10 Ways to Stop Sabotaging Yourself

June 20, 2023
Posted in Questions
June 20, 2023 Terkel

10 Ways to Stop Sabotaging Yourself

To help you overcome self-sabotage and unlock your full potential, we’ve gathered insights from ten experts, including career coaches, nutritionists, and mindfulness coaches. From adopting an outsider’s perspective to understanding the reasons behind self-sabotage, these professionals share their top tips on how to stop sabotaging yourself.

  • Adopt an Outsider’s Perspective
  • Focus On Progress, Not Perfection
  • Beware of Deficiency Focusing
  • Practice Mindful Acceptance
  • Shift Focus to Beneficiaries
  • Non-Dominant Hand Writing Exercise
  • Uncover Limiting Beliefs With Coaching
  • Identify the Source and Adjust Priorities
  • Use Personality Assessments
  • Understand Reasons Behind Self-Sabotage

Adopt an Outsider’s Perspective

One way to stop self-sabotaging is to see yourself from an outsider’s point of view. Stepping outside of yourself allows you to view your situation the way others might.

It gives you a different perspective and will probably offer some ah-ha moments as to the signs of how you continue to sabotage yourself. Step outside your point of view for a few minutes and then change your behavior.

Kelli AndersonKelli Anderson
Career Coach, Resume Seed

Focus On Progress, Not Perfection

The best way to stop sabotaging yourself is to avoid striving for perfection. Instead, focus on progress. As I tell my clients looking to eat better and lose weight, aim for progress, not perfection.

It’s very difficult to be perfect, and to eat perfectly; after all, we are not lab rats. Therefore, as a nutritionist, I help clients make minor lifestyle changes, one at a time, and focus on eating a little better than they did yesterday.

Dr. Lisa Young, RDNDr. Lisa Young, RDN
Nutritionist, Adjunct Professor at NYU, and Author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, Dr. Lisa Young Nutrition

Beware of Deficiency Focusing

One way to stop sabotaging yourself is to be aware of a common mindset pitfall called deficiency focusing. Deficiency focusing is the habit of focusing on negatives at the expense of positives. It’s easy to get caught up in deficiency, focusing without even realizing it.

For example, a bias toward seeing organizational shortcomings at the expense of appreciating the organization’s strengths leads to an exaggerated focus on how much is going wrong or is likely to go wrong in one’s position, department, or the entire culture of the organization.

Beth Kennedy
Leadership Coach, TEDx Speaker and Trainer, Benatti Leadership Development

Practice Mindful Acceptance

From my expertise, an effective approach to stop sabotaging oneself is “Mindful Acceptance”. This approach involves developing self-awareness and cultivating acceptance.

We must first identify our self-defeating behaviors.

By incorporating mindfulness practices, we gain an objective view of our mental patterns, ‌spotting where we sabotage ourselves. Simultaneously, acceptance is key. We often self-sabotage to avoid uncomfortable emotions or realities. Acceptance isn’t surrender; rather, it recognizes reality and chooses actions that accord with our aspirations and values.

A client of mine once undervalued her services due to fear of rejection or failure. With mindful acceptance, she acknowledged these emotions, understood her worth, and chose not to let them dictate her actions. She confidently kept her rates, transforming at the same time her self-image and value for her work and time.

Bayu PrihanditoBayu Prihandito
Founder and Entrepreneur, Life Architekture

Shift Focus to Beneficiaries

Take the focus off yourself and think of the one person who will benefit if you move forward. How will they feel? What will they experience? How gratifying would it be to have them say “thank you”? Putting the focus on those you serve helps you remove the perfectionism and self-sabotage, and reminds you it’s really not about you but about the surrounding people that need you to move forward.

Allen Paul
Creative Coach, God and Gigs

Non-Dominant Hand Writing Exercise

Self-sabotaging behavior is usually the result when we have unresolved internal conflicting feelings about something. It can feel confusing since most of us know the things we “should” do, but then sometimes do the opposite. For example, a person who wants to start a new relationship agrees to a volunteer position that will require a significant portion of their free time.

There are usually subconscious motivations that we haven’t fully allowed ourselves to acknowledge. If these underlying feelings go unaddressed, we are likely to stay stuck.

One approach is to explore these conflicting feelings in writing using a non-dominant hand exercise. With your dominant hand, ask yourself questions such as, “What is good about staying the same?” or “What will happen if I make this change?” Then, with your non-dominant hand, write out the answer that comes to you. Exploring the underlying issues will help you know how to take small steps toward your goals.

Christie PearlChristie Pearl
EMDR Therapist and Consultant, Christie Pearl, LMHC, LPC

Uncover Limiting Beliefs With Coaching

Using coaching techniques to uncover our limiting beliefs is a very effective way to stop self-sabotaging. Sometimes, our belief systems are our worst enemies. And the worst thing is that when we’re battling limiting beliefs, we are ‌fighting our own selves.

For example, a limiting belief like “I don’t deserve to [make x amount of money]” can trigger self-sabotaging behaviors for a budding entrepreneur. Without confronting and replacing this limiting belief, they might spend years struggling without knowing why.

Exploring one’s own limiting beliefs and working on replacing them with alternative beliefs that support our goals and desires can have a significant positive impact on our lives.

When our belief systems and our goals align, all our efforts go into living the life we’ve chosen.

The struggle and self-sabotaging can become a memory of the past if we do the work and gain self-awareness. Coaching can help us achieve this goal in a structured way.

Daria CondorDaria Condor
Story-based Coach, The Weaver of Stories

Identify the Source and Adjust Priorities

One of the first places I would recommend starting is at the root of what is causing the cycle of sabotaging. Look at what is being sabotaged and ask yourself, “What is at the source?”.

When we discover the source, we gain access to remove it, and it may be necessary to dig more than one layer deep to understand it. For example, if we are attempting to get into a workout routine and we keep putting off the gym, ask “What is the source of not going to the gym today?”.

When you have an answer, look at it and ask, “What is at the source of that?”. This will lead you to the root cause. Another exercise we can do is to write our priorities in order of importance.

Doing this will expose if what we claim to want is a priority and if our priorities need adjusting. Doing this with integrity and honesty will most likely eliminate the sabotaging or reveal a need for support to remove a mental barrier.

Nicholas Clay
Mindfulness Coach, Being ONE World

Use Personality Assessments

If you find you keep getting in your own way, a great first step is to get to know yourself better.

I give my Time Management Coaching clients the opportunity to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Then, we use detailed personality reports to identify the best strategies and next steps for managing their time.

When you have more self-awareness and know what makes you tick, it’s easier to stop self-sabotage in its tracks. Look for free personality assessments online that can give you insight into your strengths and weaknesses, or work with a coach to take a more in-depth personality assessment.

Anna Dearmon Kornick
Time Management Coach and Speaker, ADK Strategies

Understand Reasons Behind Self-Sabotage

If you’re looking to stop self-sabotaging, understand your self-sabotaging behavior. What is causing you to self-sabotage in the first place? Is it you are afraid of what succeeding would mean? Is there some hidden benefit to self-sabotaging?

Whatever the answer, the first step is to uncover it through talking, journaling, or deep thought. Once you’ve discovered your answer, you can understand your true motivations and goals, and decide if you need to reassess.

Jessica SweetJessica Sweet
Executive Career Coach for Midlife Leaders, Wishingwell Coaching LLC

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