Do you feel like your biggest enemy is yourself? Do you tend to get in your own way? Often, do you often wonder if you’re your own worst enemy? Are you sabotaging yourself? Well, you’re not alone. Self-sabotage is a very common issue.
It’s a coping mechanism that backfires, leaving you wondering why things that feel safe and secure wind up hurting you in the end. Most of these problems come from internal issues, and they can really mess up your life.
It can be very difficult to unlearn years and years of self-threat. However, it is possible to undo years of self-sabotage with positive thinking, a little hard work, and some self-awareness.
Here Are 7 Simple Ways To Stop Sabotaging Yourself
1. Take Note Of Your Bad Habits
Sabotaging yourself doesn’t just happen coincidentally. It happens because you have certain bad habits that are leading to it. It is, therefore, important to identify which ones of those habits are bad, and which ones are triggers for self-sabotage. Here are some examples of bad habits you may be guilty of:
- Eating unhealthily all the time
- You don’t perform at least a little exercise on a regular basis
- Staying up way too late every night
- Maintaining unhealthy and unbalanced sleeping hours
- You don’t maintain good hygiene
- Procrastinating constantly
- You say or think bad things about yourself without correcting those thoughts
- You hold yourself to unrealistic, perfectionist standards
But, many times, these self-sabotage habits stem from internal negativity of a different kind. It’s rare that bad habits are a cause – they are often merely a symptom. Still, it’s important to pay attention to them.
2. Determine The Causes Of Your Negative Habits
When you’re sabotaging yourself, you’re often so focused on your lack of positive thinking that you don’t stop to wonder how these feelings come about. What is triggering your bad habits? Why is this happening?
For many people, these habits are coping mechanisms for internal turmoil. For example, severe stress, depression, trauma, anxiety, mental illness, and other issues can lead to self-sabotaging habits that harm you regularly. It is not that this is done intentionally – it’s just the easiest way to get a quick rush that helps you cope.
It’s also likely that, if you’ve performed these habits for years, you’ve become used to them. They’ve become an unusual source of comfort for you. You associate good things with this bad behavior. So you reach for these things for a brief rush of pleasure that is, unfortunately, short-lived, causing you to do it more and more.
Instead, you need to examine your life and see what could possibly be triggering these bad habits. Indeed, they are just another form of self-sabotage. You should pay attention to areas such as:
- Relationships, including family, friends, romantic, and intimate
- Health, including mental and physical health
- Career; is it going well or dropping, or is there a big project or potential promotion coming up?
- Finances; do you have enough funds, are you struggling to make ends meet, or are there people who want some of what you have?
- Emotions; do you feel shame, stress, guilt, a lack of worthiness, anger, or grief?
Analyzing yourself and your feelings in order to determine their underlying causes is a very healthy and positive action. You shouldn’t feel ashamed of your bad habits – it’s how you survived with the information you had. But now you know better, and it’s time to let those habits go.
3. Make Rules For Yourself
Having trouble kicking bad habits? Do you still sabotage yourself? Give yourself a little structure and make yourself some rules. Essentially, learn to parent yourself!
Set a list of house rules, similar to the ones that would have been enforced to kids in a reasonable home, or similar to ones you may enforce on your own children. Here are some examples of rules:
- No candy before mealtimes
- Don’t stay out too late at night
- No snacks unless you’re actually hungry
- Get work done for a certain amount of time before doing something not related to work
- Don’t spend money on things you don’t need or aren’t 100% sure you want
If it helps, you can teach yourself these rules whenever the urge to break them hits. For example, you may say:
- If you eat potato chips before dinner, you’re going to feel terrible and you’re going to feel insecure about your body for the next few days. Why don’t you have some tea instead?
- You shouldn’t watch another show because it’s already bedtime, and you’ll feel terrible in the morning, causing you to be snappish with everyone you meet.
- If you put this work off any more, you won’t be able to create something you’re proud of and you’ll feel bad about it later. Why don’t you work for an hour, then take a 15-minute break to do something you like?
- Don’t make an impulsive purchase because you end up regretting most of the impulsive purchases you make. Sleep on it (or wait two or three days), and if you still want it, you can check if you can afford it.
