Understanding Self-Sabotage: What It Means and How to Stop It

Understanding Self-Sabotage: What It Means and How to Stop It

Self-sabotage is a common behavior that can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or background. It is a pattern of behavior where an individual acts against their own best interests, often resulting in negative consequences. Self-sabotage can manifest in various ways, such as procrastination, negative self-talk, or self-destructive habits.

What Causes Self-Sabotage?

There are several reasons why someone may engage in self-sabotage. Some of the common causes include:

  • Fear of failure: People may self-sabotage to avoid the possibility of failure or disappointment. This can lead to a lack of effort or not trying at all.
  • Low self-esteem: Individuals with low self-esteem may not believe in their abilities and may self-sabotage to reinforce their negative beliefs.
  • Perfectionism: Striving for perfection can be an admirable quality, but it can also lead to self-sabotage. The fear of making mistakes or not living up to unrealistic expectations can cause individuals to avoid taking action or risk trying something new.

Recognizing Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage can be difficult to recognize, especially when it is a habitual behavior. However, there are some signs that may indicate that you are engaging in self-sabotage. These include:

  • Chronically late for commitments, long "to do" lists that only seem to grow
  • Negative self-talk ("I'm doing this wrong") or self-deprivating language when talking to others
  • Engaging in self-destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse or overeating, overdrinking
  • Unfulfilling relationships or a lack of sustainable relationships 

Overcoming Self-Sabotage

Overcoming self-sabotage requires a combination of self-awareness, self-compassion, and a willingness to change. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Self-Coaching : Get to the root of your behavior by asking yourself questions and treating yourself with kindness and understanding. Remember you are human - Don't beat yourself up for making mistakes or experiencing setbacks.
  • Eliminate the Obstacles You Can and Can Not See: Pay attention to the situations or thoughts that lead to self-sabotage. Once you know your triggers, you can take steps to avoid or manage them.
  • Leverage Your Prodigy Brain Strengths: Instead of setting unrealistic goals, break them down into smaller, achievable steps. This can help you build confidence and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Challenge negative self-talk: Replace the lies of your primitive brain with the truth that you only can find when you strip away the drama.  This can help you reframe your thoughts and beliefs about yourself.
  • Forge Intentional Results: Hire a life coach, talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist to gain perspective and develop new strategies for overcoming self-sabotage.


Self-sabotage can be a difficult behavior to overcome, but it is possible with self-awareness, self-compassion, and a willingness to change. By recognizing the signs of self-sabotage, identifying triggers, and practicing self-compassion, you can take steps to overcome this behavior and live a more fulfilling life.