But I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner. – John Donne
Are You Caught Up in a Repeating Cycle of Self-Sabotage?
Have you ever wanted something so badly… for so long… trying so damn hard… but time and again you ended up failing miserably?
Have you ever set goals and objectives that you just didn’t or couldn’t reach?
Have you ever wondered why you keep repeating the same patterns of behavior over and over again and keep getting precisely the same pitiful results?
All of us at one point or another go through these repeated cycles and phases. In fact, many of us go through our standard self-sabotage cycles like clockwork each day. As a result, we rarely live up to our full potential in any area of our lives.
What’s more, is that we continuously regret the things we didn’t do then wonder why we keep getting stuck indulging in these limiting patterns of behavior.
Given all this, you might be wondering whether there’s an answer for getting unstuck? Is there an actual solution for avoiding these repetitive and limiting patterns of behavior?
And the answer to these questions is a resounding YES. There is a solution, but first, we must come to understand what self-sabotage is all about.
What Exactly is Self-Sabotage?
Self-sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you consciously want.
Self-sabotage is the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifest in self-limiting patterns of behavior.
Self-sabotage not only prevents you from reaching your goals but also plays the part of a safety mechanism that protects you against disappointment.
The Real Reason Why You Indulge in Self-Sabotage
Moreover, we suffer from self-sabotage patterns because we have great difficulty managing our daily emotional experiences. We tend to react to events, circumstances, and people in ways that hinder our progress and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives.
Self-sabotage is also used as an effective method for coping with stressful situations or high expectations.
For instance, we sabotage ourselves when we’re unable to reach the high bars of expectation that have been set for us. We feel incapable of reaching these expectations and thereby indulge in self-sabotaging behavior as a means of coping with the situation.
No matter what our reasoning for self-sabotage, it’s quite clear that if we don’t do something about it, we will continue to live a life full of regrets and unfulfilled expectations.
The Manifestation of Self-Sabotage in Our Lives
Self-sabotage can come in many forms and often manifests in our lives in various ways.
Here is a list of typical methods we often use to sabotage our own path to success.
- We succumb to the fear of failure.
- We hold ourselves back from taking risks.
- We don’t take proactive action because we fear to make mistakes.
- We choose not to listen to instructions carefully.
- We don’t take the time to plan ahead.
- We are incapable of saying no to others.
- We don’t take the time to consider the consequences of our actions.
- We don’t take the time to think carefully before making decisions.
- We don’t make an effort to think critically or practically about our circumstances.
- We are too set in our ways and don’t take the time to think flexibly about our problems.
- We have too much pride to admit to our mistakes and errors.
- We worry incessantly and needlessly without looking at our situation objectively.
- We set unrealistic expectations for ourselves and for others.
- We allow our critical voice to take charge and thereby persistently judge ourselves and others.
- We continuously indulge in comparison thinking where we measure our value based on what others are doing.
- We are always complaining about people, life, circumstances or about perceived bad luck.
- We knowingly indulge in the habit of procrastination and perfectionism.
- We blindly accept other people’s advice without question.
- We struggle with limiting beliefs, debilitating emotions, and poor attitudes.
- We persistently indulge in unhelpful thoughts that sabotage our mind.
- We regularly focus on what’s not working or on wishful daydreams.
When it comes to our limiting thoughts, we must pay close attention to the excuses we tend to make that prevent us from moving forward. Here are some examples:
This won’t work…
I can’t do this…
I’m too busy right now…
I’m just not ready yet…
I’m just not good enough…
Here are 19 more excuses you’re making that might very well be keeping you stuck.
Each of the patterns listed above has its own set of consequences that manifest in a variety of ways in our lives. Some are very obvious, while others might be a little more difficult to identify.
The key for us here is to list down and pinpoint the thoughts, feelings, and actions that are leading us down the path of self-sabotage.
Only then, through conscious self-awareness can we begin to put a stop to these patterns of behavior.
4-Steps for Eliminating Your Self-Sabotage Patterns
There is a simple yet very effective method we can use to eliminate self-sabotage patterns from our lives.
The process involves 4 steps. These 4 steps can help you take conscious control of the behaviors that are currently influencing your choices, decisions, and actions. These steps include:
- Identifying Your Self-Sabotaging Behavior
- Recreating Your Self-Sabotage Patterns
- Identifying a Healthy Replacement Behavior
- Practicing the New Behavior Until a Habit is Formed
Let’s now break down each of these steps in more detail.
Step 1: Identify the Self-Sabotage Behavior
Your first objective is to identify the self-sabotaging behavior that is preventing you from moving forward.
