Have you heard everyone talking about self-sabotaging? Maybe you’re wondering what that actually means. After all, you’d never sabotage yourself, right?
Unfortunately, most of us do. When it comes to making progress, we are often our own worst enemies. Maybe you feel frustrated or defeated that you’ve worked so hard but things are still the same. It’s easy to blame outside circumstances for keeping you stuck.
But what if your thoughts and actions are the things holding you back? What if, deep down, you don’t really believe you’re capable or worthy of success?
If you’re anxious that you’ll never get to where you want to be, you might be dealing with self-sabotage and limiting beliefs. In this post, you’ll learn what self-sabotage means, why it happens, and how you can start recognizing it for yourself.
What It Means To Self-Sabotage
You’ve probably heard people say things like, “get out of your way” or “stop self-sabotaging.” You might be wondering what that really means. What exactly is self-sabotage?
Alyce Cornyn-Selby describes self-sabotage as this:
“Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.”
You might not think you’d ever do that to yourself. It sounds so…cruel. But, you’re most likely doing it without even realizing it.
The problem is that we love to blame our situations for our lack of success. Maybe you think your job, partner, family, or environment is holding you back. These things all play a role in your success, but you also have to take responsibility for your actions and avoid playing the blame game.
There are many reasons you might not feel successful, but most of the time it’s because of your thoughts and behavior. The truth is that you might be treating yourself like your own enemy.
Imagine your middle school enemy who makes your life a living hell. She puts you down in front of others, distracts you in class so your grades slip, and writes mean notes telling you that you’re worthless.
Now, think about this: Do you put yourself down in front of others? Do you let yourself get distracted from your work? Do you think to yourself that you don’t deserve success?
These are things we all do that sabotage us from being successful, and this time, there’s no one else to put the blame on.
Why We Self-Sabotage
One of the best explanations for why we self-sabotage comes from Gay Hendricks’s book, The Big Leap.
Hendricks describes that we all have limits to how much love, success, and creativity we will let ourselves enjoy. When we reach that limit, we end up self-sabotaging.
For example, when things are going well in our lives, we wonder if it’s too good to be true. Because we don’t quite believe it, we imagine things will start to go wrong. We think that we don’t deserve to feel this good.
As soon as these self-sabotaging thoughts begin, you fall back into old habits. You do something that pushes you back into your comfort zone where you feel secure. You might even do something drastic that causes you to be further behind than you once were.
Hendricks gives four reasons you might sabotage your success:
You feel like you’re flawed and don’t deserve good things
You fear others abandoning you because success brings change
You believe that success will make you a burden to others
You don’t want to outshine others with your successes
These are all deep beliefs that need challenging. Since our thoughts influence our behavior, it’s imperative that we recognize when our thoughts are holding us back.
How To Recognize Self-Sabotage
As I was writing this post, I almost opened a new tab to check Facebook. Why? Because I didn’t know what to write next. Luckily, I realized I was about to do it and asked myself if it was self-defeating. Of course, the answer was yes, so I stopped myself from doing it.
You have a split second before taking an action to decide if it’s self-sabotaging or self-improving. Unfortunately, most of us run on autopilot and don’t even realize when we’re self-sabotaging.
Whether it’s getting distracted, comparing yourself to others, or doing everything except the important tasks on your to-do list, you have to increase awareness around your thoughts and actions. Ask yourself often if what you’re doing is self-defeating or self-improving.
Practice mindfulness to improve your awareness. Write your thoughts in a journal so they don’t spend too much time circulating in your head.
Currently doing something that’s self-defeating? Stop. Already done the self-defeating thing? Don’t scold yourself. Pick yourself up and try again.
What have you learned about yourself from this post?
I hope you have a better understanding of what’s been keeping you stuck for so long (hint: it might be yourself). The good news is that self-awareness and commitment to self-improvement will get you out of this pattern for good.
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