Before we started this article, we set ourselves a clear goal. We wanted to create the most complete resource available on the internet about self-sabotage. Where you don’t need any additional courses, books or apps, but one article that really helps. Since we are masters of self-sabotage ourselves, we have only selected exercises that we’ve already tested. So let’s begin!
We divided this article into four major sections. First, we give an overview of what self-sabotage actually is and how it manifests itself. In the second part, how to recognize it. Third, how to reprogram your own sabotaging behavior at the root. And in the last part, we talk about how to create an environment in which your self-sabotage no longer has a chance.
- Chapter I: Why do we sabotage ourselves?
- Chapter II: How to recognize if you are sabotaging yourself
- Chapter III: How to stop your self-sabotage
- Too much in your head?
- Is the Upper Limit the reason for your self-sabotage?
- How your beliefs influence your self-sabotage
- Trauma can also trigger sabotaging behavior
- Your self-esteem: the main trigger for self-sabotage
- Reprogramming limiting beliefs: the easy ones
- Affirmations against self-sabotage
- Growth Mindset or Fixed Mindset
- The role of your subconscious mind in self-sabotage
- Chapter IV: All blockages identified and resolved, now what?
Chapter I: Why do we sabotage ourselves?
Self-Sabotage is usually the last thing on your mind when things don’t go the way you want them to. Most of the time it is easier to blame the others or the circumstances.
But if we are completely honest with ourselves, we have to admit: We alone usually stand in our own way. We become our biggest enemy and display behavioral patterns that hinder us in achieving our desires and goals. We give up halfway, don’t have time because it’s not the right thing for us after all, don’t take advantage of opportunities or talk ourselves down.
Definition: What exactly is self-sabotage?
Psychologists speak of self-sabotage when people actively hinder their goals through their own behavior, thus preventing success. We put obstacles in our own way. This kind of self-manipulation happens unconsciously in most cases. Yes, you read correctly! We don’t even realize it and keep hitting against an invisible ceiling.
Low self-esteem is one of the main triggers for self-sabotage
But why do we sabotage ourselves? The cause usually lies in learned behavior patterns, beliefs, deeper lying fears and self-doubt. Low self-esteem is one of the main triggers for self-sabotage. We do not trust in our own abilities and think we are not good enough. We sabotage ourselves, as a result we don’t achieve our goals and therefore feel even worse. A vicious circle.
The fear of one’s own success or change
Another reason may be a mild or severe manifestation of metathesiophobia – the fear of one’s own success. It was first described by Sigmund Freud in 1915. If you are successful, your reputation rises, but this is often accompanied by changes. How will my environment react to me? Can I meet the new demands at all? Is success actually justified? The idea alone puts some people under enormous pressure.
Something positive turns into something negative, because we are afraid of not being able to live up to our own expectations. Then our subconscious mind naturally tries to sabotage our steps to success in such a way that it doesn’t even get that far. Secretly, we then rejoice and perhaps even say to ourselves things like, “Then it probably shouldn’t be like this.” Our subconscious mind doesn’t care that we might regret our behavior later.
Is metathesiophobia responsible for your self-sabotage?
You can ask yourself the following questions to find out if the fear of success or change is the cause of your self-sabotage:
- Think of an upcoming change. Do you observe in yourself any of the following symptoms: Heart palpitations, abdominal pain/diarrhea, shortness of breath, sweating?
- Have you lied in the past to postpone or prevent a change in your life?
- Have you observed yourself resisting new things because you would have to leave your comfort zone to do so? Even when you know it will actually bring you closer to your desired success?
Were you able to answer yes to one or more of the questions? Then the tips in this article can help you!
Self-Sabotage Behaviors: A List of Examples
There are many ways to sabotage yourself. The most common self-sabotaging behaviors include:
- We procrastinate – we put things off that should be done urgently or that could help us as a person or professionally.
