selfsabotageI had a Facebook friend ask me to write more about self-sabotage as she was noticing herself struggling with it lately and thought many would benefit from some words of encouragement and clarity on the subject.

I felt like this is such an important topic I would write an article instead of a short post.  The phrase “self-sabotage” itself can cause serious angst and have people trying to defend themselves out loud or in their own heads justifying why something has not been accomplished.  “Self-Sabotage” was not the last chapter numerically in my book, but it was the last chapter I wrote which sums up my own relationship with it.

Why, oh WHY would we self-sabotage if we so desperately want something?  Well that is a multi-faceted answer and below are the first three reasons that come to mind and some tools to try and move on past it.

The first step before you even go to fix or limit self-sabotage is noticing when and how self-sabotage presents itself in your life.

  • Have you been saying you want to lose some weight or start an exercise routine, but keep buying treats to keep in the house or never seem to have time to sign up for that class?
  • Are you working on completing some kind of project, but keep finding other things that take up your time?
  • Do you unnecessarily check your phone and/or social media much more than necessary?
  • Do you pick the same unhealthy relationships to have around you?
  • Have you seen the same goal come up at different times in your life and always said there was no time?

There are countless ways to self-sabotage and when you begin to notice how you do it in your own life, it’s time for applause because then you can move onto the next stages of figuring out why you do it and correcting it.

 

Here are some reasons why you have seen yourself self-sabotage and actions you can take to move through it:

1 )  The Good Old Ego – The ego protects us from the unknown and is very content with life as it is even if life doesn’t look so good from where you’re standing. Any time we try to make a significant change in our lives, our ego won’t see it as good, bad or indifferent – just that it is change and change is scary. It will try and pull us back to what is comfortable and known even if the situation is actually very uncomfortable.  I have clients face this all the time as I have in my own life more times than I can count.  You start seeing movement in an area and there are signs things are changing and whoops… here is that self-sabotage again pulling you backward.

Action:  Notice it.  Give thanks you have noticed it. Even have a conversation with your ego if possible. Get quiet, put your hand on your heart and tell yourself it is okay.  Tell yourself that this is a change you have thought about and know is best for you.  You know it might feel scary, but you have taken steps already and are determined to see it through.  Thank your ego for wanting to protect you but assure it that “You’ve got this” and you will be better off for it.

 

2 )  Lack of Self-Love/Self-Worth – While we may proclaim we feel we deserve the best in every area of our lives; financial freedom; a fairy tale relationship; close friends and family around us; a job that brings us satisfaction and gets us to use our gifts; connection to all our passions and time to do all of them – very few of us –  a) actually believe that it is possible to have all of these things and b) love ourselves enough to feel we are worthy.  Pretty depressing right?  And the kicker is we can even say we do feel worthy but there is some inner dialogue from our childhood (perhaps said to us by a family member, teacher or the community we grew up in) that has us repeating the words we are not truly worthy.  We need to get in touch with these limiting beliefs and let ourselves know we think this is BS and in fact we DO want it all!

Action:  Stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself for 30 seconds.  Look yourself in the eyes and look yourself up and down taking everything in. Tell yourself you are worthy.  Tell yourself you love yourself enough to have everything you have ever dreamed of. Tell yourself you love yourself right now as you are and these changes you are about to manifest will feel really good and you are inviting them into your life. Close your eyes and imagine receiving the news you have hoped for or standing in the fact that a goal you have set has been realized.  Feel how good that feels – I mean FEEL it – in your heart, in your body, in your emotions.  Open your eyes and again declare you are worthy and are so excited to have moved past any resistance and self-sabotage to in fact make it to the other side.  Tell yourself you love yourself and even blow yourself a kiss if you are feeling that bold!!

 

3 )  Habit/Pattern – Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Yet we still do it. I have seen people close to their goal weight and suddenly they can’t resist that one snack that they know will bring them comfort.  Instead of having one they will have many more than the serving size and then will berate themselves, tell themselves how they screwed up and the goal is lost.  Whatever you are trying to do, there is the moment where you can catch yourself in self-sabotage.  What you do when you catch yourself is key.  Beating yourself up or saying “I’ve been down this road so many times I know how this ends” will not help.

Action:  Write a list of 5 other things you can do when you find yourself in or about to self-sabotage.  Maybe you check the cell phone every 1/2 hour instead of being present with your family.  Write 5 things down you can do to put the phone away like start a conversation or play a board game with your spouse or child, go out for a walk, etc.  There are always other options when self-sabotage comes up but you might be so used to the pattern you have trouble seeing it.  A list will ensure you have 5 other possibilities and if you need to post that list a few different places where you will see it – go for it.  This has helped many of my clients recognize that instead of grabbing the bag of cookies or some other form of self-sabotage — they in fact have options.  They can go for a walk, call a friend, take a bath, give the pet some love or so many other things that will bring them joy instead of the self-sabotage that will lead to self-criticism.

There are a lot of other things to notice about self-sabotage. Are there triggers that set you off?  Have the list handy if there are!  Do you feel you might need an accountability buddy to go attain a goal?  The most important thing about self-sabotage is to know you are not alone and that it can be dealt with.

Empower yourself instead of disempowering yourself.  Let yourself know in the grand scheme of things this is not the end of the world and all will be okay.  Using the tools above, you can truly get a handle on self-sabotage in your life and reach some of those hard to attain goals and changes.  Make sure to celebrate every step of the way – even for the self-sabotage when it comes up, because it is making you more aware.  You’ve got this and please share about your accomplishments in noticing and overcoming self-sabotage, I’m excited to hear it.

