Episode 1: Why You're Self-Sabotaging (Suzanne)

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EP01: Why You’re Self-Sabotaging

Many people know what they need to do to reach their goals, they just don’t do it. Why?

Coach Suzanne introduces the concept of secondary gain: that there’s a benefit you get by NOT reaching your goal.

Suzanne helps her clients reach their goals by addressing their mindsets to create lasting change. She has a Bachelor of Medical Science​​,​​ Certificate 3 & 4 in Fitness​,​​ and personally experienced her own​ incredible transformation.

In this episode, Suzanne breaks down why the benefits of secondary gain are often fleeting, and why dreaming big but acting small is a winning strategy for success.

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Victoria: A lot of us think that to reach a goal, we have to give up behaviour that we actually enjoy often the thought of having to sacrifice things that we actually do like doing to achieve our goals could be subconsciously holding us back, sabotaging our commitment and our motivation, which slows us down or stops us dead in our tracks and offers.

And in some extreme cases, such thoughts can even stop us from getting started in the first place. So in today’s show, we are actually going to be talking about secondary gain. That’s right. Secondary gain the surprising barrier that can be holding you back from really, truly reaching your goals and to find out if it is possible to have that amazing cake and eat it too.

So with me today to explain this very interesting concept is one of our extraordinary coaches, coach Suzanne. Suzanne is a mind and body transformational expert. Who’s had great success in helping clients deal with negative patterns of behaviour. Building confidence, and creating lasting change in their lives and also careers.

In addition to her years of experience and qualifications as a coach, she also has a bachelor of medical science and a certificate three and four in fitness, so you can guess she is no stranger to achieving some incredible goals herself. And in fact, it was while working with a mindset coach on achieving her own goals that she became inspired to train as a coach and now share what she’s learnt to help others.

I always love having you on our show. Welcome. Suzanne!

Suzanne: Thank you Victoria.

Victoria: So I’m very curious. What is this secondary gain? It’s a concept in all my years of coaching. I actually have not come across it. So I am personally intrigued at what this is what the definition is and how we can actually unpack it and find some solutions around it.

Suzanne: I’m excited to talk about something you haven’t come across before. So, the majority of clients that I work with, come to me and say, I know what to do, but I just don’t do it in whatever way, shape or goal that they’re working towards. And the secondary gain is there is a benefit that you’re getting from not doing it and it’s not comfortable and it’s not conscious because.

You know, consciously, as everyone says, they know what to do, but they just don’t do it. So it’s about looking at the behaviours that, are, in some way, serving you and you’re getting your needs met by like a lot of my clients overeating is the thing or emotional eating and consciously. they don’t enjoy it. They feel guilty.

They feel shame. They hated the result of it with the excess kilos. But in the moment that they do it, they gained something from it because otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. But the thing is it’s often so instant and so fast, slowing it down to be present when it happens. Isn’t actually possible in the beginning.

And a lot of people will beat themselves up because they don’t actually know how to stop in the moment

Victoria: So that’s really interesting. I’m going to probably flip this on its head. When you talk about secondary gain, what comes to mind for me? And this is purely just based on the years of coaching that sometimes when we go after a goal, what can happen is when we do reach that goal. What fears may actually surface as a result of reaching that goal?

Suzanne: Oh, yes.

Victoria: So it’s not so much a secondary gain. It’s a secondary fear. That can then surface, I’ll give you totally off-the-cuff example because clearly our show is not scripted and it’s, and it’s live. So an example would be for those who are listening, something like totally thinking on the spot here. I want to, okay. Let’s move away from body stuff and weight loss right now. And you’re in a loving relationship. And again, this is just a made-up example. You’re at home, you’re raising children. And then you decide that one of your goals is that you would like to go back to work or you’d like to create a business.

And your family dynamic is used to you playing a certain role and. Even though your heart is singing out for something more, you know, the kids may be back at school and you’ve got all this time on your hands and maybe you might’ve had an extraordinary career as a artist or a, you know, amazing corporate, whatever you were doing.

