Why do we self-sabotage?

Grey dust explosion showing self-sabotage concept

Hi everyone

It’s nice to have you here! Today, let’s talk a bit about why it’s sometimes so hard to achieve our goals, or get where we are trying to go. It’s goal-setting time for 2020, so let’s try and do things differently by letting go of any self-defeating behaviours right from the start.

Getting in our own way is something most of us experience from time to time and it can cause confusion and anxiety.

Surely if we really want to achieve success and reach our full potential, it should be full steam ahead? In reality, though, this doesn’t always happen, and it’s not a straight line from start to finish. Along the way many obstacles pop up – some are unavoidable and not of our own making but some definitely are, even though we might not be aware of it.

One of the most frustrating things that crops up when you’ve set your mind on a goal is a stumbling block called self-sabotage.

Dr Judy Ho says…..“self-sabotage shows up as thoughts and/or behaviours that undermine our best interests and conscious intentions.”

It sounds dramatic and stuff but mostly it’s about getting in your own way. You might be sure that you want that thing, planned how to achieve it and persevered to reach a certain point…. and then bam, something goes wrong and it derails.

So why do we self-sabotage?

1. We lack self-esteem

If we have a deep-seated feeling that we don’t deserve success or that we are in some sense unworthy of the good things in life, then self-sabotage is going to walk alongside us most of the time.

Self-esteem is our evaluation of what we are worth, our belief about ourselves as deserving people. It is a crucial concept because it is an indicator of how we view our personal value in the world. When this self-assessment is low, we will feel that we don’t deserve success and we’ll behave in ways that are congruent with this negative self-image.

What to do about it?

Be compassionate with yourself as a first step. Understand that this lack of self-esteem probably stems from your environment and the way you were treated growing up. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Work on ways to boost your sense of self and affirm your real worth. Identify what you are good at and work on that. Take better care of yourself and be around people who give you support and unconditional positive regard (Carl Rogers).

2. A negative inner voice

Closely related to a lack of self-esteem is the presence of a constantly negative inner voice. Again, this could have developed as a result of internalising the negative and critical inner voices of powerful others while growing up. Surely, if they thought you were worthless then it must be true? Examples of this, are saying things like: “I’m not worth it”, “Why do I always mess up!”, “I am not good enough”, “I’m useless, why do I always do this?” On and on we go.

What to do about it?

Challenge the voice as it shows up. In many instances, negative self-talk is a habit. You might not even be aware you’re doing it. Make sure your inner voice is as kind to yourself as it is to others (hopefully). Is there a way to soften the conversation or rephrase the dialogue that is more self-compassion and less self-flagellation?

Saying things like, “I deserve all the good things in life like other people”, “I didn’t handle that in the best way and next time I’ll do better”, “Well that didn’t go according to plan but what did I learn from that?”

Talking like this to yourself will dial the intensity way down and improve the way you feel about yourself, thereby raising your self-esteem.

Let’s kick off 2020 by ditching those mental habits that don’t serve us well and ensure the path towards our goals is a little less obstructed.

Take care and be kind to each other


Share your thoughts?