12 Comments

  1. Roslyn Tanner Evans

    You got me hooked using weight loss. Honestly, don’t like the word self-sabotage cause I like to think I’ve handled that. Instead, I say I’m resigned. Hah- Got caught with my hand in the cookie jar. I know & i just took your action, I will be much better off without it. The other tool I have used & said as I tossed my half full bag of chips in the trash is, “I know what you taste like, I’ve enjoyed you, my chips for 75 years of my life
    and I know I can live without you cause you just are not good for me.”

    • jennymannion

      Hi Roslyn, Isn’t it interesting that the word alone brings up so much resistance. I find it uncomfortable as well although I feel like I too have learned to reign it in a bit for sure. Facing it and coming up with ways to address it is powerful and I love your techniques for weight loss! We always will meet some resistance from the ego as we are pushing past outside our comfort zone and self-sabotage is just one of those things that comes up as a result. Noticing it and loving ourselves through it is key. We’re human – our path isn’t always straight – sometimes we will wander off it for a bit and that’s just fine – we know where we want to go and being loving to ourselves will sure help us get there faster!! Sending much love – thanks so much for commenting , xoxo

  2. Vatsala Shukla

    Not sure if I’ve ever engaged consciously in self-sabotage behavior, Jenny, but I do know that on occasion I have procrastinated. My trick is to now observe if that item appears for more than 2 days on my To Do List and if it isn’t a case of a genuine priority task having taken over, then I ask myself, what’s really going on? Then I work out the action with a written deadline. It takes time to overcome habits that don’t help us, but with motivation and support, we get there in the end.

  3. jennymannion

    Hi Vatsala, Yes, procrastination is a form of self-sabotage or the ego just saying “take your time – there’s no hurry in moving ahead”. I am happy you have a way of noticing it and taking action. It is time to overcome habits that don’t serve us and with self-love and self-worth we can do that. Time to stop judging ourselves on what was and just focus on what is in this moment and on all the goodness we want to manifest for ourselves!! Sending love – thanks so much for commenting, xo Jenny

  4. Beverley Golden

    I’d say as human beings, we all have been in situations in our lives, where we behave in a way that appears to be self-sabotaging. The key really is to have the ability to stand back and be the silent observer of it, so we are aware we are doing it. I’d guess at times, we might not even be consciously doing it and might not even see it as self-sabotage. The challenge I see is that people are really good at ‘rationalizing’ why that extra cookie or taking an extra day doesn’t really matter too much. Then it becomes more habitual I guess. A great comic who really tackles this topic is Jim Gaffigan. Whenever I watch him I see how keenly aware he is of his own ‘self-sabotaging’ behaviour and the reason everyone laughs is that on some level, we all recognize ourselves in him. Thanks for the tips, Jenny, as I’d venture to guess everyone has some area of their life where more awareness could lead to positive change.

    • jennymannion

      Hi Beverly, I also think self-sabotage is something all us humans do at one time or another in one way or another. I love Jim Gaffigan! And boy we gotta laugh at ourselves sometimes and stop taking ourselves so seriously!! If we can first see the behavior and approach it with loving kindness instead of the ego stepping in to rationalize or us guilting ourselves into more self- defeating behavior – the stage is set for change. It is so challenging for us to be that loving person to ourselves without judgment when we see things we wish were different. I used to fear those places and now willingly seek them out. There is such power in knowing we not only say we want the best for ourselves but are trying our bets to align ourselves so we manifest it! We are such deep and beautiful being and this journey is never dull – THAT is for sure!! So blessed to have you here! Sending much love, <3

  5. Juliette

    I LOVED this!! I am so completely aware of my self-sabotaging; and oh my goodness, I find the way you were able to describe these mechanisms so compassionately and with an invitation of self-compassion to be very inspiring and very loving. This. and I LOVE the practical tools you have up here ~ wonderful ~ so happy to come to know of your site!

  6. jennymannion

    Hi Juliette, Thank you so much for being here! I loved your post today and am so grateful we have met. We all do this in one way or another. We can all be kinder and gentler with ourselves. Beating ourselves does nothing except – well, makes us feel beat up, unloved and unmotivated – not very healing!! When we begin showing ourselves the love we do our closest loved ones we can truly heal anything. Sending much love and blessings to you and your son sweet Juliette, xoxo

  7. Natasha Botkin

    I am presently making friends with my shadow. So often people will and I was one, who wished to dismiss her. Yep that does not work. For example my dear saboteur left my journal at my boyfriends. Seriously, he won’t even touch it, and really why that type of set up dear one. Good thing, I am much better able to observe and honor her, rather ignore her. xoxo

    • jennymannion

      Hi Natasha, I love that you are making friends with your shadow! That is a way to truly heal and love ALL aspects of beautiful unique YOU! Our shadows are there to offer some kind of protection and coping skills and we can gain a lot of knowledge of ourselves by not being afraid to “go there”. Oh yeah, some won’t be pretty but if we are kind and loving to ourselves we can gain a much deeper knowledge of our inner workings which is always a good thing!! Thank you so much for being here and commenting! Sending Love <3

  8. Reba Linker

    Such an interesting discussion, and such an important topic, Jenny! Very, very thought-provoking. I think I will have to write an article in response! Love this conversation and will wait to share until I sort out my thoughts. Much love, Reba

    • jennymannion

      Hi Reba, I love that the topic has inspired you to write an article. This is an important topic and it makes so many very uncomfortable – which in my opinion means we probably NEED to go there! Once we can accept our humanness and love ourselves regardless of anything we might find – we truly can step into our unlimited power. Self-love once again is the key component – we are finding that a lot!! Sending love and am so grateful for you! <3

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