Self Sabotage

Do you struggle to get motivated to complete tasks that you need to do?  Do you continue to not reach goals that you set for yourself?  Do you have great ideas, but never follow through to accomplish them?  Do you allow exciting opportunities to pass you by?  Do find that you meet someone who is right for you, but somehow you make it go wrong?  Do you find that when you fall into money you spend it on foolish things?  Do your hopes and dreams remain just that- a figment of your imagination? 

Have you considered the possibility that your own behavior is thwarting your efforts? If so, you may be a victim of Self Sabotage. Many of us are our own worst enemies, and don’t even realize we are doing it. Some of us are very aware of the ways we undermine our efforts but we don’t want to deal with it so we ignore what’s happening and hope it resolves itself. Some of us are aware of what we are doing, but don’t know how to change it.

In this article we will discuss what self sabotage is, identify some of the causes, describe some of its more common forms and look at ways to combat it.


Self Sabotage is not Due to a Lack of Desire, Intelligence, Skills, or Effort

We do not fail because we are not smart enough, because we do not work hard enough, because we are not talented enough or because we do not want it enough. We truly want to succeed, we have the abilities and we make arrangements to do what we need to do, but our own self defeating behavior sabotages all of this. Let’s look at an example.

I had a friend who regularly had to write and submit papers for her doctorate. The woman had the intelligence and desire to get into the doctoral program. She was an eloquent writer. Yet her papers never got written. She would use many of the methods discussed later in this article to sabotage her efforts to complete her writing. Once, she grouted the entire bathroom instead of starting on a paper! So there was no lack of energy or motivation. There was not lack of intelligence or skill. It was just misdirected toward grouting the bathroom instead of writing the paper. Her own behavior sabotaged her efforts to pursue her doctorate.

Self Sabotage is a Deeply Ingrained Habit

For those of us who practice self sabotage we have been doing so most of our lives. It is a deeply ingrained habit in our lives. We are comfortable with these patterns and this way of life. Our fear of changing it may be the primary motivator for the sabotage.

Because these patterns are so deeply ingrained it may be difficult to initially identify them. It may also be scary and difficult to change them. However, if we really want to accomplish our goals in life we have to do this work and face this challenge. We are intelligent enough, capable enough, and strong enough. We just have to direct all of that energy we’ve been using to grout the tub into identifying and changing these patterns. Then our lives will begin to change. Since self sabotage so often takes place subconsciously, simply bringing it into consciousness and making ourselves aware of it changes it and makes it less effective.

Self Sabotage is Destructive

Everyone sabotages themselves occasionally. However, when it becomes a way of life it has very deleterious effects. It destroys our self esteem and our self confidence. It can leave us feeling frustrated, discouraged, incompetent, trapped and powerless. It perpetuates the belief that we are a failure or that we are not capable of succeeding. This perpetuates even more self sabotaging behavior for the future.

Self Sabotage can be Stopped

It’s important to realize that we can change our behavior and stop sabotaging our own efforts. The first step is to understand what causes self sabotage and eliminate future sources of it. Then we will examine the many forms self sabotage can take. Being able to recognize when we are sabotaging ourselves and the methods we use are the second step to overcoming the problem. The final step is to institute new behaviors to replace the old behaviors. 



Comments (2)

WendyJanuary 23rd, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Great article…not long enough. Would have liked to read more. In particular, more examples of this behavior and at-home/self-treatment steps.

LoriJanuary 24th, 2009 at 10:14 pm

I have been a victim of Self Sabotage for six years and I have caused me to stay back twice in school, so far, this year might end up being my third if I can’t stop the self sabotage.
Most of my dreams have been crushed because of it. The only thing that I can hope is that if I can find the cause and cure it, then I can redeem some of my dreams, passions and goals.
Like the lady mentioned above I find other things to do instead of my homework or studying. It has even progressed to me slacking off in the class room, once again finding other things to do instead of listening to the teacher or doing work. Some of my teachers I feel have thrown in the towel on me. And I don’t blame them. I have also given up on me.

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