Have you ever set a goal for yourself and, somehow, found it difficult to reach? No matter how much planning, strategizing, or intention-setting you do, you always find yourself repeating the same patterns that lead to compromise. And it doesn't feel good.
Perhaps you wanted to improve your prosthetic balance, so you worked with your physical therapist to come up with a home exercise program that you can do at least three times a week. However, for some reason, you can't seem to achieve your goal. You keep repeating patterns that are not helpful, such as always staying up late to binge-watch on Netflix.
This is self-sabotage at work. According to Judy Ho, Ph.D., author of "Stop Self-Sabotage," the term refers to "thoughts and behaviors that undermine our best interests and conscious intentions."
The most alarming thing about self-sabotage is that it can show up in different ways and affect all areas of life. So, before you allow self-sabotage to destroy what's important to you—be it your health, career, relationships, or finances—let's take a proactive approach by learning how to recognize it and, most importantly, how to overcome it.
Self-sabotage can look different for everyone. For some, it might be procrastination, for others, low self-esteem. But no matter how self-sabotage shows up in your life, it's essential to recognize that its power depends on the subconscious beliefs and stories we have accumulated while growing up.
Signs of self-sabotage include:
1. Making the same mistake over and over again.
2. Recurring negative thoughts that prevent you from taking steps toward achieving what you want.
3. Feeling like you can't do something that you want to do, so you don't even bother trying.
If you recognize any of these signs in your life, perhaps you can dig deeper to find the reason. According to Dr. Ho, self-sabotage is perpetuated by four main factors: internalized beliefs, low self-esteem, extreme need for control, and fear of the unknown or change.
First, observe your thoughts. Writing in a journal can help you with this one. Following your thoughts can help you find patterns or themes like thinking that you can't do anything right. Then, once you find those recurring themes, decipher each one and see which one makes you feel bad. This is a good sign that a particular thought is the cause of your self-limiting behaviors.
Next, challenge those thoughts. Ask yourself why a particular idea keeps coming up. During this step, it's essential to keep in mind that although your thoughts seem like your reality, they are not. You can always consider doing the alternative of what you're thinking.
Lastly, replace those destructive behaviors and thoughts. Overcoming self-sabotage requires interrupting the pattern you have unknowingly laid out for yourself. Observe when a particular idea makes you feel bad and replace it with feel-good thoughts.
Do the same for self-sabotaging manners. Figure out what you would usually do in a specific situation and then replace that behavior with one that propels you toward your objective.
While these strategies may seem simple, understand that there is no such thing as an overnight success. Repetition is vital to establish this new way of thinking and living. And once you've been implementing this habit every day, you'll see a massive change in the quality of your thoughts, which translates into a better quality of life.What self-sabotaging thoughts or behaviors do you notice in your life? If you've already overcome these destructive patterns, what strategies did you implement? Please share your opinions with us in the comments section below.