And now it’s your time and space to now thinking around, okay, what next for me? And then when you make that decision, Fi suddenly comes up to then sitting down with the

family and saying, these are the decisions, or this is a decision. And this is what I would now like to explore as a, whether it’s getting at that new job or starting a business idea, and suddenly the goalposts change in that family unit.

And you may experience some pushback because you’re breaking. Expectations that are either nonverbal or verbal and you’re completely changing the rules. So therefore it’s interesting when you say secondary guy and out almost challenged that a little bit and say sometimes that can be a blocker to actually going after that first gain, which is the goal of the outcome.

Because then other fears come up that could stop you dead in your tracks for fear of what others will think and how that will change your life and the lives of others. When you decide that you want to be able to express more of who you are in that moment.

Suzanne: Yes.

Victoria: That’s interesting.

Suzanne: There’s so much in that because also too, like the business or going back to work or starting a new career example is awesome because so many clients and so many people, and even myself, once it had the children and they started school and you have more time, you think you have more time, but the changing the family dynamic because the children are used to you being home all the time. perhaps the thing that you’re exploring. haven’t done it before. So there’s a little bit of fear of like, what if I’m not good enough or what if I don’t have enough education? And then, so you might go and get some more education, but then there’s the thing of like the age there’s this so much, so many layers to this that sometimes we.

We dream big and then we think we need to act big. So then we don’t act at all rather than dreaming big and acting small. Like what’s the next little breadcrumb, the next little step that we can take, rather than because we can’t leap, we just get stuck in inaction.

Victoria: It’s a very good analogy that, and it’s something that encouraging, we all know these, that coaching. Coaching creates the conversation to help you create tiny steps forward. And it’s in those tiny steps that then ultimately the giant leaps appeared, but you don’t start leaping.

That’s not the way forward.

It’s taking bite-size little actions every single day to help build up tiny wins that then help build your confidence and your courageousness to then. Be able to say in your world, I can do this. I’d love to go back to the secondary gain. And let’s explore that a little bit more because I know that we can go off into a multitude of areas in this particular conversation.

So, I’d love to hear some examples of clients that you work with currently that are dealing with this issue and the secondary gain is actually a blocker.

Suzanne: Yes

Victoria: And how you help them through that.

Suzanne: So an example, like a tool or a strategy that I’ve used with clients before is when people say I know what to do, but I just don’t do it. What is the distractions that currently come up for you? So say they were going to write a blog and suddenly you need to check the fridge or suddenly you have to vacuum the floor or hang out the washing or do something it’s been there for however long, but it comes to mind that you need to action on it. And sometimes it’s not productive. Things like cleaning. It could just be watching Netflix and eating. Um, we’ll be honest. The thing that is the distraction. The two questions I encourage people to ask themselves is it good for me now? And is it good for me later? Because eating chocolate, when you should be writing a blog may very well be good for you right now, because in the moment it’s a distraction, it’s fun.

It’s freedom. But then later you’re going to have the. Calories. I don’t like to use the term calories, but you know, excess food that you’ve eaten surplus to requirements and the blogs still not done. So it’s not something that’s, you know, good for you now. Good for you later. So even something that, you know, like. Doing the washing or housework. Good for me now. Yes. It’s a break. Good for me later. Well, then I don’t need to do it later. So it’s a sideways step. It’s still not actually getting the thing done that you want to do, but it’s not actually taking you backward into the dark playground of eating or social media scrolling or something.

It’s totally in the opposite direction of your goal. And then once you’ve done that, the little distracting thing, it’s good for you now and good for you later. Coming back to, rather than getting stuck in this spiral you know, I’ve eaten the entire pantry from left to right. I’ve cleaned the entire house and I still haven’t done the thing.

