215-260-4881 gail@gailcummings.com

The Slap Heard Round the World

Everyone has heard, seen and dissected the “slap” Will Smith bestowed on Chris Rock. On the precipice of receiving the crowning achievement of his career, the Academy Award for Best Actor, Smith slapped Rock on television before a global audience. But few have considered Denzel Washington’s sage advice to the Fresh Prince in the aftermath of the event:

“At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you.”

Denzel’s cautionary suggestion is a reference to a Biblical passage and can be viewed as a warning against self-sabotage. It refers to our internal demons – our vulnerabilities and frailties. The part of ourselves that wonders whether we deserve the success, the happiness, the brass ring. Maybe, just maybe, it’s too scary to be that deserving so we undermine and sabotage ourselves – letting our internal critics win out. “See, I told you so!” says the inner critic. “You aren’t good enough to get that award.” We are simultaneously afraid of success and afraid of failure. It’s much more comfortable in the middle.

Most of us don’t self-sabotage quite as publicly. We don’t finish that master’s thesis or follow up after a great first interview; we show up late for an important meeting or oversleep and don’t show up at all. We allow perfectionism to take over and, as a result, never get the projects done.

As you begin your weekend, I leave you with a few ways to deal with your inner self-saboteur:

  • Acknowledge your fear of failure and self-doubt;
  • Determine what sets off that fear, e.g., being discovered as an imposter;
  • Notice the behaviors that follow when that fear gets triggered, e.g., avoidance, decision paralysis, negative attention seeking;
  • Identify your intentions and goals;
  • Commit to supporting yourself through the ups and downs of obtaining those goals, e.g., forgive yourself your mistakes;
  • Talk with a friend, mentor, therapist or coach to help support you on this journey, i.e., find your Denzel.

If you need additional guidance or just want to chat, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at gail@gailcummings.com or 215-260-4881. If you know of anyone who might need my help, please pass this email along. I am here to support you, and just an email or a call away.

Wishing you success in achieving your goals,


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215-260-4881 - gail@gailcummings.com