- The inner critic gets louder and louder – We ruminate about ourselves, have self-doubt and think we are not good enough, the task is too hard, we are not suited for it or that we won’t make it anyway… etc. (Compare Impostor Syndrome).
- Abort – Actually something works well, but we abort it (“It didn’t go fast enough for me!”).
- Escape impulse – We want to escape reality, whether it’s by drinking alcohol, overeating, surfing the Internet for hours, or watching Netflix (“Just this one more episode!”).
- It gets physical – Are you always tired lately? Totally listless? Before an important presentation you suddenly have a sore throat and become hoarse? All these physical signs can be self-sabotage. Author Gay Hendricks calls this phenomenon Upper Limit in his book “The big leap”*.
- Remaining in the situation – Actually, we want to quit the job, break up with our partner, look for a new apartment, etc.. But out of fear of making the wrong decision, we remain in the situation and become dissatisfied more and more.
- Chronic dissatisfaction – Actually everything is great. We feel loved, our job is fun, but somehow there is still this dissatisfaction in us. We have the feeling that we can’t really enjoy our beautiful life.
Did you find yourself in some of the points? Then it’s best to read on.
Self-sabotage in relationships
We sabotage ourselves not only when it comes to personal development or our own careers. No, the phenomenon is also widespread in relationships. We actually long for love, but don’t get it because we block ourselves with negative thoughts and behavior. Or we sabotage our actually beautiful relationship and push the partner slowly but surely away.
A list of self-sabotaging behaviors in a relationship
- Lies – In the early 2000s, women’s magazines taught us that you should keep “secrets” from your partner, white lies etc. included. Utter nonsense. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in our 17+ years relationship, it’s this: Honesty should always be the most important value in a sincere and respectful relationship.
- Negative emotions are suppressed – Negative thoughts are perfectly okay. Every emotion wants to be heard, so do negative thoughts and feelings in the relationship. However, out of fear of rejection, a breakup, etc., we often swallow them and avoid honest conversations with our partner.
- Extreme jealousy – We are jealous and convinced that our partner is cheating on us, even though there is no evidence of it. This could be a projection of our own fears or desires.
- Being annoyed – Nobody is perfect. And that’s a good thing. But you dwell on little things, only see the negative and only nag your partner. Here, too, we have to watch out for projection. Are we really annoyed by our partner, or maybe by ourselves?
- Unmet expectations – good relationships require work. It’s no secret. If you’re regularly disappointed in your partner because they just don’t behave the way you expect a “good partner” to behave, that could be a sign of self-sabotage as well.
Again, most of our behavior patterns are unconscious. If we feel we are not enough for our partner, we subconsciously push them away to avoid being hurt too much in a breakup.
On the other hand, some people are afraid to commit too much out of fear of losing their independence, so they sabotage the relationship to keep a distance between themselves and their partner.
Chapter II: How to recognize if you are sabotaging yourself
Recognizing and reflecting that you are standing in your own way is an important step in dissolving this behavior. You already took the first step – self-awareness. Since you clicked on this article and read this far, you probably suspect that you are sabotaging yourself. So, to put an end to it, the next step should be to find out the trigger for your behavior.
This is where the reality check-in can help us. Please be honest with yourself, even if it is painful. Take 10 minutes and question your goals and behaviors.
The first step is to review your goals
As a first step, write down all of your goals. Then answer the following 10 questions for each goal, preferably in writing:
- Am I really giving everything to achieve my goals?
- If you procrastinate – Am I procrastinating because I’m afraid of doing something wrong, or afraid of the outcome?
- Do I want to achieve the goal for myself or for someone else?
- What negative things could happen if I reach the goal?
- Am I afraid of this? If so, how realistic is it that my fears will come true?
- What do I gain when I reach my goal? How does it feel to be at the finishing line?
- What do I gain by giving up my goal?
- If I had only a short time to live, would I regret not reaching the goal?
- What behavior patterns am I showing that are sabotaging me?
- Is the goal consistent with my core values?
