When people self-sabotage, they often engage in counterproductive behaviors such as procrastination, perfectionism, negative self-talk, avoidance, or conflict. Driven by anxiety, fear and doubt, they can undermine their efforts to build the life they want. Self-sabotage is when you hinder your own success and it can take many forms. As a psychologist and therapist, I help my clients work on this every day.
In this article, I'll give you a concrete definition of what self-sabotage is, provide some examples of what it looks like in real life and where it comes from, and offer some practical advice on how to overcome it. Self-sabotage is when you undermine your own goals and values. It can manifest in many ways, such as procrastination, perfectionism, negative self-talk, avoidance of difficult tasks or relationships, or engaging in unhealthy behaviors like overeating or substance abuse. Everyone is engaged in self-sabotage from time to time, but for some people it's a chronic pattern that leads to major problems in their life, work, and relationships.
The root cause of self-sabotage is often complex and varies from person to person. It can be driven by low self-esteem or a need for control. It can also be a learned behavior that has become a habit over time. Whatever the cause may be, it's important to understand why you're engaging in self-sabotage before you can start to overcome it.
The first step is to identify the need that your self-sabotage is filling. Once you understand that need, you can start to look for healthier and less destructive ways to meet it. This could involve studying other people who have similar circumstances and gathering ideas for alternative behaviors that address the need without hurting you. It's also important to anticipate potential obstacles to using those new behaviors and come up with contingency plans for when times are tough.
Finally, connecting your new healthier behaviors with your values and aspirations can be a powerful way to let go of self-sabotage forever. When you focus on the things that really matter most to you in life and how your new behaviors will help you achieve them, it becomes easier to tolerate discomfort and form new habits. Self-sabotage can be a difficult habit to break but with understanding and commitment it is possible to overcome it and live a better life.