The Ultimate Guide To Combating Self Sabotage Once And For All

Self sabotage is something that many of us do to a degree, most of the time without even realizing it. It can be down to things we learned as children, or coping mechanisms that we picked up along the way to make us feel better about ourselves. Most of the time we self sabotage because it keeps us in our comfort zone.

Common self sabotaging behaviors include starting arguments and pushing people away in otherwise happy relationships, binge eating when you want to be healthy and happy, drinking too much, and so on. The good news is, combating self sabotage is totally possible. If you can identify your self sabotaging behavior and combat it (clue: you can), you will be well on your way to living your best life.

This comprehensive guide discusses combating self sabotage once and for all:

Recognize your patterns

Self sabotage by binge eating. Photo via Daniela Brown, CC BY-ND 2.0, via Flickr.

Why Do We Self Sabotage?

The true reason we self sabotage is down to a lack of self esteem, confidence, and self belief. The patterns we develop are there because we are not able to manage our emotions effectively. We tend to react to certain situations that stress us out or provoke a negative emotion by hindering our progress in some way. We may truly feel that we’re not capable of reaching or achieving what we want, so we unconsciously keep up these negative limiting patterns to stay in our comfort zones and protect us from disappointment. If we fail to recognize our patterns and do something about them, we will live lives full of unreached expectations. The following things are just a few ideas of how we can self sabotage:

  • Inability to plan ahead.
  • Inability to say no to others.
  • Fear of failure.
  • Inability to admit mistakes
  • Worrying too much.
  • Setting unrealistic expectations.
  • Critically judging others or ourselves.
  • Comparing ourselves to others
  • Procrastination.
  • Perfectionism.
  • Limiting beliefs.
  • Binge eating
  • Binge drinking
  • Taking drugs.
  • Smoking.
  • Unhelpful thoughts.

We also tend to make excuses and think things that stop us from doing what we really want to do, such as thinking we’re not good enough, not ready, too busy, or that it won’t work. This way of thinking keeps us stuck. When you can pinpoint the things you think and do that lead you to self sabotage, you’ll be on your way to breaking your old patterns and improving your life. In some cases you may not be able to break your old patterns yourself, and that’s fine. That’s why some people choose to have addiction and abuse treatment at Serenity at Summit and similar centers designed to deal with this problems. There’s absolutely no shame in finding help, a coach, or a mentor if you’re serious about stopping your sabotaging behavior. Even the most successful people in the world have mentors and coaches – like self -help guru Tony Robbins!

Identify Your Behavior

Identifying your behavior is the first step to stopping it. What do you tend to do that makes you feel worse, and stops you from achieving what you really want to achieve? Figure out what your triggers are. These triggers can be people, objects, times, events, locations, or something else. They can make you feel a certain way, usually uncomfortable, and lead you to perform the old habits that are within your comfort zone but stop you from reaching greatness.

Now, examine your limiting beliefs to do with each pattern. Question the belief, what you believe about yourself and your own abilities, and then ask yourself how the belief is ridiculous or untrue. For example, if you’re trying to reach a healthier weight, but your limiting belief is that you’ll never be slim, examine that belief. Why do you think that? Maybe because you have a family of bigger people, or because that’s ‘the way you are’. But being ‘big’ doesn’t run in families. It can be the case when behaviors are learned, but changing these behaviors can change the outcome. People lose excess weight all the time, and you are no different. What would others say about your belief? Probably that you’re making excuses and that you can do it. Then, come up with a more helpful perspective so you can think of that.

When you’ve done all this, it’s time to work to recreate the pattern that has been stopping you. You need to think of a replacement behavior for your sabotaging behavior. How could you respond in a more appropriate way? Maybe, instead of binging on bad food when you get stressed, you could go for a nice long walk outside, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the scenery. Just put your shoes on and go. It doesn’t have to be exactly this, but you can already see why this behavior would be far more helpful than the previous behavior. It helps to de-stress you, and you’ll feel so much better afterwards – unlike after a binge. The latter makes you feel worse, and it’s a vicious cycle.
Ultimately, you need strong reasons to change this behavior. The work comes in as you practice your new behavior until it becomes a habit. This is when you really need to become conscious of your behavior and work on doing something different. Remember, if you do the same thing you’ll only ever get more of the same. It doesn’t take long to form new habits, so just remember that when you’re putting the initial work in.  