Focus on what is really important to you
With the reality check-in it is similar to shaking a tree. The goals that are important to us remain. Because sometimes we pursue goals that deep down we don’t want to pursue at all! Either because it is a goal that no longer suits us, or a goal that someone else has set for us. This is what we need to find out and then let go of. Because if you don’t really want something, you better create free capacity in your mind for the things that are important to you!
Once we have identified these, we can focus on our limiting beliefs that often trigger the self-sabotage. These have an incredible impact on you and the quality of your life. They influence what you do or don’t do. But more on this later.
Why a lot of work can also mean self-sabotage
Sometimes we pursue the right goals, but we still don’t feel like we’re making any progress, even though we’re actually working on them all day. But is the work we do every day also goal-oriented? Here it is worthwhile to do a little reality check, because we know it from personal experience. We can then use the excuse of too much work to avoid tasks that are actually important. A classic case of self-sabotage.
Reading books, another degree, or personal development can also block you out
Just like in the previous point, a wrong focus can also prevent us from achieving our goals. Many of us want to feel ready for big tasks. We prepare ourselves, read even more books, attend even more courses, and then finally take the leap.
But we’re about to tell you a painful truth: the water will always be cold, no matter how long we prepare. That’s why it’s worth taking a close look at whether, in all this personal development, the actual doing isn’t coming up short. Because behind it usually lies a fear or a blockage in our self-worth.
Chapter III: How to stop self-sabotage?
After the brief Self-Check-In from the previous section, we now get down to the nitty gritty, the dissolution of self-sabotage. Since the causes can be wide-ranging, there is no single solution that fits all behaviors. For example, you may sabotage your relationship for other reasons, like building your startups, or finishing your thesis for university. That’s why you’ll find here all the methods we know and have used ourselves.
Observe when your self-sabotage occurs
To get a handle on your self-sabotage, you need to know what “enemy” you are dealing with. The more information you can gather, the better. Write down when and in which situations your self-sabotage always occurs.
Too much in your head?
We often sabotage ourselves when we feel we have too many tasks ahead of us. The size of the mountain overwhelms us and out of fear of not making it, we don’t even start. And with each day that we continue to wait, it gets worse. We are ashamed of ourselves and become more and more angry inside.
That’s why the first step is: Get it out of your head! For example, we always notice when more than 7-8 things need our attention at the same time, we shut down. This is because our short-term memory can hold that amount of information on average. Therefore, we need to release our head and write everything down first.
Take a piece of paper and write down everything that needs to be done. Most of the time, this already brings a slight relief. After we break down the self-sabotage in the next steps, you will find practical tips on how to get your intentions into reality at the end of this article.
Measure the gain not the gap
We often think about all the things we still have to do and forget all too often what we have already achieved. Therefore, make yourself aware of how far you have already come and what successes you have already been able to celebrate in the last weeks, months and years. The goal is important to have a direction, but the daily work on it must be fun! We should make every small step visible and celebrate it! Benjamin Hardy describes this concept in his great book “Personality isn’t permanent“*.
Is the ‘Upper Limit’ the reason for your self-sabotage?
To that end, we’d like to share with you the Food for Thought from our Evano Everyday app:
Have you heard the saying “Lucky at cards, unlucky in love”? Such and many other hidden beliefs are omnipresent in our society. If someone earns a lot of money, then things are certainly not going well at home… or with the kids. If things are going well for a long time, then the next big disaster is surely lurking around the next corner….
The assumption is that there is something like a finite resource of personal happiness that has to be divided among different areas of life. And if things go too well in one area, they must inevitably go badly in another.
The following graphic illustrates this way of thinking.
The psychologist Gay Hendricks calls this “Upper Limit”. He describes how you keep bumping up against an invisible ceiling. Every time you approach this ceiling, you unconsciously begin to sabotage yourself in order to restore your own, inner balance.
That such a limit actually exists is, of course, complete nonsense and we create this limit ourselves with our thoughts. We have adopted most of these schemes during our socialization. But as long as we believe it to be true, it will be true for us and nothing will change our reality.
