Self-Sabotage – Stop Undermining Yourself
How to recognise it and beat it
Self-sabotage is one of the biggest debilitators anyone can face, yet all too often we don’t recognise that this is precisely what we are doing to ourselves and consequently it continues to undermine our efforts and successes. Yet you can beat self-sabotage if you first recognise that this is what you do.
How often do you say to yourself “You are not worthy”, “It’s too difficult” “You’ll fail anyway no matter how hard you try”. Sound familiar? This is self-sabotage! We can all be our own worst critics, and we are all guilty of this from time to time. However, if you constantly talk to yourself in this way, it results in self-sabotage, and hinders our ability to succeed.
Often we don’t even recognise that this is what we are doing preferring instead to attribute our failures or lack of success to our faults, lack of skills etc. This in turn becomes a vicious circle; we feed our negativity by continually focusing on our weaknesses, and so on and son on. This is called the cycle of self-sabotage. Once caught in it, it becomes increasingly hard to break it.
So how do you know when you are caught in the cycle of self-sabotage? The first clue, is when you stop trying anything new, telling yourself that no matter how hard you try, you will fail anyway. There is no rational reason or explanation as you have the skill, ability and experience to succeed, yet you don’t even attempt it for fear of failure.
However, there are some common symptoms to help you recognise if you are a victim of self-sabotage. Do you identify with any of these?
• Putting off tasks, jobs, projects for no reason preferring instead to focus on less important tasks
• Never finishing the projects you start
• Despite all the wonderful opportunities presented to you, you feel unable or unmotivated to undertake them
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• Dreaming big, but never yet getting started
• Worrying over trivial matters/issues
• Worrying what others will think of you
• Feeling a fraud/imposter even though you “know” you are very capable
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• Experiencing anxiety or worry when attempting to complete something that really matters to you
• Using aggressive or passive aggressive rather than assertive communication and seeking to redress the balance
• Taking out your anger on others and ruining relationships as a consequence.
• Playing up the achievements of others, and playing down your own
• Being sensitive to criticism, even criticism that is unfair or unjustified
• Letting others put you down
Self-sabotage will hold you back, and if you are to succeed you must overcome it. Engaging in negative self-talk and putting yourself down will erode your self-esteem and consequently your confidence. Consequently, your level of frustration will grow, you will experience anger, feel discouraged and ultimately you will not achieve what you set out to achieve.
Yet, with the right tips you can overcome self-sabotage and realise your true ambitions and dreams.
1. Identify self-sabotage
In order to beat self-sabotage, you first need to identify your own self-sabotaging behaviour. Ask yourself:
• What aspirations, dreams or hopes have you held onto for a long-time, yet still remain on your “hope for list?”
• What do you consistently fail at, for no apparent reason?
• Do you procrastinate, or put off doing things or making decisions? If this is you. See:
• Do you lack motivation to do something you really want to do?
• Do you lose your temper for no obvious reason? Is this having an impact on your relationships?
• Do you find others get frustrated with you?
• Do you believe you can do things better?
Reflect on the questions above, ask others for their opinions or keep a reflective diary to identify if you are a victim of self-sabotage.
2. CHECK YOUR NEGATIVE THINKING
So what do you think about when you engage in self-sabotage? Write down all your negative thoughts (yes, that means all of them even if you think they are silly). Do you see a pattern? Review your “stream of consciousness”, use images if it helps.
3. QUESTION YOUR THINKING: IS IT SELF-SABOTAGE
Once you have identified your negative self-talk, or you can see a pattern in your behaviour which is stopping you from realising your ambitions, ask yourself the following questions:
• What is really behind the thinking?
• Are these thoughts rational, and based on any clear facts?
• Are past experiences stopping you from making a positive change?
4. DEVELOP STRATEGIES TO COPE
Once you have identified that you are a victim of self-sabotage, the next step is to start rebuilding your self-confidence:
• Develop a mantra that is positive, which you can repeat to yourself when you are doubting your ability
• Identify your options; is there more than one way to achieve your goal?
• Take small steps to rebuild your confidence and congratulate yourself on each and every success, no matter how small that success might be.
Put things into perspective; focus on what you can achieve rather than what you believe you cannot achieve. Once your self-belief system is restored, you will be able to tackle larger tasks with confidence.
Observe those around you: watch what they are doing; do they all look confident? Are they better than you? Do they have opportunities you do not?
Develop your mantra and repeat it to yourself often
Recognise that turning dreams into reality requires planning, effort and work. Believing in yourself is however, the critical first step.
Beating self-sabotage is not something that will happen overnight. It’s all too easy to revert to negative talk and in turn self-sabotage creeps back in. Use stream of consciousness to identify the patterns, and head them off at the pass. This will take practice but is essential if you are to succeed.