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The Psychology of Self Sabotage - Why We Sabotage Ourselves - Self-sabotage is when you do something  that’s against your best interest, despite having the capacity to do otherwise. This may be done through actions, words, or thoughts. It can be as simple as  procrastinating on a task, or as complex as sabotaging your relationship with someone. 


Some people who self-sabotage don’t even realize that they’re doing it and  become stuck in negative patterns that prevent them from progressing in life.

In this post, we explore how to recognize the most common reasons for self-sabotaging  so that you can work toward overcoming them!

1. Lack of Self-Worth

Lack of self-worth is one of the leading reasons  why people sabotage themselves. When you’re not confident in your own abilities and talents, it’s much easier to settle for less than you deserve. 

This is especially true if you have suffered  from ‘abuse or neglect’ during your childhood, as this can lead to feelings of low self-esteem. You may have been taught that you’re not good enough, or that you will never be able to do anything right. So you don’t bother trying.

2. Fear of Success

Fear of success can make you self-sabotage because it can lead you to believe that you are incapable of handling success or that you don’t deserve it.

You may start to doubt your abilities and become overly critical of yourself. You may  also worry about how success will change your relationships with others.

This often leads to behaviors such as procrastination, self-doubt, and avoidance,  preventing you from reaching your goals.

3. Fear of Failure

In some cases, self-sabotaging behaviors can manifest as an attempt at self-protection from  the potential pain of failure. You may be too overwhelmed by the idea of not succeeding to even try.

Or you may get so caught up in worrying about the potential for failure that you forget to focus on the things that could help you succeed. This fear can lead you to set up roadblocks and make it harder to take risks that could bring you closer to your goals.

4. Familiarity

Whether it’s falling back into old habits or  making assumptions based on past experiences, familiarity can lead to self-sabotage.

The reason for this is that familiarity creates a sense of comfort and safety in your mind even when it’s bad for you. You feel like you know what to expect and how  to handle the situation.

So you let your guard down - instead of approaching the situation with the same level of awareness and intention as you would if it were new and unfamiliar.

Because of this, you might miss opportunities, make mistakes, and ultimately sabotage your own success.

5. Inconsistent or Conflicting Thoughts

Self-sabotage is a common result of having  inconsistent or conflicting thoughts. Your thoughts shape your behavior, so when they are at odds with one another, it can be hard to take action  and make decisions.

This can be especially challenging if those thoughts conflict with your values or beliefs. When you’re uncertain about which thought to follow, it can be difficult to make progress. As a result, you feel stuck or overwhelmed and start to doubt yourself.

6. Social or Peer Pressure

When you feel pressure from your social or peer group to conform to certain behaviors or beliefs, it can be challenging to stay true to yourself. You can find yourself making decisions that don’t align with your values or goals, just to fit in or avoid conflict. 

Additionally, giving in to social or peer  pressure can create a sense of internal tension and stress, further hindering your ability to make healthy decisions.

7. Need to Be in Control

For some, the idea of failing without any  control over the situation can be terrifying. If you’re one of those individuals, you prefer to control your own failure rather than be blindsided by it.

To you, it just seems like a more dignified alternative to spinning out of control. By sabotaging your own efforts, you feel like you are taking control of the situation and preventing a potentially worse outcome. 

Obviously, this approach is counterintuitive  and can be harmful in the long run as it causes you to give up or make decisions that are not in your best interest.

At the end of the day, self-sabotage can have  a significantly negative impact on your life. It may bring about feelings of guilt, anxiety, and depression, as well as physical health issues. It can impede you from attaining your goals  and cause you to miss out on opportunities. 

Furthermore, self-sabotage can hamper the  formation of meaningful relationships and experiences that could help you maximize your potential. 

To stop yourself from getting in the way of your own success, pay attention to how you think, feel, and act, and be willing to question negative patterns.

Once you know why you are sabotaging yourself, you can replace those beliefs and behaviors with ones that will actually help you reach your goals.

Thanks for reading!

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