The good news is that often just becoming aware of this helps to break the limiting pattern. The following graphic shows a mindset of abundance.
If you realize that the Upper Limit is responsible for your self-sabotage, then write down the beliefs you hold inside now! In the following steps we will explain how to dissolve them.
How your beliefs influence your self-sabotage
As described earlier in this article, limiting or negative beliefs are one of the main causes of self-sabotage. Therefore, in the second step, we can start right there to put an end to self-sabotage.
We adopt many of our beliefs at a young age from our parents and our direct circle of friends and acquaintances. They are like highways that we do not question anymore. I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase, “You become the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with on a regular basis.”
But your experiences also have a tremendous impact on your beliefs. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes just one negative experience to become ingrained in our minds as a limiting belief.
But as the name “belief” implies, it is only what we believe and does not necessarily reflect the truth. And what we believe, we can change by changing our habits. In contrast, your habits – all the things you do on a regular basis- can positively influence your beliefs.
Crossed-Beliefs Often Hide Really Nasty Self-Sabotage
Another hard-to-find form of self-sabotage are the so-called Crossed-Beliefs. They occur whenever two beliefs cancel each other out. Or a goal is contrary to a hidden belief.
For example, you want to allow yourself to be happy, but on the other hand you think you can’t be happy until you achieve your goals, or make a certain amount of money. A classic Crossed-Belief that many in our society carry with them.
Or you may set as a goal that you would like to be wealthy, but deep down you think that wealthy people are often conceited, or bad people. Our often Christian socialization with parables from the Bible like: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” are not really helpful. The result, a Crossed-Belief that leads to inner turmoil and stress. On the one hand, you want to be wealthy, but on the other hand, you don’t want to be.
You sabotage yourself without realizing it
Both cases are especially insidious because you feel you are doing everything all the time and struggling for years to find the right balance. This is because your subconscious mind will keep sabotaging steps in the direction you want to go without you realizing it.
Another Crossed-Belief is often found in partnerships. Many have the desire for a long partnership. On the other hand, you don’t believe in it because you have experienced e.g. divorce and loss in your own family.
Observe for yourself which of your goals may be contrary to things you believe. Write these down as well.
Trauma can also trigger sabotaging behavior
Each of us has experienced traumatic experiences in some form during childhood and adolescence. How bad the experience was, is very individual and should in no case be compared with each other! To be able to live carefree, it is important that we can forgive others and especially ourselves from a certain point.
This topic would go beyond the scope of this article, so we will limit ourselves only to the effects on self-sabotage. In order for the child or adolescent brain to better cope with bad experiences, it creates like a kind of black box that is very difficult to access through our consciousness. The problem, this black box also likes to hide Crossed-Beliefs that sabotage our behavior.
Because our brain wants to protect us, so that such negative experiences do not have to be made again. Unfortunately, our brain “forgets” that we are now adults who would deal with the situation in a completely different way, i.e. our childish version of ourselves.
A good book on the subject is by Stefanie Stahl – The child in you*, in which you learn via so-called ‘Reparenting’ to build a connection to your traumatized inner child. This makes it easier to let go of old situations and dissolve beliefs that encourage self-sabotage. The effectiveness of hypnosis is also well documented as well.
Everything is happening for you, not to you.
Another exercise is also to reframe the traumatic experience and ask yourself: “What good did it do me as a person?” We like to say that we establish a mindset by assuming that everything happens for us. This is not easy at first because people tend to focus a lot on the negative. Here are a few questions that might help:
- You maybe met someone through this that you wouldn’t have otherwise?
- Did you learn something that helps you in your everyday life or your job?
- You took a path that you would not have taken otherwise?
- Did you initiate a change that you would not have dared to do otherwise?
For example, write down all negative and traumatic experiences from your life and write behind them what positive things it could have brought you.
