Learn more about what it means to self-sabotage and how you can overcome it.
A behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it interferes with long-standing goals and makes it harder for one to succeed. To put it another way, self-sabotage is the conflict between your conscious and unconscious desires that manifest in self-limiting patterns. Self-sabotage can be severely damaging to your overall life goals but can also act as a safety net that protects you against disappointment. The most common self-sabotaging behaviors include procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, self-injury, self-doubt, or comfort eating. All of these acts may seem helpful or useful at the moment, but they ultimately undermine a person’s overall productivity and progression through life, especially when they happen often.
The most frustrating part of self-sabotage is that many people aren’t aware of their self-sabotaging tendencies.Many of those suffering from self-sabotage are lacking in self-worth, self-esteem or self-confidence.
Are you self-sabotaging? Do you often do or say the following?
Do you often say or think: “If only…” “I can’t do this,” “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll start tomorrow.”
Do you hold yourself back from taking risks?
Do you not plan and get frustrated when things don’t work out?
Are you incapable of saying no to others?
Do you complain that you have bad luck?
If any of this sounds like you, then you may be stuck in a self-sabotaging pattern. Once you’ve realized that your traits may be self-limiting, how do you fix it?
Be real with yourself: Why are you self-sabotaging? Are you afraid of taking a risk? Worried that you won’t succeed? Worried that you will? Talking a long, hard look within can help you understand the cause of your self-sabotaging tendencies.
Make realistic goals: Do you often make lofty goals with unrealistic timelines and never reach hit your target? Making your goals challenging but obtainable is essential to ending self-sabotaging habits. Achieving your goals feels terrific so making sure that you can do just that is essential to your success.
Write it down: A goal without a plan is just a wish. Having a written plan is incredibly useful help you end the cycle of self-sabotage. Having your goals in writing make it hard to make excuses.
Start today: There’s always a great reason to start tomorrow… or next week… or next month. Beginning to work towards your goals today can help you reduce the probability of never starting in the first place.
Seek help from a professional: If you consistently can’t get your act together, consider seeking help from a life coach or a therapist. They can keep you accountable, help you work through any fears you have and look critically at your decisions. Their influence may be just what you need to get on a path to success.
The most useful way to help end your self-sabotaging tendencies? Recognizing that you’re worth it: you’re worth succeeding, worth progressing, worth becoming your best self. Once you realize that, you’re well on the way to long-term success.
Dr. Dimitra Takos is a Newport Beach Psychologist specializing in the treatment of adolescents and adults suffering from depression, anxiety, and trauma-and stressor-related disorders.