And how to stop self-sabotage!
Are you self-sabotaging? Quite often, we are not aware that we are our own obstacle and hinder ourselves from achieving our goals. Self–sabotage shows up as behaviors, actions, and thoughts that hold and prevent you from doing what you want to do. Making excuses, pushing tasks to the next day, keeping yourself busy with non-essential tasks, and filling your calendar with other people’s problems is just another sign of self-sabotaging behavior. It can happen consciously or unconsciously.
Quite often, it is the fear of failure, success, and judgment the underlying cause for self-defeating habits. At the same time, you feel like time is running out to make the impact that you are dreaming of. It is a catch 22 because what you want is to feel good whilst on a path to achieving your goals.
Let’s start by self-testing if you are self-sabotaging
1. Not Trusting yourself
This is a big one for so many people. Trust isn’t something that comes easily. Usually, when I ask my clients if they trust their partner, the answer starts with yes, but… And when I ask them if they trust themselves, it becomes even more complicated. Trust plays a significant component in overcoming self-sabotage because it allows you to develop the belief that you can overcome any obstacle that comes your way. It is a crucial player in developing a growth mindset.
This is how you recognize the lack of trust in yourself:
- You are questioning every decision you make
- It takes days and sometimes weeks til you make a final decision
- You are asking more than a handful of people for their opinion
- You can’t sleep because your thoughts keep you awake
- You are focusing on potential adverse outcomes instead of positive ones.
2. Thriving for perfectionism and excellence
It sounds heroic to thrive for excellence and perfectionism – especially when you are a woman. Most likely, you have grown up with all the expectations in the world, including staying calm, being polite, having excellent grades in school, and supporting everyone around you.
This is how you recognize self-sabotaging perfectionism:
- You are constantly looking for mistakes
- Trying to re-work your finished products insisting that you can improve it
- Not handing in your final work because you feel like it needs improvement
- You tend to criticize everyone around you
- Nothing is good enough
3. Pleasing other people
Pleasing other people and fixing other people’s problems instead of focusing on your goals is one of the most difficult ones to overcome. It means that you need to learn to set boundaries, set your own goals as a priority, and stop seeking outside affirmation.
This is how you recognize that you are prioritizing other people’s goals over your own:
- You say yes every time someone asks for a favor
- You feel bad when you say no
- Your weekly agenda is filled with meeting people
- There is a deep-seated desire to scream out loud
- You feel like it is your duty to say yes.
4. Saying yes to everyone and every opportunity while self-sabotaging your dreams
As long as you don’t know what you want out of life and how you want to impact this world, you will struggle with saying no. The other obstacle that you need to overcome is the feeling of duty. Especially for women, it can be a tough one. We are being socialized to care, serve and support others, create and support community. In some cultures, women are being taught that their own aspirations and dreams are irrelevant and come last. The empty nest syndrome is a result of socialization women as caregivers and making us believe that our purpose lies in making other people’s lives better. We learn to suppress our desires and emotions that come with our dreams. Losing sight of what it is that we want and saying yes to everything out of fear of missing out on what might be the dream fulfilling chance.
This is how you recognize that you are saying yes to every opportunity.
- Does your heart start beating faster, but not in a good way, when you are coming across an opportunity?
- Do new opportunities make you feel stressed?
- Do you catch yourself running around like a headless chicken because you overcommitted?
- You feel tired but not fulfilled?
- You feel like giving up.
5. Putting everyone else first
You don’t want to be self-centered or selfish. You want to be a good person that is contributing to society. The idea of putting yourself first clashes with the core values that you have learned. How can you put yourself first and not be egoistic? Instead, you are on a mission to prove that you are a good colleague, sister, mother, wife, neighbor, and more. That comes with putting everyone else first.
Few ways to recognize if you are placing others first:
- You regularly reschedule your appointments to help others.
- Your weekly schedule doesn’t include me-time.
- Wellness and sports activities are optional.
- The moment someone calls with an issue, you drop everything that you are doing.