To do this, we must become consciously aware of our daily choices, decisions, actions, and the resulting consequences. Use the list in the previous section to identify the various types of self-sabotaging behaviors you tend to indulge in.
Once your behaviors have been identified, it’s necessary to pinpoint specific triggers that may be causing these behaviors to manifest in your life. These triggers could include people, objects, specific times, events, locations, etc. Ask yourself:
What specifically triggers this behavior?
How exactly does this behavior manifest in my life?
Next, we must ask ourselves whether it’s possible to avoid these triggers altogether.
By simply removing these triggers from our lives we will be better prepared to take conscious control of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
However, there is yet another factor that we must take into consideration. This factor is the limiting beliefs we have associated with each particular self-sabotaging pattern.
The key is to identify these limiting beliefs, then work on converting them into positive empowering beliefs. One of the simplest ways to do this is to question the validity of your belief. Ask yourself:
What is it that I believe in this situation?
What is it that I believe about myself and my own abilities?
How did my belief about this trigger my self-sabotage pattern?
How is this belief ridiculous and impractical?
What would others say about this belief?
What is another more helpful perspective I could take of this situation?
These questions are a good starting point. Use them to help you weaken the beliefs that govern your self-sabotaging behavior.
Step 2: Recreate Your Self-Sabotage Pattern
Having worked through the previous step, you should now be able to consciously recreate the self-sabotage pattern by outlining all the triggers and the associating behaviors that manifest as a result of these triggers.
It’s important though that you are very clear about how this behavior manifests in your life before moving onto the next step. Ask yourself:
How exactly does this self-sabotaging behavior tend to manifest in my life?
What typically triggers this behavior and how?
What patterns am I seeing that could help me to better understand this behavior at a deeper level?
Once you have a good understanding of the patterns surrounding this behavior, you can move onto the next step.
Step 3: Identify a Healthy Replacement Behavior
To eliminate an old pattern of behavior, we must first replace it with a new pattern that is more practical and helpful.
This is fundamentally important because at times it’s difficult to avoid certain triggers such as people, objects or circumstances that cause us to react in unresourceful ways.
Given this, we must take time to develop a more resourceful and appropriate way of responding. Ask yourself:
How could I respond in a more appropriate, resourceful, and practical way that would help me get what I want in this situation?
How and why is this a better way to respond in this situation?
What are some reasons for making this change?
What are the long-term benefits of changing how I respond in this situation?
What are the key advantages of this new behavior?
Remember that change will not happen if there is a lack of motivation behind that change.
If you cannot find reliable enough reasons to make a change, then you simply won’t have the necessary desire or drive to follow through with the change.
Step 4: Practice the New Behavior Until a Habit is Formed
Once you have identified your new behavior, you must now take the time to practice implementing it as often as possible until a new habit is established.
To do this, begin by running your response (your healthy replacement behavior) to the situation in your imagination. See every detail, and feel the positive energy churning through your body as you overcome the old self-sabotaging pattern.
Now that your imagination has been activated, you are ready to put yourself in real-world situations that will naturally trigger your old patterns of behavior. This time though, you are primed with a new response mechanism that you will continue to practice over the next four weeks until a new empowering habit is formed.
10 Practical Ideas for Eliminating Self-Sabotage
To eliminate our self-sabotage patterns, we must make a concerted effort to stay conscious and aware of our behaviors and actions at all times.
At the same time, it’s helpful to put into action a variety of strategies and tactics that can help us to eradicate these behaviors once and for all.
Here are 10 suggestions for you to experiment with.
Consistently Learn from Mistakes
Take time at the end of the day to reflect on how you responded to events and circumstances. Learn from these mistakes and experiences by writing down how you will respond differently tomorrow and in the future.
The more you reflect and learn, the better prepared you will be when facing these scenarios at a later time.
Think Bigger and Bolder
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own destructive patterns of behavior that we lose sight of what’s most important. When we have a narrow and minuscule focus, we fail to see the bigger picture.
Given this, it can, therefore, be helpful to take the time to think bigger and bolder. This can help you to expand your understanding and perspective of the situation.
Ask Better Questions
Questions are the keys to the locks that hold our problems in place.
By asking better and more effective questions, we naturally gain a different perspective on our situation. This can likewise help us to become more consciously aware of the self-sabotage patterns that are ruling our lives. Ask yourself:
What have I learned from this experience?
What would I do differently given another opportunity?
What could the potential benefits be?
How will changing my response allow me to get what I want faster?