And I think back to what you were saying before, often we try and make leaps rather than we just count The amazing little steps. Like if people are going to launch a podcast, seems to be the lockdown thing. Everyone wants to launch a podcast. It’s amazing. I’m not knocking it. They’re great. But that’s not something you do in a day. Like, do you have the equipment, the audio like, do you even know what you’re going to talk? Like there’s so many steps to this that we just kind of then go, well, I failed at it after like a week. If we’re honest, we’re really, really hard on ourselves. so it’s like breaking it down.

And then looking at the distractions, if they’re serving you now and later, not just now.

Victoria: So that’s really interesting. I am listening to what you are saying and to avoid the big leaps take the small steps. And break it down even further and plan really what it is that you’re wanting to achieve. And then there’s a second question beyond just is it good for me now? And is it good for me later, but I think there’s an opportunity as well, to be able to look at, okay, this is my goal.

Let’s use the blog article as an example. So the goal is you need to write a blog article by Friday at six o’clock.

there’s an opportunity there as well to ask yourself, what’s the benefit, what’s the reward from completing this task or completing this goal. So that helps you stay focused on moving away from procrastination, into doing. So it’s almost like you need to have a couple of different motivators that you need to be clear on.

So if I wrote this blog article, what does that mean? Is it good for me? Yes. Clearly we’re not talking about food right now. People were talking about writing a blog. So, um, by writing this blog, by sharing this blog, what’s the impact that it’s going to have on others that have. And so they fold that becomes a much higher motivator and moving it away from self to others, which help you then get the task done. now.

I would see that as also a secondary gain.

Suzanne: Yes. But sometimes the secondary gain can be if the client or the person says to themselves, what’s the potential impact? And, Somebody could read it and misinterpret what I’ve said. Somebody could read it and think I was having a go, like a lot of the fears can come up and that’s the things to work through with your coach because just because we think it doesn’t mean it’s true, but like this, sometimes that the secondary guy and the reason we know what to do, and we just don’t do it.

It’s not because we’re not capable or not motivated or lazy. All that stories we tell ourselves. Is there some fear under there about, you know, being visible, being seen, we’ve talked before about, you know, imposter syndrome. That’s actually the real sticking point under there. It’s never really a fear of failure so much as fear of success.

And that’s something to work through. and then the thing for that I say to people is, you know, what’s the worst case scenario. So like, you know, really go there the most worst thing that could happen, what’s the best case scenario. So you’ve, you’ve got your, you know, away from and you’re towards, and then what’s the most likely.

Because we tend to like, vary between these poles of what if this happens or what if this happens and then get stuck in inaction. But we kind of know where the actual, most likely thing is, but then we’ve kind of explored the range. And I think that allows us to calm our nervous system a bit like, for me often the worst case scenario what if, I forget to pick the kids up from school and, you know, they’re left there on their own.

And then someone else like terrible things or what’s the best case scenario, what’s the most likely scenario. So it’s just, it’s, it seems really simple, so simple that people won’t do it, but it’s really profound because it lets you identify the poles of the fear and then really realizing what’s the actual likelihood of that happening.

Very, very, very low. ,

Victoria: So what’s your process. That you take clients through to help them understand and label, which sometimes gives us a little bit of extra awareness that they are dealing with a secondary gain issue.

Is that a parent, when someone comes to you in a, in a session with reasons that they think why they’re not achieving their goal, But when you then suspect, ah, we’ve got a secondary gain issue going on here. Let’s dive in a little bit.

Suzanne: it’s apparent to me usually. and it’s just a matter of asking the right question to have the person come to the insight, because we’ve all been told something before, go do this. And then we’re like, no, that’s not it. And then we go and do all these other things. And then we go back to the person going, did you know it was this?

And you could just see the exasperated look in their eyes. Like I’ve been telling you this for ages, but there’s so many things that we need to uncover on our own.so like with a lot of the clients I work with who struggle with their weight. They think I didn’t get the job because I’m fat or I, they didn’t pick me because I’m heavy or I can’t do this because of my weight.

