Failure by Self-Sabotage

Dan lay flat on his back in the bed. The hotel room felt stuffy and hot, and he felt sick to his stomach. “How could I ever have done such a stupid thing? What was I thinking? he asked himself.  His short blond hair was flattened with sweat, but he just lay there and he kept asking himself “Why am I’m such a loser?”

Have you ever found that you failed because you did nothing at all or you did the opposite of what you needed to do? That’s what Dan did. Even with an IQ of 145 and genuine writing talent, his lack of discipline and fear of failure had once again caused him to sabotage himself!  Self-sabotage is when you act in opposition to what you are trying to accomplish.

There are lots of ways to sabotage ourselves. Dan’s problem was procrastination. Putting things off had caused him to lose more that one terrific opportunity, but this one was the worst. He had a great idea for a play, and some big spenders from Broadway were interested in backing him. But he couldn’t make himself complete the script. This evening, they met with him and made it clear that they were no longer interested in trying to work with him. That was the end of it! Once more he had dropped the ball. Unable to finish the script, the great ideas and smart dialogue had just rolled around in head until he dropped them. 

What about you? Perhaps you have started a project: writing a book, launching a new business, buying some investment property but then you became overwhelmed and piddled along until you let it drop. Or maybe you went gangbusters for a while--until you had a set back--then you quit. You freaked out or froze. You stopped dead in your tracks and never started again. 

 Why do people fail this way?  What keeps us from becoming the people we were meant to be and from getting where we want to go? 

 Maybe we have tremendous talent and ability, but still seem to have trouble succeeding. The reason? Call it what you will: procrastination, letting the ball drop, losing our vision, losing our focus, fear of failure or fear of success, they all lead to self-sabotage and all have one thing in common.  

Old wiring of neurons in our brain causes our subconscious mind to override our conscious desire and drive for success. We go on auto-pilot and do two things that past experiences have programmed into our subconscious. First, we may fail to focus and discipline ourselves: We rather play than work. Second, we may struggle with fear. This fear is often hidden, but it can cause us to do the opposite of what we need to do to succeed.  

The good news is that our brain is not fixed like our shoe size. Because of the brain’s plasticity it’s never too late to change. Also, some failure is a necessary step for success. It's often through failure that we learn from our mistakes. Of course, failure is not our focus, but failure is where we can learn and make changes. With proper guidance and training, our brain can rewire itself and take on new patterns of success. 

Why not start now to do something different and rewire your brain! My book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be–The Choice-Cube© Method, can help you understand yourself This book shows how to use the practical tools and take the 4 steps of the Choice-Cube Method to manage your emotions and change your life. 

Do You Have A "Focus Problem?"

Jack had a problem. Around forty-years-old, good-looking, smart, and capable, with a college degree in business, he couldn’t hold down a job. Oh, things would start out just fine. Then Jack would take offence at something or someone and the downward-slide would start. 

What was going on? Jack had a “focus problem.” Growing up, both his mom and dad expected him to be perfect. Jack learned to defend himself by focusing on their faults and taking offense at anything he thought was criticism. 

Now, as an adult, he had a bad habit. Without thinking, he automatically assumed people were critical of him. Then, to feel better about himself, he focused on their flaws and weaknesses and attacked. He knew just how to make somebody feel rotten. 

People who worked with Jack either avoided him or tried to get even. As a result, things at work became chaotic. Finally, though there was no problem with his work, the boss had to let him go. This scenario had played out several times. Still Jack didn’t realize that his negative focus on others was destroying his life. 

Like Jack, you may also have a negative focus. For example, you may live in a “what if… focus” that causes you to worry about everything all the time. Perhaps you focus on each little physical twinge and pain with fear of some serious disease. Or, instead of solving problems, do you focus on not having enough money… time…  energy? 

Your focus determines the direction and quality of your life. Where and what you focus on is where you will put your life-energy. Jack’s fear of criticism and his habit of trying to feel okay by putting others down was ruining his life.

Another way to say this is to talk about the “law of sowing and reaping.” Whether it’s corn or tulips, the seeds you plant determine the crop you get. In the same way, whatever you “put out there” will come back to you. 

You can learn to recognize your focus and choose what you focus on. Choose wisely because whatever you focus on, negative or positive, will come into your life. 

To learn more about choice, I invite you to look at the “Choice-Cube® 4 Steps for Change” in my book Become the Person You Were Meant to Be. You will find lots of new ideas, and learn some tools to help you both find immediate relief and take the 4 Steps. Most importantly, using the tools and taking the Steps, you can learn to make important changes that will last. 


Does Your Body Hijack Your Mind?

When Jack feels upset, he tries to figure out what’s going on. Sometimes, he can, but more often he can’t find the answer. Janice in contrast, doesn’t even try to understand what’s happening. She just looks for someone to criticize or blame

Tom simply is not interested in trying to understand. He thinks that if he just forges ahead and works harder and harder, things have to get better. But usually they don’t.

