You’ve probably heard the term “self-sabotage” thrown around or you might have no idea what it is. Regardless, every single person on earth has experienced self-sabotaging consciously or unconsciously. What does that even mean? Self-sabotage is when you do things that “undermine your own goals and values.” It’s when you try to prove to yourself that you can’t achieve what you’re trying to do.
Why on earth would you want to do this to yourself, you ask? Self-sabotaging happens in all areas of our lives: relationships, career, personal, and it happens often. You set yourself up for failure just because you lack self-esteem and inflict the brutal beast of self-hatred. Here are just some ways you might not notice you’ve been self-sabotaging:
Procrastination is a universal dilemma. When you procrastinate, you put off something you need to do or finish — the very definition of self-sabotage. For example, favoring watching Netflix over working through your mountain of tasks. But if you keep yourself from finishing a goal, you’re only sabotaging yourself. True, it’s normal for an average human to delay tasks from time to time but if this happens often and in huge chunks of time, you better check yourself.
How to deal with procrastination: Confront your emotions and try to understand why you’re avoiding a task. And then enforce discipline in your daily life. Don’t know how to start? Check out different techniques that will help you.
You refuse to take a break (even though you desperately need it)
Aside from being an unhealthy habit, refusing to take a break means you exhaust yourself in every area. And when you’re exhausted, you can’t give 100% of your energy to anything. In order to reach your goals, you need a clear head and a fresh mind. Don’t overwork yourself and set yourself up for failure.
How to deal with skipping breaks: Understand that you are not a machine. Your best looks different every day. If it’s not a good day for you — that happens — slow down and let it go.
You don’t stand up for yourself
Humans have to be tough in order to survive this world and in order to survive, you have to speak up. If you keep letting your colleagues walk all over you, you’re embracing failure. You don’t speak up when family members go overboard or you’re not one to address what’s wrong in a relationship. Staying quiet when it inconveniences you will get you nowhere.
How to deal with defending yourself: Learn to use your voice. Maybe you’re the type who has been chronically shy since they were born. But if you love yourself, learn to stand up for yourself.
You date people who *clearly* aren’t right for you
Self-sabotage in relationships is probably one of the most common forms. You “settle” with someone who doesn’t tick all of your boxes. You stay with a long-term relationship because it’s convenient even if you know it’s not working anymore. Or the opposite could happen. You ruin good relationships because you have intimacy and commitment issues. For you, it’s better to break your partner’s heart than find out whatever outcome your relationship will have in the end.
How to deal with self-sabotage in relationships: It goes without saying that you need to be whole and healthy to enter into a relationship. Learn to love and appreciate yourself first. Part of that process is finding someone who you know will be a great match for you.
You give in to your addictions
Is there a pattern to your self-sabotaging ways? When something goes wrong with your plans, do you drown yourself in alcohol or worse, get into drug abuse? These let you forget about your worries for a short while but affect your life negatively in the long run. What’s even worse is that you know you’re self-sabotaging when you give in to your addictions, but you do it anyway.
How to deal with addictions: Recognize that you might need help to deal with this. It’s not easy to step away from addiction but it is possible. Remind yourself that you can get better.
You’re the first person to put yourself down
“You can’t do that!” “Are you sure you deserve this?” There’s an exciting opportunity at work presented for you but your self-doubt and low self-esteem get in the way. That’s a classic example of self-sabotage. How do you know you can’t do something if you’ve never tried? Who is to judge if you deserve something? There are many instances in life where you might fail, yes, but at least you tried.
How to deal with negative self-talk: Call yourself out every time you notice you’re doing some negative self-talk. Write down the negative things you tell yourself and analyze them one by one. Understand the emotions that lead you to say it. Are they based on facts? If not, why dwell on them?
You take up more work than you have time to finish
Sound familiar? You already know your inability to say “no” is a bad thing but you probably didn’t know it’s a form of self-sabotage. If you keep starting and accepting projects but never really finishing them, you’re going to be even more disappointed in yourself.
How to deal with it: Learn to say “no” and gauge what you can do. Only commit to projects and more work if you’re sure you can finish it on time. It’s that simple. When it comes to work, make sure you schedule your tasks properly and leave enough room for self-care in between.
Counter self-sabotage by challenging yourself
These are just some of the ways we self-sabotage and careen into destruction. It’s a good vs. evil situation where every time you’re tempted to dwell on the evil (procrastination, negative self-talk) you have to defeat it with good (changing perspective, self-support). So the next time you succumb to self-sabotage, challenge yourself. Learn to identify your triggers and actively counteract them with positive affirmations.
But it’s also important to know that you don’t have to go through it alone. If you can’t seem to work through your self-sabotaging behavior, you can always reach out to loved ones or even contact a therapist.