While self sabotage can sometimes feel inescapable – there IS a way to overcome it and it all starts by noticing your own signs of self sabotage because once you do this, you can begin to bring them into your conscious awareness and stop those self sabotaging behaviors for good.
In this guide, you’re going to discover how to break self sabotaging behaviors so you can begin to achieve your goals and create the life that you know you are truly capable of.
- What is self sabotage?
- How Not To Let Self Sabotage Ruin Your Life In 6 Steps
- How to notice the signs of self sabotage (so you can break the pattern)
- Self Sabotaging Thoughts
- Physical Signs Of Self Sabotage
- Why you need to congratulate yourself (to create a positive reward loop)
But first…What Is Self Sabotage?
Look at it like this, you have an idea of something you want to do, achieve or how you want life to be. Yet your actions do not match your desires or goals.
“You’re living in cognitive dissonance – saying or thinking one thing and doing the exact opposite”.
And for a visual representation (and something you can think of every time you notice yourself doing it – so you can snap yourself out of it), is this picture:
I’m pretty sure every human being has experienced self sabotage but today is the day that you STOP being that person in the above picture.
Because you DO have the power to do that.
But first, it’s crucial to understand why so many people self sabotage and when we look at the science of why we self sabotage, it’s pretty natural.
Take your brain – full of neural pathways.
These neural pathways are responsible for your thoughts, habits, behaviors & actions.
And like well-trodden paths or highways, you’ve been using them for some time, so much so, many of your habits, thoughts and actions are automatic, you don’t even have to think about them.
So, when you decide you’d like to lose 10lb and suddenly start going to the gym every morning – this odd, new behavior is completely out of whack with your ‘normal’.
It’s like driving on the same highway every morning and then suddenly deciding to take a new route which takes you off the smoothe highway and down a different path into the forest…
…it’s kinda scary,
…you don’t 100% know where you’re going
And all you have is the end goal in mind and sometimes that just isn’t enough.
And so we revert back to the safety of what we’ve always known and get back on the highway.
Ahh, we can breathe again, what a silly idea it was to try a new route!
But what you don’t realise is that at the end of that new route is a pot of gold & everything you’ve ever wanted in life!
And so you see, engaging in self sabotaging behaviors is a natural reaction to change.
“We desire the new, yet we’re still wired for the old”.
And until we’ve rewired our lovely brains for the new, we’re going to keep coming up against resistance, worry, confusion and a whole host of other negative emotions that make us feel yucky and like we’re not making any progress anyway, so we might as well give up.
But take this as a GOOD sign – it means you ARE making progress – you are in the process of carving new thoughts and behaviour patterns, which is the crucial time where you need to keep going and NOT give up which is what we will address in the next section.
How Not To Let Self Sabotage Ruin Your Life In 6 Steps
So, you have your end goal in mind.
You’re on your way and then it hits you – overwhelm, confusion, lack of motivation, wanting to give up.
It’s okay. Take a deep breath, this isn’t a race. You’re rewiring your brain right now – think that’s easy? Our brains are ancient & they’re wired to keep us safe as they have for millions of years.
So, don’t get lost in the overwhelm of negative thoughts beating yourself up, just remember ‘KISS’…
Keep It Simple Stupid
KISS is a common acronym used in business, it means Keep It Simple Stupid. And this is how you can KISS.
1.Define Your Goal
Write down the goal you want to achieve and make it time-bound, for example, I will write a book in the next 6 months.
2.Break It Down Into Mini-Goals
Break down your goal (as best you can) into smaller, more reachable goals.
I will write one chapter per month.
I will write 25 pages per week.
I will write 5 pages per day (5 days a week)
Remember to give yourself breathing space because we often overburden ourselves & then we start to panic and miss a few days and then we think we’ve ruined everything and we may as well stop right now.
Don’t do this. Give yourself time off.
Or commit to giving yourself an allocated number of days holiday, so if you’re having one of those days, you have the space to stop & contemplate BUT do not give up.
Remember, brick by brick. You don’t achieve any major feat all at once, whether you want to build a house, write a book, build a business, lose weight – you achieve it in small incremental parts which all add up.
Stick with me because if you can give yourself the patience to complete your micro-goals, you will be able to achieve anything in life, and it’s really not that hard.
3.Write Your Actions Down
Next, you need to make sure your actions are written down so you can simply look and then do, reducing the mental fatigue of not knowing what you need to do that day.
It can be as simple as having a notepad or an excel document with a tab for each day and the main action for that day.
It’s also a good idea to allot a time when you will complete your action.
4.Take The Action
Next, just do the action. Even if you’re not sure the exact thing you need to do (for example if you’re writing a book & aren’t sure what to write), just start, and the rest will come to you. Go for the jog, pick the pen up, whatever it may be. Just start. And if you’re struggling, practice the ‘5-second rule’.
Imagine a rocket launching and countdown from 5-4-3-2-1…GO!
Go & do the damn thing right now!
