self-sabotaging behaviors

Breaking Free from Self-Sabotaging Behaviors: Overcome Patterns for Personal Growth

Breaking Free from Self-Sabotaging Behaviors: Overcome Patterns for Personal Growth


Self-sabotaging behaviors are those that cause problems in everyday life and impede long-term goals. For example, procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, binge or restrictive eating, and self-injury are among the most common self-destructive activities.

Connecting a behavior to self-defeating consequences does not guarantee that the person will stop doing it. People are not always aware that they are causing themselves harm. However, almost all forms of self-sabotage can be defeated. Behavioral therapy can assist in breaking up ingrained thought and behavior patterns while also improving reflection and self-control. Similarly, motivational therapy can help a person reconnect with their goals and values.


Why Do Some Self-Sabotage?

There are various reasons why someone could behave in a way that is harmful to their own well-being. Of course, some people struggle for the majority of their lives with intense cravings for food, alcohol, gambling, or other temptations that have a severe impact on their relationships or health.

The factors that cause self-sabotage, however, can also be subtle and not so obvious to everyone else. For instance, a buildup of erroneous and dysfunctional ideas might cause someone to underrate their skills, repress their emotions, or snap at others around them.

People may block their own progress for a variety of reasons. Procrastination, perfectionism, relationships, jobs, finances, time, and change are common forms of self-sabotage. For instance, a perfectionist who strives to do work precisely may discount incremental advancements when even a small amount of development might help them reach their objective.


Causes of Self-Sabotage 

For a number of reasons, people prevent their own advancement. They may deliberately or subconsciously engage in self-destructive behavior. The root causes might be traced back to early relationships or childhood difficulties. Low self-esteem, coping issues, and issues with cognitive dissonance are some other causes of this sort of harmful conduct, which will be detailed below.

People frequently employ self-sabotage as a coping strategy to deal with difficult events and painful memories. Unfortunately, it frequently worsens issues and restricts one’s capacity to move forward in a healthy manner.

Self-sabotaging individuals may be conscious of their behavior. For instance, a dieter who is overweight could purposefully undermine their efforts by devouring the entire carton of ice cream.

Or they could behave unintentionally. A person misses a deadline at work. It appears like he was late at first glance, yet in reality, he is terrified of failing. By missing the deadline, he undermines his efforts to advance within the organization.

These are the most common causes of self-sabotaging behaviors:

  • Difficult childhood,
  • Problems in your romantic relationships,
  • Low self-esteem,
  • Cognitive dissonance


Types of Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

Mental health professionals have recognized typical instances of self-sabotage. Procrastination, perfectionism, and self-medication are three simple examples. However, you will be able to find more of them, depending on the person and their previous life experiences. 



Those who self-sabotage delay gratification frequently. Procrastination is a strategy to demonstrate to others that you are never prepared and delay a positive result. People are afraid of disappointing others, failing, or excelling, which is why.



It will take longer and lead to setbacks if you hold yourself to an unattainable standard. Aiming for everything to go off without a hitch may sound like a good idea, yet perfectionism stifles achievement. Perfectionists fall apart when something goes wrong, as it will invariably occur. They experience humiliation as a result. They are prone to sadness and believe that they have let everyone down.


Self Medication

Many people turn to drugs, alcohol, and self-injury to cope with the ongoing conflict between their desire to succeed and the voice in their heads telling them they can’t.


Preventing Self-Sabotage

An essential part of avoiding self-sabotage is tracking and evaluating behavior. People prone to self-defeating habits might become aware of when they are stressed and record the cause of that stress as well as their reactions. They may examine if that decision is based on any false or harmful ideas, and if so, train themselves to react in a different, healthier way by, for example, talking to others about their feelings, working out, or picking up a new interest.

Your best course of action is to seek assistance from your therapist or counselor, if you are working with one. Here are some things to think about to stop you from doing further harm if you want some advice on how to stop this bad conduct.

Look for patterns in your life to understand what might cause a certain behavior. Have you a tendency to consistently undermine your own good intentions? Did these deeds take place while you were about to succeed or on the verge of fulfilling your own goals?

As previously stated, this behavior might have developmental origins. Some parents encourage their children not to think too big, either because they don’t know any better or because they are concerned their kids won’t be happy.


In Final Words

People who self-sabotage frequently strive for perfection. Perhaps you obsess over minor details and expect everything to be flawless. Instead of aiming for perfection, strive for excellence. Begin to make small adjustments and track your progress as you get closer to your goal.

Professional therapy can help you understand and unlearn self-sabotaging behaviors. After all, self-sabotaging behavior doesn’t just appear and disappear. It took many actions and experiences, especially with your parents and family, to cultivate it, so it will take time to replace it with rewarding, healthy behaviors. 

If you know someone who self-sabotages, forward them this blog.   

 Get CONNECT now

Couples Communication Strategies

About Life Coaching and Therapy

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a therapy and coaching practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible. Multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systematically-trained and licensed therapists!

Get to know our founder and owner, Amanda Pasciucco, (a.k.a. The Sex Healer) PhD, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist (CST) that has developed innovative therapy programs and therapy videos that get results.

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help all clients who visit us for a variety of personal, relationship, intimacy and sex problems.

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs.

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do