This type of habit may not be known to many. We may do it subconsciously and wonder why bad things continue to happen, or wonder why things don’t go our way. All of that can be due to self sabotaging. We tend to do this in the form of procrastination, avoiding promotions, not moving towards personal growth, turning to drugs, alcohol or food. There are plenty of ways we can find to sabotage our success and growth. Most of the time we don’t know we are doing it. So what is it? Why do we do it? And how can we overcome it?
What is it?
“Self-sabotage is when we actively or passively take steps to prevent ourselves from reaching our goals. This behaviour can affect nearly every aspect of life be it a relationship, a career goal, or a personal goal such as weight loss. Although very common, it is an incredibly frustrating cycle of behaviour that lowers our self-confidence and leave us feeling stuck. There are many reasons why someone may choose to self-sabotage but many stem from a lack of belief in ourselves”(lisajeffs.com).
What cultivates it?
There are many things that create self sabotaging habits. I will list a few down here.
- Self-Congruence- This is when we want our outside world to fit into what we feel on the inside. If you have negative thoughts and feelings on the inside. You will most likely see more negative and focus more on the bad things in your life. This goes for the other side of things as well, but since sabotaging comes from a negative mindset. We will focus on that.
- Glass ceiling-There is an imaginary ceiling that one believes they can not go over, or below it. They like to stay between the barriers. The person feels they don’t deserve more than their perceived ceiling can give them. They believe they only deserve this much, but not more.
- Vulnerability avoidance-This is the fear of vulnerability or getting hurt. This is when you rather cut things before you have a chance to get hurt. This can go for relationship and career goals. You rather just avoid getting hurt, but in the process can lose something wonderful, due to your fear of the worse case scenario.
- Imposter Phenomenon-When you do not believe your success or happiness is a true representation of yourself or what you can do. You don’t believe you can continue this success. Maybe you believe it is just luck. You think to yourself, that you don’t deserve this. You think things will eventually go down hill.
- Lack of confidence/self worth- This is a really important reason. If you don’t believe in your worth. You will not be able to grow and move forward. You will not be able to reach the places you want to go in life.
- Fear of failure-We don’t like to fail or make mistakes, so we do whatever we can to avoid doing that, not being aware that failure is a part of life.
- Protect ego-We got our pride. We don’t want to do anything that can hurt it. By taking a leap and doing things outside our comfort zone. It may allow us to see that maybe we aren’t as perfect as we thought, or can’t do as much as we thought. Although we can easily talk down to ourselves. We also don’t want to be a failure.
- Comfort-We love comfort, so we do what we can to avoid stepping away from it, even if it can make us more fulfilled, successful and happy.
- Complaining-This type of behavior doesn’t really solve anything. It just keeps you stuck.
- Comparisons to others-It is hard to get anywhere when you compare yourself to other people’s success. If you don’t match up. You give up. We should try to focus on our growth, rather than others, so we can continue pushing ourselves. You never know how far you can go, but comparisons can halt that.
- Blaming others-Putting the blame on others takes control away from you. Taking control away from you gives you less power, and makes you less likely to push yourself forward.
- Putting yourself down-Negative self-talk can definitely cultivate habits of sabotaging oneself. Believing you can’t do something, or don’t deserve something, or that you aren’t good enough. Will keep you stuck.
- Self concept is fixed-Believing you can never change and that growth is impossible. The thing is you can always evolve. Who you are today can be different than who you are next year. The self is not fixed.
What can be done to overcome it?
- Be mindful-Practicing mindfulness and learning to be present in the moment can help you become aware of your self sabotaging habits, and the thoughts the come along with it.
- Self acceptance-Learning to accept the person you are-the good and the bad-can help reduce sabotaging habits. If you accept yourself, you can accept any possibility the comes your way. Whatever happens you know you did all you can do, and you are happy with just that. You learn with acceptance is all you can do is try, as long as you try you achieved something.
- Gain confidence-This goes along with self-acceptance. Through acceptance you can gain confidence. Being aware of your strengths and using them to your advantage goes along way. Learning to build your strengths and utilizing them to help you grow is all part of confidence. This can push you to achieve the goals you like and to keep you from staying comfortable and stuck.
- Journal/Self-reflect-This puts your thoughts out there. It gives you a chance to become aware of these habits and figure out ways to move past them. Once you are able to become aware of these thoughts and habits through introspection. You may realize how unhelpful they are to your self growth.
- Get out of comfort zone/Face your fear-I know it is easier said than done, but comfort can only get to so far. Time to count backwards 5,4,3,2,1 and go! Everything that has helped me evolve, grow and move up has come from getting out of my comfort zone and facing fears. You will feel discomfort and anxiety, but those feelings are normal. Learning to push past it is an important skill to learn to stop us from sabotaging ourselves.
- Understanding the root cause-Digging deep and learning the real reason for these habits can help you figure out the problem, learn, and improve.
- Rise above negative emotions-Like I mentioned, feelings of anxiety, discomfort, fear, tension will arise. It is learning how to continue going forward that is important.
- Set goals and plans-Start small, something manageable to help push you. Every little step counts. With every step you will gain more confidence and feel more comfortable.
- Accept failures-You will not always succeed. You will make mistakes. It is all part of the human experience. When you accept this it will be easier for you not to sabotage any opportunity or chance you get.
- Let go of perfectionism-You have flaws. We all have flaws. Accepting you are not perfect puts our ego in check. It also allows you to put yourself out there more.
Self sabotaging habits are harmful for our growth and personal development. It may create comfort and safety. But it also cultivates many negative thoughts and behaviors that keep us stuck. It is important to learn to become aware of these habits, so we can break away from them and live a more fulfilling life.