Do you feel that when life is going in the right direction, something comes along and derails your plan? Life has a funny way of reminding us that often we aren’t as in charge as we like to think. Sometimes external forces throw a monkey wrench in our plans. Other times we are the ones who sabotage areas of our lives.
When was the last time you asked yourself “Why did I do that?” Mainly if the action caused a problem for you or those you care about. Self-sabotage does not have to equal failure. You can learn how to stop self-sabotage for good by understanding the reasons behind it and following these tips.
What is self-sabotage?
Think of it as a conflict within yourself. One part of your personality conflicts with another part of your personality. This is when you want to take action, but there is another part of you that stops you from moving forward.
Think about the last time you planned to go for a walk after dinner. You thought about it all day and looked forward to your walk. You know it would help you feel better, decrease your stress, and make you feel productive. However, after dinner, you sit down on the couch, and you begin to scroll through the TV to see what’s on. Two hours pass, and it’s time to get ready for bed. What happened to your after-dinner walk?
This is an example of self-sabotage behavior because you had every intention and planned for a walk, but you didn’t accomplish it because of your decision to sit on the couch after dinner.
Reasons why you may self-sabotage
People self-sabotage for different reasons. However, there are a few common reasons that explain this.
- You work hard for something you want, and when you get it you do something to destroy it or don’t give it the needed attention
- You are ready to be assertive and take a stand, but when the time comes you don’t carry through
- You resist change and want to keep the ‘status quo’
- Your life is going well, and you make sure you do something to derail it
Types of self-sabotage behavior
Here are a few examples of self-sabotage behavior. Each one of these may look different to each person.
- Fear of success
- Fear of failure
- Fear of change
- Fear of the unknown
- Giving up when things get tough
- Burying or avoiding your feelings
- Substance abuse
- Negative self-talk
- Having a self-defeating mindset
- Behavior that harms you or your relationships/friendships/career/health
- Over organizing without taking action
- Overeating or undereating
- Refusing help
Tips to stop self-sabotage
1. Identify your behavior
Which of these behaviors sound familiar? List out the ones that you have struggled with in the past and present. You can’t make a change until you realize the actions you are taking.
2. Understand the reason
Work to increase your understanding of the reasons you do this behavior. Whether researching the topic, journaling, go to a therapist, or in your self-reflection figure out what leads you to take these actions. Don’t get lost in the “whys”. Focus on what may be driving you to take action.
3. Stop dwelling
Let go of your “If only…” self-talk. For example, “If only I had given more attention to my relationship, it wouldn’t have ended.” Learn from what you did but don’t stay stuck in the “if only” because you won’t be able to move forward.
4. Assess your satisfaction with life
Take a look inward and assess how satisfied or unsatisfied you may be with your life. Is there an area in your life you want to improve? How is your overall work-life balance? Set goals, intentions, and create a plan to accomplish them. Finding satisfaction in your life can also decrease your chance of future self-sabotage.
5. Ask for help
You don’t have to make all of the changes on your own. Ask for help, whether it’s opening up to a friend, family member, support group, spiritual leader, or therapist, you deserve support. Make sure they are a positive support network.
You can do this
Give yourself credit for reading this post because it means that you want to know more about how to change your behavior and get the life you deserve. Don’t expect immediate changes unless you are ready to take direct actions.
You don’t need to become a perfectionist, but you want to be persistent in changing your behaviors. Keep at it, and with practice, it will get easier. You can stop self-sabotage behavior for good. Don’t forget that you have done harder things in your life so you will be able to do this too.
A clinical sexologist and psychotherapist. From sex/intimacy, personal growth, and relationships, I am here to help you every step of the way.