- You never set your phone on silent.
- The one thing that you do is purchase clothes that you don’t get to wear, because of lack of time.
- You are stunned by the ideas that others have.
- You tell yourself that you will never be as good as they are.
- Quite often, you believe that the goals that other people have are better.
6. Setting unrealistic expectations and self-sabotaging your goals
One of the most impactful self-sabotaging things that we do is setting unrealistic goals and expectations. It is easy for you to want to get distracted by other people’s problems and seek distraction because deep down, you know that your goal is unrealistic to achieve. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t dream big. No, on the contrary, dreams are even bigger. Because the bigger the goals are, the more you will achieve in life. But dreams need to be turned into goals and goals into measurable steps. The clearer a goal is, the more likely you are to achieve it.
Few ways to recognize if you are placing others first:
- You compare yourself to others
- You give yourself very little time to achieve your goals
- Impatience is your second nature
- You jump between ideas
- You talk yourself down
- Don’t acknowledge the small wins along the way
7. You are not consistent.
Improvement and flow come through consistency. Creativity comes through flow. To excel in a task and move the needle, you need to become very good at what you are doing. Especially if you are thriving for impact and changing this world because your goals are problem solutions, you are creating and innovating: Two things that aren’t easy. Finding grace in yourself will allow you to be more consistent. Understand that the path is the goal because the solution lies in the process. Achieving goals is not about setting a checkmark next to a goal. It is about moving the needle and changing or pushing the goal while creating new tasks.
Let me share one secret with you: Once you achieve one of your dreams, you are going to see new possibilities, new hurdles that need to be overcome, and landmarks that need to be completed. That is the spirit of exploration and multi-passionates like us.
Your dreams and goals come from the desire to feel fulfilled. To feel like you have contributed in a meaningful way while overcoming your fear and stepping into your purpose (Psst, another secret, you have already found your purpose. Stop looking at the future and start doing! The purpose is what you are doing).
- You start working on one task just to drop it and start doing something different.
- The moment it becomes difficult, you decide that you don’t want to do it and move on to something new.
- You don’t have a dedicated time and day to develop your skills further
- At times you feel the big urge to continue working on your goal and overwork yourself because you don’t even take a break. The result is that you don’t look at it again for weeks or months
8. Negative self-talk as a form of self-sabotage.
Telling yourself that you are not good at something is not going to help. It fosters focusing on negative thoughts and leads to decreased motivation. Unfortunately, it also leads to feeling helpless, frustrated, even sad, and reduces confidence. Negative and critical inner dialogue has been linked to depression. It also increases the sensation of stress and time pressure.
Negative self-talk can look like this:
- This is too hard; I will never be able to master this skill.
- Unfortunately, I wasn’t born in the right family; therefore, …
- I don’t come from a family with money; therefore, I will never fulfill my dreams.
- I am just not good enough.
- Etc. I am sure that you can think of many other examples yourself.
Quote: “Negative thoughts take away your power.”Susan Jeffers
Being honest with yourself and recognizing self-sabotaging behavior is the first step to stepping into your power.
And there are several proven methods that will help you to establish new habits and start fulfilling your dreams by using your strengths.
Here are the 6 Ways to Stop Self-Sabotaging Behavior – so you can thrive
Start by closing your eyes for a moment. Picture how you will feel when you achieve your goals and start turning your dreams into reality. Imagine having more time for your desires and wishes? How will you wake up the next day when you know that you are doing what it takes to get to where you want to be?
The first step in stopping self-sabotaging activities is to transform your self-critical mindset into a more positive one. Unfortunately, we tend to think and focus more on the negatives aspects of our lives. Changing your perspective, meaning your thoughts and your emotions, into a positive experience creates a more real-life experience. Becoming more positive doesn’t mean that you will become naive. On the contrary, you will start seeing life for what it is. Self-sabotaging behavior is your most significant barrier to success. That’s why it is time for you to start seeing the other side of yourself.
