5 Ways You're Sabatoging Yourself — and How to Stop
Self-sabotage is something that we all engage in. It looks different for everyone, but there are some common acts that you've probably seen in yourself or those close to you. Root these out, and you will be able to legitimately stand or fall, without shooting yourself in the foot along the way. (See also: 10 Reasons You Are Not Reaching Your Goals)
1. Blaming Your Partner
Many people struggle with self-sabotage in the form of always accusing their partner in a relationship. These accusations can take many forms such implying that the partner starts all the arguments, telling the partner that things would be better if they only made more money, among others.
This type of self-sabotage is particularly common in people who have recently experienced a breakup, then fallen in love with someone new. They fear the rejection they experienced before, and so they strive to reject their partner first. However, they really want the relationship, and so they don't break it off entirely. Instead, they undermine it, waffling between fear and desire.
The line between legitimate concerns and sabotage here is often hard to find. You may be struggling with this type of self-sabotage if you feel like everything that goes wrong in your relationship is your partner's fault, or if you find yourself picking on your partner for things that are hard to change, like how much they weigh or how much money they make.
Overeating is another place self-sabotage often shows up. People will say that they are eating because they are hungry, and then they will eat and eat and eat, more than their bodies can possibly need.
People sometimes overeat for emotional reasons, rather than because they are always so hungry. For instance, eating too much is a form of self-sabotage often utilized by people who need control. Many times, these people are Type A list-makers who have a place for everything and who get a high off of crossing items off their to-do list. They can't maintain their control everywhere, though, and so they use eating as a place to just let go.
Other times, people will overeat because they aren't happy with their lives, and food provides a temporary pleasure. The more they eat, they figure, the happier they will be.
When you're fighting self-sabotage through overeating, it's important to figure out exactly what thoughts and feelings lie behind your actions. When you know why you are sabotaging yourself in a particular way, it will be easier to come up with a plan to change your behavior.
3. Overuse of Drugs or Alcohol
This one may seem obvious, but it's still worth mentioning. Much of the substance abuse that goes on in our world is self-sabotage. No one who regularly abuses anything is going to be the person they want to be or be able to do the things they want to do.
Substance abuse is a complex issue that can occur for many reasons. Many people who fall into it begin because they are self-medicating, either trying to deal with a psychological condition without psychotropic drugs, or trying to avoid some complex or difficult emotions.
Dealing with substance abuse usually involves getting some sort of help. Alcoholics Anonymous can be a great place to start, though many people also utilize the help of a professional therapist in achieving recovery.
Putting off until tomorrow what we could absolutely get done today is one of the most common forms of self-sabotage. This is so common that we tend to laugh at ourselves for it, but actually it can undermine us to the point that we lose out on much of what we could achieve in life.
People procrastinate for a lot of reasons. Sometimes, they simply don't want to undertake certain tasks. Other times, what they think they want (or what they want to want) and what they actually want are very different.
Whatever the reason, if you find yourself procrastinating, focus is the key. First, know why you want to do the task before you. Break down large, intimidating tasks into smaller steps, then take on something easy first. Be kind to yourself, and keep your mind on the present. (See also: 9 Ways to Stop Procrastinating — Now!)
5. Financial Self-Sabotage
There are so many ways that people sabotage themselves financially, but one of the most common is also one of the easiest. Whenever someone takes money that they have earmarked for something essential, like food, clothes, rent, or mortgage, and spend it on something that isn't necessary, they are committing financial self-sabotage.
This can happen for several reasons. Sometimes, it's simple impulsivity. If a person can't wait until they have the money saved to buy something that they see, this may be the problem. On the other hand, living on a budget is hard. People get tired of having to be very disciplined about money in order to survive and pay all their bills, or they figure that they've been good for so long that they deserve something special. (See also: Why You Can't Stick With a Budget)
Thinking through what causes you to spend your money in places other than where it's needed can help you defeat this type of self-sabotage. On a practical level, you can also make it harder to spend your money. Put yourself on a cash-only system, and only carry what you know you will need every day. That way, you'll have to think before you spend, because you'll have to go to the bank and get more cash before you can make your purchase.
How Self-Sabotage Nearly Cost My Friend His Job
"I'm not trying to lose my job," my friend told me. "I just want to tell my boss the truth."
His problem was that "the truth" he wanted to tell involved saying that he was unhappy at work, but it was also his supervisor's fault. His boss kept the temperature too low, didn't effectively facilitate teamwork, and generally didn't supervise things the way my friend would.
While some of these are legitimate issues that an employee can bring up with a supervisor, further conversation revealed that my friend felt anxious about his performance on a big project. He had done the best he could, but several factors outside of his control meant that things weren't going to be done on time, and that the project might end up scrapped by then anyway. His "struggles" with his supervisor were his preemptive strikes, made up to explain away the difficulties with the project.
As my friend talked more, he realized that airing these concerns with his supervisor in the particular way he was planning would give the man a reason to fire him that didn't involve his performance. He wasn't sure he could take that, though losing the job for these other reasons wouldn't have felt so devastating.
My friend's behavior in this situation is classic self-sabotage. He was afraid he would lose his job, so he was going to make sure he did and he was going to give them concrete reasons to do it.
In his case, realizing what he was doing to himself made up a huge part of the solution. Once he saw that he was undermining himself, he was able to take a few deep breaths and come up with a new plan.
Instead of having the conversation he had been thinking of, he talked with his supervisor directly about the bungled project. That man was also frustrated, but not about my friend's performance. He felt like the project had been undermined in the course of office politics, but he didn't blame my friend at all.
Several months later, the supervisor transferred to a different company. Six weeks after he started there, he offered my friend a job. Today they continue to work together, and my friend says that the honest conversation they had about that project created the mutual respect that has allowed this relationship to flourish.
Have you struggled with self sabotage? Tell us your story and how you overcame it.