Self-sabotage is a nasty habit that can ruin our lives and make us miserable. It’s a pattern of behavior that keeps us from doing what we need to do to reach our full potential.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right strategies and tools, you can break these self-defeating patterns and find success in your life. Here are 5 strategies for overcoming self-sabotage and getting your life back on track.

What Is Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage is when you do things that prevent you from reaching your goals or living the life you want to live.

Self-sabotage can show up in a variety of ways, and it can be hard to recognize. It can be anything from procrastination to overindulging in unhealthy habits to avoiding difficult conversations (and everything in between).

Sometimes, self-sabotage is a way of protecting ourselves from feeling vulnerable or uncomfortable. It’s a way of avoiding change or taking risks. It’s a way of staying in the same place, even if it’s a place that isn’t serving us.

However, for most people, self-sabotage isn’t something they really want to be doing, and the outcomes of self-sabotage aren’t the ones they want. If you regularly self-sabotage, you’re probably not happy about it, but you might feel stuck and unsure how to stop.

Not everyone is aware that they’re self-sabotaging. These people often see themselves as victims of other people and the world. Everyone seems to be out to get them, and they can’t take responsibility for the harm they’re causing themselves.

This is often known as the victim mentality, and it can best be described as someone acting like a victim despite evidence to the contrary.

For self-sabotage to stop, you have to first recognize it and admit that you are the source of your own problems — not someone or something else.

Signs of Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage can take many forms, but here are some common signs that you’re engaging in self-defeating behavior:

  • You procrastinate or put off tasks that you need to do
  • You make excuses for why you can’t do something or why it’s not worth the effort
  • You consistently undervalue your skills and abilities
  • You give up entirely on something when you don’t need to
  • You have difficulty setting boundaries or saying no
  • You engage in unhealthy habits like overspending, overeating, or excessive drinking
  • You don’t have much self-confidence — you don’t believe in yourself
  • You let yourself be a doormat — you let others walk all over you
  • You’re filled with anger and resentment, blaming other people for your problems
  • You punish yourself, consciously or unconsciously

If you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself, it’s a sign that you may be engaging in self-sabotage.

Causes of Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage is often rooted in negative self-talk and limiting beliefs. We can get into patterns of thinking that we’re not good enough, that we don’t have what it takes to succeed, or that we’re undeserving of success.

These thoughts can keep us stuck in a cycle of self-defeating behaviors.

Sometimes, self-sabotage is a way of protecting ourselves from feeling vulnerable or uncomfortable. We might be scared of success or afraid of failure, and so we create these self-imposed limits to keep us safe.

However, there are a few things that we can do to break out of the self-sabotage mindset and get our lives back on track.

1. Change Your Mindset

The first step in breaking the cycle of self-sabotage is to change your mindset. Start to challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that are holding you back. Identify the stories you’re telling yourself about yourself.

Are they true? Are they helpful? Are they serving you?

Start to challenge these limiting beliefs and replace them with positive, empowering thoughts.

Remind yourself of your strengths and abilities. Remind yourself that you are capable and worthy of success. Remind yourself that you can do hard things. Changing your mindset is a powerful way to start to break the cycle of self-sabotage.

2. Set Goals

Once you’ve shifted your mindset, it’s time to set goals. Goals give you something to work toward and help you to stay focused and motivated. But it’s important to set realistic, attainable goals.

Break down big goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. This will help you to stay on track and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed or discouraged.

Make sure to celebrate each milestone and reward yourself for your progress. Small rewards can be a great motivator and can help to keep you going.

3. Create a Support System

Having people in your corner who can encourage you, motivate you, and hold you accountable can make all the difference. Whether it’s a friend, mentor, or coach, having someone who can cheer you on and offer guidance can be invaluable.

This is especially important for alcoholics and addicts because of how much damage they have often created for themselves and others. When you don’t surround yourself with healthy people, you’re more likely to end up spending time with unhealthy people who are still using and drinking because all that damage is overwhelming — it seems impossible to fix.

Surround yourself with people who believe in you and are supportive of your goals — this often includes a sponsor. Make sure to give back and support others in their journeys as well once you get through the 12 steps.

4. Track Your Progress

Seeing how far you’ve come will help you to stay motivated and on track. It can be helpful to set up a system to track your progress.

You could use a spreadsheet or a project management tool to keep track of your tasks and progress, or you could use a bullet journal to keep a record of your successes. It can also help you to recognize patterns of self-sabotage and address them head-on.

If you’re working with a therapist, this can be incredibly helpful as it can show the therapist where you’re struggling and where you’re succeeding. You can more effectively work together to stop self-sabotage.

5. Celebrate Milestones

Don’t forget to celebrate your successes and milestones. When you reach a goal or have a breakthrough, make sure to take a moment to celebrate.

Give yourself permission to take a break, treat yourself to something special, or just take a moment to pause and reflect.

Celebrating your successes can be a great way to remind yourself of what you’re capable of.

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