Many of us have engaged in self-sabotaging behaviours that have become habits. We allow these behaviours and thoughts to continually undermine our success and happiness. Some of our self-sabotage is so subtle, it’s easy to miss.
We often fail to recognize how our actions are hurting us. However, there are common actions, thoughts, and behaviours that signal that you are self-sabotaging, such as:
- Refusing to ask for help.
- Controlling or micromanaging behaviour
- Picking fights or starting conflicts with colleagues and loved ones.
- Setting goals that are too low or too high.
- Avoiding or withdrawing from others
- Negative self-talk and extreme self-criticism
- Making excuses or blame shifting
- Undermining your goals and values
- Substance abuse, overspending, or “overdoing it” in other ways.
- Constantly seeking approval
- Reluctance to speak up for yourself.
The psychological impact of self-sabotage
When we’re not aware of our negative thought patterns and how they affect our behaviour, self-sabotage can run our daily lives. We might feel hopeless about the future or achieving our goals. We may think that there’s something wrong with us and that we’re just not capable of success.
When this happens, these negative behaviours can become ingrained. They can amplify our insecurities. Self-sabotaging behaviours drain our motivation, enthusiasm, and self-esteem. Because the evidence of our “failures” starts to pile up, we no longer think we’re good enough.
This self-doubt begins to perpetuate a cycle. When we’re (inevitably) pushed to do something outside of our comfort zones, we panic. Those uncomfortable feelings and scared inner voices lead us to act against our own best interests.
Self-sabotaging is something that almost everyone struggles with at some point in their lives, so there is no shame in it. The important thing is to acknowledge that it happens, remind us that we are not to blame, and take steps to stop self-sabotaging behaviours. Doing this will help us life happier, more successful lives.
So, here are 8 Wise Ways you can start stop self-sabotaging your success in life:
1. UNDERSTAND SELF SABOTAGE:
To manage the behaviours that have a negative influence on your life, you need to understand what self-sabotage means for you.
The reasons we engage in self-sabotaging behaviours are complex. However, the root of the problem is often low self-worth. This can lead to us feeling the need to be in control or feeling inadequate or like a fraud.
Self-sabotage can trick you into feeling that you are protecting yourself from disappointment or failure when these behaviours are limiting you from reaching your true potential. The more aware you are of the negative thoughts and behaviours that control your life, the easier it is to decide what you want to do about them. Journaling helps you to do this. It helps you implement your power of choice – choosing not to be the greatest obstacle in achieving your desired goals.
2. USE STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU MANAGE AVOIDANCE AND PROCRASTINATION
If you are a procrastinator, the more you avoid taking action, the more anxiety builds up towards what you are trying to achieve – leading to more procrastination. The force your accountability to take action and move forward. Again, journaling can help with this, as can a to-do list that outlines and prioritises every step involved in achieving the outcomes you want. Only focus on three tasks as a priority at a time.
3. FIND YOUR INNER POSITIVE VOICE
Fear is one of the biggest blockers we will face in our lives. Fear is what we feel when we hear our inner critic, as we fear that what it says might be right, so we start to believe that we don’t deserve happiness or that we are a failure and this feeds into our low self-esteem.
The best way to manage your inner critic and the fear that comes with it is by not engaging in what it is saying. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise, celebrating success, keeping a gratitude journal, and helping others are examples of how you can build your inner voice to where it has a positive influence on your life rather than a negative one.
4. CHANGE YOUR PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOUR
Everything you achieve in your life is a direct result of your actions. Positive outcomes come from positive actions and visa-versa. Negative actions and behaviours come from a place of low self-worth and cause ‘mental clutter” which increases your stress levels causing you limitations. Learn to control the negative behaviours and actions along with your fear of failure and you will diminish negative outcomes. By taking accountability for your actions, you start to control your achievements, reducing your stress level over time and leaving you with the energy and clarity needed to look for opportunities for self-development, self-improvement and achieving your success.
5. MAKE SMALL, MEANINGFUL CHANGES for big effective outcomes
Change is about evolving, which is why any change transition is called a journey, because it never happens overnight. It’s important to accept that real change happens one step at a time, and so focussing on each meaningful step leads to a successful journey.
Consistently focussing on and appreciating the incremental improvements you are making, no atter how small, overtime produces the significant changes you want to achieve in your life. Focussing on the next step ahead rather than the full journey is a healthier way of keeping you on track.
6. SET GOALS AND PLANS
You can’t get from A to B if you don’t know where or what A and B is. Therefore, everyone needs a destination or an idea of what they want to achieve, in life or in a specific project or goal. Having clear plans and goals gives you clarity and focus and as a result, helps with the motivation to keep you on track.
You are less likely to get distracted, procrastinate, and be influenced by your inner self-critic if you have a clear plan and goal and you will also you are more effective at decision making because you will have the clarity and the confidence to move forward.
7. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE
Self-sabotage thoughts and behaviours can attract others with self-sabotage thoughts and behaviours as we tend to inadvertently surround ourselves with people who are in the same predicament as us and we feed off each other’s negative energy and it sucks the energy out of us.
The key to changing this is to surround yourself with positive influence. The more positive and upbeat people you have in your life, the more chance you have to make the changes you need to move you forward to your goals.
If you want to live a heathy happy life, surround yourself with people who are already living the kind of life you desire. Observe and learn their behaviours, their actions, and their language and then integrate all the things you like into your life as well.
8. PRACTICE SELF ACCEPTANCE AND SELF CARE
Making changes in your life requires time and energy which you don’t have if your wellbeing is not a priority, which requires a focus on self-acceptance and self-care. You can’t ask yourself to make big changes if your energy levels are depleted and your trust in yourself is low.
Find ways to implement self-care strategies daily, so that you can make the changes needed to commit to your goals. Be honest with yourself and explore activities that give you the space to reflect and replenish. The 8Wise™ self-care wheel is a popular tool to help identify the self-care tools needed to boost your specific wellbeing needs.
There are so many things you can do, don’t limit yourself, instead find that activity or exercise that works for you – go out and explore. Try different things: try yoga or meditation, join a gym, learn to ride a horse, learn to ski. The list can go on, it’s as big as you allow your imagination to be.
Consistency is key to success in life, and so it takes consistent activity to overcome self-sabotage thoughts, behaviours and actions. By implementing strategies that build your self-belief and self-worth, self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours will no longer have any control over your life, and you will learn to flourish.
If you have recognised a need to overcome self-sabotaging behaviours and actions in your life, then the 8 Wise™ Wellness Programme could be for you. It is available as one to one coaching sessions, training, through our book resources and podcast and through our new membership platform, launching soon. Through the programme you can develop the knowledge and skills needed to ‘Live the 8 Wise Way’ and develop optimal mental health and wellbeing for an improved quality of life.
If you would like to book a session or register for our next programme, get in touch today.
For more information on 8Wise and the mental health services provided browse other pages on this website.