Self-Sabotage Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems in daily life and interferes with long-standing goals. The most common of self-sabotaging behaviors is procrastination and self-criticism.What causes self sabotage? According to a recent post in Psychology Today, while many people struggle with additions with food, drugs and alcohol, self sabotage can also be subtle; caused by an accumulation of dysfunctional and distorted beliefs which lead people to underestimate their capabilities, suppress their feelings, or lash out at those around them. Causing loss of a job or promotion, creating negative relationships with co-workers and business connections, for example.Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar? • It’s the night before a big business deadline; instead of doing the work required, you’re scrolling through your social media feed.
Self-sabotage is often an unconscious thought or behavior which is in direct conflict with the desire to succeed. It’s the act of performing a particular behavior which goes directly against what you may need or want to do. It can be what stops you from achieving your goals and dreams.
It can often come from of that inner critical voice, telling you that you can’t do something. This critical inner voice refers to a pattern of damaging thoughts toward ourselves and others. The “voices” which make up this internalized dialogue can foster:
This critical inner voice affects every part of our lives including our self-esteem and confidence, our relationships, our performance and accomplishments at school and work, for example. Any may also negatively affect our career.
What most don’t realize is self-sabotage is used as a way to cope with difficult situations or when we/you feel as if you aren’t capable enough. Here are six reasons for self-sabotaging behavior:
1. Being familiar with failure. It could be you are used to situations which always fail or don’t work out. If you’re around dysfunctional or negative people, they can pull you down with them. You may be afraid to try something different because you might fail or others will tell you it won’t work. In other words, this has become your comfort zone. This is where you are comfortable, so why change it?
2. Listening to your critical inner voice. This voice is formed from experiences early in our lives. We internalize attitudes directed toward us by parents or others of influence in our lives. They may have seen you as lazy so you grow up feeling useless. Your self sabotaging dialogue might tell you not to try. For example, “Why bother? I’ll never succeed anyway.”
3. Internalized negative thoughts of others in your life; such as parents, friends, co-workers. For instance – you grew up with a parent always seeing the negative side of everything and worried about what could go wrong or how they looked to others. Perhaps you’ve taken on a similar attitude without realizing it. A similar situation can also develop with a difficult and/or negative boss.
4. Unconsciously needing to be in control. If you feel something is bound to fail or too good to last, you might find a way to make it fail; thus you are in control because you – personally – caused the fail.
5. A feeling of being unworthy. This can come from low self-esteem, causing you to feel as if you don’t deserve success or happiness. As you can see, self-sabotage is often due to a poor self-esteem, causing you to feel as if you don’t deserve success or happiness.
6. Self-sabotage is often due to a poor self-esteem, low self-worth, no self confidence, and lack of self-belief. We can suffer from this type of behavior pattern because we can’t effectively control our emotions. You may react to circumstances or people in ways which can prevent you from reaching your goals.
In his book ‘Why do I do That?” Joseph Burgo PhD tells us –
The Most Common Signs of Self-Sabotage:
Did you know you can unconsciously be self-sabotaging? If you aren’t aware of it, there are several ways you might be doing it. Here is a list of some symptoms and signs. Do you recognize any in yourself?
What can you do to stop self-sabotage?
Documenting and analyzing your own behavior – journaling – works well. Richard O’Connor PhD tells us in his book ‘Rewire’, you can start helping retrain your brain and eliminate self-sabotaging. He explains we all actually have two brains—a conscious deliberate self and an automatic self that makes most of our decisions—and “We can train the latter to ignore distractions, withstand temptations, and interrupt reflexive, self-sabotaging responses”.
O’Connor suggests learning valuable skills and habits – Mindfulness and Self Control.
Theo Tsaousides Ph.D.
Kimberly Olson, PhD:
Choose one pattern which most hinders your life – procrastination, low self-esteem, poor financial choices, for example.
Then identify the triggers which cause your behavior. This could be words spoken, an individual, a type of situation which sets you off. Make note of them. Then make a plan to take action.
Start Journaling. You’d be surprised how it can help you heal.
Jean L. Serio CEIC, CPC, CeMA, CSEOP