You may be on a path to self-sabotage without knowing it. Dictionaries define sabotage as willful acts of destroying something or someone so that it does not work or succeed.
If your destructive actions are directed towards yourself, that’s self-sabotage. People resort to these types of behavior as coping mechanisms to deal with pressures or external demands, or to maintain their comfort zones because of feelings of unworthiness.
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Self-defeating behavior is not done intentionally and are a way of protecting and rescuing yourself from possible failures and hurts. Extreme forms are downright harmful and may get you into legal and health complications, such as substance abuse, physical aggression or nonsuicidal self-injury.
But many others are seemingly too trivial to cause damage and provide false reassurance in the short-term. Yet ultimately, they are obstacles to your long-term success, in your professional and personal life.
Forms of self-sabotage
Putting off things to do is the most common form of self-sabotage behavior. You’ve started a fitness program but won’t go to the gym today because it’s raining. You have a report due at work but will start on it only after playing that game on your console. These are just two examples of procrastination. Your health and work goals are real, so why aren’t you giving them their due importance?
“I’m too busy,” “I don’t have time,” “I’ll do it tomorrow, or some other time.” Excuses like these are typical of procrastinators. The intent is present, but it never gets acted upon, and you make all sorts of justifications for your negligence or delay. But you also suffer the consequences, like being passed over for promotion. Plan your days or weeks for your personal activities and career goals. Learn to recognize distractions so that you can overcome them and accomplish what you set out to do.
Related reading: How to Recognize Your Personal Faults and Make a Change
Childhood upbringing or past relationships may cause you to withdraw emotionally by stonewalling or keeping your feelings in check. When you’ve been trained not to talk back to your parents, or you were extremely hurt in a previous relationship, you learn to isolate yourself or tune out your partner. You make small talk only when necessary. You refrain from voicing your opinions to avoid conflict. But deep inside you, the resentment grows and the relationship disintegrates.
Withdrawing from your partner emotionally prevents you from being hurt but is a form of self-sabotage behavior that leads to anxiety, depression, and an unsatisfying partnership. A healthy relationship is nurtured by two-way communication that allows both to speak freely without fear of being criticized or put down.
Who hasn’t raided the refrigerator or pigged out on ice cream and cake, or chips? We’re all guilty of it at one time or another. But if it becomes a weekly habit for lame excuses, it’s sabotaging your own life, especially if you’ve got a weight problem and you’re trying to solve them. Comfort eating makes you feel better, but it doesn’t address the cause of your negative action. Take control of it by recognizing the triggers and cultivating self-supporting behaviors, such as looking for alternative solutions or options, and making positive self-talk.
Related reading: Why Losing Weight Is Harder than Ever
Modesty is a desirable trait in people. The unassuming individual who does not proclaim his accomplishments to the world is well-liked. But in self-sabotaging behavior, modesty is taken to the extreme, so that it makes the people around you uncomfortable. Taken too far, modesty is detrimental to your career. You may be well-liked by your peers, but you will also be judged by management as less competent, in spite of proof of excellent performance.
Women are more prone to extreme modesty, and overcompensate by working too hard. They perceive the corporate environment as a man’s world, and their low self-image ingrained in childhood adds to their insecurity about their work. To counteract excessive modesty, accept your capabilities and potential, make no excuses for your achievements, but avoid bragging about them.
Lack of motivation
Are you spending time on Facebook instead of making your presentation for the next day? Then you rush to do it and come up with an inferior product?
Psychologists have found that self-sabotage and lack of motivation is a vicious cycle. The more you engage in self-defeating actions, the higher the chances are that you become less motivated the next time around. Another study also revealed that unmotivated people blame the distraction on their failure to perform or complete a project on time, thereby preserving their ego. Improve your focus and drive to become more motivated.