The Reason Why You’re Self Sabotaging


November 14, 2020

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this blog post that I realized, I would consider myself a recovering “self sabotager.” The first step to almost any change is awareness and understanding. I believe self sabotaging can be our greatest gift, these behaviors and patterns can hold the keys that we need to unlock our power and fully align with your authenticity.

Stay with me.

So, what is self sabotage? Self sabotage is when we continuously break promises to ourselves. It’s when we manipulate ourselves into staying the same, comfortable and safe even if that safety looks like repeating the same toxic pattern that does not serve our highest good (staying out too late, skipping workouts, isolating, procrastinating, over eating, selling ourselves short). Self sabotage comes in so many different forms that’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with you’re own patterns. For many these cycles feels so hard to beat because we often mistake our behavior as a lack of will power or determination leaving us feeling stuck in feelings of low self esteem and frustration.

Make promises to yourself that are:

  • flexible and not overly rigid

  • reflecting your core values

  • honoring your future self

  • are challenging your comfort zone

Here’s a personal example, in the past if I didn’t make it to the gym or maybe decided to have a bite of something I typically wouldn’t have it would be game over. The day was a wash I might sabotage myself my not going to the gym for the rest of the week because “ the week got off to a bad start” or binge on food that didn’t serve my body because “ it was a bad day already so why not.” Fast forward a day or two and I would still have tons of shame and most likely be devising some plan to make up for my “ bad behavior” and so the cycle goes. The way to disrupt the cycle is to focus less on the behavior and more on the mechanics behind the behavior your thoughts and emotional experience.

Here is a less obvious example- you might have a lot of work to do, you might procrastinate or not even start because you’re not sure if the result will be just “ just right” or “ perfect” or maybe you’ll get credit that you deserve in the form of a promotion or recognition. Signal the the alarm in the head that says “ people will expect more of me and I’ll fail.” This is an example of subconscious self sabotage due to the fear of failure.

Self sabotage can be big or small and comes in many shapes and sizes- if you’re feeling stuck and not sure why this is your first clue. Once you gain an understanding you can use it to your advantage.

Let’s break it down:

Stimulus —> thought —> emotion—> behavior

example: Stimulus: donuts in the staff room at work, indulging with a coworker—> thought: I just messed up my day, my healthy breakfast and work out means nothing Behavior: —> eats more donuts or makes poor choices for the rest of day, because feck it.”

Self Sabotage is:

  • an indicator that you are looping on a negative belief about yourself

  • an opportunity to do some wonderful work on yourself and HEAL.

  • possibly a result of witnessing the behavior modeled in childhood

  • not permanent

  • often minor, major or chronic

  • not the same for everyone

  • is often the result of a belief embedded in our subconscious

  • often impulsive

Self Sabotage is not:

  • a form of weakness

  • a genetic trait that can’t be changed

  • all about will power

  • a never ending cycle of doom

    How do we work on it consciously?

Step 1: Awareness

Understand what your self sabotage looks and feels like.

Self sabotage is any kind of betrayal or abandonment of your highest self. Keep in mind, this is a healthy promise or agreement with yourself that fuels your personal growth development and is set on the platform of high self worth.

I used to break promises to myself all the time by negotiating and bargaining with myself, usually followed by a feeling of guilt or shame

“I’ll do it tomorrow”

“it’s not a big deal”

“It was crazy to think I could do that anyway”

These thoughts minimize your gut feelings and damage your connection to yourself and intuition, they are normal and it’s okay.

Step 2: Identify the self defeating belief (SDB)

Negative thoughts are a byproduct of a self defeating belief or a core thought.

“ I’m not good enough”

“I’m not worthy of what I want”

“In order to be loved I must be perfect”

“My achievements define my worth”

“I’m not worthy, lovable, likable…”

Don’t panic, it takes some digging and support to identify these thoughts

Step 3: Call it out your (SDB) as distorted and inauthentic to you

Cognitive distortions are commonly referred to as “thinking errors” or “irrational thoughts” not because your thought isn’t valid, but because it’s not honoring the truth and most likely filtering out your positive qualities and strengths.

common cognitive distortion hat fuel’s self sabotage

Black and White thinking- “if I mess up once it’s not even worth it.” “This is too good to be true, I could get hurt.”

Shoulding / Musting – I “ should” get this done perfectly.”

Step 4: Make a choice and take a risk to reframe

Make a choice to acknowledge the thoughts that work against you and no longer serve you. The secret to reframing is identifying a new belief that you truly believe, one that hits you in the gut- not somethings that just sounds good.

Notice your resistance to thinking differently, does this thought keep you safe from anything? Think of self defeating beliefs as old programming that you once needed to keep you safe or feel protected but no longer need in the here and now.

Make a choice to shift your belief system

“I am capable of making small steps towards big changes.”

“I am worthy of my dreams and desires.”

“My achievements don’t define me.”

“My progress is valuable, despite the outcome”

“My setbacks are feedback, I don’t give up on myself”

Step 5: Find the Grey Area

Find the middle ground! The grey area is the secret sauce. When you notice a black and white thought find the grey area by searching for a happy medium where you can allow yourself to have some grace, experience growing pains and commitment to yourself! Finding the grey area has helped me in a deep deep way. This is especially helpful if you struggle with rigidity and perfectionistic thinking.

Stimulus —> thought —> emotion—> behavior

example: Stimulus: donuts in the staff room at work, indulging with a coworker—> thought: I just messed up my day, my healthy breakfast and work out means nothing Behavior: —> eats more donuts or makes poor choices for the rest of day, because feck it.”

Grey Area: I remain flexible- I enjoy this donut or split with a co worker if I’d like, I am still in control of my day and honor myself through my thoughts and behaviors.

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