What Is Self-Sabotage?
Self-sabotage refers to intentional or often subconsciously driven actions (or inaction) that undermine a person’s progress and prevent them from accomplishing their goals.
It occurs when individuals hinder their own success, often without realizing it. But it means that your life will never quite work out!
Causes of Self-Sabotaging Behavior:
Difficult Childhood: Growing up in a dysfunctional family can contribute to self-sabotage. Negative messages from caregivers may lead individuals to handicap themselves, believing they’ll fall short. This will often result in limiting beliefs such as “I am unlovable” or “I am not good enough”. Once such a belief is formed, a part of our mind is determined to prove it to be true.
Relationship Issues: Past negative experiences in relationships can impact self-worth. Fear of getting hurt again may lead to self-sabotage, such as cheating or breaking up for no reason. Therefore, limiting beliefs and self-protecting mechanisms are at play.
Low Self-Esteem: Individuals with low self-esteem may unconsciously sabotage their efforts because they don’t believe they deserve success.
Coping Mechanism: Self-sabotage sometimes serves as a coping mechanism to deal with stress or past traumas, but it ultimately worsens problems. Commonly this might manifest as not really trying to succeed, avoiding situations or isolating oneself.
Examples of Self-Sabotage:
Procrastination: Delaying tasks or missing deadlines.
Self-Medication: Using drugs or alcohol to cope with emotions. This obviously keeps your potential suppressed.
Comfort Eating: Overeating as a way to manage stress or emotions. Often this leads to weight gain and feeling bad about yourself. Short term comfort – long term suffering.
Self-Injury: Engaging in harmful behaviors like cutting.
Negative Self-Talk: Constantly criticizing oneself and believing what your inner voice is saying.
Setting Unrealistic Goals: Either too low or too high or not really intending to achieve them.
Avoiding Others: Isolating oneself from social connections.
Making Excuses: Blaming external factors for failures. Not taking responsibility.
How to Address Self-Sabotage:
Awareness: Recognize self-sabotaging patterns and triggers. Notice patterns and start to wonder what is really driving them!
Challenge Beliefs: Question negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself.
Seek Support: Consider therapy or coaching to explore underlying issues.
Self-Regulation: Learn to manage strong emotions and regain control of behavior. Discover how to relax and return to yourself.
Act Contrary to Feelings: Sometimes, acting against our feelings can break the cycle of self-sabotage. For example, you are invited out with friends, and you habitually say no – just say YES.
Addressing obvious or subtle self-sabotage is life-changing. It is, however, a process that will take some time and you may find you need help.
At a Change of Mind, we use coaching and psychological therapies to address it very successfully.