These are all examples of people caught up in efforts to control people, things, actions, and problems.  

At the other extreme, are the people who try to avoid difficulties. Fran, for example, escapes her problems by getting high. Jack stuffs his thoughts and feelings about the problem, while Alice collapses, submits to the problem, and wallows in it. 

We have failed to understand and manage the overwhelming power of our body and emotions to hijack our mind and negatively influence our everyday life.  

Instead, for years, our efforts to help people with problems have focused on changing how they think—on their minds. We have ignored the role the body plays in driving us to avoid or control things that make us uncomfortable or threaten us in some other way. 

Why would we prefer to focus on the mind? Because honestly confronting our stress and emotions can be uncomfortable, even painful. In fact, we often choose to feel stuck and unable to change rather than deal directly and honestly with stress and negative emotions. 

This is dangerous. When we refuse to consciously and appropriately[1] manage stress and our emotions two things happen. First, stress and our emotions lock in warped and distorted thinking. Second, they hide the whole truth—the big picture--from us.

We then tend to use the avoid/control survival strategies, mentioned above, to keep stress and negative emotions from overwhelming us. The problem is that each time we repeat an old strategy, we strengthen it and create habit patterns of negative beliefs, reactions, and dysfunctional behaviors. 

Like Jack, Janice, and Alice, we reach for old, familiar strategies that prevent healthy resolution of issues. We strengthen the stress and negative emotions attached to them and create habit patterns that we mindlessly repeat and reinforce through repetition. 

It’s time to awaken to the role the body plays in what we think, feel, want, and do. It’s time to learn how to manage our stress and emotions moment-to-moment, instead of allowing stress and negative emotions to take over and control us. 

A first step is stress management training. This approach makes us aware of our body and often enables us to stay present in the moment. Body awareness and knowing how to use our mind to stay present is foundational. But there’s more, much more. 

Can you imagine a dependable method for choice and change that provides a simple framework to help you immediately recognize and label stress and negative emotions; tools that equip you to make wise choices and changes; and 4 steps to guide that change? 

Such a method would create an internal sense of safety as follows. I can trust the framework to help me recognize my stress and negative emotions, I can use the tools to help me take responsibility and make wise choices and changes. I can follow these 4 steps and do something different that leads to positive action.

The framework, tools, and 4 steps are like a tool kit that keeps you moving through problems and difficulties to a win-win resolution of them. 

When you can recognize your reactions and take responsibility for them, hopefully you have some simple tools to help you manage them. The tools should help you let go of crazy, hurtful thoughts--distorted information—and the emotions attached to those thoughts. 

Both the thoughts and the emotions--energy in motion--are embedded in the nervous system of your mind and body. It’s this distorted information and energy and that create the stress and negative emotions in the first place.

I would like to offer you the Choice-Cube® Method framework, tools and 4 steps to help you move through confusion, anxiety, anger, shame, and feeling overwhelmed to honesty and compassion for others and yourself. 

Would you like to learn how to use the framework, tools, and 4 steps in your life? They are found in, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be - The Choice-Cube Method:  Step by Step to Choice and Change, by Dr. Beth Blevins Cujé. You can learn more about the method and sign up for a free copy of the first chapter of Dr. Cujé’s book. Just click here:


[1]  “Appropriately” means managing our stress and emotions without hurting ourselves or others.

Hey People-Pleaser, Time To Take A Risk!

“What?” Katie, a pleasant, thirty-eight-year-old looked surprised.  

 PEOPLE-PLEASING IS LEARNED BEHAVIOR         “It’s true,” I answered, “People-pleasing is a learned behavior. You know what I mean. In order to feel safe and get along in the world, you learned to pretend things were okay when they were not.

Instead of being honest and sharing what you really felt and wanted, you learned to accept whatever people handed you. You learned to avoid confrontation whatever the cost.” 

“Early in life,” I continued, “it probably felt safer not to argue or stand up for yourself-- to ‘make nice.’ So you repeated that ‘get-along nicely’ behavior over and over. The problem is that without realizing it, each time you repeated it, you made changes to your brain and body until people-pleasing became automatic and ‘easy’—a way of life.” 

“Learning to people-please is like learning any other skill—riding a bike, typing, or swimming. The more you repeat the behavior, the better you become at doing it, even if the “skill” (refusing to discuss an issue, feeling like a victim, or silently blaming others) is destructive or useless.” 

“So you learned very well how to get along ‘nice and easy.’ Allowing yourself to be honest may even seem dangerous. You may be afraid to be real (though you may not allow yourself to feel the fear). Because you usually react as a non-confrontational, people-pleaser you probably believe this is who you really are.”

 YOU HAVE A FALSE SELF AND A HEALTHY BEST REAL SELF           “But Katie,” I said, “that is not the whole story. Yes, you have that make-nice-at-any-cost part of you. I call it a false self. But you are ignoring the best of who you are. The gentle, loving part of you that wants kindness and harmony, that’s the best of who you are--the real you.”

