Why Do I Sabotage Myself?

Why Do I Sabotage Myself?

My partner and I sabotage ourselves all the time, it’s actually pretty ridiculous how bad we are for doing it. Thus, I thought it might be useful to help other people see if they’re doing the same so they can work on changing their behaviours so they can live happier and more successful lives. To that end, I’ve tried to make this post more interactive.

 

What Is Self-Sabotaging?

 

First, let’s start with a definition of what exactly it means to sabotage yourself. Basically, what it means to sabotage yourself is to either actively or passively, through your thoughts and/or actions, prevent ourselves from achieving something we desire, such as completing a goal or taking action on an idea that we have. This is especially true when it affects your day to day life.

 

For example, you may want to learn the guitar because you love music and you’d like to be able to play an instrument. However, you start thinking about how you’re too old to learn an instrument, and what would be the point anyway, it’s not like you’re going to become a rock star. This is a case of you sabotaging yourself. It doesn’t matter how old you are and it doesn’t matter if you become a rock god or not; if it’s something you’d love to try out, try it. Learning a new skill simply because you can is more than enough of a reason to do so.

 

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Different ways We Sabotage Ourselves

 

There are several ways we can sabotage ourselves, some you might instantly realise you’ve been doing, others you might not. But being aware of as many ways that you do or could sabotage yourselves will help you improve your present and future. Knowledge is power after all.

 

Familiarity with failure

You’re so used to failing and things going wrong, that when something is going right for you you are fixated on something eventually going wrong, which can result in you throwing a spanner in the works.

 

Spanner in the works

 

In short, because you expect something to go wrong, you ended up causing something to go wrong, causing a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Coming Soon
Do you sabotage yourself because you\\\'re familiar with failure?
Do you sabotage yourself because you\\\'re familiar with failure?
Do you sabotage yourself because you\\\'re familiar with failure?

 

Control

The feeling of things having to be in your control can be important to a lot of people, and this need for control, if it gets out of hand, can manifest itself in a number of mental health conditions. Furthermore, this need for control can be created as a result of trauma as well. A few examples of this is: hair pulling (Traction Alopecia: The Hair Pulling Question), skin picking, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc. 

 

Thus, people can sabotage themselves as a means of believing they are gaining control, even though it’s harming them. That’s because when you feel like you’re in control, you can feel safe and stronger, rather than feeling vulnerable.

 

An example from my life would be how I struggle to try something new. I have difficulty getting myself to try something new because I have to be seen to be perfect at something, and I can’t be seen to be a novice or having to try. I want to control how people perceive me, and because of that, more often than not, I won’t try anything new, not even with slightly changing my appearance.

 

Coming Soon
Do your need to feel in control sabotage you?
Do your need to feel in control sabotage you?
Do your need to feel in control sabotage you?

 

Unworthy

Feeling unworthy is a clear sign you have low self-esteem issues. If you don’t think you deserve something, like deserving to succeed in life (such as getting a promotion), then you’ll be demotivated and lack the drive need to push yourself to try.

 

Due to having low self-esteem, you might also worry that friends, family, coworkers, etc. might think less of you if you fail to achieve the goal you’ve set out to accomplish.

 

Furthermore, Mind Tools believes that some people sabotage themselves so they can then rescue the situation, which could give that person a short-term boost to their self-confidence. However, this type of behaviour is self-destructive.

 

Coming Soon
Do you struggle with feeling unworthy to the point that it stops achieving or trying the things you want to do?
Do you struggle with feeling unworthy to the point that it stops achieving or trying the things you want to do?
Do you struggle with feeling unworthy to the point that it stops achieving or trying the things you want to do?

 

Procrastination

Struggling with motivation, poor time management, and doubting your skills or abilities are all classic ways to get you procrastinating. How many of you left doing your school/college/university course work or work projects to the last minute? It may feel like there’s no rhyme or reason to why you’re procrastinating, but 9 times out of 10, there’s actually an underlying reason.

 

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I am king at procrastinating, which is made worse by the fact that I have a lot more time than most to do the tasks that I could be doing. I’ll often put off one task to do another task I’ve been putting off, which is less important to do.

