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We all want to be best version of ourselves, we all have some idea (if not clear than maybe rough) about what we want to achieve in life.
During some of our inspiring moments we also manage to set up grand plans for our future.
Everyhting goes well till now, but than Self-sabotage comes into picture and it’s like having a tiny devil on your shoulder whispering, “Hey, let’s mess things up for fun!”
I totally get this, I too have faced this situation in the past. Not that I dont face it now, but now I have learnt how to kick that devil in the ass.
In this blog I will share the Psychological, Spiritual and Scientific reasons of why we self sabotage, and how to put an end to it.
Let us examine and find out Why Do We Self Sabotage? and how can we put an end to this.
Signs of Self Sabotage
You know you’re indulging in a bit of self-sabotage when you start seeing these sneaky signs:
- Consistently putting off important tasks or responsibilities.
- Engaging in harsh self-criticism and focusing on personal flaws.
- Avoiding new challenges due to a fear of not succeeding.
- Setting unrealistically high standards and feeling discouraged if they’re not met.
- Constantly questioning your abilities and second-guessing decisions.
- Ignoring problems or difficulties instead of facing them head-on.
- Overcommitting or failing to assert your needs, leading to burnout.
- Downplaying or not celebrating your successes.
- Feeling like a fraud despite evidence of competence.
- Pushing people away or behaving in ways that damage relationships.
- Using substances or engaging in behaviors that harm well-being.
- Chronic lateness or poor organization leading to missed opportunities.
- Neglecting physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
- Dwelling on past mistakes or worrying excessively about the future.
- Agreeing to things you don’t want to do to please others.
- Withdrawing from social activities or isolating yourself from support networks.
- Dismissing constructive criticism and refusing to learn from mistakes.
- Constantly measuring yourself against others and feeling inadequate.
- Believing you don’t deserve success or happiness.
To some extent we are all guilty of doing this, but if these signs reaches to an extent that takes you away from your happiness and reaching your personal goals. Than this is a red flag.
Let us find out the resons behind these inglorious thoughts, so that we can nip them at the bud, and show them who is the BOSS of your life.
You might also be interested in reading my blog on How Can I Forgive Myself For Past Mistakes
Why Do We Self Sabotage? (Psychological, Scientific, Social and Spiritual reasons)
These are some of thee common reasons why we self-sabotage. Understanding them can help us work through these behaviors.
- Fear of Failure: Deep-seated fear of failing or not meeting expectations can lead to self-sabotage as a way to avoid facing potential disappointment. E.g., a talented musician who dreams of performing on a big stage. However, the fear of not meeting the audience’s expectations causes him to doubt his talent.
- Low Self-Esteem: Negative self-perception and feelings of unworthiness can drive self-sabotaging behaviors, as individuals may believe they don’t deserve success. E.g., a person who struggles with low self-esteem due to a history of bullying. They might be hesitant to apply for a promotion at work because they believe they’re not good enough for the role.
- Perfectionism: Striving for perfection can lead to setting unrealistic standards, causing anxiety and self-sabotage when those standards can’t be met. Think of an artist who’s working on a painting. They constantly strive for perfection and become so focused on every detail being flawless that they end up getting frustrated and abandoning the project halfway through. This leads to self-sabotage because he did not complete something that could have been beautiful despite minor imperfections.
- Unresolved Trauma: Past experiences, especially traumatic ones, can lead to self-sabotage as a subconscious way of protecting oneself from similar hurtful situations. Suppose an individual experienced a painful breakup in the past. As a result, they might self-sabotage potential romantic relationships in the present by pushing people away or avoiding emotional intimacy.
- Brain Chemistry: Neurochemical imbalances, such as low levels of serotonin or dopamine, can affect mood and decision-making, potentially leading to self-sabotaging behaviors. E.g., someone who has been experiencing prolonged periods of sadness and low energy. They might have low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. Due to this imbalance, they might engage in self-sabotaging behaviors like isolating themselves from friends and avoiding activities they once enjoyed.
