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  • Writer's pictureLeticia Salazar

What is self-sabotage and how to stop it

Self-sabotage refers to any behavior that creates problems in our daily lives and keeps us from reaching our goals. Self-sabotaging happens in many ways; it can be by: overspending money, binge eating, procrastinating, self-harming (e.g., cutting) abusing alcohol/drugs, watching too much TV or playing too much video games. Any behavior that gets in the way of your goal can be labeled as self-sabotage. In many cases, the person is not aware that they are sabotaging themselves and instead, they place the blame on the system, their parents, the school, the TV, the media etc. In other cases, many people choose to not change their negative behaviors even when they are aware of how much it is affecting them. There are other forms of self-sabotage that take the forms of thoughts. The way we think and make interpretations is a leading cause of mental health problems. Many people have constant negative thoughts and perceptions of themselves, the people around them and their life in general. It is no secret that our thoughts have a great influence in our reality and the way we experience life.

How do you know if you are sabotaging yourself?

One way to know if you are sabotaging yourself is to ask yourself if your daily behavior is bringing you closer to your goals. One major cause of mental illness is the incongruence between what we want and what we do. For ex; I want to be healthy but decide to eat fast food get the idea.

How Do I Stop Self-Sabotaging?

  • The first step is to identify what leads to this behavior. Normally, we tend to engage in self-sabotaging behaviors to alleviate stress or anxiety. By identifying triggers to stress and anxiety you will have more control of how to respond to these triggers. For example, if you engage in procrastination, chances are you are doing this to decrease the anxiety you experience when you think about the project. Many times we procrastinate due to a fear of failure. The next time you have a project or a deadline, try to break the project into small and realistic steps. Do not set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. Having a to-do list may be helpful as well as learning how to better manage your time and prioritize tasks. Improving your decision making skills can have a huge impact on the reduction of self-sabotage.

  • Make the habit of acknowledging when you are making progress. You don’t need to wait to achieve your final goal to feel proud of yourself. Just the fact that you are working on your project or desired outcome is good enough to praise yourself and feel good about your progress.

  • Before going to bed each night, spend 10 minutes visualizing how you want the next day to unfold. Have a clear idea of how you want your day to go and the steps you need to take in order to achieve that goal. It happens often that when we don’t have a clear idea of what we want to achieve during the day, we end up doing many other things that contradicts our desires.

  • Before getting out of bed, before you check your phone and emails, take 10 minutes to set your intentions for the day. It could look like “I am going to be mindful of my temper today. “I am going to eat healthy food today”. “I am going to avoid spending more than 15 minutes checking social media” .”I am going to workout for 20 minutes after I finish work” get the idea.

  • Make sure you are surrounded by individuals that have your best interest in mind and that have healthy habits. Surrounding ourselves with people that have our same goals, interests, and dreams makes a huge difference in the quality of our lives. If you surround yourself with people that have no desire to be healthy, to improve, to be successful and to erase problematic behaviors chances are that you will get stuck with them. Our environment plays a crucial role in our daily life.

  • Get a journal! Journaling has been proven to be very helpful! By having a journal, you can keep track of your triggers, progress, and it gives you an idea of what is happening around those days when you seem to do better compared to other days. It also serves the purpose of venting and letting out thoughts and emotions. You will be surprised to see the therapeutic effects it can have!

  • Ask for help! Sometimes we just need to seek professional help from a therapist, coach, teacher, family, friend or anyone in the community that is qualified to assist you. Asking for help is an act of courage and bravery!

  • If possible and applicable, educate yourself about your self-sabotaging behavior. Read about it. Look for podcasts and videos that help you find ways to deal with your unwanted behavior. Identify what type of learner you are. Maybe you are more of a visual learner and do not like reading too much and vice versa.

I hope this blog helps you! Feel free to leave your comment about any questions you may have!

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