Identify your triggers

Begin by identifying limiting behaviors. Photo via Pixabay (CC0).

When you feel you’ve practiced the behavior enough, you can put yourself back in situations that would have triggered the old behaviour, armed with your new behavior. Now, don’t be perturbed and think you have to start all over again. You’re already making big progress by identifying your behavior and wanting to change at all. Many people don’t do this and repeat the same negative patterns all through their lives, wondering why they have never achieved what they wanted but failing to do anything practical!

So, to summarize, you need to:

  • Identify your limiting behaviours and beliefs.
  • Dissect these beliefs and figure out why they are ridiculous.
  • Identify your triggers.
  • Come up with a replacement behaviour and do the work to get into the habit of using it.
  • Identify mistakes and learn from them.  
  • Look at the bigger picture – have you ruined your efforts with one setback? No.  
  • Treat this as an experiment.  
  • Consider challenges and obstacles in advance and how you will overcome them if they crop up.
  • Consider working with somebody else who was once in your shoes, a mentor, or a coach.

If you would like more help, you can speak to people who have been through the same thing as you. There are usually YouTube videos that can talk you through different processes and methods of changing behavior – such as EFT, or ‘The Emotional Freedom Technique’.

Adjust Your Expectations

If your expectations are at an unrealistic level, they may demoralize you emotionally. It’s so important you keep this in check, and don’t aim too high too quickly. Aiming for the stars is great, but don’t try to run before you can walk. Be flexible. Master things over time. Be in it for the long haul! Trying to do everything at once will lead to overwhelm, and likely more negative thinking.

Decide To Take More Risks

If you don’t take risks, you might find you have more regrets later on down the line. Take a chance on yourself and those little niggles you have that could be pointing you in the right direction. What better time to start taking more risks than right now? If you don’t start sooner, you will likely wished you had later. Remember, not making a decision/taking a risk is still making the decision not to do anything. It can be a harmful behavior in itself!

Picture yourself, years from now, lying on your deathbed. What do you think you would say you wished you had done more of, or at least tried?

Reflect on Yourself

The people who are most successful in life are those who learn to examine their thoughts, behaviour, feelings, decisions, and actions. They look at their successes and failures and figure out what works for them. They may get a little help in doing it, but they still do the work. Ultimately, their life and path changes because they decided to make a change.

Self sabotage can lie under the surface for a while, waiting until you finally almost feel content with the way things are going, and then, BAM. It hits you out of nowhere. It suddenly and unexpectedly explodes, pushing you away from your deepest desires. If you decide to tackle this head on, examine yourself and your behavior, and do the work to change your patterns, you will finally begin to see the results you want in your life. You’ll be your best self living your best life.

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29 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide To Combating Self Sabotage Once And For All

  1. Hi Christy,

    great and real post.In fact we must work on ourselves to be better then yesterday. We should to develop our whole life .That is the key of our success! Thank you

  2. Excellent post. Way before I was diagnosed with mental disorders, I was always sabotaging myself by drinking. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t have self-esteem at the very least. It wasn’t until I stopped drinking, and was seeing a therapist & psychiatrist did I actually gain my self-esteem. I work on it daily.
    This was a great post!!!!

  3. It’s really happen to most of us. We don’t want to come out from our comfort zone many times. But to achieve what we really want we need to introspect ourselves and work towards the needful. Once again a wonderful post Christy

  4. What a great post. It cemented some of the knowledge I had and helped answer some questions that were unanswered. Thank you Christy.

  5. Good post, Christy. Asking the right questions to get to the bottom of self-sabotage, often unconscious behavior that we don’t even realize we are doing, is the first step in making the change. Thanks!

  6. I have to admit, I’m at a place in my life when I’m having trouble making decisions. I look back on my life and see my decisions having gone no where. I’ve had more success accepting opportunities that came along than chasing the dreams that I actually wanted. It’s turning me into a philosophical Taoist, but it makes it hard for me to get excited about life.

  7. Very insightful, Christy. I know I’ve been guilty of some of these things myself. I hope that reading this article will make me think about what I’m doing before it happens again!

  8. Excellent post Christy.. When I was facing my own weight issues 22 years ago we did Life Mastery with Tony Robbins as a couple. It was only when meeting hundreds of people at the various segments of the course from around the world, did we realise that most of us self-sabotage to one degree or another. Some great stratagies to put into place.

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