Have you ever wanted something and didn’t get it because of something you did? Maybe you wanted to date someone you were very attracted to but then you lied to them about dating someone else? Or you really wanted a job but told them you expected a salary that was way above average — despite knowing they’d decline? Or you waited so long to start a project that you knew you couldn’t finish it in time, so you just didn’t even bother to start it?
Self-sabotage could be defined as deciding you want something and then making sure it doesn’t happen. Have you ever found yourself close to achieving a goal, only to throw it all away at the last moment? Maybe you didn’t even wait until you were close to achieving it. Maybe you sabotaged yourself early in the process — or before you even started the process at all. Did you look back later and kick yourself for being so foolish? Most of us have.
Why did you do this? There are several possible explanations, ranging from a need to control the situation to feeling unworthy. But regardless of the cause, the solutions are similar.
Eliminate self-sabotage from your life using these tips.
Look back at the times you’ve sabotaged yourself or come up short. You probably try to justify the sabotaging behavior in your mind. But, ignore the reasons and just observe the behavior. What conclusion would a casual observer draw from your behavior? If all the information they had was how they saw you behaving, what would they think?
Learn to notice the signs of self-sabotage. How and when do you do it? Be objective and recognize your patterns. Then, when you recognize yourself acting out one of those patterns, break it by stopping it and changing your behavior.
Remember that success isn’t perfect
Sometimes we quit because things aren’t turning out the way we imagined. We saw it turning out in this beautiful, incredible way and what’s shaping up is… a little less beautiful and not quite so incredible. So we quit because if we can’t have what we imagined, what’s the point?
Setting more reasonable expectations can help ensure that you’re seeing things through to the end. Nothing in life is ever perfect. It’s fine to dream big, but at the same time, set reasonable expectations that will help temper feelings of disappointment if those big dreams don’t come to fruition.
For instance, maybe you’re in a great relationship, but you imagined there wouldn’t be any disagreements. That isn’t a practical expectation. What is practical, however, is to expect that you’ll talk about things without yelling, screaming or slamming doors.
Another common issue: Making a lot of money is helpful, but it won’t solve all of your challenges. A reasonable expectation here is that money will make life more comfortable, but you’ll still have to work hard and deal with some discomfort and trouble.
Consider the other people in your life
Self-sabotaging behavior is selfish. You’re hurting yourself and others. You might think you’re only hurting yourself (after all, it is call self-sabotage), but remember that whenever you don’t follow through on something, someone else has to pick up your slack. Someone else (like your children) may also suffer the consequences of your decision to wash your hands of a situation.
Before you throw in the towel, consider how it will affect those around you. That might provide enough motivation to continue pressing forward. Think about your kids, friends, family, romantic partners, co-workers, neighbors, and others who may be impacted and the impact it will have.
You might even ask some of these people how your self-sabotaging behavior has affected them in the past. Hearing someone tell you in their own words how you’ve hurt them by sabotaging yourself can help you realize what you’re doing and convince you to stop.
Be willing to be adventurous
Those who self-sabotage tend to stay in their own little worlds. Seeing a project through to completion means adjusting your outlook. Whether it’s a different job, a new relationship, or something else, your life will be changed to a certain degree. Be brave enough to take that adventure.
This is also sometimes known as a fear of success. You want X, but you’re afraid of how your life will change if you get X. So instead of trying to get X, you instead avoid it so you don’t have to go through the unknown changes that come with it.
If you tend to start new projects, but then stop yourself before ever completing them, nothing will ever change and you’ve just wasted time. Do you want to look back on your life and feel regret over all the time you wasted on unfinished projects? Or would you rather complete them so you can look back with pride on all your jobs well done?
Give yourself the gift of having a few small successes. Find a few small tasks you’ve been delaying or ignoring completely and do them. Then take the time to notice that these successes aren’t perfect, but they still made your life better.
Enjoy the victory and imagine how great it would be to accomplish greater successes. Gradually work your way up to bigger and bigger victories by building on each of your smaller successes.
When you give yourself that history of small, medium, and larger successes to look back on, you also give yourself the motivation to go after new, big goals. But you also give yourself the reminder that you can do things even when you’re afraid or uncertain.
Take some time before making major decisions
Before making a big decision, give yourself some time to think about it. Decisions can be impulsive. A few days can give you the perspective you require to make a wise decision.
I often recommend that you wait 48 hours before making a decision unless it’s truly an emergency decision that needs to be made in this moment. Two days is enough time to check your calendar and confirm you have the free time (if you need time) or your bank account (if it requires money), to think about how you really feel about this decision, and to be confident in your decision.
Self-sabotage can be frustrating. In the moment, it might seem like you’re making a good choice, but eventually the truth becomes more apparent. It’s easy to beat yourself up over your self-sabotaging behavior, but that can make it even harder for you to succeed the next time.
Be good to yourself and avoid “shooting yourself in the foot” with self-sabotage. You can and will be successful!
Wendy Miller is a Single Mom Coach & meditation teacher. She helps moms use mindfulness and meditation to create the life they really want. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. You can also sign up for her newsletter where she offers more insights, tips, tricks, advice, and information to help single moms find purpose, creativity, passion, and peace.
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