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Why you don’t have an “inner saboteur” (and what’s REALLY going on)

My name is Kate, and I’m a Self-Belief Coach working with women in mid-life.

Self-doubt is something we all have from time to time, but I’ve found it can show up particularly strongly at this life stage.

First off, I don’t even like the term “inner saboteur” it feels mean and small minded.

So, I was super relieved to discover in the Self-Belief Coaching Academy training, that in the evidence-based methodologies developed by founder Sas Petherick, it’s quite simply not true.

However, as an idea it has gained traction, and most coaching will at some point have clients develop a conversation with the part of themselves that seems hell-bent on stopping them accomplishing their dreams and goals. So that’s where I’ll begin…

The “mean” inner voice

We’ve all had those moments when an inner voice seems to be intent on knocking us off course. It might be telling us things like:

“You aren’t capable of [blank]”

“[Blank] is for other people, not you”

“You’ll never make [blank] work”

Fill in the [blanks] with your own life situation…

Since as humans, following the path of least resistance is pretty much our default, this leads to us often simply giving up on the ideas or dreams we are trying to pursue.

What if this could be re-framed?

What if in truth this self-saboteur was in fact our self-doubt showing up as our “inner protector” trying to keep us safe from psychological risk? How would we feel then?

When I first heard about this concept I breathed a huge sigh of relief, I could feel my shoulders physically drop, and I immediately felt calmer.

And like me, you’re probably curious about how this all works…

The Self-Doubt Loop

the self doubt loop
Let me introduce the Self-Doubt Loop with a real-life example I was recently grappling with - wanting to set up an email sequence as part of the online marketing for my business.

You enter the loop when you are contemplating taking action (in this case, setting up the email sequence).

If that feels like a scary prospect (it did!) your Self-Doubt Alarm will fire off and you feel discomfort.

To avoid that feeling (as it’s icky and we want to avoid ickiness at all costs!) your resistance shows up in one of six main ways:

  • Procrastination

  • Perfectionism

  • Proving yourself

  • Passive behaviours

  • Paralysis

  • Placating/pleasing others

Pick your favourite from the list above…

(Mine was a mixture of procrastination: making a cuppa and sweet snack to “feel better”, or paralysis: walking around my flat feeling totally helpless to do ANYTHING whatsoever).

This often forms a pattern that then becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy whenever we are contemplating doing anything that feels hard.


Most coaching hacks the resistance which never gets to the bottom of why you’re feeling self-doubt in the first place. Self-Belief Coaching uncovers what’s at the root…and it’s often simply how we learned to respond to difficult situations a long, long time ago.

Our “inner protector” is always trying to keep us safe from one of the following seven big psychological risks:








(In the example of my doing something new - setting up an email sequence - the risk for me was complexity – it felt too hard, so my self-doubt was telling me not to even try).

Learning to navigate our self-doubt

The first step is noticing the protective belief, in this example, my inner protector was telling me: “It’s too hard to even try”. Once aware, we can reframe this with a more helpful belief. So, I chose: “I can ask for help and learn the process”.

My next step was to work on this with my own coach. Being a complete business systems whizz, she had an easy-to-follow template, and I created a six-email sequence in half a day by following her process.

It may not be perfect, but it’s set up and ready to go.

When self-doubt it more deeply rooted, we may need to gently work on building our helpful belief by creating a series of experiments. (This is much easier to do with the support of a coach who can give us the space to see the bigger picture and hold us accountable for taking action).

By taking small doable action steps (and remembering these are simply experiments to be treated with curiosity), we are building our self-belief and self-trust that we CAN do hard things.

I hope this resonated and I’d love to hear what you think, please do share your thoughts in the comments below.

(If you don’t feel comfortable going public, do message me privately on Instagram @katebaconcoaching if you have any questions).

More about Kate and where to find her online

Kate Bacon is a Self-Belief Coach specialising in supporting mid-life women, re-discover who they are and what they want, to create brilliant, purposeful lives for their next chapter.

It’s her mission to start a revolution of cool-assed middle years humans defiantly living their best lives on THEIR terms!

Having first discovered coaching in 2004, she’s completed training with ICF-accredited: Coaching Development, Animas Centre for Coaching, and most recently The Self-Belief Coaching Academy.


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