Are you the kind of person who is always self-sabotaging? If you are, you probably already know how much self-sabotage can mess up your life and hold you back from achieving your goals.
Self-sabotaging means that you intentionally or unintentionally behave in ways that make you look bad, fail, or undermine your efforts. Self-sabotage is any actions or behaviors you have that go against or hinder your ability to achieve your goals.
It is not unusual for someone to self-sabotage. In fact, almost everyone has done something that messed up their life in some way at one point. And, unfortunately, having self-sabotaging behaviors can affect your personal and professional life negatively.
As such, it is important to know the signs to look out for and the reasons why you self-sabotage. By knowing these, you can then learn how to stop self-sabotaging and be kinder to yourself.
In this post, we shall discuss examples of self-sabotaging behaviors, causes of self-sabotage as well as the various ways you can stop sabotaging yourself. Let’s begin…
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Examples of Self-Sabotage
What is self-sabotage like? People self-sabotage in many ways, and sometimes they might not even be aware they are doing it until after the fact.
Some signs and examples of self-sabotaging behaviors you might exhibit include;
- Staying in your comfort zone and not taking risks
- Pushing the people you love away by not opening up to them
- Self-sabotaging relationships by cheating, being abusive, or not committing
- Procrastinating on important things until it is too late
- Overthinking things and jumping to conclusions
- Not standing up for yourself
- Emotional eating
- Bad behavior at work such as lateness, disrespecting your boss or colleagues, and failure to complete tasks before the deadline
- Negative thinking patterns and negative self-talk
- Doing or saying offensive things that could get you canceled
- Giving up on things without trying your best
- Using bad habits such as drinking and substance abuse to cope with hardships
- Avoidance behaviors such as watching TV or spending too much time on social media
5 Reasons Why You Self-Sabotage
Why do I self-sabotage so much? Now that you know the signs of self-sabotage, you are probably wondering why you do it in the first place. And there are numerous causes of self-sabotaging behaviors.
Here are some of the reasons why people self-sabotage;
- Low self-esteem and lack of a sense of self-worth
Having low self-esteem and lacking a sense of self-worth could be the reasons why you keep self-sabotaging and messing up your life.
Due to the lack of a sense of self-worth, you fail to recognize your value and believe you are unworthy of the good things in life, such as love, success, and wealth. Thus, you end up sabotaging yourself by allowing others to mistreat you or doing it to yourself, settling for unhealthy relationships, pushing the people that love you away, or giving up on things that could make your life better.
The self-sabotaging behaviors could also happen if you have low self-esteem, as not believing in yourself might result in your not exploring your full potential.
You lack confidence in who you are or your abilities and also entertain negative thoughts, negative self-talk, and self-defeating beliefs which then affect your life negatively.
Due to your low self-esteem, you could have self-sabotaging behaviors such as always fishing for compliments and seeking validation, fearing to get out of your comfort zone to take risks, or thinking that you are bound to fail no matter what you do.
- Past experience
Your past affects your present life significantly and can be another reason why you self-sabotage. This could be because the decisions most individuals make are usually based on their past experiences.
In case these experiences were bad, for instance, if there was rejection, abuse, bullying, or abandonment, most people usually carry this baggage into any other relationships and friendships they have later.
If you find yourself in a situation similar to one that had negative consequences in your past, you might sabotage yourself by going into it already thinking that things will not end well this time too.
For example, when you get an opportunity to apply for your dream job, you might let it pass you by because you had applied to a similar one earlier and failed.
Other examples of self-sabotaging behaviors due to past experiences happen in relationships. If you were rejected or abandoned in the past, you might expect that your current partner will do the same, and hence you keep them at arm’s length, put in minimum effort, and don’t fully commit to the relationship.
Or you might self-sabotage your relationships by opting to leave your partner when you hit a rough patch without even trying to work together to solve your problems.
The thought at the top of your mind is that you are doing it to them before they do the same to you, and you are pushing your partner away as a defense mechanism.
You could also self-sabotage by deciding to stay with an abusive person because you think that there is no other option and it is impossible to leave them.
- Difficult emotions
Your emotions can be your worst enemy and one of the reasons why you self-sabotage. We often make decisions based on how we are feeling at the moment, and not all emotions are positive.
For example, if someone makes you angry, you might self-sabotage by over-reacting and saying mean words to them or doing things that you might come to regret later, such as cheating, fighting, resigning, or getting yourself fired.
Though it is okay to not be okay all the time, learning how to manage your emotions is one way to stop self-sabotaging behaviors such as these.
- Feeling dissatisfied with your life
When you no longer love some aspects of your life, such as your career, relationship, or any other things you don’t like about your life, you might find yourself showing some signs of self-sabotaging behavior.