Your self-esteem: the main trigger for self-sabotage
The most common reason we sabotage ourselves is our self-esteem. Sometimes outsiders don’t even notice this because we have learned to hide it so well. But if we don’t feel worthy enough, deep inside of us, to achieve our goals, we sabotage them. We say to ourselves things like: “Who am I to … [insert your own statement here]”
But again, there is an incredibly good exercise in uncovering these limiting beliefs and changing them so that they actually help us.
Take sheet of Paper and write on the top left: “I am NOT worthy to“….
Then write underneath all the things you think you are not worthy of. This can be for example:
- … be loved
- … be healthy
- … have a child
- … be a leader
- … earn much money
- … publish a book
- … have friends
Add to the list the things you think you are not worthy of.
In the next step you cross out the NOT and write “Because…” at the top of the right page. So you can read: “I am worthy to be loved because“…
Now go through each point, and write down a reason WHY you are worthy to be loved, earn a huge amount of money and so on. This will take some time! If you are stuck, ask a close one of yours for help.
Negative self-talk often has no real basis at all
If we do this conscientiously, we realize that our negative self-talk often has no real basis at all, but we simply tell ourselves this story over and over again. Actually, there are many reasons why you are worthy of achieving the things and goals you set for yourself.
The most effective way to do this is to put this list prominently on your desk or stick it where you will see it often. It is best to read through it daily. It is important that you feel that you are worth it, so that the change can show itself in your behavior. Because in this way, bit by bit, new neural connections are built in your brain and self-sabotage no longer has a chance.
Reprogramming limiting beliefs: the easy ones
To support this process, you should now take your list of beliefs. Because as long as you believe that something is true, it is also your truth and you sabotage your behavior.
Just as we’ve written above that already one negative experience can cause a belief, just a single, supposedly small event can cancel the self-sabotage again. Therefore, in the first step we now try to reprogram the easy limiting thoughts.
For example, in our family only bad to no experiences with self-employment exist. When we grew up, we did so believing that being employed was safer than being self-employed. Then, as we decided to become self-employed, of course, that wasn’t a good assumption.
Sometimes one sentence is enough to change a belief system
At one point, an entrepreneur friend of ours came to us and said, “If the company goes bad, who goes first, the employees or the boss?” From that moment on, something clicked in our minds, and we were able to let go of our sabotaging thought that being an employee is safer than being self-employed.
As written above, it’s not the ultimate truth, it’s what your truth is. For some, the other set of beliefs may be a good guideline, but for us, who were self-employed, it definitely was not.
Since many of our thoughts were like highways not really questioned, now take your list and see if you can find a simple reason to each belief that would turn it into the opposite. Like the self-sabotage with self-employment in our example.
This does not work for all beliefs. What remains are mostly sabotaging thoughts that relate to our personality or general assumptions about life. How you can change these so that they no longer sabotage you is the subject of the next section.
Affirmations against self-sabotage
Just as with self-worth, we can then think of ourselves, for example, that life itself is hard, or that we are weak, that we are cowards.
It’s the same as before, as long as you think your life is hard, it will be hard for most of the time. Allow yourself the following thought: Life is neither hard nor easy, it is what you think it is.
Life is neither hard nor easy, it is what you think it is.
Some of us find it hard to believe in ourselves that our lives feel easy, that we are courageous, or that we can accomplish what we set out to do. This is also related to our previous experiences, which we believe to be our reality. If this is the case for you, can you imagine that there are other people to whom everything seems to fly by and who go through life with apparent ease? At this point, please ignore that you may be different from these people, it is only important that you can imagine that there are other people for whom this is so.
This is where affirmations come in. The idea is to cause a change in your own behavior by repeating the desired state. Here are 5 examples of affirmations that we have used against self-sabotage.
- I find it easy to work on (insert your project here).
- I am abundance. Everything I desire is already available.
- It’s easy for me to be focused and mindful.
- I am lightness.
- It’s easy for me to keep my environment tidy.
