Self-Sabotage: Recognizing and Overcoming It

Is there something you know deep down is good for you that will change your life completely, something you know you should be doing but you have not done it yet? Do you find yourself coming to a complete halt when attempting to achieve something, although you have the skills, tools, and desire, but you stop for no rational reason? We can probably think of a few things that we have pushed back or negatively talked ourselves out of. What is this and why? The answer is Self-Sabotage.

What is Self-sabotage? Why do we self sabotage? What are some of the behaviors associated with it? How do we overcome it?

Self sabotage is any behavior that creates problems in our life or interferes with very important long standing goals. Sometimes we’re not even aware of the damage this behavior is causing in our lives because its on a subconscious level. It creeps in and tells us to eat a whole pizza when we are trying to release a few pounds, or whispers to us to binge watch a whole season of Netflix when we should be exercising or writing a book. However its showing up in our lives it’s dangerous because it turns into this self-defeat and makes us feel we are not worthy or deserving of success or happiness. This in turn causes us to do things subconsciously to block it. If we do this enough we find ourselves digging ourselves into a deep hole of self-defeat which can be difficult to climb out of.

Why do we self-sabotage?


One way is because we don’t feel we are deserving of success and happiness. There’s this lack of belief in ourselves that makes us feel unworthy. We feel we are destined to fail so we question ourselves and our abilities. This can even come when you are successful. If you don’t feel you deserve it, you can start to self-sabotage your progression. Have you heard of the imposter syndrome? This comes up through feelings of inadequacy despite evident success. There’s this chronic self-doubt and sense of fraudulence or being “found out”. So what do we do? We do the bare minimum as to not get noticed or we may worry the more we do the more we’ll be revealed causing us to procrastinate and divert to something less important.


Fear is another reason we self-sabotage. There’s a deep fear of failure that comes with if we try our best and put ourselves out there completely but we don’t succeed. We fear we’ll be personally let down and publically humiliated. To avoid this, we live in fear and never step outside of our comfort zones. We would rather play it safe than be vulnerable to other people’s judgment and criticism. When we fear other people’s opinions of ourselves, it's usually because we don’t trust our opinion of ourselves. This can also cause us to project this fear and insecurity to other people who are doing things we feel we should be doing.

How do we Self-Sabotage?


One way is by procrastinating. When we know we should be doing something or working towards something but put it off or start something new and never finish it is procrastination. When we know there are exciting opportunities if we move forward but we are unmotivated or unable to proceed, this is operating in fear and procrastination.


Another way is through scapegoat thinking and behaving. This ties into the self-fulfilling prophecy. If things don’t go how we planned or expected it to go we can blame it on something else. “Yeah of course my relationship failed because I was never present” Instead of “My relationship failed because I’m not worthy of love” or “Of course I didn't pass the test because I didn't study as much as I should have” instead of “I failed the class because I can’t grasp the material” While some of these reasons may be the truth it's easier to come to terms with that other than the deeper reason we may feel.


Anger is another way. You destroy relationships with family friends and coworkers due to anger resentment or jealousy. You also use aggressive communication rather than assertive communication which can cause confusion, strife and unresolved issues in your relationships. This is also in the form of being defensive with everything people say to you.


You can also worry over little things that don’t matter. You start to worry about failure and if others will think less of you if you do. You self-sabotage when you start doubting yourself knowing you are capable. You know you studied, researched and experienced this yet you still keep doubting yourself which brings on worry.

Feelings of Unworthiness

This causes you to exaggerate other people’s accomplishments and achievements and diminish your own. You take other people’s misguided criticism to heart and allow others to put you down. You start to engage in negative self talk based on beliefs of yourself and other people’s opinions of you.

Overcoming Self-Sabotage

Whatever your behavior is you MUST overcome it. If you don’t this will continue to erode your confidence and self esteem and you’ll look around one day and regret everything you didn’t do.

If you recognize yourself in any of these behaviors, this is a sign that you can escape self-sabotage because it starts with recognizing your thoughts.

There are self reflection questions to help you tune into the situations that may be causing you self sabotage

Where does fear of failure come from - Where does it originate from. Childhood, your interpretation of experiences you’ve had, or what others have told you?

What goals have you had for a long time yet you still haven’t achieved it?

When you think about that answer think about what is it that is keeping you from achieving this goal. This will uncover the limiting beliefs.

What are you consistently failing at?

What is nagging at you because you know you should be doing better?

Self reflection and self correction is necessary but sometimes we can be our own worst critic. So another way to overcome self sabotage is by monitoring your negative thoughts Write down the negative thoughts that come up in your head when you set out to achieve something. Write them down and examine them.

And lastly, challenge your self-sabotaging thoughts. When you discover the negative thoughts or behaviors that prevent progress start asking yourself what deeper thoughts lie behind this? Are these thoughts rational? Are you basing your present and future behaviors on past unsuccessful attempts? When you reveal and challenge your thoughts, it gives you room to heal from them and catch them before they cause damage.

Why Beneath The Why

Just to put this out there, If you have a goal, it's so important to have a deep motivation reason for achieving this. We need a deeper reason why we do the things we set out to do because when things get tough and we start to feel unmotivated (which is inevitable) we’ll be able to still show up because the reason for achieving it will be way stronger than not.

Sometimes we need someone to hold our hand. We need an accountability partner. Someone who’s going to support us,stretch us,and hold us accountable. We need someone to remind us of why we’re doing this in the first place. We need someone to help us challenge and recognize those self-sabotaging behaviors and thoughts and transform them to fuel to crush our goals. If you know someone who may need stretch and support in overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors connect them with me here.

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