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What is Self-Sabotage and How to Stop it? (Part II)

In Part I of this blog, we spoke to you about 'What is Self-Sabotage and Why You Might Be Doing it?' In this part, we will be talking about some ways how we can stop ourselves from sabotaging our own selves.
Source - Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Volume 69, March 2017, Pages 102-110

Common Ways People Self-Sabotage?


That’s one way of telling yourself and the people around you that you aren’t sincere enough to take the responsibility you’ve been given where the idea that you probably don't deserve it is silently hidden in your subconscious mind. We might not be able to process the hidden emotions so we rationalize ourselves with the feelings of laziness and tell ourselves that ‘we’ll do it in a while.’ That ‘while’ never comes.



How to Stop Self-Sabotaging?

1. Identify the Basic Patterns:

Everything said and done, the first and foremost thing to be on the lookout for is to identify if there is a pattern in our behaviour. Is it that I miss the deadline each time or am I missing the deadline because of whatever reasons there might be? Seek the help of a professional, a therapist might help you unravel these patterns. As we mentioned earlier in our previous blog about self-sabotaging, these behaviours are not uncommon and might be stemming from your childhood experiences, consulting an expert in this regard might ease out the process a bit.

2. Recognize the Emotions Beneath Those Patterns:

Remember when you chose to not submit the assignment because the teacher scolded you in front of the entire class? Why? What made you do that? Anger? Frustration? Feelings of Worthlessness? Humiliation? There can be multiple emotions in one situation and in reaction to such emotions that we aren’t even aware of, we end up indulging ourselves in self-sabotaging behaviours. It is important to seek therapy and understand these core emotions to work on ourselves.

3. Work on Procrastination:

Procrastination more often than not is a result of various suppressed reasons which lie under the garb of laziness. For example, we put off our presentation for the next day maybe to justify to ourselves that we did not put in our best efforts due to lack of time, had we done that, it would have been amazing. While the reality is that we feared that the presentation wouldn’t be as great as we are wanting it to be and to save ourselves from the consequences of a half-hearted attempt, instead of putting in more effort, we chose to silently shove the real emotion beneath the carpet of ‘lack of time’.

4. Self-Supporting Behaviours:

Developing self-supporting behaviours like affirmations, positive self-talk, or pursuing a hobby might help in alleviating the sabotaging behaviours and we might get some support from ourselves to help ourselves.

A study by researchers at Indiana University reported in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology that early risers sabotaged themselves in the morning, and the night owls did the same more during the night time. The result concluded that self-sabotaging is an energy-demanding behaviour and therefore is something that takes work to do. In no way is it aiding in our growth.


“Sometimes we self-sabotage just when things seem to be going smoothly. Perhaps this is a way to express our fear about whether it is okay for us to have a better life. We are bound to feel anxious as we leave behind old notions of our unworthiness. The challenge is not to be fearless, but to develop strategies of acknowledging our fears and finding out how we can allay them.”

― Maureen Brady, Beyond Survival: A Writing Journey for Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse



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