How To Recognize Self-Sabotage


I am a chronic self-saboteur.

I say that I want something and then find myself doing all sorts of things that  push that desired object further away from my grasp.

Here are just two examples. I say I want to lose weight, but I often eat way too much of foods that are bad for me. And I say I want to finish my PhD but in the past, I procrastinated for years and avoided my advisors, the very people who could help me finish. I want to be a speaker and have been meaning to sign up for public speaking classes, but have not managed to do so as of yet.

I eventually get things done, but these behaviors create unnecessary drama, prolong reaching my goals, and make the journey less enjoyable. And none of this has to be. I created all that with these self-sabotaging habits.

Wtf is that about?? Why do we cry and fuss and say that we want something so much, yet turn around and undermine our efforts?

This is self-sabotage. And its getting in the way of everything we want.

We sabotage ourselves because we have internal subconscious scripts that block our logical desires.  In other words, we think we want something, but somewhere deep in our brains, we don’t really want it so we fight against it without realizing it. I know! Deep, right?  Examples of operating scripts include: feelings of unworthiness, not believing your desires are actually possible, or fear of living in the new reality that reaching your goals would bring.  Recognizing these scripts is where the hard work happens. 

But the good news is that the more we are aware of these behaviors, the more chance we have of keeping them in check and preventing them from stopping our dreams.

Here are 10 common self-sabotage methods to be aware of:

Self-Sabotage Method #1: Procrastination

This is probably the most common form of self-sabotage. You have an important project with a deadline far enough in the future to give you more than enough time to get it done. But instead of tackling it in a timely manner, which would give you ample time to do it well and to be able to correct any mistakes, you wait until the last minute to get it done.

And  procrastination is even more debilitating when your project doesn’t have a clear cut deadline. Like saving money or eating better or organizing your home. This type of procrastination can make it possible to NEVER accomplish your goals because there is no sense of urgency.

The thing with procrastination is that it makes you dread tomorrow. Since you have unfinished projects looming over your head, you feel tired before beginning anything. Finish your projects today. Give yourself a deadline and don’t let yourself off the hook. You deserve to accomplish the things you want.

Self-Sabotage Method #2: Negative Self-Talk

We all talk to ourselves. What do you say when you talk to yourself? If you call yourself bad names or are super-critical of your past-mistakes, you are engaging in negative self-talk. This is self-sabotage because it feeds your subconscious mind into believing these things about yourself. If you repeat something often enough, it becomes an affirmation. Instead, try imagining yourself as a small child. Be patient and nurturing. Talk to yourself in an encouraging way that makes you actually want to move toward your goals.

Self-Sabotage Method #3: Creating Drama

Sometimes we don’t want to face the challenges in front of us. So instead, we engage in gossip and fan the flames of drama. This is simply a distraction. Your goals and ambitions are placed on the back burner while you deal with the drama you created. This can also include social media/gossip site addictions. And the worst part is that we often  don’t even realize we are doing this. If you have lots of “emergencies” that you have to “handle” in your personal life, this may be a clear sign that you are creating drama. Channel that attention into the areas you want to improve in.

Self-Sabotage Method #4: Dropping the Ball

You know what has to be done. You make a commit to do it. You tell others that you will do it… and then you drop the ball. You back out. You flake. This type of behavior lets others know that you are not dependable. Dropping the ball also stifles you and keeps you in place. Be aware of your commitments and honor them.

Self-Sabotage Method #5: Neglecting Self-Improvement

If you are not growing, you are dying. That is true for all living things. In order to grow, you must have a self-improvement plan. Find opportunities to expand your knowledge and abilities. Network to meet people to grow your social circle. Read books and take courses. Strive to get better. And this is not about dissatisfaction. This is about recognizing the importance of growth.

Self-Sabotage Method #6: Ignoring Basic Maintenance

Life is basically about the maintenance of things. There is a basic level of upkeep on everything from our bodies, relationships, our homes, our clothes, our cars. Yet sometimes we act as if we don’t know this. When you don’t maintain things, they break down eventually. Break-downs cause crises and are expensive, but are usually 100% preventable. Take care of all the little things in your life. When you don’t, you are self-sabotaging.

Self-Sabotage Method #7: Being a Perfectionist

When you refuse to take basic actions because the circumstances are not “perfect” you are self-sabotaging. There is hardly ever a perfect time to do anything. By waiting for the “perfect” time, you are simply giving yourself an excuse to not do anything. Do the best you can do, and move on. You will improve later anyway.

You will never be perfect. Striving for perfection is basically ensuring that you will be disappointed in pretty much anything you do. Why set yourself up? This is self-sabotage.

Self-Sabotage Method #8: Disorganization

We all have busy lives with a lot of moving parts: work, money, home, kids, appointments, social lives, etc. And if we are not careful, things can become a mess. Make a place and space for everything and everyone that is important to you. Being organized helps you to make sure that everything gets the proper attention it deserves. Being organized also helps to manage anxiety and overwhelm. The only purpose that disorganization serves is to distract you the things you need to be doing.

Self-Sabotage Method #9: Overthinking

I’m a firm believer that all major life decisions should be carefully considered. But when you are paralyzed by indecision because you constantly overthink every situation, this is self-sabotage. Life calls for timely decisions to be made. Make them and move on. Don’t sit too long in indecision. This is self-defeating and useless. Growth comes from digging in, making mistakes, and learning from them.

Self-Sabotage Method #10: Negative Thinking

“I’m not going to submit my application because they already have a chosen candidate.”

“I’m not going to tell him how I feel because I know he doesn’t feel the same way.”

“I always lose, so I’m not even going to go after it anymore.”

In life, some things  work out in our favor and some things work. Such is life. But when we assume that nothing will  work out in our favor, we are being self-defeated. The problem with negative thinking is that it affects our actions. We psyche ourselves out so that we don’t even try to go after what  we want. This is self-sabotage. Don’t let your negative thinking turn your actions into inaction. Whenever you hear the voice in your head turn negative, push past it with an affirmation. You can do it.

Remember that your goals are on the other side of your self-sabotaging behaviors. Try your best to recognize and dampen them.

If you need assistance with stopping your self sabotaging habits from undermining your goals, check out my 90-Day Goal Getter Individual Coaching Program. 



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