 

The weirdest thing for me about my procrastinating habit is that I know I’m procrastinating to avoid doing something at the time, and often before I start procrastinating. But knowing that doesn’t stop me actually procrastinating. I also have huge issues with self-doubt that intensifies my lack of motivation, which I really need to work on.

 

Coming Soon
Do you struggle with procrastination?
Do you struggle with procrastination?
Do you struggle with procrastination?

 

Bad habits

There are a number of common behaviours we use to sabotage ourselves,  such as procrastination, which I mentioned above, as well as self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, self-harming, and comfort eating (Psychology Today).

 

When these habits get out of hand, causing substance dependency, eating disorders, unhealthy coping strategy of using pain to feel better (self-harming), they will sabotage your life, goals, and motivation to achieve.

 

For example, if you’ve become dependant on alcohol and drugs and were unable to function without satisfying that need, then everything else will become secondary to meeting that need, that ‘wanting‘ of the alcohol/drug.

 

Coming Soon
Do you have bad habits that stop you from achieving your goals?
Do you have bad habits that stop you from achieving your goals?
Do you have bad habits that stop you from achieving your goals?

 

Need for excitement

The need for excitement isn’t always positive or constructive, sometimes it can be detrimental to the situation, whereby you sabotage yourself. Some people will, from time to time, sabotage themselves simply for the excitement of causing drama. Drama is dramatic – the clues in the word.

 

Sabotaging ourselves creates the familiar feeling of instability and chaos; plus, if we’re stuck at the bottom, we might as well brandish power while we’re down there.

Psychology Today

 

This is one form of sabotage I don’t do, I try to avoid drama at all costs, that’s the people-pleaser in me. I don’t intentionally push buttons or pick fights for the sake of it, I’d rather keep my life drama free as much as possible.

 

Coming Soon
Is you need for excitement having a detrimental effect on your life?
Is you need for excitement having a detrimental effect on your life?
Is you need for excitement having a detrimental effect on your life?

 

Unconscious affliction

Are we subconsciously sabotaging ourselves because of long-established patterns of behaviour that we haven’t noticed or haven’t done anything to change?

 

Our brains love a shortcut, and shortcuts for the brain are using the same established patterns of behaviour rather than trying to create novel ones. This could be why your attempts to become healthy, your efforts to improve your financial situation, and relationships always end up the same way. We’re doomed to repeat ourselves unless we change our established behaviours to something better.

 

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Do you stick to established behaviour patterns even though it doesn't bring you the outcomes you want?
Do you stick to established behaviour patterns even though it doesn't bring you the outcomes you want?
Do you stick to established behaviour patterns even though it doesn't bring you the outcomes you want?

 

Perfectionism

In a nutshell, if it can’t be done perfectly then maybe it shouldn’t be done at all. The problem with that is that nothing is perfect, and we’d never do anything if we applied that to everything we did in our lives, so why apply it selectively in order to sabotage ourself? I was terrible for this one, although nowadays it’s not I’m not so bad with it.

 

Coming Soon
Does your need for perfection stop you from doing things or affect your daily life?
Does your need for perfection stop you from doing things or affect your daily life?
Does your need for perfection stop you from doing things or affect your daily life?

 

Dwelling on too many options

As is the problem with modern society, there are just so many options available to us that for a lot of us, it can lead to decision paralysis. We simply can’t make up our minds, and thus we become stuck. You might also know this as overchoice or the paradox of choice.

 

According to Psychology Today, research shows that if you have an abundance of options before you, you’ll end up less satisfied with your final decision than if you’d had fewer options to begin with. I would hypothesis that with more options comes more doubt about if you made the right choice.

 

Why Do I Sabotage Myself?

 

This one only really bothers me when it comes to food unless I’m craving something particular, as I find it hard to pick something to eat. I have a weird relationship with food (My Relationship With Food), and I can struggle to eat food I’m not craving, which results in an unsatisfactory eating experience. I use to just starve myself until I craved something, then eat. But I can’t do that now I have reactive hypoglycaemia.

