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We self-sabotage our success all the time and don’t even know it.

When we don’t achieve our goals, it is easy to see outside forces as barriers to getting what we want, and we often fail to recognize it is us, not our environment, that is holding us back.

And if you think this does not apply to you, think again.

Self-sabotage is an internal narrative that whispers insidious doubts, convincing us we’re destined to fail, unworthy, or that certain accomplishments are beyond our reach. Identifying, understanding, and stopping this self-sabotaging behavior is essential for achieving our goals and becoming the person we are capable of being.

How Self-Sabotage Shows Up

Before we can overcome self-sabotage, we need to recognize how subtle it is and how it happens:

  • Overthinking: This is when we become so entangled in our thoughts that decision-making feels like an insurmountable task. The fear of a wrong choice can freeze our actions, leaving us stuck. We think so long and about so many alternative ways (usually negatively) a situation can play out, that we end up doing nothing.
  • Procrastination: Often misinterpreted as laziness, procrastination is the art of postponing the inevitable. Fear of failure, and sometimes even fear of success, leads to delaying tasks, creating a cycle of stress and guilt. And yes, despite wanting success, we often subconsciously fear what that success will mean for our lives, our routines, and our emotional comfort. After all, even good change is change.
  • Negative Self-Talk: The constant undercurrent of self-criticism and doubt can erode our confidence and skew our perception of our abilities. Often confused with humility, we say things to ourselves that we would never consider saying to another person, because it would be so cruel or hurtful. Listen carefully to the dialogue you carry on with yourself and what you are saying that is holding you back.
  • Comfort Zone: While safety and familiarity are comforting, they can also be a velvet trap, ensnaring us in a state of stagnation and hindering growth. Humans are wired for comfort and safety, so it is natural for us to want to remain in a world that we feel snug and safe in, but growth happens outside of our comfort zone, not in it.

Recognizing these patterns is the first step toward change.

Strategies to Stop Self-Sabotage

Overcoming these self-imposed barriers requires honesty and accountability with ourselves:

  • Become Aware: Acknowledge your self-sabotaging tendencies. Often triggered by our deepest fears and insecurities, self-sabotage is personal for everyone, and being aware of it is the first step. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Break your ambitions into smaller, attainable tasks. Striving for progress rather than perfection can alleviate the pressure that breeds procrastination.
  • Create and Use Positive Affirmations: Reframe your internal dialogue with positive affirmations. The thoughts we nurture can shape our reality, so it’s vital to plant seeds of positivity. Saying them daily helps engrain them in our subconscious.
  • Embrace Failure: Rather than fearing failure, embrace it for the lessons it offers. Each misstep or event that did not turn out as planned offers valuable lessons and paves the way to greater success.
  • Seek Support: It’s okay to reach out for help. A fresh perspective from mentors, coaches, or therapists can provide the guidance needed to navigate through self-doubt. How others see us is often not how we see ourselves.
  • Embrace Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices can anchor you in the present moment, helping to dispel the fog of overthinking and anxiety.

Real-Life Application: Making Change Tangible

Integrating these strategies into daily life is where the real transformation begins:

  • Daily Reflection: Implement a routine of self-reflection. Ask yourself if you’ve succumbed to self-sabotage during the day and consider how you might improve tomorrow.
  • Micro-Goals: Break down your overarching goals into micro-goals. If career advancement is your aim, start with revising your resume or attending a professional event.
  • Positive Self-Talk Diary: Maintain a diary to log negative thoughts and consciously convert them into positive affirmations. This practice can help rewire your mindset.
  • New Experiences: Deliberately step out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s a new hobby or a different path to work, these experiences can bolster self-assurance.
  • Accountability Partners: Find someone with similar aspirations. Regular check-ins can spur motivation and help maintain focus on your goals.
  • Mindfulness Practices: Incorporate mindfulness into your routine through meditation or yoga. These activities can steady your mind and quell the disquiet that feeds self-sabotage.

Persistence in the Face of Resistance

The journey to overcome self-sabotage is ongoing. Small, consistent actions lead to lasting change. Celebrate every victory, no matter the size. Learn from your setbacks and keep pressing forward. Patience with oneself is critical to staying the course; change is a marathon, not a sprint.

Remember, integrating new habits takes time, but as they become second nature, you’ll notice a shift in both your mindset and your results. The goal is to evolve incrementally into the person capable of realizing those dreams once hindered by self-sabotage.

Want more great tips? Check out for recent career-related information I’ve shared on numerous podcasts, television outlets, and radio shows.

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