There are very few things that are things like when I was at my biggest, I couldn’t go on a rollercoaster, one of the most shameful experiences of my life, but, you know, because of my weight, like, but most of the things. It isn’t actually about their physical appearance at all. But then when we don’t have that way to security blanket, we kind of have to face it.

You know, maybe they didn’t pick me because of me. And that’s a lot more scary like that. It’s because of you then, as opposed to it’s my way. It’s because I’m a mom. It’s because I’m too old, too young to feel too unfair to, you know, so often when people are.putting why they can’t do something onto something else or someone else.

It’s a matter of asking questions. Like, you know, is it true? Is there people in the world who are your age or your weight or your gender who have achieved this?Well, yes. So it’s just creating awareness where perhaps before there wasn’t any.

Victoria: That’s really interesting. How many, I’m just curious, how many of your clients on a percentage level since you’ve started coaching. Have had to deal with the secondary gain conversation.

Suzanne: At least 90%

Victoria: That’s really high.

Suzanne: In some way or shape or form. I still deal with this all the time. It can be like, oh, I’ll have to wait till the kids are at school. And then the kids go to school and you’re like, well, that wasn’t it. I have to wait till school holidays. And that comes to like, well, that wasn’t it. Um, and like, I know the number of clients and be in the dozens of people who’ve been like, where do I get a dog?

Then I’ll have no excuse not to exercise. So they get a dog. That wasn’t it. So, you know, we often put things off until we’ve achieved something until something ha has happened. Um, not consciously. And then we realized that that wasn’t actually the thing.

Victoria: That’s really interesting. I mean when, when we set goals, I think lists is deviate for a moment when we set goals. I do believe that. And I’m certainly not a dream squasher I am all about the impossible. And sometimes it’s as simple as having the right strategies in place to create and achieve those outcomes. But I do know that.

We also want to set ourselves up for success and not failure when reaching our outcomes, secondary gain or not.

Suzanne: Um, And sometimes when you’re starting out on the coaching journey, the very beginning, I, do know that it’s from my world. It’s important to be able to create outcomes that you absolutely align with.

Victoria: And. They feel true for you rather than someone else’s opinions or expectations of what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your life. And I know this is not necessarily related to secondary gain. However, maybe Suzanne, you can help link it together where it does it does connect, but I know that many people often have such louder voices in their world.

And their journey also is being able to trust their voice and what they really want to give themselves the opportunity to uncover. How do you deal with, or how do you coach people through that scenario when clients present that challenge?

Suzanne: I, when you were speaking, just then the analogy that came to mind for me is these seminars. And I’m not knocking them. I am all for personal development, but some of them you go to and they get everyone all, ramped up, can take on the world, you can change everything. All you need to do is give us another $10,000, but that’s a story for another day and then you leave and you’re so excited and you’re riding the high and then you get out.

But now what do I do? what’s the actual, tangible next step? And I think, you know, my passion for working with people is yes, dream big, have the vision. Let’s, you know, let’s not squash the dreams as you said, but let’s also marry that with, you know, the possibility and the predictability. so we can actually start taking steps today and that you can feel that sense of achievement.

Each day and not just at the end, because you know, some of these goals that people are wanting to create a years in the making and that’s not to like often, I think that’s why we ended up in the secondary game behaviours of scrolling, eating, just zoning out playing games because it seems so big. And so far away that we think we need to be in that motivational high thing.

you know, if I’m not achieving big, then I’m a failure, but it’s marrying th, possible with the predictable. So like, cause basically for anything, our past behaviours is predictive of future, but doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. It’s just looking at okay .How can we, I’m probably not articulating as well, not coming out of my mouth, how it is in my mind, but it’s like how to go, okay. You know, this is what I want to do. This is what I’m you know capable of doing. And because often when we go to an event or a seminar or watch something inspirational ,we then we’ll use our life as an excuse. Like, well, I can’t do that because I’m a mom, or I can’t do that because I have a job or I can’t do that because, but instead it’s.how can I work with the things that I have, and see these other things as a superpower, rather than the thing that holds us back. And we just wait for the next hit of inspiration. That’s maybe getting more line up because then when that happens, it’s like, well, I can’t do that because they already have.

