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Why We Get in Our Own Way - About Self Sabotage

Updated on April 21, 2013

Do You Have a Fear of Success

We hold ourselves back from success.
We hold ourselves back from success. | Source

Self Sabotage and Our Inner Conflicts

Self sabotage is a way of becoming our own worst enemy. Some people act out their internal conflicts by getting in their own way and holding themselves back. Self sabotage can be very problematic and an interference with the things people want to accomplish for themselves. There are many ways to behave in a self sabotaging manner. The most common is procrastination. Another common self sabotage method is by self medicating with the use or abuse of drugs and alcohol, eating to fill a void and for comfort, and cutting, which is self injurious. Self sabotaging acts ultimately interfere and undermine what would possibly be rewarding and satisfying life.

Often self sabotage is done unconsciously. The results of this self destructive behavior sometimes takes a long time to see the negative effects. With little self awareness, it becomes difficult to change this behavior. Even when people are aware they engage in self sabotaging behavior, they may not be able to stop what they are doing.

Self Sabotage and That Uncomfortable Zone

Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT), motivational therapy and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), can help alter these ingrained patterns of behavior to help separate this type of self defeating actions.

People who sabotage themselves, really feel like they can’t get where they want to go. They desire something, but really feel undeserving. There is an inner compulsion to thwart their own efforts. Self sabotaging behavior comes from a past that continues to cause deep and unresolved conflicts that consistently replays out in current times.

Unconscious thoughts regarding feelings that are unresolved stop you from following through and achieving a real sense of satisfaction. Self sabotage helps you fulfill a feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness, incompetence, and other negative feelings. This causes feelings of shame and guilt. When you feel unworthy, you undermine your own good efforts.

Getting in your own way is a way of trying to get away from some intense feelings that you may rather not deal with. We all do it at times. Putting obstacles in our way causes new problems. When someone is trying to reduce their debt, and they go shopping and increase their debt more, they are sabotaging their efforts to spend less and improve their financial situation.

Self Sabotage and Procrastination

Procrastination is a form of self sabotage
Procrastination is a form of self sabotage | Source

The Way We Really Feel

Procrastination is probably the most common way to self sabotage ourselves. Procrastination involves intention and then inaction. Instead of getting the responsibility done, we delay.

The way we ask to be treated is the way people treat us. There is the way we really feel and then there is the way we appear to others. When we want something from someone, to some extent, we allow them to control us. The more you need to be respected, the less likely you are to receive it. When you act from weakness, other people perceive it.

  • pandering to others

  • contrived concern for someone else

  • making small talk

  • listening to someone’s every word

  • looking for approval from others

  • checking to make sure someone is not angry with you

  • fishing for compliments

  • trying to impress someone els

  • gossiping

  • explaining yourself to others

These are not coming from a point of sincerity, but from a point of weakness, that let others instinctively know they may be able to take advantage of you. your inner self may be sabotaging the situation out of fear. Sometimes not saying anything is the best thing. In every situation you are either in charge of yourself or at the demand of someone else. Your behavior will dictate what happens and how you will let others treat you. Sometimes we get in our own way.

Self Sabotage and Low Self Esteem

Sometimes we sabotage ourselves because failure is familiar and we destroy something promising. Low self esteem can make someone feel like they don’t deserve. This feeling of unworthiness can interfere with happiness and success. Self sabotage can come in the form of excess in drinking, drugs, eating , smoking, and uncontrolled anger that leads to bad habits.

People usually sabotage themselves unconsciously. Self awareness is an important key to stopping self sabotage. Start by observing yourself. Look at your actions without making excuses. The more you realize what you are doing, the more you create an awareness that can lead to understanding why you do what you do.

If the idea of feeling successful seems foreign and strange, this may lead you to feeling anxious and cause you to seek perfection. Perfection is something you can never fully achieve. This could lead you to self sabotage.

Self Sabotage and Defense Mechanisms

Take responsibility for your life. Adopt a go gettem philosophy. It is not about what you have done, how much time you gave, but what you achieved in measurable results. Understand your own defense mechanisms. What do you tell yourself that justifies your self sabotage. Identify your behavior so that you can change it.

You need to believe in yourself.

Sometimes self sabotage can lead to hitting bottom. Hitting bottom is actually a good thing, because it can sometimes cause major positive changes.