- Stress Response: High levels of stress trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response. This leads to impulsive and short-term thinking, which can result in self-sabotaging choices. Consider a student who is under immense pressure to excel in exams. In this heightened state, they might impulsively cram for hours the night before the exam instead of sticking to a well-paced study schedule. This impulsive decision could lead to exhaustion and decreased performance on the actual exam.
- Cognitive Biases: Cognitive distortions, like negative self-talk or overgeneralization, can distort thinking and influence self-sabotage by reinforcing self-doubt and limiting beliefs. Think of someone who’s attempting to lose weight but has a tendency for negative self-talk. They might indulge in a high-calorie dessert at a social gathering and then think, “I’ve already messed up my diet, so I might as well continue eating unhealthy.” This kind of overgeneralization and negative self-talk can perpetuate self-sabotage by convincing them that one slip-up ruins their entire effort.
1. Social Expectations: Sometimes we sabotage ourselves because we want to fit in or meet the expectations of those around us. We might do things that go against what we truly want because we’re worried about what others will think. For example, you might avoid pursuing a career in art even though you love it, because your family expects you to become a doctor. So you give more importance to their wishes at the expense of killing your passion.
2. Fear of Judgment: The fear of being judged or criticized by others can lead to self-sabotage. We might hold back from expressing our true selves or pursuing our passions to avoid negative opinions. For instance, you might not share your innovative business idea with others because you’re afraid they’ll think it’s silly or impractical.
- Unresolved Inner Conflicts: Spiritual beliefs and values may clash with personal desires, creating inner conflict that manifests as self-sabotage. Imagine someone who values a simple and humble life based on their spiritual beliefs, but they also have a strong desire to achieve financial success. This conflict between their values and desires might lead them to self-sabotage by deliberately avoiding opportunities for career advancement, so they don’t have to confront the tough choice between their spiritual principles and personal ambitions.
- Self-Worth and Belief Systems: Spiritual beliefs about one’s worthiness or destiny can impact self-esteem and contribute to self-sabotaging behavior if an individual believes they’re not deserving of success. Suppose a person grew up in a strict religious environment that taught them they were inherently sinful and unworthy. Despite having a talent for writing, they might self-sabotage their attempts to publish a novel because they deeply believe their work isn’t good enough or that they don’t deserve recognition.
Also read our blog on Self Healing Power: Heal Your Body, Emotions, & Toxic Relationship
Out Of The Box Ideas To Deal With Self Sabotage
Here are some out of the box ideas that are designed to make the healing process fun while treating your self sabotaging thoughts.
- Personify Your Inner Critic: Imagine your self-doubt or negative thoughts as a separate character. Give it a name and visualize it. When you notice self-sabotage creeping in, engage in a conversation with this character. This technique helps externalize your self-doubt, making it easier to challenge and dismiss. Example: Let’s say you’re trying to start a new business. When you begin doubting your abilities, visualize your inner critic named “doubting Thomas.” Engage in a dialogue where you ask doubting Thomas for evidence to support its negative claims. This process can reveal the baselessness of your doubts.
- Create a Self-Sabotage Playlist: Compile a list of songs that empower and motivate you. Whenever self-sabotaging thoughts arise, listen to this playlist to shift your mindset. Music has a powerful impact on emotions and can disrupt negative thought patterns. Example: If you’re feeling anxious about a job interview, play your self-sabotage playlist before leaving home. The upbeat tunes can elevate your mood and replace doubts with confidence.
- Use Fictional Characters: Create characters like “Courageous Clara” and “Resilient Rob” to represent different aspects of yourself. Write a short story where Clara faces a fear of public speaking, and Rob supports her by sharing his experiences. This exercise helps you visualize overcoming challenges through the lens of supportive characters.
- Physical Anchor: Choose a small object like a smooth stone as your anchor. When self-sabotage creeps in, hold the stone and take a deep breath. As you feel the texture and weight of the stone, remind yourself of your goals and strengths. This tactile sensation can shift your focus away from negativity.
