How to Recognize and Manage Self Sabotage

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How many times were you tantalizingly close to achieving something you thought you wanted only to watch it fall apart?  Instead of coming off as curious or interesting to an important person you just met, you came off as overeager and impatient.  Maybe you froze during a key part of a conversation or became defensive because you were overwhelmed, even though you’d told yourself you were ready to make a great impression.


Recognizing self-sabotage is the first step on the internal journey that will help you master the life skills you need to feel more confident, seize opportunities, and thrive both personally and professionally.  Because there are so many ways you can sabotage yourself, it’s easy to blame others or your situation when you don’t get what you want.  The next time you’re left wondering why you can’t seem to get it together and get the results you want despite your best intentions, try these three tips.


Be Objective

Try and look at your situation as a spectator, not a participant.  When you look at how you’re showing up in the situation, what patterns keep repeating themselves?  What part are you playing in not getting what you want?  It’s normal to be nervous or anxious at times, but how are those emotions playing out in your interactions with others?  Instead of beating yourself up for your perceived failings, notice how you react in certain situations without judging yourself.  The act of non-judgment isn’t an excuse to ignore what you’re doing or to let yourself off the hook for truly bad behavior but is instead your opportunity to figure out what you can improve on in the future.  How can you respond in ways that take you toward what you want the next time you find yourself back in a familiar situation?


Examine Your Motives

Self-sabotage is always motivated by underlying emotions.  To figure out why you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you have to figure out how you’re rewarded by your continued bad choices despite telling yourself you want a different outcome.  Where specifically do things keep running off the rails?  What are you resisting and why are you resisting it?  You may tell yourself that staying in your same thought and behavior patterns imprisons you but deep down you’re somehow being rewarded for staying in that comfort zone.  To move from where you are to where you want to be, you have to be willing to get comfortable with the unknown and also have a strong motivating force that is greater than the rewards you have now for staying in the status quo.


Unmask Your True Fear

People stay stuck in self-defeating patterns first and foremost because of fear.  Are you using the excuse that you don’t know how to change your current patterns?  Are you more terrified of failure or are you actually more afraid of getting what you say you want?  Is it easier to stay in mediocrity than risk doing something bold?  To manage and work with the fears that are holding you back, notice where you’re feeling most afraid and think about how you can break that fear down into bite-size chunks.  For example, if you get extremely nervous and chatty at inopportune times, the next time you’re having those feelings, focus on taking deep breaths, develop your listening skills, and ask open-ended questions so others can tell you more about themselves.


Self-sabotage denies you of your potential and keeps you frustrated and discouraged.  It hinders your personal and professional growth and keeps you from offering your unique gifts to the world.  By learning to look at what you’re doing without judging, tuning in to your motives, and breaking your fears down into smaller, more manageable pieces, you can develop healthier new behavior patterns which can help lead you to success.