But I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner. – John Donne
Are You Caught Up in a Repeating Cycle of Self-Sabotage?
Have you ever wanted something so badly… for so long… trying so damn hard… but time and again you ended up failing miserably?
Have you ever set goals and objectives that you just didn’t or couldn’t reach?
Have you ever wondered why you keep repeating the same patterns of behavior over and over again and keep getting precisely the same pitiful results?
All of us at one point or another go through these repeated cycles and phases. In fact, many of us go through our standard self-sabotage cycles like clockwork each day. As a result, we rarely live up to our full potential in any area of our lives.
What is more, is that we continuously regret the things we did not do then wonder why we keep getting stuck indulging in these limiting patterns of behaviour.
Given all this, you might be wondering whether there is an answer for getting unstuck? Is there an actual solution for avoiding these repetitive and limiting patterns of behavior?
And the answer to these questions is a resounding YES. There is a solution, but first, we must come to understand what self-sabotage is all about.
What Exactly is Self-Sabotage?
Self-sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you consciously want. It is the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifest in self-limiting patterns of behavior.
Self-sabotage prevents you from reaching your goals and plays the part of a safety mechanism that protects you against disappointment.
The Real Reason Why You Indulge in Self-Sabotage
Moreover, we suffer from self-sabotage patterns because we have great difficulty managing our daily emotional experiences. We tend to react to events, circumstances, and people in ways that hinder our progress and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives.
Self-sabotage is also used as an effective method for coping with stressful situations or high expectations.
For example we sabotage ourselves when we are unable to reach the high bars of expectation that have been set for us. We feel incapable of reaching these expectations and thereby indulge in self-sabotaging behaviour as a means of coping with the situation.
No matter what our reasoning for self-sabotage, it is quite clear that if we do not do something about it, we will continue to live a life full of regrets and unfulfilled expectations.
The Manifestation of Self-Sabotage in Our Lives
Self-sabotage can come in many forms and often manifests in our lives in various ways.
Here is a list of typical methods we tend to use to sabotage our own success.
- We succumb to the fear of failure.
- We hold ourselves back from taking risks.
- We do not take proactive action because we fear to make mistakes.
- We choose not to listen to instructions carefully.
- We don’t take the time to plan ahead.
- We are incapable of saying no to others.
- We don’t take the time to consider the consequences of our actions.
- We don’t take the time to think carefully before making decisions.
- We don’t make an effort to think critically or practically about our circumstances.
- We are too set in our ways and don’t take the time to think flexibly about our problems.
- We have too much pride to admit to our mistakes and errors.
- We worry incessantly and needlessly without looking at our situation objectively.
- We set unrealistic expectations for ourselves and for others.
- We allow our critical voice to take charge and thereby persistently judge ourselves and others.
- We continuously indulge in comparison thinking where we measure our value based on what others are doing.
- We are always complaining about people, life, circumstances or about perceived bad luck.
- We knowingly indulge in the habit of procrastination and perfectionism.
- We blindly accept other people’s advice without question.
- We struggle with limiting beliefs, debilitating emotions, and poor attitudes.
- We persistently indulge in unhelpful thoughts that sabotage our mind.
- We regularly focus on what’s not working or on wishful daydreams.
When it comes to our limiting thoughts, we must pay close attention to the excuses we tend to make that prevent us from moving forward. Here are some examples:
This won’t work…
I can’t do this…
I’m too busy right now…
I’m just not ready yet…
I’m just not good enough…
Here are 19 more excuses you’re making that might very well be keeping you stuck.
Each of the patterns listed above has its own set of consequences that manifest in a variety of ways in our lives. Some are very obvious, while others might be a little more difficult to identify.
The key for us here is to list down and pinpoint the thoughts, feelings, and actions that lead us down the path of self-sabotage.
Only then, through conscious self-awareness can we begin to put a stop to these patterns of behavior.
4-Steps for Eliminating Your Self-Sabotage Patterns
There is a simple yet very effective method we can use to eliminate self-sabotage patterns from our lives.
The process involves 4 steps. These 4 steps can help you take conscious control of the behaviours that are currently influencing your choices, decisions, and actions.