 

Coming Soon
Do you find it had to make decisions when you have a lot of options available to you?
Do you find it had to make decisions when you have a lot of options available to you?
Do you find it had to make decisions when you have a lot of options available to you?

 

Worry too much about what others think

We all like external validation, and to a certain degree that’s fine, we’re social creatures after all. But it becomes a problem when external validation is more important than our internal validation. When what others think of you is more important than what you think of yourself. People-pleasers will be much too familiar with this one.

 

This is me all day, 100%, no 1000%. It’s the bane of my life, it drives my anxiety disorders, my depression, and ruins my quality of life. That’s what a childhood full of racist abuse will do to you.

 

When needing external validation reaches dangerous levels, we can behave in ways that are completely counter to who we are as a person. I slept with a former best friends ex, just so they wouldn’t feel guilty about dating their ex’s best friend (who they’d been cheating on them with for months). I’ve never felt so dirty or guilty in my life, and I rarely ever feel guilt. My desire to please others and get their approval was more important to me than anything else. I put my friends before everything else.

 

Coming Soon
Is what other people think of you more important than what you think of you?
Is what other people think of you more important than what you think of you?
Is what other people think of you more important than what you think of you?

 

Quitting when it gets hard

It’s easier to give up and accept a negative outcome ahead of time than to risk the unknown. Often we still do this even when there is no unknown risk, and we know all the possible outcomes will be good for us.

 

It could be argued that this is a part of our need to feel in control, and yeah, it probably is, but I felt it deserved its own section as people might recognise this, but not see themselves as having a broader control sabotage issue.

 

To hammer that point home, Lifehack said that if you rationalise not following your dreams or making desirable changes as “being practical” or if you’re thinking “things really aren’t that bad,” then you’re suffering from this form of sabotage. Unfortunately, most people won’t take action until the pain of their current situation becomes more than they can bear, overriding their fear of the unknown.

 

I use to never quit anything until I started doing A-Level Law, where my dyslexia and my teacher’s terrible teaching style made it impossible for me to learn anything. I instead just slept in class until I decided to break my own rule. Since then, this has lead to a slippery slope of quitting when things get too hard for me. Although I didn’t have a formal diagnosis dyslexic at the time, I was aware of my issues and thought I was dyslexic. My issues meant I couldn’t make notes in class due to the teacher exclusively using shorthand and abbreviations. How was I meant to spell Latin words I’d never heard or read before when I can barely spell words I use every day?

 

Coming Soon
Do you quit when things get too hard?
Do you quit when things get too hard?
Do you quit when things get too hard?

 

Ruminating on “If only….”

Regrets are a part of life, but most mentally well people can move past their regrets. The, “what if…” and “if only…” paradox. What if I had said that? If only I had done that instead. There probably isn’t a person alive who wouldn’t want to be able to change one thing that happened, to create a different outcome. But like I said, you can’t change the past, so trapping yourself in this cycle will only make you feel worse. While we’re fixated on wanting to change what can’t be changed, it can hamper our present and our futures.

 

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But it’s not always about the past, we also use these “if only” thoughts to sabotage our present and our futures. For example, you might not apply for a new and better job because you might think you’re not suitable for the role, telling yourself, “if only I was better at my job and had the training needed, I’d apply for that job” even though you already have everything needed for the role.

 

However, people like me can often be trapped in overanalysing regrets, like we can somehow change what’s already happened. When I was jumped by three people back in my early teens, I analysed that event a million different ways, day and night, for a decade. It even gave me insomnia. This kind of sabotage can trap you in an event from decades ago, and it’ll hold you back until you can at least remove its power.

 

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Do "what if..." and "if only..." type of thoughts affect your quality of life?
Do "what if..." and "if only..." type of thoughts affect your quality of life?
Do "what if..." and "if only..." type of thoughts affect your quality of life?

 

Listening to your inner critic

If you’re anything like me, then your inner critic is a beast to live with, and it’ll stop you even attempting to try anything by crushing your thoughts and ideas with waves of pessimism. I am critical of everything and everyone, no one is exempt from my inner critic, but I’m far worse a critic of myself. I’ll also belive my inner critic without question when it comes to what it says about me, but I can ignore it when it’s about anyone else.