Suzanne: So we looked for people who were like us to be inspired by, but then we find them and we often are like, well, it’s already been done. So it’s, it’s a fascinating concept.

Victoria: It’s really interesting. Isn’t it? It’s really interesting. There are so many complexities when it just comes to creating a plan or a path or outcomes that you want to create. And gosh, Most of the journey sometimes is being able to give yourself permission to have a voice.

Like if I’m just drilling down at conversation with any, any client that I’ve worked with, and I know you have worked with as many Suzanne and often it’s just giving ourselves permission.

And then at tackles yes, the secondary gain issues or the impostor syndrome or any of the other mindset blockers that then come into the mix. And the first place to start is really okay, what do I want, what do I really want to create for the journey ahead? And for my life, then tackle that the roadblock is whether it’s imposter or whether it’s secondary gain.

And that’s what I, you know, we love about coaching is that it’s not about the rare weekends away, a personal development. It is about let’s work through this methodically. Let’s work through this with a clear, tangible plan of approach. It’s like when you, you, know, if you’re driving across country, you just wouldn’t.

necessarily just jump in your car and start driving across the country without a map,

Suzanne: Or checking your tires and making a seatbelt, and you’ve got water in your windscreen and you’ve got fuel for yourself and you have money to buy and you know, where the petrol stations are like. And that’s, I think the magic of coaching, um, is people who have often gone from event to event, when they first hire there or come to their one-on-one coach, they sometimes feel like they’ve had to have done all these things between sessions.

it’s been a week let’s like, bring this into the tangible, what can you do in a week? And even if you didn’t do it, you haven’t failed. I actually, it’s goingto sound really weird, but I get more excited when people don’t do stuff then when they do not, because I don’t want people to take action, but because I don’t want them to pay lip service and know what they should do.

Suzanne: And then just, you know, try and like I’m not attached to people’s outcome. I totally want them to have every success. But we all know what it’s like to read the book, attend a thing, make the plan, do nothing, throw it out, and look for the next one. But when you have an actual coach in your corner, who, can say to you, okay, so, you know what happened? Well, this happened and then, okay. So, you know, how can we go around it, go under it, go over it. Or, or is this actually a thing that you want to do? Because sometimes the goal that the person has said, isn’t the right goal, but we’re not going to get any of this data until you actually give it a go and try and tweak rather than, you know, going from big dream to big dream and always feeling like you’re not enough to even start.

Victoria: Small tiny steps will get you there. And it’s not about the sprint. It’s about the marathon

Suzanne: Mm.

Victoria: and it’s preparing yourself for the journey and having the right equipment, the right mindset, the right strategies, the right solutions, the right support around you to ensure that you. Move over the finishing line. I was about to say, move effortlessly over the finishing line.

But a lot of the time when you are wanting to create change in your life, you do need to put in effort. You do need to take that next level of commitment, and sometimes you need to rally every day and remind yourself of, okay, where am I headed?

Suzanne: yes.

Victoria: Reminding yourself, whether it’s a note on the fridge or a vision board or something, right on, you know, over the years when I’ve been wanting to create different things in my world, I’d get out a lipstick and I’d write on my glass of my bathroom mirror

Suzanne: Yes!.

Victoria: You know, a mindset that I wanted to shift or really, you know, change, or it would be a post-it note. I mean, there are so many, lots of fun visual cues that you can, it’s like preparing for that journey, you know, pumping up the tires and getting your food ready. It’s part of the preparation of the journey of when you are starting out coaching and using all the resources that you have to ensure that you get over the finishing line and.

