Self-sabotage can occur when we are attempting to change a habit or improve ourselves (hello new year’s resolutions!). Just like when we are in a time of transition and are needing and wanting to make changes in our life, we can, unfortunately be our own worst enemy.
This time of year, when we are just a few weeks into the New Year, the resolutions we made a couple of weeks ago can already be starting to feel a little challenging. Regardless of how deeply we desire to change and feel better, we can find ourselves resisting change, or worse; actively sabotaging our own efforts to either seek support or make positive changes in our lives.
What do I mean by self-sabotage?
In essence, self-sabotage is behaviour (action or inaction) that interferes with or prevents you from achieving long-standing goals.
What does self-sabotage look like?
Let’s start with a simple example.
When we are looking to lose weight and get fit, we can feel very motivated for a few days. But it is not unheard-of that we then treat ourselves after we have done some exercise, or feel that we have had a successful day of eating healthily. I am sure you are all familiar with the ‘I’ll just treat myself to one scoop of ice cream, as I’ve been good all day‘ rationale. We all know little treats might be okay, but they also undermine our progress.
Whilst this is a simple and readily understood example (I suspect we have all been there!), it is a quite common approach when we are looking to make more significant changes in our lives too.
Self-sabotage with life goals
When we are wanting to make more significant changes in our life, we may seek assistance from others. Yet even then we can self-sabotage. For example, by making an appointment to speak to a professional to get help, but failing to turn up.
Or making the appointment, but being ridiculously late.
Making the appointment, but filling our day with so many errands and chores that we cannot physically attend the appointment.
For the most part these are not serious sabotages. But they do prevent you from moving forward.
Each time something happens which stops progress or is another form of procrastination, you are hindering your growth as well as your well-being.
For some, they may interpret this resistance as a sign that they were not ready for change after all.
For others, it’s our ego saying ‘this feels scary, I’m afraid’.
Whether you feel the time is not right for change, or if you are driven by your ego (whether you know it or not), the best way to feel like you have control again in your life and no longer feel stuck, is to take action.
An easy way to avoid self-sabotage
To avoid self-sabotage, I play a game with myself. It’s a very easy game called ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’
Put simply, all it requires is jotting down the answer to ‘what’s the worst that could happen if I turn up to that appointment?’, or ‘what’s the worst that could happen if I make this change?’
Invariably the worst that could happen is not really bad. And it’s nearly always a whole lot better than staying stuck where I am!
Remember, most people regret the actions they did not take, not the actions they did take.
How do we take action?
One way to ensure we take action and avoid self-sabotage, is to have an accountability buddy. Enlist the support of a close friend, a coach, or some other trusted confidante to keep you accountable. Most people find it easier to stick to an accountability if they have someone else helping them to do so.
I know I find having external accountability helps with tasks that I feel nervous or anxious about. And change and moving forward, as much as we may want it, can feel anxiety inducing.
Of course the other approach, which also has its merits, is the approach Nike have embraced – just do it!
Action encourages more action, which leads to progress. And invariably, as we act, we feel a greater sense of control and increasingly positive about the changes we seek and are making in our lives.
And, with action underway, that pesky voice of procrastination and self-sabotage is shown the door.
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