1. Become an observer
Start paying attention to your thoughts and words. How do you talk to yourself? What words are you using? Don’t judge yourself; just observe and create a list with words that you want to replace.
2. Change the perspective
When you start focusing on a negative outcome, stop yourself and change the perspective. Draw up a positive result. Fun fact: 90% of everything that we worry about never happens.
Start by shifting your inner narrative. When you catch yourself digressing to negative thought patterns, stop yourself, take control and change your self-talk.
You can even tell yourself that these thoughts aren’t helpful, reminding yourself of the big goal.
In addition to your thoughts, pay attention to your body posture. Straightening your spine and lifting your head can have a significant impact on your attitude and positive thinking. And it will help you to change your perspective.
3. Create a list with accomplishments
Carry a small notebook with you that has a list of past accomplishments and when you fall back into criticizing yourself, read through the list. It will help you change how you feel about the new idea, task, project, etc.
A negative mind means a chronically stressed brain, and chronic stress generates long-term problems. Throughout the day, your brain produces waste as a side effect of being active. This waste is being clean out during the night. Chronic stress caused an increase in brain waste.
Stress and worry that comes with negative thinking create additional waste in your system. Brain waste that can’t be filtered out promptly shrinks brain mass lowers your IQ, makes you prone to heart disease, cancer, and premature aging, hinders adaptive processes in marriage and depression. It makes seniors more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Reframing your thoughts and developing a positive outlook on yourself doesn’t just increase the chances of achieving your goals, but it makes you healthier and happier.
4. Implement affirmations
Affirmations are really simple, short, and powerful expressions. Affirmations change your reality through words, thoughts, and even through hearing them. Research shows that we have between 45,000 and 51,000 different thoughts daily. That’s 150 to 300 thoughts per minute. Unfortunately, 80 percent of these thoughts are, for most people, negative. Luckily, we know now that we can change that through specific practices. Positive affirmation is one of these practices.
Affirmations are specific sentences that aim to affect the conscious and the subconscious mind, and therefore our behavior, thinking patterns, habits, and environment. We bring up related mental images into the mind through these short sentences, which affect our emotional state, inspire and energize us. Through repeated use of these specific sentences, these images and feelings get engraved into our subconsciousness.
When you notice you’re engaging in a self-sabotaging thought or behavior, remember your affirmation and repeat it several times. And also, make it a habit to recite your affirmation twice daily.
An affirmation can be as simple as the following examples:
- I am worthy of success
- My ideas create solutions
- I am intelligent and beautiful.
- I’ve got this.
- I have the skills to do this job.
Affirmations such as these create new neural pathways in the brain and, with time and diligence, will create a positive mindset and eliminate self-sabotaging.
5. Change habits that don’t benefit you and your goals
Changing habits can be fun, as long as you allow yourself to play with them. Start by tracking your week by writing down everything that you do during the day. Including the time you spend in front of the tv and Social media (Fun Fact: People that regularly watch series have elevated depression levels). Do you exercise enough and schedule regular self-care time?
Allowing yourself to be playful can be tricky at times, especially if you are in an executive position. Check if your habits benefit your goals.
6. Decide to be your authority
Taking responsibility for your life starts by understanding that you have what it take to change your life. It begins by stepping into your power. That decision helps you develop self-confidence and a greater sense of self-security because it allows you to understand that you control your mindset, choices, and life.
Your life is ahead of you, and time is on your side, as long as you decide to live it fully and step into your full potential. That means that it is time for you to recognize life for what it is, beautiful and full of possibilities. LIFE IS NOT A DUTY. I know that many of us have grown up believing that we need to fulfill a duty. Life is a privilege, cherish and celebrate it every day by using your skills and talents. Don’t be afraid of pushing your comfort boundaries while also setting boundaries for yourself to protect your energy and time.
The moment you stop self-sabotaging is when you start respecting your ideas, yourself, and goals. Conversely, this comes with stop feeling bad for saying no and focusing on what you want to achieve. And remember, your ideas are as worthy as the ideas of others.