These steps include:
- Identifying Your Self-Sabotaging Behavior
- Recreating Your Self-Sabotage Patterns
- Identifying a Healthy Replacement Behavior
- Practicing the New Behavior Until a Habit is Formed
Let’s have a look at how each of these work
Step 1: Identify the Self-Sabotage Behavior
Your first objective is to Identify the Self-Sabotaging Behavior that is preventing you from moving forward.
To do this, we must become consciously aware of our daily choices, decisions, actions, and the resulting consequences. Use the list in the previous section to identify the various types of self-sabotaging behaviours you tend to indulge in.
Once your behaviours have been identified, it’s necessary to pinpoint specific triggers that may be causing these behaviours to manifest in your life. These triggers could include people, objects, specific times, events, locations, etc. Ask yourself:
What specifically triggers this behavior?
How exactly does this behavior manifest in my life?
Next, we must ask ourselves whether it’s possible to avoid these triggers altogether.
Simply removing these triggers from our lives we will be better prepared to take conscious control of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
However, there is another factor that we must take into consideration. This factor is the limiting beliefs we have associated with each particular self-sabotaging pattern.
The key is to identify these limiting beliefs, then work on converting them into positive empowering beliefs.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to question the validity of your belief. Take just two minutes and ask yourself:
What is it that I believe in this situation?
What is it that I believe about myself and my own abilities?
How did my belief about this, trigger my self-sabotage pattern?
How is this belief ridiculous and/or impractical?
What would others say about this belief?
What is another more helpful perspective I could take of this situation?
These questions are a good starting point. Use these to help you weaken the beliefs that govern your self-sabotaging behavior.
Step 2: Recreate Your Self-Sabotage Pattern
Having worked through the previous step, you should now be able to consciously recreate the self-sabotage patterns by outlining all the triggers and the associated behaviours that manifest as a result of these triggers.
It’s important that you are very clear about how this behaviour manifests in your life before moving onto the next step.
How exactly does this self-sabotaging behaviour tend to manifest in my life?
What typically triggers this behaviour and how?
What patterns am I seeing that could help me to better understand this behaviour at a deeper level?
Once you have a good understanding of the patterns surrounding this behavior, you can move on to the next step.
Step 3: Identify a Healthy Replacement Behaviour
To eliminate an old pattern of behaviour, we must first replace it with a new pattern that is more practical and helpful.
This is fundamental…why … because at times it is difficult to avoid certain triggers such as people, objects or circumstances that cause us to react in unresourceful ways.
We must take time to develop a more resourceful and appropriate way of responding.
How could I respond in a more appropriate, resourceful, and practical way that would help me get what I want in this situation?
How and why is this a better way to respond in this situation?
What are some reasons for making this change?
What are the long-term benefits of changing how I respond in this situation?
What are the key advantages of this new behavior?
Remember that change will not happen if there is a lack of motivation behind that change.
If you cannot find reliable enough reasons to make a change, then you simply won’t have the necessary desire or drive to follow through with the change.
Step 4: Practice the New Behavior Until a Habit is Formed
Once you have identified your new behavior, you must now take the time to practice implementing it as often as possible until a new habit is established.
To do this, begin by going through your response (your healthy replacement behavior) to the situation in your imagination. See every detail in large pictures with lots of colour or music or anything else that is fun for you. Feel the positive energy churning through your body as you continue to enlarge the details of your new habit. Do this a few times daily and each time add more colour, more fun to your picture in your head and very soon you will overcome the old self-sabotaging pattern.
Now that your imagination has been activated, you are ready to put yourself in real-world situations that will naturally trigger your old patterns of behaviour. This time though, you are primed with a new response mechanism that you will continue to practice over the next four weeks until a new empowering habit is formed.
10 Practical Ideas for Eliminating Self-Sabotage
To eliminate our self-sabotage patterns, we must make a concerted effort to stay conscious and aware of our behaviours and actions at all times.
At the same time, it’s helpful to put into action a variety of strategies and tactics that can help to eradicate these behaviours once and for all.
Here are 10 suggestions for you to experiment with.
Consistently Learn from Mistakes
Take time at the end of the day to reflect on how you responded to events and circumstances. Learn from these mistakes and experiences by writing down how you will respond differently tomorrow and in the future.
The more you reflect and learn, the better prepared you will be to face these scenarios in the future.
