You’ve set your goals. You know what you want. You know what you need to do.
But you’re stuck.
Maybe you’re making excuses, procrastinating or feeling apathetic. Maybe you’re settling for less or convincing yourself of inadequacy. Or maybe you’re hiding because doubt, fear and worry have left you paralyzed by stress. Whatever it is, you’re doing the exact opposite of what you set out to do. You are sabotaging your own success.
Self-sabotage results when a conflict exists between our conscious desires and unconscious self-limiting patterns of behavior. It prevents us from reaching our goals, but it is also a safety mechanism that protects us against disappointment. What this essentially means is that our brains want to protect us from getting hurt by doing what it thinks is best — which is to keep us within the confines of our comfort zone.
On the surface, self-sabotage doesn’t look like much. It might start as simple as scrolling through Facebook when you should be preparing for a presentation or choosing to skip a networking event because you might not know someone there. It might include bargaining with yourself to make tasks easier or putting a goal on the back burner because you tell yourself you need to master a particular skill first. When you think about it, none of these are really that destructive.
But it becomes a pattern and you end up missing deadlines, falling short of your goals, missing opportunities for success and preventing yourself from finding support. It’s destructive.
So why do we do it? Why do we get in our own way?
Because it's easier to stay where we’re comfortable. It’s easy to dig our heels in and find security in routine.
But here’s the thing, it's not really that comfortable is it? You probably feel regret, maybe some shame and you probably have convinced yourself you’re unworthy along the way. Ultimately you’re not happy and you’re not succeeding.
People seldom mean to sabotage themselves. It's not generally a conscious decision to spoil things - and that's the problem. So how do we move past self-sabotage? With awareness, reflection and accountability.
The first objective is to identify self-sabotaging behaviors. You cannot change anything until you are aware that it is happening. Observe yourself and start a list of behaviors and patterns as you notice them. Keep track of the negative beliefs and stories about yourself and your life, relationships, self-worth, and anything else you can think of that might be limiting you or holding you back.
Then, forgive yourself and release judgement – not doing so will only invite more self-sabotage. Extend grace to your beautifully imperfect self.
Once you’ve identified destructive behaviors it’s important to recognize patterns, triggers and root causes. Take the time to unearth the why. Understanding that you're self-sabotaging is important, but figuring out the root cause will prevent you from doing it again.
Ask yourself the hard questions:
- Why am I doing this?
- What feelings am I numbing or avoiding by sabotaging?
- What beliefs or patterns of thought are maintaining or activating my self-sabotage?
- How do I feel, what do I experience, what do I perceive around me?
Then develop a positive way to respond:
- Use positive affirmations to build your confidence and self worth.
- Rewrite the stories you tell yourself to be positive and truthful.
- Make choices to face your fears.
- Visualize your success.
Pair up with a family member, trusted friend or coach to keep you honest, motivated and focused. Someone that can help you identify patterns of sabotage and gain insight into the reasons behind them. Meet regularly to share your goals, successes and challenges. When self-sabotage rears its ugly head you’ll have a safe space to process and move through it.
Self-sabotage is a fear that our best isn't good enough. So remember, no matter what, you are good enough. Instead of being your own worst enemy, work on becoming your greatest ally. Live your best life by putting an end to self-sabotage.