Your reason for self-sabotage might be that you are either consciously or subconsciously doing these things while looking for a way out.
For instance, if you are stuck working at a job that you no longer love, you might find yourself having self-sabotaging behaviors such as picking fights with colleagues, turning in shoddy work, missing deadlines, or sleeping at work, all of which might eventually get you fired.
- Fear of failure
The fear of failing at something could also be one of the reasons why you self-sabotage.
No one likes failing, and everyone deals with it differently when they do, some in destructive ways like self-sabotaging. You feel like your work is not bringing in results, and hence end up doing the things you swore to not do in order to feel better about yourself.
For example, if you started dieting to lose weight but it seems like it is not working, you might self-sabotage by overindulging on your cheat days or give up on the weight-loss plan entirely.
Another example of self-sabotaging behavior after a failure could happen in school, whereby a student who failed an exam might decide to cheat on the next one in order to pass, thus risking getting caught and facing the consequences.
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How to Stop Self-Sabotaging
- Improve your self-awareness
You can’t know to solve a problem if you don’t acknowledge that it exists, and, sadly, many people don’t recognize the signs of self-sabotaging behavior until it is too late.
So, your first step when learning how to stop self-sabotage is to become more self-aware and identify your self-sabotaging behaviors.
Self-awareness involves paying attention to your feelings, behaviors, and personality traits.
Improving your self-awareness will help you identify and recognize the situations and emotions that trigger your self-sabotaging behaviors and stop them before making things worse for yourself.
Some ways to increase your self-awareness when learning how to stop self-sabotaging include; self-reflection to know your strengths and weaknesses, meditation, writing in a journal, requesting feedback from friends, and monitoring how you respond to things.
If you want to learn how to stop self-sabotaging, you have to improve your self-awareness and find ways to know yourself better.
- Start valuing yourself more
Now that you have identified the reasons why you self-sabotage, the next step is to eliminate what is causing these behaviors.
For example, if having a low sense of self-worth or low self-esteem are the reasons why you self-sabotage, you could learn to love and value yourself more.
Knowing your worth and believing in yourself is paramount if you want to learn how to stop self-sabotaging. It will help you build a better relationship with yourself as you begin to accept that you are good enough and deserve good things in life.
Some ways to boost your self-esteem include knowing your strengths, building positive relationships, being kind to yourself, and not comparing yourself with others.
- Find a different coping mechanism
Since your emotions could be one of the reasons why you self-sabotage by overreacting or reacting poorly to situations, finding a way to manage and cope with them is a must.
Bottling them up is not an option either. Hence, as you learn how to stop self-sabotaging, you should find an alternative coping mechanism to deal with your emotions or seek help from a professional.
Some coping mechanisms you can use to deal with difficult emotions include meditation, exercise, journaling, taking a break, playing an instrument, singing/writing songs, or anything else that you love doing.
These coping mechanisms work in ways that either calm you down or act as a distraction by giving you time to regroup and get your shit together, thus not reacting in self-sabotaging ways when provoked.
- Be more courageous
You have no idea how many opportunities pass you by while you are afraid to seize them.
The fear of getting out of your comfort zone to take more risks can keep you stuck in life and it is one of the ways you self-sabotage. If you want to learn how to stop self-sabotaging, you need to become more courageous and start putting yourself out there.
Say yes to the new opportunities and adventures that come your way, and you might finally achieve the goals you have set for yourself. After all, you won’t get your dream job if you are too afraid to apply for it. You won’t know how it feels to be loved if you don’t give someone a chance to love you.
If you usually find yourself self-sabotaging your relationships, learn to be more courageous and trust the new people in your life by being more open with them.
Baggage from your past should be left in the past and should not affect your current relationships. You should remind yourself that this is a different situation with a different person; hence the outcome could be different.
If you find it difficult to move on from past experiences, seeking help from a professional, such as a counselor or therapist, might be what you need to do to learn how to stop self-sabotaging.
- Eliminate negative self-talk
The inner voice that tells you that you can’t do something or that whatever you do is going to fail could be one of the reasons why you self-sabotage.
When learning how to stop self-sabotage, you have to find ways to reframe your thoughts and eliminate negative self-talk. You can do this by either using affirmations or by rephrasing the things you tell yourself.
For example, instead of saying, ‘I failed last time, so I will fail this time as well’ say ‘I got another chance to win, so I will do my best’ or ‘I will find out what made me fail last time then do things differently this time.’
If you had no idea you were doing it, you now know the signs to look out for and the reasons why you self-sabotage.
Being a person who self-sabotages is a disservice to yourself and could hinder your ability to reach your goals and know your potential. If you usually have this behavior, you can use the above tips to learn how to stop self-sabotaging.
You are the author of your own life, and only you can create the life you want. Don’t set yourself up to fail through self-sabotage.
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