No one is perfect, so we all do things that get in the way of our own success. Self-sabotage is something we all engage in for a variety of reasons. For some, these are deeply rooted in beliefs about things like our own self-worth or ability to succeed. We have all kinds of beliefs about who we are and, in an effort, to maintain this identity, we may undermine efforts or actions that are not in line with this identity even to our own detriment. This can also be reflected in what is sometimes referred to as imposter syndrome. It could also be a matter of fear of failure or fear of success where we avoid accomplishing things rather than facing failure or the raised expectations that success can bring. These are some of the possible psychological contributors to self-sabotage.
One of the most common forms of self-sabotage is procrastination. The reasons we put off or avoid tasks are varied, but they have very little to do with being lazy, as many people assume. Often procrastination is a stress response when we are feeling overwhelmed. If you put too much pressure on yourself, it can lead to a lot of procrastination. This too is a psychological element of self-sabotage, but there are also physical factors that play a role in how we undermine ourselves. We are hard-wired to conserve energy and for self-preservation. Like other organisms, we too strive for homeostasis and the changes we sometimes pursue represent a perceived risk to the stability of our lives. In this way, we have an internal drive to remain in our comfort zones.
With all of these physical and psychological impediments, it’s no wonder many of us do not achieve our full potential but don’t allow this to be an excuse. Obviously, it is possible to overcome our inner roadblocks because we see people achieve great success and rapid change all around us. At some time, each of us will have pushed through our fears, perceived limits and feelings of resistance to achieve something difficult. The question is how to apply this to everyday life so that we can live our potential more consistently. As I have been saying for years: awareness allows change. The place to start is to recognise how you are self-sabotaging. Look at all areas of your life from your career to your health and relationships. Pay attention to the areas where you know better but still don’t do what best serves you.
As you begin to recognise the many behaviours that you know undermine your health, success and happiness start to label them as self-sabotage. Compile a list of all your self-destructive behaviours without shame, justification or excuses. It could be not drinking enough water. It could be putting off things until the last minute or always being late. It could be the things you do that you know trigger a negative response with your partner. Label them as self-sabotage. Then go through your list and consider what you can change and what you need help with. Some things are just a matter of developing new habits while others can be worked on with a coach, and some will need the support of a therapist. So before you face any new external challenges take a close look at your internal roadblocks, and you will find a great deal more success in life.