Think Bigger and Bolder
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own destructive patterns of behavior that we lose sight of what’s most important. When we have a narrow focus, we fail to see the bigger picture.
Given this, it can, therefore, be helpful to take the time to think bigger and bolder. This can help you to expand your understanding and perspective of the situation.
Ask Better Questions
Questions are the keys to the locks that hold our problems in place.
Asking better and more effective questions, we naturally gain a different perspective on our situation. This can help us to become more consciously aware of the self-sabotage patterns that are ruling our lives.
What have I learned from this experience?
What would I do differently given another opportunity?
What could the potential benefits be?
How will changing my response allow me to get what I want faster?
The questions you ask will help expand your choices and options moving forward. Giving yourself more choices and options you will be in a better position to work through your self-sabotaging behaviours in optimal ways.
Treat the Process of Change as an Experiment
Just like we did not master the process of walking in one day, changing old habits will also not happen in one day. However, it does happen over time.
When you took your first steps, you must have stumbled more than once. However, you got back up and continued to struggle until you eventually mastered the mechanics of walking. It was one of your little life experiments that I imagine you succeeded at over time. 🙂
The process of change is precisely the same. Treat it as an experiment that will take some time and effort.
You will probably not be victorious after the first or even second attempt. However, over time you will get better at it as long as you persist. Eventually you will win the war over your self-sabotage patterns.
Seek Advice from Other People
It’s important to always ask for help .Seek advice from people who have had practical experience dealing with what you are currently struggling with. Trust me, you are not the only one who is /or has gone through this. They know from personal experience the struggles you are likely to face along the way. They will, therefore, be more than happy to give you practical advice and suggestions that have helped them; to try. You never know if one of those pearls of wisdom will allow you to move beyond your self-sabotage patterns.
Make Sure to Plan in Advance
We often struggle through life when we do not know what to expect, or have little to-no-idea how circumstances will unfold.
However, when we begin to lay down solid plans for how we will respond to situations, people, and circumstances, we begin taking control of our lives.
While laying out these plans; take a moment to consider possible challenges and obstacles that you might face along the way. Acknowledge that obstacles may exist, then consider how you will respond if or when these occur. Even if you don’t deal with these effectively at the time, you will at the very least learn from your experience. This will allow you to adjust your approach the next time around.
Focus on Exploring Solutions
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own inadequacies and limitations that all we see are problems and setbacks. This particular way of looking at life only leads to further challenges.
Instead, take time to consider possible solutions to the problems you are dealing with. This begins by asking more effective questions that focus your brain on finding answers, insights, and ideas, not problems.
Adjust Your Expectations
Our expectations can sometimes lift us up to new heights, or they can demoralize us emotionally. This is why it is so important to always keep our expectations in-check. Managing expectations ensure that we are not aiming too high too quickly and allow us to avoid disappointment.
Set your expectations high, however, give yourself permission to be flexible to make changes should your circumstances, conditions, and resources change.
Remind yourself that you didn’t master the process of walking in one day. You instead mastered it over time. The same is true when it comes to mastering your own behaviour patterns.
Take Intelligent Risks
You need to take risks, you need to take a chance on yourself, and you need to snap out of old unresourceful limiting patterns of behaviour that no longer serve you.
The best time to start making changes was yesterday. The second best time is Right Now.
The only person can make the change is YOU.
Take Time for Self-Reflection
The people who get ahead in life are the ones who actually take the time to consistently think through their daily choices, decisions, and actions.
Successful people learn from what worked or failed to work. They adjust their course of action by taking a different approach.
Only through self-reflection will you gain the necessary insight, perspective, and understanding to begin the process of change and transformation.
Self-sabotage is like a grenade that suddenly and unexpectedly explodes; pushing us away from our deepest wants and desires. However, there are no excuses, because we are the ones who consciously control the movement of the pin.
It is therefore, up to us to make the decision that we will no longer fall prey to our self-sabotaging patterns of behavior ever again.
The choice is yours. It’s in your hands. You now know what to do and how to do it. The real question is when will you get started? When will you finally commit to putting an end to the self-sabotaging behavior that is preventing you from living the life you truly desire to live? Are your goals worth making the change? Are you worth making the change? 🙂
What have you done to change your limiting beliefs? Leave a comment – I would love to hear from you.