How to Recognize Self-Sabotage
I’m nearing the completion of a book I’ve been writing for over a year. I’m nervous about putting it out there, mostly about how it will be received. Will I find a publisher? Will people like it? Or will it sit on bookshelves dusty and unread? Knowing I’m that close, increases my tendencies toward self-sabotage. Part of me doesn’t want to know if it will fail, or actually succeed.
Believe me, I can find almost anything that needs doing before sitting down to finish the final draft (i.e. this blog post). And…I need to paint my bedroom. I need to move some outdoor plants before winter. I need to meet a good friend for breakfast (it’s been so long…). Oh, and a fall party…the leaves are so pretty. I use distractions to keep that draft unfinished, and I know it…and I hate it. So I can either let that frustration motivate me or manipulate me.
The fact that I’m aware of it, makes me more accountable to when it gets done. I can’t blame anyone else. It’s all on me.
Self-sabotage is unconscious behavior that keeps us stuck in places we’d really like to move on from. For example, we want better relationships, but can’t see all the ways we take a good one and destroy it. Or we want to finish an important project, but find multiple reasons why we can’t focus on that as a priority.
Our self-sabotage habits are destructive and lead to pain and frustration. To sabotage means to deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something). We typically sabotage our health, our relationships, and our jobs. All the things we expect to bring about happiness in our lives, we have a tendency to thwart without even knowing it.
Below is a list of seven common self-sabotage habits. I know them well and have used them all at some point in my life. I’m always on the lookout for them in my language and the way I show up. That way I can nip them in the bud when they appear. If any of these cause a little twinge of defense for you, they might be habits you want to consider doing something about.
Justified Anger (spite) –
Sounds like, I have a right to be angry with (blah, blah, blah) She or he did (blah, blah, blah). When we justify our anger, we are blaming others for all the things that aren’t going right in our lives. We refuse to take responsibility for our thoughts, words and actions and instead point fingers in anger. We usually engage others to support our angry rants. My mother used to say, “don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” It took me a good while to realize she was right.
Confusing Feedback with Failure –
This looks like defending your persona at all costs. The personal trainer tells you that you have poor posture and need to work on that before building any muscle. You take the “attack on your physique” personally deciding that you just need a different trainer. Instead of doing what is needed to improve your foundation, you sidestep and find someone who will tell you what you really want to hear, that you’re awesome already. Feedback should always be embraced, even the stuff we don’t want to hear – those are our growth points; learn to love them.
Caught up in Excuses and Complaints –
There is always a
n excuse reason why you don’t have what you want. Life is never the way you imagine it to be. There is a fine line between expressing our frustrations and chronically excusing ourselves and the lives we lead. When we feel the need to defend our perceived weaknesses in all situations, we’re hurting our self-esteem. Listen to your language often, what is it saying about you? Excuses/complaints are the thieves of personal power.
Addicted to Distraction –
You never stay with anything long enough to gain traction. Success in anything, career, relationship, or health, takes time; often more time than we imagine. If you don’t see results in the time you expect, you assume that you should be doing something else (or nothing). Our unmet expectations lead us to frustration which can easily lead to distraction. When we lose focus, we turn to addictions like work, alcohol, drugs, television and porn. These distractions keep us from the lives we wish we had.
Burn Out and Crash –
You go super hard and then you go home. You struggle with balance and staying steady toward your dreams and goals. You make health gains and then lose them. You make money and then you blow it. You find a new love, woo them hard and then stop paying attention altogether. You overwork, burn out easily, then quit. We can’t sustain an unmanageable course of action for long. So we need to learn to pace ourselves, create balance in our lives, tame our expectations, and enjoy the present more than an imagined future.
Playing Someone Else’s Games –
Low levels of self confidence make us join other people’s dreams while ignoring our own. We mimic or copy what other successful people are doing, even when it doesn’t align with who we are or what we hope to achieve. We believe that other people hold the key to success or have the answers for how we should be living. We never trust our own gut instinct and so it tends to get very, very quiet. We might even forget we have one.
Jealousy and Comparison –
When our lives aren’t the way we want them, we have a tendency to talk bad about the success of others. Even if we aren’t talking, when we look at other people with envy and compare what we have to theirs, we are discounting our lives in favor of a surrogate, one that exists outside of us, inaccessible to us. Our culture supports this behavior across the board, but it’s debilitating for the soul. Learn to recognize it and stop. Learn more about Jealousy here.
Most self-sabotage strategies lead us on a downward spiral of action and inaction. Our soul’s know when they’ve been duped and that makes us feel bad, which often leads to more sabotage. It’s a tough cycle to break, but awareness is your first line of defense. The remedy for self-sabotage is always personal responsibility the first step to regain empowerment and a life of joy and fulfillment.