5.Be Held Accountable
This last part will add an extra layer to your success. If you can find someone to hold you accountable to your goals – you will have more chance of completing them.
And it doesn’t have to be tricky, find someone you trust and who is supportive (& willing). Tell them your goals each week along with if you achieved last weeks goals.
This is effective because –
Firstly, the very act of telling someone else your goals makes you more likely to do them than if you did not. That little extra pressure of not wanting to let them down or looking like you can’t complete things, etc, makes you just want to do it.
And secondly, if you do not do your goals – you’ll have to admit that, both to yourself and them.
And once you’ve admitted that you can begin to look at why you didn’t do them and create a new strategy to achieve them.
Maybe you just had a bad week and needed a reset, or maybe your goal was too big and you need to downsize it so it’s more achievable.
Or maybe you’re just procrastinating & need a little tough love to push through.
We all want to achieve goals as fast as possible, but remember it’s the tortoise that wins the race.
6. BONUS – Visualise Your Way To Success
Research shows that whether we do something or imagine it, our brain cannot tell the difference.
So if you want to tame your subconscious mind and those self sabotaging behaviors, you need to carve new neural pathways asap – and you can do that through visualisation.
A. Keep visualizing your success – what it will feel like to attain your end goal, how you will be, etc.
B. Visualise doing your mini-goal with ease, notice how easy it is, how great you feel afterwards, the sense of achievement.
This way you’re able to carve in the habit much quicker because your brain cannot tell the difference between when you’re doing the action or just thinking about doing the action.
How To Notice The Signs Of Self Sabotage
It’s helpful if you can notice the signs of self-sabotage while they are happening.
Self Sabotaging Thoughts
The process usually starts with self-sabotaging thoughts which really, are any thoughts which are self-limiting, telling you that you can’t do ‘the thing’.
They will be different for everyone, for example, they might tell you –
- You’re too tired
- You don’t know how to do it
- You can do it tomorrow, next week, next month
- You don’t have enough time
- You’re not smart enough
- It’s too complicated…
Any thought you have telling you that you cannot do the thing is sabotaging you!
So, notice your own self sabotaging thoughts and you’ll be able to notice the signs of self-sabotage much quicker which means you’ll be able to recognise them for exactly what why are…’self-sabotaging thoughts’ which means you can break the pattern!
Physical Signs Of Self Sabotage
Other signs of self sabotage may be of a physical nature, this is often because we’ve not noticed the self sabotaging thoughts & now they’ve progressed into the physical.
I’ll give you a personal example, mine is that my house will start to look untidy, I will struggle to keep on top of it, and when I notice the house is a mess I realise my head has been in the clouds and I’ve been majorly procrastinating and self-sabotaging my goals. If my house is a mess, you can bet, my head is too, which means I haven’t made much progress.
Other physical signs of self sabotage might be:
- Eating too much or too little
- Not getting enough sleep
- Engaging in unhealthy behaviours
- Catching up on other goals or chores to make ourselves feel better (because they are less painful than doing our main goal)
- Doing everything BUT the thing we need to be doing
The list goes on and on and the only way you’ll break self sabotaging behaviors is by noticing your own.
So how about you?
- Do you stop doing something you normally do?
- Do you find yourself snapping or anxious?
- Do you begin to feel unhappy?
- Do you watch more TV or spend more time doing other things to distract yourself?
Just be mindful, and you’ll begin to notice these subtle signs of self sabotage.
And when you do, you can begin to become more skilled at breaking the pattern.
What was once unconscious will become conscious and you can now question the behaviour – ask yourself, what are you avoiding doing?
I know when we’re in the midst of self-sabotage, it can be hard, the last thing we want to do is the damn thing but do it and you’ll feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders, the block will begin to be removed, the clouds will clear, life will seem sunny once again.
Why You NEED To Congratulate Yourself (To Create A Positive Reward Loop)
Don’t take this part lightly. You must celebrate your wins, at the end of each day write down what you have achieved.
Do not overlook this or it might be your downfall.
Write it down, contemplate the steps you have taken, don’t downplay them, any action in the right direction is a win.
You have started to overcome your own self sabotaging behaviors and the more you celebrate your wins, the more you will want to win and the bigger steps you will take.
This also creates a positive reward loop in your brain – you will begin to associate this behavior with ‘good things’ rather than ‘bad things’ which will push you forwards.
So now you see, self-sabotage is not unique to you, you are not a failure or unable to complete things, you’re just having a human experience of growth – you are growing into the next version of you who desires different things from the old version.
Just like the butterfly, struggling to get out of his cocoon, it feels hard, there’s resistance, but once you’ve done it, you’ll be better for it because the secret is that it’s not even about the goal – it’s about who you are becoming in the process and that is what life is all about – becoming a bigger, brighter, better you.
P.s. If you’re struggling to achieve your goals check out our coaching where we’ll help you get super clear, plan the steps out with you and hold you accountable while helping you overcome any self-limiting behaviours.