Are you your own worst enemy? If self-sabotage is preventing you from accomplishing your daily responsibilities and achieving your dreams, experts say, there are steps you can take to get out of your own way and effectively reach your goals.
The first step to stopping self-sabotage is to be aware that you’re doing it, says Mary Shah, L.M.S.W., school social worker at, Building Blocks Preschool in Commack. Self-sabotage can sometimes be attributed to anxious feelings and the negative consequences we believe will occur if we achieve our goal. “You can journal your thoughts and behaviors to help identify patterns and begin to work on breaking your self-sabotage behaviors,” she says. Fear of failure can also be a roadblock. A little self-reflection can go a long way toward gaining insight into what prevents you from moving forward and what may drive you to push through and onward.
Set your intentions and calm your soul by practicing mindfulness, Shah advises. “Mindfulness can help you relax and allow positive thoughts into your day-to-day life. You can work on healing from your past and develop appropriate coping skills in order to better deal with current situations.”
Self-sabotage often occurs when we take on too much. Make yourself a priority and know that saying “no” is okay, says Dawn Attanasio, purposeful life coach and podcast host in Bellmore. “Although you may be kind and help others, be mindful of your needs and responsibilities, too,” she says. Aim for balance. “If you exhaust your energy on other people, places and things, you will find yourself depleted and unable to take care of you.”
Treating yourself with self-respect can help to increase your self-esteem and give you confidence. “Believing that you deserve a good life will prevent you from self-sabotage,” says Attanasio. “Make a list of 20 or more of your best qualities as well as 20 things you are grateful for,” she suggests. “This will create a positive self-image which will lead to positive thoughts and actions.”
“Stop procrastinating!” says Attanasio. “Inaction creates negative consequences such as tardiness, missed opportunities, clutter, debt, and more.” Be proactive and address any known obstacles before they become greater problems. Visualize success and don’t be afraid to ask for help, she advises.
Ditch your self-sabotage in exchange for realistic expectations and a kinder approach to your own thoughts and feelings. This will lead to greater satisfaction, success, and peace of mind, says Randy Tanzer, L.C.S.W., a social worker in Oceanside. “The language—thoughts and self-talk—needs to change to be more supportive and compassionate.” You’ll begin to understand that perfection is not the only way to succeed. “Accept any progress and recognize small accomplishments and successes. This will help to break the cycle of self-sabotage and keep the momentum of moving forward.”