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  • Writer's pictureEllen

How to stop self-sabotage

I have noticed when working with clients and through my own experiences that we tend to blame the world around us when we find ourselves not achieving our goals. It is too easy to look to other people, work challenges, financial challenges and our environment when finding reasons that we haven’t yet reached the goals we have set for ourselves.

However, often we are the only ones who can change things in order to achieve something. When blaming the outside world for our situations, it is easy to stay stuck and not find new ways to move forward. This often results in giving up on goals and having a feeling of failure. It is ok to re-evaluate goals if there are barriers to getting us to where we want to be but what we don’t want is to give up on the things we truly want just because it seems too hard or there is something in the way.

Often it is ourselves that are actually standing in our own way. Self-sabotage can come in many forms. The foundation of self-sabotaging though, usually comes from making decisions based on fear; keeping ourselves in a place that we feel safe. I know from personal experience that it is easy to create a safety bubble where nothing can touch me, especially when I am feeling vulnerable. But this often does not allow room for growth.

Self-sabotage can also happen when things are going well; that ‘too good to be true’ feeling. Some people feel that when they get this feeling, something negative is certainly going to happen to bring them back down to earth with a bump. However, by having this belief it is their own actions that bring them down and this can put a stop to the good things that are happening.


'We sabotage the great things in our lives because deep down we don't feel worthy of having the great things.'

- Taressa Riazzi


How to recognise self-sabotage?

Before we work on changing our self-sabotage behaviours, we must first recognise what they are. This starts with building self-awareness, but how do we do that?

One way to build awareness of self-sabotage, is to think about the goal you are trying to achieve and then write down all the things that you feel are stopping you. After doing this, highlight the points you have made that are not external, the self-sabotaging behaviours. For example, the goal could be ‘I want to exercise regularly,’ and the self-sabotaging behaviours could be not planning this into your schedule, making excuses for not doing exercise or comparing yourself to others and feeling like a failure.

Other examples of self-sabotaging behaviours could be:

  • Negative self-talk

  • Shifting blame

  • Setting unrealistic goals

  • Not asking for help when needed

  • Avoidance

  • Ignoring your intuition

  • Downplaying your needs or not setting healthy boundaries

  • Making choices that undermine your goals

  • Seeking approval from others or people pleasing

  • Comparing yourself to others

  • Not being honest with yourself

Building self-awareness can take time, but as you start to do so you will notice more and more the negative actions that stop you from achieving. I find writing a journal really helpful for this. You can start by noting down when these behaviours occur, then start asking yourself why this happened. It is important to dig deep here, really think about what is stopping you.

Where is the fear coming from?

Reasons for self-sabotaging could be:

  • Not feeling worthy

  • Fear of rejection

  • Lack of self-love or self-acceptance

  • Fearful of change

  • Seeking outside validation

  • Not trusting yourself

  • The need to feel in control

  • Fear of failure

  • Fear of success

It can take a lot of work to overcome these deep routed thoughts. It is important to note that this process is just one step you can take to help yourself. However, if you are struggling to overcome these types of thought patterns, I would love to help you through coaching.

Making the change

Once you are aware of your own self-sabotaging behaviours, it will start to become easier to recognise these in the moment. This is where the change can happen, but it is only you who can make this change. When you recognise the behaviours, think about how you can replace this with a healthier choice and how it will help you to reach your goal.

Write this down:

‘I know I do (negative behaviour) and this stops me from achieving (my goal). I now do (new positive action) instead because I want to (purpose for achieving goal).'

Writing this down is one step to changing the behaviour, but is important as it becomes a solid action you are taking to improve yourself. The actions are now in your hands so how do you stay consistent?

Once you start making positive changes, it is important to recognise the positive impact this is creating on your life and achieving your goal. Celebrate the small wins, write down the positive action you have taken. How did you feel? What impact has it had? Seeing the positive impact will motivate you to maintain the new positive actions you have created.


'Growth requires you to challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. Are you up for the challenge?'


Journal prompts

Journaling can really help in this journey into understanding your self-sabotaging behaviours and making changes.

Here are some useful journal prompts to support in your journey:

Why do I want to achieve this goal?

Is this thing I am doing right now contributing to my goal? Why or why not?

What is triggering me to stop chasing my goal?

What is one small action I can do to get closer to achieving my goal?

If you would like support in addressing self-sabotage or deep routed thought patterns that are holding you back, I would love to help you in your journey. Book a discovery call to find out more today.


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