“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.”

Self-sabotage is a perplexing phenomenon that many of us experience at some point in our lives. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we engage in behaviours that undermine our own success, happiness, or well-being. From avoiding opportunities to procrastinating on important tasks, self-sabotage can manifest in various ways, often leaving us frustrated and puzzled about our own actions.

a protective mechanism created by our psyche in order to keep us safe

At its core, self-sabotage is often driven by a desire to maintain control over our lives, albeit in a counterproductive manner. It stems from deeply ingrained beliefs, fears and past experiences that influence our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. For many individuals, self-sabotage serves as a coping mechanism to avoid failure, rejection, or discomfort. By sabotaging our own efforts, we inadvertently stay within our comfort zones, preferring the familiar – even if it means sacrificing our long-term goals or well-being. It’s actually a protective mechanism created by our psyche in order to keep us safe from any potential danger or harm. What’s familiar to us is what our psyche considers safe. You see, when we’re swimming out into unfamiliar water because we’re looking to make a change, it often triggers all our alarm bells in our internal systems that tell us : Danger! Danger! So, our brains send the order for us to repeat the familiar behaviour to bring us back into the well acquainted, safer water that we know.

Our minds are wired to seek familiarity and predictability. This has been our survival from our very beginnings. When faced with uncertainty or change, the familiar mind instinctively reacts to protect us from perceived threats. This innate tendency can manifest as resistance to new experiences, reluctance to step out of our comfort zones, or even self-destructive behaviors aimed at maintaining the status quo. This familiar mind that seeks to keep us safe, thus often hinders personal growth and development, and traps us in cycles of self-sabotage. The human mind continuously wants to go back to comfort and familiarity because that’s what it perceives as safe. Unfortunately, our mind is wired for safety, we are wired for survival.

introspection, self-awareness, and a willingness to explore the underlying factors

To address self-sabotage effectively, we need to first recognise the patterns and triggers that contribute to our self-sabotaging behaviours. This requires introspection, self-awareness, and a willingness to explore the underlying factors driving self-destructive tendencies. You can benefit from keeping a journal to track your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, identifying recurring patterns and triggers that lead to self-sabotage. There are also useful therapeutic techniques to help you to uncover the root causes your self-sabotage so that you can develop supportive strategies for growth and change.

Central to overcoming self-sabotage is challenging the limiting beliefs and negative self-talk that fuel these behaviours. You might notice that you hold unconscious beliefs about yourself, your abilities, and your worthiness of success or happiness. By bringing these beliefs to light and reframing them in a more empowering way, you can shift your mindset and cultivate self-confidence, resilience, and self-compassion. Additionally, you can challenge your cognitive distortions and develop healthier coping mechanisms to replace your self-sabotaging behaviours.

And once you identify the reasons, just ask yourself: Why do I have these beliefs? Who taught them to me, and what did they know? And what made them qualified to be right about viewing life in this way? Do I still need to hold onto that belief today? Does it support or hinder me?

Many times, limiting beliefs drive you to self-sabotage because you don’t trust and believe that you are capable or worthy enough of doing much better than your present situation.

self-sabotage is not a sign of weakness or inadequacy but rather a natural response to internal and external stressors

It is vital to remember that self-sabotage is not a sign of weakness or inadequacy but rather a natural response to internal and external stressors. You can benefit from cultivating self-compassion and resilience in the face of setbacks and challenges. By practicing self-care, mindfulness, and positive affirmations, you can build emotional resilience and self-esteem, reducing the likelihood of engaging in self-sabotage. Likewise, talking to a professional can help you to get guidance, encouragement, and support to navigate difficult emotions and develop coping strategies that promote self-growth and well-being.

Self-sabotage is a complex psychological phenomenon that affects individuals from all walks of life. Through self-awareness, challenging limiting beliefs, cultivating resilience, you can break free from the cycle of self-sabotage and pursue you goals with confidence and clarity. Remember, healing and personal growth are ongoing journeys – be patient with yourself, and never hesitate to seek support when needed.

If you would like to talk more about your own limiting beliefs, contact me.