Taking Yourself On: Self-Sabotage

Last Updated: 27 Aug 2019

Life can be hard sometimes—we don’t need to make it even harder for ourselves. But sometimes we do just that! Fortunately, self-sabotage is a behavior we can take on together.

On the left side of this drawing, three individuals are struggling to push "life-size" cubes across the floor. At the right, a person is easily pushing a sphere across the surface.

We all have behaviors that hold us back—some of which even sabotage us. This series is about taking on behaviors that don’t serve us, and self-sabotage never does. It is very important that we, as adults—even living in mental illness—direct our attention and awareness to how we are sabotaging ourselves, with the intention of stopping it for good.

How Do You Self-Sabotage?

To me, self-sabotage is when our own actions derail our own success or happiness. And we mess up the situation for ourselves. We have to stop doing that. To take this on, it helps us to be acutely aware and observant of our own behaviors, especially our reactionary behaviors. What are the ways we sabotage ourselves in relationships? In success? In the office? Anywhere? We can sabotage ourselves for all the wrong reasons: putting others first, not maintaining our personal needs, or not having the awareness to make positive change—or just because we are used to subconsciously sabotaging ourselves.

Crossing Boundaries

Boundaries can help us put an end to self-sabotage. It is very important to have a system of boundaries in place to support our ability to maintain our needs and happiness. But sometimes we are not serving ourselves, so we need to start putting our own set of boundaries in place and then holding ourselves to them. Self-sabotage can be considered operating in ways that cross our own boundaries. Behaviors that cross those lines are the ones to address first. In no way can we continue any form of self-sabotage. Period.

Focus on the behaviors, seek out the times you do cross those boundaries, and recognize the behavior that has to change. What’s great about this work is that it is very helpful when we actually stop perpetuating these unhealthy behaviors. And it really takes a skeptical awareness—awareness to the point of questioning whether or not a behavior is good for you, whether or not you should perpetuate this behavior or way of being. Here is your chance to course correct. Recognizing the behavior is not serving your highest good pushes you to seek out a new behavior that does. And with this new information, you have a new way of handling the situation moving forward that does not sabotage you.

The Role of Self-Esteem

In my opinion, self-sabotage is connected to low self-esteem and a lack of full confidence in ourselves. Sometimes we expect ourselves to mess up, so we do. That’s self-sabotage too. Taking on any self-sabotage tendencies helps in building confidence and self-esteem because you feel better about yourself just by making better choices on how to act and handle yourself.

The idea is to take on your self-sabotage to completion, until you are fully free of your unconscious self-sabotaging ways. This gives you the opportunity to create new behaviors, new ways of being, where you are maintaining success and positive outcomes. It may take some time, and it takes commitment and determination to accomplish permanent positive change, but it is worth every effort.

Change Is a Process

Training yourself to replace self-sabotaging behaviors with those that serve your highest good means you have to create new behaviors that are currently out of your consciousness. There is no instant change; change is a process of discovery and exploration, determining what works and what doesn’t work until you find what is just right. And then when you find just right, you get to start using it moving forward.

First, it takes acting purposefully. It takes effort to direct your old behaviors to your new one, but with consistency and repetition, you can create a new automatic behavior. This series is centered on encouraging positive self-change. It’s about addressing what doesn’t work, typically our flaws, and forcing ourselves to learn new ways. We don’t have to do things the same way we always have. We can make change at any time. You can teach an old dog new tricks. It just takes some effort, strategy, commitment, and determination. Worth every effort.

About the author
Debbie Jacobs is an advocate, writer and healing specialist living in Alexandria, Virginia. She lived most of her adult life with a diagnosis of depression, anxiety and bipolar and speaks out on how self-improvement is life improvement and believes we all can live happy lives just by making positive change to ourselves. Her influences are Louise Hay, Napoleon Hill, Les Brown and Tony Robbins. She does positivity life coaching and is in the process of writing her first book on her healing process of accomplishing positive thinking, positive effective coping skills and healthy self-esteem, what she calls “freedom and happiness.” She shares her work to motivate, inspire and help others make positive change to themselves for their freedom and happiness too.

Leave a Reply

Please do not use your full name, as it will be displayed. Your email address will not be published.