Self sabotage means you take action that leads to a result that you don’t want.
For example, let’s say you want to get married.
Self sabotage looks like you “taking a break” from dating because it’s really hard.
Self sabotage doesn’t mean you’re engaging in destructive behaviors, necessarily.
Self sabotaging thoughts can sound innocent enough. But what happens is this behavior leads you down a path you didn’t intend. It leads you in the opposite direction that you want.
Self sabotaging thoughts move you away from your deepest desires.
This applies to anything in your life, too. You can self sabotage your goals, your marriage, your money, etc.
And the truth is—it’s not your fault.
It’s not like you’re going around thinking, “I’m going to self sabotage today!” Far from it.
Instead, it sounds innocent and responsible, like “I’m going to take a break.” That is your brain tricking you. Your primitive brain doesn’t like to do hard things. It thinks you’re going to die. It would much rather you feel comfortable.
But most people just don’t understand what self sabotage is. They think it’s intentional. But what I’ve found with my clients is that on the surface, it’s the opposite.
Here’s the problem: your extraordinary life is on the other side of uncomfortable.
To create that life you want, that’s more amazing than you’ve given yourself permission to believe, you must first get a handle on your self sabotaging thoughts. Here’s how…
Check out this podcast episode on a similar topic—Self Doubt.
How To Stop Self Sabotaging Thoughts
While there are many ways to stop self sabotaging thoughts, I’ve come up with a list of five that will serve you best.
Here are my top five tips to help you stop self sabotaging with your thoughts…
Tip #1: Become Aware Of Your Thinking Patterns
Breaking the cycle of self sabotaging thoughts starts with awareness.
To really find out what you’re thinking that could be leading to you self sabotaging, answer these questions…
- What are you thinking?
- Is what you’re thinking true?
- What if the opposite were true?
- How does that thought feel?
If you do this exercise as a daily practice, you’ll exponentially increase your awareness (specifically that your thoughts create your results) and stop self sabotaging.
You have a critical voice in your head that’s talking to you all the time. It’s your thoughts. But you are not your thoughts. With this exercise, you’ll see you can choose your thoughts. You will gain insight, perspective, and understanding about your thoughts and that choice is what takes you from sabotaging to winning. In fact, choices are the decisions and actions you take.
- What Are Fixed And Growth Mindsets (blog post)
- Mindset Hacks (podcast)
- Scarcity Vs. Abundance Mindset (free course)
Tip #2: Get A Handle On Your Stress
Stress is one of those sneaky emotions that will lead to self sabotaging if you’re not careful.
You may also think your stress is a problem and avoid it at all costs. But that’s not true.
Stress is only a problem if you think it’s a problem.
Instead of pushing stress away and avoiding it, you can welcome stress, befriend it like any other emotion, and process it through.
When you do it this way (processing stress instead of avoiding it), you won’t engage in self sabotaging behavior (because when something is hard and you feel stress, you won’t make that mean slow down, take a break, or quit).
Tip #3: Learn To Love Incremental Improvements
Learning to love incremental improvements will help you stop self sabotaging.
Even if it’s the old “two steps forward, one step back” (where you’re failing forward), you’re far better off.
This means you don’t need to know all the steps required in achieving your goals. Instead, you just need to know one step forward that you can try.
This means you truly learn to love the journey. You’re not in a rush to achieve because you know it’s not “better” over there. You get to be happy here and there. Goal setting is for fun. To increase your capacity to live an amazing life. But you’re not a better person for having done it.
- Resource: Impossible Goals (podcast)
Tip #4: Schedule Time To Reflect
Scheduling time to reflect is an excellent way to stop your self sabotaging tendencies.
I prefer to take time in the morning (even if just for five to 10 minutes) to coach myself. Starting your day with the right mindset makes the rest of the day so much better. (More on that in my How To Start The Day With A Positive Mindset post.)
The reflection you will gain from pouring out what’s in your mind onto paper is nothing short of a life changing experience.
It’s like cleaning out a closet and putting everything into one pile in the living room before putting anything back. You get to take it all out and only keep what you want.
