are able to do the things you love.

Not doing the things you love effects how much positive emotion you feel and a lack of positive emotion and things your spirit, your authentic self needs, is literally starving your character of, well, character and you can slip into a negative spiral.

If you’re a socialite who loves to have fun, make people laugh and be outside, being holed up in your room for 5 days with illness is really going to take its toll on you unless you put an action plan in place to beat that. The only way you would be able to put that action plan in place to know yourself well enough or have the self awareness necessary to do that ahead of the apathy kicking in and kicking your bum...

Broaden & Build Theory

Positive Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson's Broaden and Build theory states when we feel positive emotions we feel more open. Our worlds literally expand. We see more opportunities. We look for more creative, flexible and unpredictable ways of thinking and acting. This is why it's so important to take responsibility for how often we are feeling good.

Get to know what you love, what gives you joy, contentment, excitement, satisfaction, hope, inspiration or amusement. And go to it.

Start small doing something you love, watch that comedian you love. Speak to that person who makes you laugh. Book that holiday. Take one small step towards positive emotion and watch how your motivation comes flooding back.

Reconnect with your purpose

Use reverse psychology here. Think of the goals that you are striving for. What would this cost you if you didn't get there? What would happen if you stopped going to to the gym? Or if you failed and had to go back to working for the man? Isn't that why you quit in the first place, for freedom? The daily things add up to make the big picture that you're creating.

Additional suggested meditation exercise you can try:

You might want to keep a pen and paper handy for this exercise.

Take a few moments to relax by breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your breath, slowing your breath and focusing on the feeling of the air passing through your nostrils.

Allow your thoughts to come and go for a while, accept them and release them.

When you feel your mind slowing down and you can focus on your breathing without so many thoughts coming to you, bring to mind the image of a cafe table. You are sitting at a table enjoying a drink with someone you idolise or really truly admire. Perhaps they are successful in the work you would like to be doing. What would you ask that person about how to proceed? And what would they say to you? Ask them as many questions as you can. Take a couple more deep breaths and the upon slowly opening your eyes, write down everything you can remember that they advised you to do.

Hope that helps.

Lots of love, Jenna x

Contact me here if you'd like to get yourself back up and running towards your goals with the little help from a coach

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