 

Your inner critic will hold you back if you let it. This voice in your head is not your friend when it’s bringing you down and stopping you from achieving the things you want to achieve.

 

Coming Soon
Does your inner critic hold you back or affect your quality of life?
Does your inner critic hold you back or affect your quality of life?
Does your inner critic hold you back or affect your quality of life?

 

Afraid to ask for help

No person is truly self-sufficient, we all need a little help from time-to-time, so we shouldn’t feel any less of a person for asking for help. It takes courage to ask for help, and the majority of people are normally willing to offer that help when it’s requested. Asking for help doesn’t make you vulnerable, being vulnerable is trying to do it all alone and burning out in the process.

 

Saying that, I’m a mental health blogger, I’ve worked for mental health and addictions charities, but yet I still don’t always ask for help. My partner is the most supportive person I’ve ever met, and yet I still don’t ask them for help, in regards to my wellbeing anyway.

 

I grew up enduring constant abuse and where my cries for help were ignored (Suicidal Child #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek), all whilst having the gender stereotype forced upon me that men don’t show emotions. With all that, you learn pretty fast not to look for others to help you. But you’d think I’d know better by now, but there you go.

 

Coming Soon
Do you avoid asking or looking for help?
Do you avoid asking or looking for help?
Do you avoid asking or looking for help?

 

Ask Yourself

 

After reading through all the content about how we sabotage ourselves, do you believe you’re a self-sabotager?

 

Coming Soon
Are you a self-sabotager?
Are you a self-sabotager?
Are you a self-sabotager?

 

Stay tuned, next week I’ll talk about how you can stop sabotaging yourself.

 

As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences with sabotaging yourself and your results of the sabotaging polls in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up to my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications of new posts by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom left corner.

 

Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog then you can make a donation of any size below as well. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.

 

 

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79 thoughts on “Why Do I Sabotage Myself?

  1. I am queen at procrastinating… I would check fridge, hoover… talk on phone to avoid achieving something and I don’t even know I do it sometimes… reading the extent of self sabotage I do it all the time without realising it… you have shone the light.. Thank you!!!

    I am just showing this post to my partner and he is like yep, yep, yep

    https://www.pugsywanderlusts.org/

  2. This was a great post with a lot of thought – thank you. It’s so true – the more you know how you sabotage yourself, the better you can defend against it.

    The one upside of being an older than average blogger – it’s amazing how many of these tendencies disappear as your confidence and experience grows.

  3. I can relate to so many of these self-sabotaging behaviours and I didn’t even realise it until reading this. Really good post, thank you for bringing awareness to this.

  4. I can relate to some aspects of this post. Growing up I had many social issues and just was not comfortable with myself or being who I am. It held me back in so many ways and looking back I regret so many things I could not have known to change. I had a rough childhood although not totally abusive in nature. Just a hard life for a child growing up half in poverty half above water. I skin picked and nail bited as a child as a nervous habit. Hindsight is always 20/20. Your post is great and will connect with many sufferers of this kind of thing. Thank you for sharing! Stay safe and healthy during these crazy times!

  5. I think we all do a little of this, esp. in particularly uncomfortable areas for us. It’s hard to break those habits, but well worth it usually when we do. Accepting uncomfortableness is very hard, I can see why this is an issue to prevalent among us.

  6. These are important points. Human nature is not conducive to getting things done and being successful. If we can recognize some the of attributes you mention above in ourselves then we can make a plan to deal with them.

  7. This post was one big callout for me haha! A lot of it is about control (I’ve got OCD, figures!). Thank you for sharing, it’s nice not to feel alone in it 🙂

  8. This was a great post! I enjoyed the polls in each section. My biggest issue is procrastination. I will spend more time avoiding something I either don’t enjoy or want to spend the energy on than it would take to accomplish the task!

  9. Such an interesting topic that I relate to so much. I think i mostly self sabotage through lack of self belief. The feeling of not being able to reach my optimal goal is in fact what stops me from reaching it. Procrastination is also something I struggle massively from!

  10. I’m the worst. I always feel like I have to say nonsense to my husband that I should have dismissed. No wonder I’m on my fourth husband. Always my worst enemy.