In the same way, if you put everything you’re thinking about one area onto paper, you “clean out the closet.” Then you can reflect on that information (separating out the thoughts and from the facts, as we do in coaching), and ultimately decide on purpose what stays and what goes.
Only through self reflection will you gain the perspective you need to create an extraordinary future. Without this, you’ll repeat more of your past.
- Why Self Reflection Is Important (blog post)
- Visualizing Your Future Self (podcast)
- How To Live An Intentional Life (free course)
Tip #5: Intentionally Choose How You Think About Yourself
The truth is that if you spent one day with the little voice (errr roommate) inside your head, you would never want to see her again.
That’s because that voice in your head is a visitor who never leaves and is quite harsh (at best) and downright horrible (at worst).
You may think that voice in your head is just a monologue of the truth, but that’s not true at all. That voice is simply your unmanaged mind that doesn’t have the best intentions for you, although means well.
So, when she tells you “you should be further along” or “you really need to lose some weight,” she means well, but she’s actually creating harmful stories for you.
To stop this roommate from self sabotaging, you can decide exactly what you want to think about yourself.
You can also direct your roommate to think different thoughts. You can also watch her go on rants without making them mean anything.
Answer this question: how do you want to think about yourself?
You can think whatever you want about you. There’s so much beauty and power in that.
Here are some feel-good thoughts to borrow…
- It’s not your job to like me; it’s mine.
- I love me anyway.
- I’m a good friend.
- I’m doing my best.
- I’m intelligent.
- I’m failing forward.
- I’m so much stronger than I think.
- This is all happening in my favor.
- This is a gift, even though it doesn’t feel like it right now.
- I’m beautiful.
- I make the best coffee.
Big or small, you get to decide what to think about you. And when you do this on purpose, you’ll get out of self sabotaging and into creating your future.
- Building Confidence From The Inside Out (blog post)
- Self Confidence (podcast)
- Overcoming Self Doubt (free course)
Positive Affirmations For Self Esteem
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I am not a fan of positive affirmations in the traditional sense.
If you repeat sentences that you don’t believe, your brain knows this, and will actually guide you in strengthening the opposite thought.
For example, if you go around repeating “money is easy” and you don’t believe that one bit, your brain is smart enough to know that and it will practice the opposite thought, “money is hard.”
BUT there’s a caveat.
Affirmations work if you believe them.
So, like I do with my of my students in Grow You, I want to offer you “thoughts to borrow” as I like to call them. Try on the thoughts that you like. Make sure they feel good. But if they don’t feel good and you can’t imagine believing them (even though you wish you did), forget them.
Below is a list of “positive affirmations” to improve your self-esteem and combat self sabotaging thoughts.
- Small changes right now lead to long term benefits later.
- My life is always happening for me.
- I give myself permission to feel good right now.
- The sabotaging habit I’m in is just that—a habit. And like any habit, I can change it.
- Who better than me?
- I love my body.
- Life is so much fun.
- It’s all rigged in my favor.
- I can create an overflow of money.
- I am open to receiving my desires.
- My capacity to have is so great.
- Discipline is self love.
- I decide what I do and don’t deserve.
- Impossible is temporary.
- The measure of my growth isn’t how easy my life is; it’s how easy I am on myself when life is hard.
- I’m deeply loved.
- I love giving.
- I’m proud of me.
- I love all of me—the good and the bad.
- I have my own back.
- Self Doubt (podcast)
- 75 Journal Prompts For Self Discovery (blog post)
- Time Management Tools (free course)
A Final Note!
Taking your personal development to the next level means not judging yourself when you find self sabotaging thoughts.
You don’t realize this at first. You may think, “UGH. Another one.” You may also be hard on yourself.
But what’s really magical is when you approach your mind with openness and curiosity. When you say, “Hmm, I wonder why my brain thinks it’s a good idea to think this way?”
You have your own back. You lean in. It takes a lot of intimacy with yourself to do this. To lean into the mess and also love yourself through it.
Only then do you gain the necessary insight you need to live authentically and extraordinarily.