Why affirmations and manifestation do not work
What many people do not know is that affirmations and manifesting do not work, if you do not feel or believe what you are telling yourself. Even if you tell yourself the whole day that you will be wealthy, healthy or fearless and expect magic, it will not happen unless you reframe your unconscious barriers, mindset or dogmas. What you have already done, if you worked through the steps before!
If you want to make manifestations about your future, it is much more likely that they become reality if your body feels your thoughts. Ask yourself: How does it feel to be where you want to be?
You can trick your mind by being grateful for something that is still in the future. Therefore, feel how grateful you are that you already have achieved what you wish for. Be grateful for whatever you imagine for your life.
This kind of paradoxical trick outsmarts your body and brain because it addresses the emotional part of your brain, the limbic system, and your brain stem. The body cannot distinguish between a real sensation and a mental sensation.
This is very effective to activate your whole body to help you on your way.
Stop Self-Sabotage with a Growth-Mindset instead of Fixed-Mindset
To conclude this section, we should mention that the basic attitude itself also plays an important role in self-sabotage. Above we’ve already discussed self-worth, but sometimes the cause lies even deeper. To this end, here’s another thought-provoking article out of our App Evano Everyday about the book Mindset by Carol Dweck*:
Scientists have found that the fun we have in an activity is directly linked to how we perceive ourselves. When we enjoy solving difficult tasks, this is called ‘Growth Mindset‘.
Many of us think we just don’t have the talent for some things. They also like to use this as an excuse when they encounter obstacles. “Oh, I don’t have the talent for that.” This is called a fixed mindset.
Consistency always beats initial talent in the long run
But Carol has shown with her team the opposite, and determination and consistency always beats initial talent in the long run. Our bodies and minds are capable of learning much more than we often give them credit for, we just have to keep trying.
Children who are praised for their talent, for example, lose the desire to learn new things more quickly than children who are praised for their perseverance. In our society, the image of the genius who doesn’t have to do anything for his/her success is anchored.
This leaves a lot of people behind their potential, like the children in the first group. They are afraid if they try difficult tasks, they will be exposed to the fact they are not that smart or talented.
But making mistakes is part of growing. So let’s try things out again in a playful way. Curious, without expectations. Each time anew with our full attention.
The role of your subconscious mind in self-sabotage
As written above, many of the barriers responsible for self-sabotage sit in our subconscious mind. These can occur through trauma, or through acquired beliefs. Access to this area usually remains closed to us, but there are two methods to release blockages there.
Variant 1: Dissolve self-sabotage through meditation
When we explain to people what happens in the brain during meditation, we like to visualize it with a stack of paper. The top sheet on the stack is our consciousness. We can see it and influence it. All the sheets below it represent our subconscious mind.
Now during our daily life sometimes new sheets come on top of the pile. For example, when we have to do a task for our work, or when our phone rings. Thus, on an average day, we process several of such pieces of paper.
When we meditate regularly, we notice that no more papers come on top of the pile, but on the contrary, the existing papers are sorted as in an archive. This is the feeling of calmness in the head, of which experienced meditators talk about.
When no more sheets of paper are added from the outside and we have reached the state of calmness in our head, our brain picks up a piece of paper from further down in the pile and puts it on top. True to the motto: “Here, I found this – pay attention to me!”
These can be long forgotten situations, or traumatic experiences that we had repressed. Our brain then wants us to deal with them. Often it is enough that these thoughts have now come into consciousness to release sabotaging blockages.
If you meditate for many years, you can cleanse your mind piece by piece until there are no more notes to work on in the subconscious mind.
Variant II: Speed up the process through hypnotherapy or self hypnosis
But sometimes, even through years of meditation experience, some areas in our brain elude us. Then hypnotherapy can help, because an experienced hypnotist can guide you through your subconscious and open doors together with you that you have not seen yourself.