“Circumstances, experiences and choices can morph the best of anyone into an anxious people-pleaser. Fear and the need to get along can distort your thoughts and make it feel dangerous to tell people what you want.”

“Anyone may create a false self to get along--to feel safe and in control. But repeatedly acting as the false self, causes that self to seem like the real self. In fact, the false people-pleaser can become so powerful that eventually it seems impossible to be honest and let others know where you stand—to set boundaries with others.  It feels too scary to come out of hiding.”

YOU CAN LEARN TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT           “But there is good news.” I continued, “Just as you learned to hide and make nice, you can unlearn it and learn to do something different! You can learn to be honest, but kind, and say what’s on your mind. Sure, it takes effort and time, but the alternative is to stay stuck doing the same useless and hurtful things over and over.”

WHAT ABOUT IT?  ARE YOU READY FOR A CHANGE?         These four steps can take you where you want to go. 

  • ·      Step 1:  Recognize when you go into your people-pleaser self.
  • ·      Step 2:  Label what you are feeling (anger, fear, shame). Then let go of those           feelings, safely and appropriately. (There are specific techniques for this.)
  • ·      Step 3:  See the big picture (your strengths and possibilities as well as your         weaknesses). Then focus on the positive.  
  •     Step 4:  Replace the negative with the positive and take a risk.  Act on it!

Would you like to learn more about why you fall back on people-pleasing and your false self? Take a look at Become the Person You Were Meant to Be - The Choice-Cube® Method: Step by Step to Choice and Change . In this book, I help you understand why you are the way you are. I provide simple tools to give you choice and take the four key steps to help you change.  Copyright Dr. Beth Blevins Cujé  2012


2 Hidden Fears and Losing Our Balance

FEAR IN THE MIX       When life seems unbalanced, look for fear somewhere in the mix.  “Fear?  Anxiety? What kinds of fear are you talking about?” you might ask.

THREE COMMON FEARS    Let’s start with three of the most obvious fears we face every day: fear of confronting someone, fear of making the wrong choice, and fear making a big change in our life. We do not want the pain and trouble that might come from taking these actions. But is that all there is to it?

HIDDEN FEARS       No indeed. Underneath these fears lie deeper, often hidden fears. First we fear being rejected, or abandoned by people that matter to us, or people in general. It does not matter how old or experienced we are, we all have this fear and we need to deal with it. By the way, being rejected includes having people make fun of us.

Second, it’s true that sometimes others reject and abandon us. But sometimes we reject and abandon ourselves! Then we end up feeling inadequate and worthless.

HIDDEN FEARS CAN HURT US     Whether we realize it or not, we all live with these two fears: the fear that others will abandon or reject us and the fear of feeling inadequate or worthless because we reject ourselves. These fears can get us in trouble and keep us from becoming who were meant to be.

On the one hand for example, to avoid feeling these fears, some of us drink too much, are TV addicts, are workaholics, or have dangerous sex. On the other hand, some of us want to control these feelings so we try harder and  harder to fix things, but nothing changes. Perhaps we use anger to control others or a situation. Or we try to figure things out and get stuck on a mental merry-go-round. We do not find the right answer but we can’t stop thinking about the problem.

GOOD NEWS!     The good news is that we can expose and overcome these fears and the harmful behaviors they cause. There  is a way to do it and it is always the same!

THE FOUR STEPS       First, we need to recognize we are off balance and expose the fear that is making us lopsided. Then we can interrupt and let go of that fear and other emotions that lock in the distorted and painful thinking driving it

Once we do this it’s easier, and feels safer, to face our wrong thinking. We can also risk opening our minds to other ways of thinking and feeling that were not on our radar before. So we begin to see possible solutions and choices that we did not see before. This gives us choice. And when we have choice—when we see the big picture--we can choose where we prefer to focus (refocus). This is important because whatever we focus on will get us more of the same! Now, do we continue to focus on the problem or can we focus on the solution to the problem?

Freedom to focus on the solution liberates us to take action. We can do something to replace the problem and bring about the solution (replace/act).

THE FOUR KEY STEPS AND OUR BRAIN    Here is more good news. If we  take the four key steps mentioned above, we do something different.

   1. Recognize

    2. Interrupt/Let go

    3. Refocus

    4. Replace/act

We stop struggling to avoid or control problems inappropriately. We become problem-solvers instead of anxious or angry defensive self-protectors. Even better, we rewire our brains ! Now, the next time we are off balance, we are more likely to take the four steps and problem-solve when faced with difficulties.      

If you  feel confused or not ready to make these four steps part of your life, here's a resource for you. In her book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be - The Choice-Cube Method, available on, Dr. Beth Cujé, therapist gives you more information about the four steps and equips you with  tools to take the steps anytime, anywhere.

Also, here’s a chance to download the book’s first chapter for FREE. Just click here to learn more and find out what the Choice-Cube Method can do for you.