4. Do Positive Affirmations
If you suffer from self-esteem issues, positive affirmations can greatly reduce self-sabotaging behavior. Stand in front of a mirror every day and repeat affirmations to yourself, and revert to these affirmations when you feel negative thoughts creep in. Here are some examples of good positive affirmations:
- I am in control of my own life and I steer myself towards success
- I’ll care of my body to ensure good health, always
- I do not give up
- I am beautiful, strong, and confident
- I’m intelligent and good at what I do
- I commit to the tasks at hand and am happy to learn new things
- Anger and frustration do not have control over me
- I am kind to myself and to those around me
- I’m brave and willing to take risks
- I know my self-worth and I will not lower my standards
5. Understand How Your Negative Habits Affect You
Every single one of your negative habits affects you in some way. It’s a good idea to try to pay attention to those effects. Be aware of how your habits make you feel, how they impact your progress. This can give you even more reason to pump the brakes on your bad habits.
Every action you take is responsible for moving you closer to or farther away from your goals. You need to take the reigns and take control of your life and what you do in order to move closer to success and happiness.
6. Keep A Journal
A journal is a great tool to help you keep your thoughts organized. Buy a notebook that you like. The great thing about a journal is that no one will judge you for what you write, there’s no right or wrong, only you get to see what’s inside, and you can truly express yourself freely.
Spilling your emotions out onto a page can help you make sense of them. Bottling up your emotions is often harmful, so being able to write them out can serve as a form of release. It can be difficult to write at first, especially if you’re used to holding them in for so long, but once you start, it’ll get easier and easier.
Not much of a physical journal type? Use an app, use documents on your computer, record voice or video journals, or find other options. Still, keep in mind that a journal you can see is likely to be the most effective!
There are other methods you can also use to express your emotions, such as:
- Writing songs, stories, poetry, or others
- Singing or playing music
- Talk out loud, whether to a friend, family member, mental health professional, or even yourself.
7. Be Kind To Yourself
Most of us are impossibly hard on ourselves. We blame ourselves, saying that we’re not trying hard enough or that we need to do more. You may excuse this, saying you’re just giving yourself tough love. But self-compassion is actually scientifically proven to have positive effects on entire lives! If you are sabotaging yourself, it’s time for forgiveness. Here are some tips to help you be kind to yourself.
· Manage Your Expectations
Do you expect too much from yourself? Are you setting realistic goals? Challenging yourself is important, but if your goals are simply too high, you won’t be challenging yourself – you’re setting yourself up for failure. You’re a human being, not a superpowered magician!
· Treat Yourself Like You Would A Best Friend
Ever notice that you’re so kind to those who care about, but never to yourself? Well, start considering yourself your own best friend. Before doing anything, ask yourself if you would do the same with your friends. Direct your compassion for others inwards, too!
· Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Everyone has their own journey and path, and each person is a unique individual with their own strengths and weaknesses. Comparing yourself to others does a disservice to yourself and to the people you’re comparing yourself to, and it’s just a very unproductive way to expend your mental energy.
· Give Yourself Time To Rest
Self-care is important to prevent burnout. Make sure you’re taking time for yourself every day to breathe, do something you enjoy, and be by yourself in peace. You should also devote some time to your hobbies and learning new skills. Yes, work hard as often as you can, but there is no shame in taking a break when you need one!
· Forgive Yourself
We all make mistakes, and you’re not perfect. No one is! So when you encounter setbacks, learn to forgive yourself. Making mistakes is part of how you learn, and without them, you’d never improve.
Self-sabotage can be a confusing issue to deal with. We’re so used to our worst enemies and obstacles being external that it’s hard to imagine we can be our own worst enemy. But it makes sense when you think about the fact that the only person who can truly influence your life is you, not anyone else.
Whatever problems you’re dealing with that are leading to self-sabotage, know that you are not alone. You can reach out to people you trust or speak to a mental health professional to overcome them. Remember, you deserve success, you deserve to achieve your goals, and you deserve to be happy – so go out and get what you deserve!