Why I Sent Selena Gomez a DM

Who else thinks we should stop talking about “self-sabotage”?

Jenna Hellberg
4 min readDec 8, 2022
Photo by Ira Dulger on Pexels

Look — I’m not in the habit of sending celebrities DMs on social media. And for obvious reasons (like 362M followers), I don’t expect ever to hear back from Selena Gomez.

But while watching My Mind & Me, there was a scene that broke my heart a little bit — and I could not not reach out.

In this scene, Selena has a conversation with her friend Raquelle. They wonder why Selena often doesn’t do the things that make her feel good, and they come to the conclusion that it’s because of self-sabotage.

For context, I’m a psychologist by training. On top of that, I’m an INFJ; I pay attention to and think deeply about #AllTheThings — especially the words we use in our everyday lives.

In the past couple of years, I’ve been helping small business owners find ways to be productive in a sustainable, human-friendly way.

So I get super frustrated with how prevalently self-sabotage is talked about in the online business space, because I see that it chips away at the self-esteem and self-trust of business owners.

I’ve yet to have a client who doesn’t feel like there’s something wrong with them if they can’t seem to do everything they’ve planned or if they keep putting off projects and updates they know would make their business better.

And I believe that it’s at least partly because the topic of “self-sabotage” is oh-so-prevalent in the business coaching space, which makes people feel like *they* are the problem.

(This is a topic for a whole other article, but there’s something ethically problematic in making people feel bad about themselves so they’ll need your coaching to feel better about themselves. Just stop.)

Labels like “self-sabotage” imply intent

Because the term self-sabotage suggests that someone is choosing to be or act in a certain way, identifying it within ourselves often comes with a side of guilt, self-criticism, or self-judgment.

Or all of the above.

What the online business influencers don’t share (or maybe even know?), is that you can do [a thing] even if your intentions, values, priorities, wants, or needs are the complete opposite.

This can happen no matter how aware you are of the better choices you could make in a situation, and no matter how badly you want things to be different in your life or business.

So why do we act in ways that don’t match how we’d like to act?

Your behaviors at any given moment are the result of your nervous system steering you toward what it thinks is most beneficial to you at that moment.

Your nervous system makes these decisions informed by your past experiences, influenced by how you’re doing and feeling, and driven by the effort to protect you. Plus all your nervous system really cares about is your survival — not your modern aspirations or “thriving”.

Meaning it’s not the *core of you*, the rational part of you, who makes the choice that goes against your intentions.

You are not broken; your system is working exactly as it was designed.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t take responsibility for the ways you act, or that you can’t do things to support yourself so you can make better decisions.

Support your ability to do what you say you want to do

As I mentioned before, how you’re doing and feeling influences your ability to choose actions that align with your intentions.

Here are a few key areas you can strengthen to support yourself:

Your overall mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Are you healthy? Do you get enough sleep? Are you eating well? Do you have supportive relationships in your life? If you’re not feeling well, the last thing your body wants is to expose you to something effortful like updating your website copy, sending off a scary proposal, or signing up for dance classes.

How your life and business are set up. Do you have supportive routines and structures in place that help you spend your time on the things that matter to you? What systems and practices do you have in place in your business, so that you can focus your work time on your most impactful tasks and activities without burning out? When you streamline some of the things that need to get done, you free up time and energy to do more effortful tasks and activities.

Your sisu. Sisu is a Finnish term that roughly translates as a mix of grit, resilience, determination, and courage. One thing that strengthens your sisu is a sense of meaning. When you feel like the things you do have purpose it’s far more likely that you’ll want to keep showing up for them.

The stronger these three areas are, the easier it will be to follow through on the things you want to do.

Remove “self-sabotage” from your vocabulary

The next time you don’t follow through on [a thing], don’t blame yourself(-sabotage). When you don’t pinpoint yourself as the problem, it’s easier to move on and find some supportive solutions.

Or at the very least, you’ll be kinder and more understanding toward yourself. This often helps my clients do the thing they said they were gonna do — even if they didn’t change anything else in their business.

Want to be more productive ASAP?

Together we can figure out practical things you can do to be more productive — without having to push yourself so hard. Find out how we can team up on my website>>

Or listen to the Building Balance podcast for weekly thoughts and tips around productivity and work-life balance for solo business owners.



Jenna Hellberg

Helping small business owners make progress without hustle. Get my free planning guide that helps you prioritize impactful tasks: www.jennahellberg.com/plan