- Artistic Expression: Transform self-sabotage into a painting. Start with dark and chaotic colors to represent the negative emotions. Gradually introduce brighter colors and shapes that symbolize positive change. As the painting evolves, you’ll visually witness the transformation of self-sabotage into empowerment.
- Time-Travel Visualization: Close your eyes and visualize meeting your future self, “Empowered Emma,” who has overcome self-sabotage. Ask Emma for advice on facing your current challenges. Imagine her sharing insights like, “I learned to believe in myself by taking small steps each day.”
- Transformation Collage: Collect images, quotes, and symbols that represent your journey from self-sabotage to empowerment. Create a collage that visually depicts your transformation, and refer to it when you need motivation.
Choose any one or combination of the above mentioned activities that resonates with you. Or you can do any other activity that you believe will work.
However make sure to do this with sincereity and diligently.
Remember, that healing will take time and patience on your end. So be patient with yourself, and do not expoect any overnight miracles.
Also the jouney will not be linear, some days you will make giant progress and some days you might drown in the sea of self sabotaging thoughts.
I assure you that this is normal, just dont give up your quest to liberate yourself from the shakles of self sabotage. Keep on doing it no matter how slow or how many times you think you fail.
With each and every attempt doing any of these activity, I assure that you will make progress, even though you might not see it at that time, but if you hang on and after you reach a certain level you will be glad that you did not give up.
Positive Affirmations To Heal Self Sabotage
- I am deserving of success, and I embrace it fully.
- I release all self-doubt and trust in my abilities.
- I am capable of achieving my goals and overcoming obstacles.
- I choose to let go of self-sabotaging behaviors and embrace positive change.
- I am in control of my thoughts, and I choose to focus on positive outcomes.
- I deserve happiness and abundance in all areas of my life.
- I believe in my worth and value, and I refuse to settle for less.
- I am confident and capable of handling any challenges that come my way.
- I attract positive opportunities and surround myself with supportive people.
- I am the author of my own success story, and I am writing it with determination and resilience.
Visualization To Treat Self Sabotage
The Release and Rise
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep, calming breaths.
- Imagine that you’re holding a small, brightly colored balloon in your hand.
- In your mind’s eye, see your self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors as dark clouds gathering around you.
- As you exhale, imagine blowing all those negative thoughts and behaviors into the balloon, filling it with the darkness.
- When the balloon is full, tie it securely.
- Now, visualize yourself holding the balloon high above your head.
- Take one more deep breath in and, as you exhale, let go of the balloon.
- Watch the balloon float away, carrying all those self-sabotaging thoughts with it.
- As the balloon disappears into the distance, feel a sense of relief and lightness washing over you.
Do this meditation whenever you catch your mind spitting out self sabotaging thoughts, this will instantly change the trajectory of your thoughts and make place for more empowering thoughts.
Now it might not always be possible to do this on the spot you catch your mind red handed in the act of producing self sabotaging thoughts. In this case you can do it at night just before going to sleep.
This might seem like a burden initially, but if you convince yourself to diligently do it, than the rewards will be a mind that produces top quality thoughts. That are designed to make you fall in love with yourself and your life.
On The End Note
Embrace this truth, my friend – within you lies the power to liberate yourself from the clutches of self-sabotage. While it may require time, steadfast self-reflection, and unwavering commitment, but trust me the rewards will be life transforming.
The sole barrier between you and your most radiant self are your self-sabotaging thoughts. By integrating these effective strategies and nurturing a positive mindset, you have the potential to rise above self-sabotage and carve out a life brimming with joy, success, and authentic connections.
Taking up thiss journey will train your mind to churn out thoughts that are a source of motivation, rather than chipping away at your confidence.
Feel Free To Connect With Me
If there is anything I can help you with, Just drop it in the comments, and consider me your virtual sounding board.
If you want to share your progress with me, I would love to hear that too.
Together, we can overcome self-sabotage and create a life where we value ourselves.