Negative reinforcement is a behavior that is rewarded because that behavior removes an unwanted stimulus or feeling. It is also known as avoidance. Every time you try to complete a task, but don’t out of fear, you are avoiding and negatively reinforcing the action. It is a form of self sabotage to avoid the feeling of anxiety. The more anxiety you feel, the more likely you are to avoid situations that bring it on.

By being aware that you are using avoidance techniques, you may more easily recognize the feeling of anxiety and the idea that you may be using negative reinforcement and sabotaging yourself. By learning and trusting and growing, you can begin to allow yourself to make mistakes for trying, instead of avoiding out of fear. You can learn to face what you thought might be worse than it really ended up being.

Fears need to be respected. They are powerful forces that can stop you from going forward. You may want to avoid anxiety, and so you may avoid the things you fear. But with some logical thinking, some courage, and the strength to know you can deal with the pain, you can motivate yourself to forge ahead. By doing this and conquering what is stopping you, your fears will dissipate, your confidence will increase, and your ability to take on new challenges will help you go further than you ever thought you could.

Struggles in relationships, especially power struggles can be a way of self sabotaging. People try to start a business and may fail because they didn’t come up with an adequate strategy, or enough money to make the business successful. These are all symptoms of self sabotage.

Get Beyond Self Sabotage

Self Sabotage and Holding Ourselves Back

Self sabotage is an interference to our own greatness we may never know. Our beliefs and behaviors end up getting in the way of our own efforts. We often sabotage the very things we want most and we play it out in little and big ways.

Often we don’t know how to handle the new and unfamiliar successes that may be making us feel uneasy as we leave our comfort zone. Sometimes sabotage comes from a belief we don’t deserve good things.

We stop ourselves from flourishing and growing. We sabotage our relationships, our careers, our dreams. It is a sad thing to do. We don’t mean it, we don’t think we want it to be this way, but we let it happen, because we don’t understand ourselves well enough

Sometimes we can make ourselves so busy so that we don’t focus on our dreams, our needs, our own desires. If you find yourself being too busy during the day to take some time out to work on your dreams, it might be time to re-evaluate how you are spending your time. On a deeper level, you might want to give thought as to why your dreams are put on the back burner.

Sometimes we can daydream so much about the things we think we want, we sabotage our own future by not working on the things we need to do today to get where we want to be tomorrow. If you really want to achieve your dreams, ask yourself what you are doing today that is working towards the bigger picture you see for tomorrow.

Self Sabotage

Do You Do Things That End Up Self Sabotaging Your Efforts?

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Getting beyond Self Sabotage

Self awareness and coming from a point of strength instead of weakness will help you get beyond self sabotage
Self awareness and coming from a point of strength instead of weakness will help you get beyond self sabotage | Source

Self Sabotage and Self Awareness

There are many ways we sabotage our progress. The key is with self awareness and to be honest with ourselves. When you believe you can, you will. Self sabotage in reality does not solve any problems, it actually causes new ones. We are trying to avoid painful emotions that we would rather not deal with. Self sabotage is a behavior that undermines our real desires. We get lost in the justification of the harm we are really doing to ourselves.

We lead by weakness instead of our strengths. As you catch yourself doing things that are self destructive in nature, think about what you are doing for yourself and to yourself. Help yourself to become comfortable with the changes that may come if you don’t self sabotage.

Becoming aware of your thoughts and the results that will ensue may help you gain a better understanding of what you are doing. It is important to protect yourself from the self sabotaging ways you might otherwise bring upon yourself.


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    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Marilyn, Thanks for your offer about editing help, we can never have enough of it. I am honored by your kind words about my self sabotage article.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image

      Marilyn L Davis 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I write about this same subject and think that you did a good job of discussing self-sabotage, regardless of the typing/grammar errors mentioned.

      I'll swap editing with you as I miss some of my own mistakes as well and at least you would be familiar with the subject matter....only half joking.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Pixie, Thanks for your comments. I have to learn not to type when I am tired. I appreciate you catching my errors. I will be writing another hub on dealing with self sabotage, as it is a big topic. I look forward to your critique of that one. Thanks again for taking the time to find my mistakes, I am grateful. all the best to you.

    • Pixienot profile image


      6 years ago from Clarksville, Indiana

      Good info on self-sabotaging. I would suggest that you read your work out loud before you publish it. You have some disconnected sentences.

      Also, I would have liked to hear an equal amount of information on what one can do to not self sabotage. Examples of failure and success for instance, are words that stick with us and help us to act on what we have learned.

      I can tell you put a lot of time and research into your hub. Keep on hubbing, you are doing a good job!

      Voted up and interesting.


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