The Weight of Self-Sabotage

The Weight of Self-Sabotage

Last update: 27 July, 2017

Self-sabotage involves any action that we do to impede or destroy our goals, which would have allowed us to make important achievements and be successful in our lives. The most common forms of self-sabotage include behaviors like indecision, procrastination, addiction, sleeping too little, and eating too much.

People also self-sabotage when they repress their feelings, compare themselves with others, make themselves feel inferior, and engage in destructive relationships. In many cases, this behavior comes from ignoring one’s own wants and needs.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” 

-Henry Ford-

Some people subject themselves to demanding diets so they can lose weight and be healthier, and they even do a lot of physical exercise to go along with it. But at the end of the day, they just sabotage themselves by eating junk food, often in excess, making any kind of excuse. The end result is that they derail the entire effort they worked for throughout the day.

Other people consciously prepare themselves for a promotion because they’re seriously considering the possibility of improving their quality of life or because they want to take on a bigger challenge. However, when the time comes to make this desire a reality, self-sabotage prevails.

They’re assaulted by a state of indecision and anxiety, which causes them to set aside the goal and continue on the same way as they were before, doubting whether they’re ready and capable or not. This leaves them in the place they were at the beginning, with nobody responsible for their stagnation but themselves.

The origin of self-sabotage

When we want to achieve a goal but sabotage our own progress, this compromises our self-esteem. In the background, we feel an unconscious fear that results from a negative childhood experience that we haven’t been able to identify, much less resolve.

boy in branches

Many of these behavior patterns originate from childhood. They’re generally associated with the type of relationship we had with the parent of the opposite sex. That is, girls with their fathers and boys with their mothers. The parent of the opposite sex becomes the center of our attention, while the other one is pushed aside.

There are two real consequences that result from this fantasy. The first is that we can’t be our parent’s partner, despite the fact that there’s a strong unconscious desire to be. And the second is that it causes an unbearable amount of guilt, because we’ve displaced our emotions towards the parent of the same sex. If we participate in this dynamic from a young age, we’ll end up carrying a weight that doesn’t exist, but that does have real burdensome effects on our lives.

How to avoid self-sabotage

The first thing to do is become aware that we’re sabotaging ourselves. This isn’t as easy as it seems, because remember, it’s an unconscious behavior. Failure initially causes guilt and frustration. We tend to be ruthless when we evaluate ourselves and the results we’ve obtained. For this reason, it’s good to be flexible and try to identify what precisely led to the failure.

hand shadows

We need to identify the problem clearly. We need to convince ourselves that we’re really good at and deserving of whatever it is that will significantly improve our lives. Even though we’re afraid of failure, sometimes it seems like all our efforts are directed towards producing the opposite results than the ones we want.

It’s also fitting to include those people who fail after an initial triumph, although it seems paradoxical. The initial achievement creates momentary feelings of satisfaction and pleasure that later turn into anxiety and even physical symptoms. This all goes away when they undo the achievements that they put so much effort towards.

Keys to avoiding self-sabotage

It’s important to recognize what you want in life, and to do that, it’s good to set specific goals. There’s nothing bad about allowing yourself to dream big and overcome your fears, knowing that nothing can protect you from disappointment. Every challenge involves a new experience and a calculated risk that must be taken if you want to gain confidence and achieve your goals.

It’s essential to think less and act more. That’s why it’s important to have a reflective internal dialogue that moves away from your catastrophic thoughts. The idea is to free yourself from all the burdens that hold you back from achieving your goals and making your dreams a reality.

clouds and face

Finally, you have to be honest with yourself. We’re quite skilled at deceiving ourselves and blaming others or finding excuses when we’re unable to get something we want. That’s why it’s good to take control of yourself, be the ruler of your own life, and assume the responsibility involved in every one of your decisions.


Images courtesy of Three Sisters

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.