How to Overcome Self-Sabotage and Unlock Your Potential

Why do we Self Sabotage?

Do you ever find yourself sabotaging your efforts? 

I sabotaged myself for years, playing small, staying in my lane, and trying not to stand out or make anyone else feel uncomfortable with my successes.

Even now with all the awareness I have, I still do it from time to time. I find myself doing tasks that don’t matter, avoiding the ones that will have the biggest impact and make me have to stand up and stand out.

Self-sabotage is when your actions or thoughts prevent you from making progress. A prime example is when we procrastinate on the most important task we need to do. We also self-sabotage when we speak negatively about ourselves or create goals that are impossible to achieve. The first step to overcoming self-sabotage is understanding the reasons behind these behaviors.

Why We Self-Sabotage?

  1. Fear of Failure: Avoiding failure can make us not try in the first place. This twisted form of self-protection ensures that you never experience the sting of failure because you never really put yourself out there.
  2. Fear of Success: Oddly enough, fear of success can be just as paralysing. Success brings change, higher expectations, and the possibility of more significant failures down the line. It’s easier to stay in your comfort zone, even if that means staying stuck.
  3. Low Self-Esteem: Many people feel unworthy of success which can lead to behaviors that undermine their efforts. When you don’t believe you deserve success, you’re likely to undermine your efforts. Low self-esteem makes you feel unworthy of achievement and joy, so you unconsciously ensure you don’t get too much of either.
  4. Perfectionism: Perfectionism isn’t about striving for excellence; it’s about avoiding criticism and rejection. By setting impossible standards, you guarantee that you’ll never meet them, which provides an excuse to never start or finish important tasks.

How to Overcome Self-Sabotage

Visualise Success: Spend a few minutes each day visualising your success. Picture yourself achieving your goals and enjoying the benefits. As we visualise we get to know the future self, we can gradually start to make small changes that allow us to become her.

Awareness: Keep a journal to track your thoughts and behaviors. This will help you to identify the patterns of self-sabotage. Are there patterns or certain triggers that cause you to do it? When we are aware of our behaviours it is easier to catch ourselves in the moment and adjust to more fulfilling or supportive behaviours.

Challenge Negative Beliefs: Confront the negative thoughts and beliefs. “I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never succeed,” “Why even try?”  When we speak or think these negative thoughts create a self-fulfilling prophecy where we believe we are incapable and then act accordingly. Commit to noticing these thoughts and beliefs and replacing them with positive affirmations and realistic perspectives. 

Set Realistic Goals: Break your goals into smaller, achievable steps. Then plan your week and prioritise the high-value tasks. Use a productivity planner or app to stay organised and focused every day.

Develop Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself. Understand that mistakes are part of growth and treat yourself with compassion. Easier said than done I know but maybe you can journal ways to be nice to yourself, and try and include them in every day.

Create a Support System: Surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you and your goals. Share your struggles with them for encouragement and accountability. Remember it is essential to surround yourself with people that uplift you reduce the time spent with energy drainers.

Embrace Imperfection: You already know that mistakes and setbacks are part of the journey, not its time to accept it. Your life won’t blow up if you make a mistake, in fact every experience, every failure gives us something to learn and improve on. Understanding this allows you to take risks and try new things without fear of not being perfect.

Focus on the Present: Stay grounded in the present moment. Use techniques like meditation and deep breathing to stay focused and calm at work and when with family and friends.

Seek Professional Help: If self-sabotage is significantly impacting your life, consider seeking help from a therapist or coach.

Self-sabotage can be overcome. By understanding its roots, recognising how it rears it head, and employing practical strategies, you can get out of your own way and unlock your true potential. You are capable and deserving of success.