The secondary gains and the imposter syndrome. And all of that is part of the journey of allowing that to come to the surface to then absolutely annihilate in the best possible way, because they’re the blockers. They’re the flat tires

Suzanne: Yeah. And if you have a flat tire, Victoria, what do you do? You go and change it. If, if your mindset’s not kind of online, what you tend to do is go slash the other three. I’ve had this flat, oh, I can’t do this. And, you know, go and slash the other three tires. But, you know, logically if you’re on the road and your car got a flat tire, then you would change it or call roadside assist. But you know, so when the moments happen that the recommitment, you know, it’s like, why am I doing this? What was I thinking to have the slow down and reattach that tire pump it back up, you know, replace it, get some help as opposed to like the whole full-on sabotage, which we all have done. Um, because then we end up even further behind them often when we began.

Victoria: And that’s the importance of planning. It’s the importance of the little steps and celebrating the little wins along the way. And it’s wonderful to have big dreams. I’m all for them, but you also need to be able to set yourself up for success and break it down and celebrate and acknowledge the journey.

And. Set yourself up to manage your own expectations that this, this is a journey that you’re going on and to be kind and compassionate and not beat yourself up. If you didn’t quite get over the pass mark that particular day, because tomorrow’s always another day. And that was interesting that you said before, when you do have a flat tire, essentially.

Okay. If you’re like me, you don’t like changing tires, you call for help. It’s called NMA and it’s no different with. You call it, you call your coach. Like essentially, that is the beautiful thing that we love to do as coaches and. Part building part of that support tribe around you to their like, your it reminds me of another analogy. If you’re a race car and you pull off to the side of the pits and they quickly come in and reboot you and get your zip back up, you know, and then bang, you’re back out on the racetrack again. And I know it seems a silly analogy, but it does remind me of the beautiful space that as coaches we offer, we offer that. And anyway, that’s what I’ve certainly loved about being a coach for so long.

Suzanne: And I think that’s the magic of the platform. Hello coach with a coach on demand, there is the ability to reach out and book in with someone,to get that kind of, you know, this is pit stop break, reminder, back out there because you know, it can be. It can just be that one thing or really just to be heard, like, because sometimes it’s all about choosing your audience.

You might go to your partner and if they’ve got any niggles or doubts of their own, that then be like, of course, what did you think? And so they can contribute to the thing. So it’s like choosing the support or asking for the support that’s going to help in that moment. Like, Came to the pitstop crew and asked me to change a tire.

There’s going to be a problem. But so it’s like when, in the moment that you need help identifying, which is the best resource to reach out to,

Victoria: you’ve actually made a really really valuable point. To be very mindful. I’ve learned this along the way to be very mindful, who you share your dreams with,

Suzanne: mmm,

Victoria: because not necessarily everyone is in support of your dreams because therefore that can sometimes mean change.

Suzanne: Yes.

Victoria: There are a lot of people that are fearful of change, so they’re not the ones.

To share your goals with, and I’m just saying that not to be a negative, but be protective over your dream space. Be protective over your goals and aspirations and be mindful and wise who you share and voice that journey with and surround yourself with your tribe that will champion new forward in leaps and bounds.

Suzanne: Reminds me of that saying like they say the average of the five people you spend most time with and that, so if you’re spending a lot of time with people who are like, are

Not goal getters, like a one day kind of people, then you kind of become a one day kind of person. Whereas if you like. Actually, and it doesn’t have to be physical time.

Like the actual time I spend with most people, two of them are six and eight, my children. But the, the thing, the podcasts that you listened to, the books, you read, the things you look at on social media, look at things that are inspiring or, encouraging, or, you know, overcoming and not people who are things that constantly look for the barriers or the reasons that you can’t do it.

Victoria: I love that. I love talking to you. It’s been so nice again to have you back on the show, Suzanne. And if you would like to. Find Suzanne and book Suzanne, she’s an absolute superstar. Just pop over to hellocoach.com and you’ll find Suzanne on our platform. Suzanne, thank you again. I look forward to having you back to have many more enjoyable conversations and it’s been lovely to have you here today.

Suzanne: Thank you. Victoria. Thanks Everyone.

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