The questions you ask will help expand your choices and options moving forward. And with more choices and options you will be in a better position to work through your self-sabotaging behaviors in optimal ways.
Treat the Process of Change as an Experiment
Just like we didn’t master the process of walking in one day, change also doesn’t happen overnight. However, it does happen over time.
When you took your first steps, you must have stumbled more than once. However, you got back up and continued to struggle until you eventually mastered the mechanics of walking. It was one of your little life experiments that I imagine succeeded in the end. 🙂
The process of change is precisely the same. Treat it as an experiment that will take a little time and effort.
You will probably not be victorious overnight. Who knows, you might even end up losing a few battles. However, in the end, as long as you persist, you will end up winning the war over your self-sabotage patterns.
Seek Advice from Other People
It’s important to always ask for help and seek advice from people who have had practical experience dealing with what you’re currently struggling with.
They know from personal experience the struggles you’re likely to face along the way. They will, therefore, likely give you practical advice and suggestions that will allow you to move beyond your self-sabotage patterns.
Make Sure to Plan in Advance
We often struggle through life when we don’t know what to expect, or have little to-no-idea how circumstances will unfold.
However, when we begin to lay down solid plans for the future — solid plans for how we will respond to situations, people, and circumstances, — then that’s when we begin taking control of our lives.
While laying out these plans, take a moment to consider possible challenges and obstacles that you might face along the way. Acknowledge these obstacles, then consider how you will respond if they happen to cross your path.
But even if you don’t deal with them effectively at the time, you will at the very least learn from your experience. You can then adjust your approach the next time around.
Focus on Exploring Solutions
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own inadequacies and limitations that all we see are problems and setbacks. This particular way of looking at life only leads to further challenges.
Instead, take time to consider possible solutions to the problems you are dealing with. This begins by asking more effective questions that focus your brain on finding answers, insights, and ideas, not problems.
Adjust Your Expectations
Our expectations can sometimes lift us up to new heights, or they can demoralize us emotionally. This is why it’s so important to always keep our expectations in-check — to ensure that we’re not aiming too high too quickly. Otherwise, disappointment will be the only outcome you will realize.
By all means set your expectations high, however, at the same time make sure that they are flexible and take into account your circumstances, conditions, and resources.
Remind yourself that you didn’t master the process of walking in one day. You instead mastered it over time. The same is true when it comes to mastering your own behavior patterns.
Take More Intelligent Risks
You need to take risks, you need to take a chance on yourself, and you need to finally snap out of old unresourceful limiting patterns of behavior that no longer serve you.
There’s no better time to make changes than RIGHT NOW! And there’s no one better to start that change than YOU!
Don’t delay, start the process of change right away.
Take Time for Self-Reflection
In the end, the people who get ahead in life are the ones who actually take the time to consistently think through their daily choices, decisions, and actions.
Successful people learn from what worked or failed to work. They then adjust their course of action by taking a different approach.
Only through self-reflection will you gain the necessary insight, perspective, and understanding to begin the process of change and transformation.
Self-sabotage is like a grenade that suddenly and unexpectedly explodes — pushing us away from our deepest wants and desires. However, there are no excuses, because we are the ones who consciously control the movement of the pin.
It’s, therefore, up to us to make the decision that we will no longer fall prey to our self-sabotaging patterns of behavior ever again.
The choice is yours. It’s in your hands. You now know what to do and how to do it. But the real question is when will you get started? When will you finally commit to putting an end to the self-sabotaging behavior that is preventing you from living the life you truly desire to live? Are your goals not worth it? Are you not worth it? And I think you know the answer to that. 🙂
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 4 Ways to Stop Sabotaging Yourself @ Psychology Today
- 5 Steps to Overcoming Self-Sabotage for Good @ Huffington Post
- 5 Ways to Overcome Self-Sabotaging Tendencies @ Huffington Post
- Do You Secretly Sabotage Healthy New Habits? @ Goodlife Zen
- Feeling Like a Fraud? Stop Self-Sabotage with this Unexpected Technique @ Marie Forleo
- How to Defeat Self-Sabotage So You Can Get What You Really Want @ Forbes
- How to Overcome Self-Sabotage @ Huffington Post
- How to Overcome Self-Sabotaging Thoughts Patterns @ Pick the Brain
- Self-Sabotage: A Pathway to Destruction @ Psych Central
- Self-Sabotage: Why We Get in Our Own Way @ Psychalive
- Victim No More: How to Stop Self-Sabotaging Yourself @ 99u
- What it’s Like to Have Self-Sabotaging Behavior and Why We Do It @ Elite Daily