What many people don’t know, hypnosis is very similar to a deep state of meditation. When you hook people up to an EEG the active brain waves in hypnosis are almost the same as in meditation. This makes it like a shortcut that directly resets the course in the subconscious mind that was difficult to access through our conscious mind.
If you don’t want to be hypnotized by a stranger, you can also try guided meditations that suit you. They are in effect the same as self-hypnosis. The disadvantage here is that they cannot respond to your individual needs the way a hypnotist could.
All blockages identified and resolved, now what?
Assuming you’ve done all the things we’ve recommended and now feel motivated to get going, but somehow there’s still resistance there. That’s perfectly normal, because the neural connections in your brain that have been built up over years can’t be dissolved with a snap of your fingers.
So here are our tips on how to make it easier for you to overcome self-sabotage.
Define focus times for tasks you procrastinate:
Over time, we have learned to quickly recognize our sabotaging behavior and to take appropriate actions that keep us in control. One of these methods is to define rules and focus times. For example, we block out 45 minutes a day to write texts for the magazine, like this article. The following rules apply to us during this focus time:
- Set timer to 45 minutes
- No social media
- Phone on airplane mode or ‘Do Not Disturb’
- No mails open / deactivate notifications of mails
Make sure you don’t get distracted
As we’re writing this, we realize that this is an important tip in general. If you know about yourself that you are prone to self-sabotage, minimize potential distractions. For us, this means always having all notifications disabled on our devices. Sometimes it also makes sense to block certain websites or apps during this focus time.
Make your focus time as pleasant as possible
In addition, make your focus time as comfortable as possible. If you’re already working on something that’s hard for you, or something you otherwise like to sabotage yourself, at least make sure the conditions are ideal. For example, you can prepare your favorite drink, or your favorite music.
You should use your limited willpower to create a supportive environment rather than struggle through your tasks
In general, you should use your limited willpower to create a supportive environment rather than struggle through your tasks. This will only tire you out in the long run, until you eventually quit completely from exhaustion.
For example, if you know that some things distract you or tempt you, define a clear rule as well, or don’t have those things in your house in the first place. For example, we love to play computer, but we made a rule that we only play when today’s work is finished.
Don’t overdo it! Small steps are better than big ones against self-sabotage
Steady, small steps carry you further than one tiring big sentence. We’ve made the experience that if we take on too much or wait too long to start, then we usually just manage to achieve the result or meet the deadline, but are completely burnt out afterwards. After that, we need to take a break and usually don’t feel like doing anything anymore.
For us it is therefore better to take small steps, but steadily. Working one or two 45-minute blocks a day on things that you would otherwise sabotage yourself on doesn’t sound like much at first. But we know from experience that consistency makes all the difference in the end! And all too often, once the mental block is cleared, we move on without further effort.
Work smart not hard and respect your biorhythm
The following tip may sound trite, but it is incredibly important and often neglected. We all live according to our own biorhythms. You may have noticed that you find it easier to work at some times of the day than others. This is completely normal. Therefore, write down, for example, at what time of the day difficult tasks are particularly easy for you and at what times you are rather tired and lack energy.
Tasks that you put off, but which are important, you should work on first, true to the motto “Eat the Frog”. We also have no faith in any gurus who tell us that we can only be successful if we get up in the middle of the night and start doing sports. This is complete nonsense and completely contradicts our biorhythm. If it works for you fine, but if it’s as much of a pain for you as it is for us, don’t do it.
Why we don’t take phone calls before 11 a.m.
For us the morning is ideal for doing diligence tasks, because then we are focused and concentrated. That’s why we never take phone calls before 11 a.m., as this time of the day is reserved for our important tasks, which we otherwise like to procrastinate.
In the time span from 12pm to 4pm, we would need at least twice as long for the same tasks, if we can manage them satisfactorily at all. So why torture ourselves during this time? We then have another high again around late afternoon until evening.
Don’t take our experience as a guideline but as an invitation to create your own ideal routine. There will be ideal times for you in which it is easier to do sports or to work on a project. Find out these times and organize your day so that you are undisturbed during these phases.
