Stopping Self-Sabotage: Reasons Behind It and How To Stop It
Understanding the causes of self-sabotage can help us find the tools for a happy, fulfilled life. Have you ever forgotten your charger and spent the day waiting for an important call, worrying about your phone dying?
Perhaps you feel like your romantic partner is not listening, so you use more words to express yourself. However, this may cause your partner to tune out, making you feel like you are losing your connection.
Whether you realize it or not, you are sabotaging yourself and every relationship in your life, causing unnecessary frustration and stress. So, how can you know with certainty if you are sabotaging yourself?
With self-sabotage, the person who is stopping you from being productive, satisfied, and fulfilled is you. Sometimes, you will be fully aware of this fact, and oftentimes, you won’t. You might impulsively decide to buy a big chocolate cake a few days after you’ve decided to go on a healthier diet.
As we get so distracted with other things in life, we tend to forget that we’re self-sabotaging and think that other problems are causing us to feel this way. This often happens in relationships when you, for instance, feel competitive with another mom in your child’s school, so you’ll get into a passive-aggressive dance with them and try to be better than your competitor.
This type of behavior prevents you from seeing the good side of that person and potentially becoming good friends with them. However, understanding that self-sabotage is behind all of it and learning how to cope with it is not as easy as most would assume.
Identifying Your Thinking Patterns
Behind each of our behaviors is a predominant mode of thinking. The issue is that often we only focus on the way we behave instead of the thinking patterns that are leading us to such behavior. One of such examples might be that people with anxiety tend to be hypervigilant to any sign of threat, which results in detecting threats where there aren’t any. One of the common examples is also seeing problems as much bigger than they actually are, or when asked to do something, overreacting internally and feeling like someone has added too much pressure.
So, instead of reacting as you used to before, you will need to start detecting these thoughts once they start appearing. When you notice them, try to use common sense and reduce the noise. A way of dealing with this might involve you saying to yourself that something is not a threat; it’s a great opportunity.
To be able to affect your thinking biases, you will need to intervene once your initial reaction kicks in and take a look at it from a fresh perspective. Understanding how your thinking pattern works requires a lot of effort and reflection. What are the thoughts that appear often and are limiting you in some way, whether it’s with yourself or connecting with others?
Reducing The Noise
Many times, we’ll be so enthusiastic about changing aspects of our lives that we’ll want to change them all at once. When it comes to self-sabotage, you will need to reduce the noise around your life-changing decisions and focus on one at a time. For instance, if you’re constantly late for work and want to get promoted, think about the techniques that will help you achieve that goal.
For instance, you can set up an alarm 30 minutes earlier every workday or plan to go to work with a colleague, which will help keep you accountable for arriving early to the office. Wherever self-sabotage appears, think about the ways you can change your thinking about it, which will lead to changing your behavior as well.
Apps on your phone can be quite handy for most of the areas where self-sabotage appears; however, if you prefer more conventional ways, by all means, go for it. You can have post-it notes around your apartment or office or write things down in a notebook you carry around with you.
Make Your Rules
Although rules sound too strict, they will help you be more accountable for things you wish to improve in your life. Let’s say you’re a freelancer who struggles with organizing your workload and being more productive. To avoid being overly stressed when deadlines are approaching, you can have a rule that requires you to put all the tasks on your calendar as soon as you accept them.
If you’re trying to improve communication in your relationship, you can make a rule with your partner to dedicate a certain amount of time each Friday evening to talking about what’s important to you.
The common error that most people with self-sabotage make is to rush into changing everything and end up with the same results. You need to approach this systematically. Understanding what’s truly preventing you from reaching your goals will help you change how you act and think about them.
Celebrate Small Wins
As much as stopping self-sabotage is a long-term process that often has its ups and downs, it’s important to celebrate small wins. By acknowledging progress, you will feel more motivated to continue changing your life for the better. Going back to the example from the article, if you want to get a promotion at work, celebrate each time you get to work on time by doing something you love in the evening.
The celebration of your small wins doesn’t have to be related to the area you’re trying to improve. For instance, if you have a healthy, constructive conversation with your partner, you can celebrate it with a nice bath just for yourself the next day. As long as it’s something that will make you feel good about this process, you should think of it as a celebration of leaving self sabotage behind.
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