  11. I love the little polls you have set up throughout this post! I connected with most of your examples of self-sabotage, since self-doubt and negative prophecies fulfilled themselves too many times based off my failure way of thinking. Some things never happened at all, since I spent too much time dreaming and not enough time doing!

    It was been a good journey working toward creating positive thoughts and banishing as much self-doubt as possible, so thanks for sharing this!

  12. I can relate to all of your headings. The only one I like to believe I don’t do is quiting when it gets tough. You just made me realize how much self sabotaging I’ve done. Plenty of things to work on, I guess. Thank you for sharing
    Darina from daramiblog

  13. Such a wonderful post, and very helpful. Thank you !

    There’s a few of thoses that I don’t do.. but a majority, maybe atleast half of the list, I do that. Of course, somes more than others, but definately I have done before.

  14. Good post. I feel motivated to change myself after reading this post. I used to sabotage myself too when I was in my 20s. Now, I’m not going to allow any negative thoughts in my way.

  15. I self a sabotage sometimes, by partner can be really bad for it. She goes through stages where it’s like she’s trying to ruin everything she’s worked for. It’s so difficult to try and help her through it.

    1. My partner and I are terrible for it, although my partner is worse than me in certain areas of self-sabotaging, and yeah, my partner is really hard to help with it too. So I feel your pain

  16. Thanks for writing this! I can relate on so many levels. Since I quit drinking I’ve really focused on stopping all these behaviors but it’s hard especially when your subconscious is in on it and you’re a people pleaser, like we are. The most important thing I’ve learned to do is turn off negative thinking. Recognize when I’m doing it and stop. Also, ease up no on the what ifs. I’m too creative for my own good when it comes to those. I’m still QUEEN of procrastination.😀

  17. You have so many good examples of self-sabotage in this post. I didn’t even realize how many different ways there are to hold ourselves back. Very eye-opening.

  18. What an insightful post! I can relate to a lot of these points and, taking a close look like this, can see how at different times in my life one way of sabotage would be more prevalent than others.

  19. As someone who has self-sabotaged some of the best things I ever had, I completely relate to this. But, now, I recognize a lot of these triggers that lead me to do it now. I think this post will help a lot of people 🙂

  20. This was such a beautiful and informative blog. I csn relate to so many of these and didn’t even consider it at self sabotage. Def an eye opener. I signed up for your newsletter 🙌🙌

  21. Im not a massive self saboteur but i am certainly guilty of a fee of these at times. And I know far too many guilty of creating drama as a means of sabotage! Good layout to your article. I like the way you organized it. Thank you for sharing

  22. This is amazing. I really enjoy how in depth your writing is. I’m not too bad with procrastination but I do struggle with sabotaging myself in other ways you mentioned. I really appreciate this post. Thank you for writing it.

  23. Such an interesting topic! I love the variety in your blog posts and that you choose topics I don’t see elsewhere! This one really resonated. We can stop ourselves doing things and be our own worst enemy. It’s so easy to find the reasons NOT to do something which ends up in procrastination and lack of motivation! I definitely know I do this often!

  24. What an interesting read! It can be so hard to identify and accept self-sabotage but once you take note of it and decide to combat it, your whole life changes!

    Roni | myelevatedexistence.com

  25. These are some great points – issues that I know many of us struggle with in some way, shape or form. I have always been bad for the control factor. I feel a desperate need to control everything in my life and have caught myself, in the past, allowing it to take over my decisions, sabotaging otherwise positive efforts. There are a couple others on here that I had never considered until I was reading this. The first step is to acknowledge it, so thank you for that!

  26. Oh I am 100% guilty of self sabotage, mostly due to my perfectionist self taking over and quite literally stopping me from doing things sometimes. Thank you for writing about this!

  27. This is such an insightful post. I realized that I have been the victim of many of the habits you have pointed out but never knew this term ‘sabotage’. Thanks for a beautiful post.

  28. I felt every word in this post. The truth of the matter is we all need to step outside of our heads from time to time. My inner voice is a beast as well. Looking forward to the next post.

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