The beginning is often the hardest
For us, one simple rule applies. Getting the ball rolling is usually more difficult than maintaining momentum. That means the first seconds are the most difficult. That’s also why we work with a 45-minute timer, because the moment we set the timer, we start working. As soon as you have done the first things, you are suddenly in it again and the time often passes much faster than previously thought and is even fun. So that this first hurdle requires less willpower, it makes sense, for example, to tie such tasks to another activity.
Use if this – then that to reduce self-sabotage
Our brain loves if this – then that connections. For example, when you drink your first coffee in the morning, you start with the first 45 minute block. Or when you get ready for bed in the evening and brush your teeth, you do your meditation session right after it. Through these connections our brain needs less power to overcome.
Go into a supportive mental state with a straight up posture
In recent years, a lot of research has been done on the fact that our physical posture affects our mind. This can also lead to an increase in our productivity. When we slouch in our chair, we find it harder to work on the tasks we’ve been putting off than when we’re sitting up straight. The same is true when we stand.
Even though a recent study has now been shown that a power pose, stretching the arms in V shape above the head, does not have a positive effect on our hormonal balance, it can make us feel stronger. This effect is not stronger than in a normal upright position, but this mental anchor can help us get into action.
Hire people for tasks you don’t want to do
You don’t always have to do everything by yourself. Once you have identified which tasks you like to do yourself and which you don’t, hire someone to do the tasks you don’t like. However, we have learned from spending a lot of money uselessly that others cannot reach a new mental level for us. If you are putting something off out of fear, and the task wouldn’t actually be big, then we recommend doing it yourself.
If this is not the case and you have the resources, don’t torture yourself with too many tasks just to prove something to yourself or others. Don’t fall into the trap of tying your self-worth to the amount of work you do. This does not lead to inner peace and happiness.
Achieve long-term goals with a habit tracker
The rewards that long-term goals promise us are usually in the future and therefore we sabotage ourselves and don’t do what we set out to do. A very good way to trick our brain is to use a habit tracker. The principle can be compared to a progress bar.
You write down the tasks you want to do every day. For us, for example, this is all the things we know are good for us. For example, sports, meditation, walking, making ginger tea, writing in the gratitude diary, but also 45 minutes of focused work on an important project. We also enter things in there that are not directly good for us, but are good for those around us, such as playing with the cat or keeping the kitchen tidy every day. Even though many of these things have become habits for us over the years, it still gives us an important structure.
Don’t overfill your habit tracker
However, we have learned that we should not overdo it here either. For example, we know phases where we had the Habit Tracker way too full. You might keep this up for a few weeks or months, but then you need a break. That’s why it’s so important to figure out what goals you want to pursue in the first place (see Reality-Check-In above). We believe that our daily life should be fun! Creating the environment so that you look forward to your tasks every day and don’t sabotage yourself should be the top priority.
We hope you were able to get something out of the article and tone down your self-sabotage! If so, please support our work by sharing this article with a friend of yours. If you have questions or additions, write us anytime and we are happy to help!
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In a Nutshell, tldr
When people actively hinder their goals through their own behavior, thus preventing success, it is called self-sabotage.
Procrastination, Ruminating, Overthinking, Aborting successful tasks, Escapism, Delaying decisions, Chronic dissatisfaction. During relationships: Suppressing emotions, Extreme jealousy, Notorious lying, Unmet expectations
Most of the time, self-sabotage happens unconsciously, through deeper beliefs. We have picked these up during our socialization. Besides low self-worth as the main cause, sometimes the fear of change or success is also the underlying reason.
Review your goals and focus on whats really important. Identify and reframe limiting beliefs. Resolve Trauma. Strengthen your self-worth. Use affirmations. Develop a growth mindset. Try meditation, self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy. Create a supportive environment with focus times favorable for your biorhythm. Reduce distractions and use a habit tracker. Delegate.