Sabotaging Success: Understanding Self-Sabotage And How To Break The Cycle

Fed up of self sabotaging your own success, and need practical ways to break the cycle?

In this episode I help you understand how you self sabotage, and what you can do to prevent it from happening in the future.



  1. The cycle of self sabotage
  2. Signs of self sabotage
  3. How to stop self sabotage

Is this something you struggle with? Please do get in touch and let me know, I'd love to hear from you.



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Welcome to Your Dream Business Podcast. This is episode 310. And as always, I'm your host, Teresa Heath Wareing. How are you doing this week? So we had a bit of a break over summer. Well, I say a break, you didn't. We had replays of really important episodes, but I had a little break from recording some fresh episodes.

So I am back today with a new episode. So I want to talk about self sabotage. Now it's something that we did in our in person event in June, because what happens is we create these goals and we look at all these things and we, yes, we want that. And then somehow we managed to sabotage ourselves. And sometimes we are so clever and so good at it.

We don't even see that it's us doing it. We just think, Oh, well, that always happens. Or that's, you know, one of those things and it wasn't meant to be. But actually somehow we manage to sabotage ourselves really, really well. So often one example that's brought up, which is a really good example, is dieting.

So why is it when you want to diet, you manage to self sabotage yourself by, you know, well, I've got to eat that thing, or I've got to, go out for dinner, so I'll start tomorrow. And yet that always happens. So what we're going to talk about today is self sabotage is the act or habit of behaving in a way that interferes directly with one's own goal, well being, relationships, et cetera, as by comfort eating, procrastination, or lashing out at others.

So that's just what the internet had to say. But a really good quote from John Acuff is self sabotage is when you drill holes in your own ship because the trip is going so well that you feel uncomfortable because someone or something taught you that you don't deserve smooth sailing. And you might be sat there thinking, why would I even like self sabotage?

Why would someone do that? Surely they wouldn't do that. But we do, and we kind of can't help ourselves. So it's like this cycle that we can go through. So we have a goal, and the goal means that we try and take some action to do that goal, okay? Which inevitably means stepping out of our comfort zone, or stepping a little bit into something that we're not completely confident doing.

And our body and our brain perceives that as a threat. It perceives it as, I'm in danger. And your brain doesn't know the difference between I'm a bit scared putting myself out there and actually I'm in danger because a lion's going to eat me. So your brain goes, Oh, I'm, I'm, I've got a threat here. I'm in danger.

So then it very cleverly puts a self sabotage in place. So it goes, I don't want to die. I need to keep myself safe, even though we're not going to die. And it chucks in a self sabotage and we do something to sabotage our own success. And then we get some relief. So we're scared We throw in a self sabotage.

We don't do it. We then feel relief because it's like, oh, thank goodness I'm safe. But then the shame kicks in. Because we've self sabotaged again, and we feel bad about that. And then we start the cycle all over again. So we then go, okay, I'm definitely going to do it this time. You set the goal, you take the action, you have a threat, you sabotage yourself.

You feel relief, then you feel shame, then you want to start again. And it just basically keeps going over and over and over. So how do we identify that we're sabotaging and how do we stop it, more importantly. So the point in which you need to identify it and the point in which you need to interrupt this pattern is between the threat and the sabotage.

So often we don't even recognize that we're under threat. Our brain just does it very cleverly all by itself. So understanding that, ah, okay, I feel a bit scared now I'm doing this thing. And my normal go to is this, but what am I going to do instead? So. There's a really good reason that we self sabotage, a super, super good reason, and you need to remember this.

Your brain is trying to keep you safe. So when we get all annoyed with ourselves, when we get frustrated with ourselves, when we get that shame coming in, we need to remind ourselves and thank our brain for trying to keep us safe. That's all you're trying to do, brain, and I really appreciate that. So what kind of signs of self sabotage are there?

And you might be listening to this going, yep, yep, yep, yep. And you can use different self sabotages for different things. So you can have a lack of integrity to yourself. Exactly like the one I just said about the diet one, I'm definitely going to do X, Y, Z today. And then you break your own promises and you have a lack of integrity to yourself.

Procrastination. That's a really good work one, we, we like doing that one when we don't wanna do something that scares us. Overindulgence or addiction, an initiating conflict, self criticism, comparison. That's a really nice one. Imposter syndrome, disorganization. How many people go, oh, well, I couldn't do that because I wasn't very organized or that didn't succeed because I didn't get organized to do it properly.

Negativity, creating or joining in on drama. So if some drama is going on, well, I can't possibly do my thing because I've got to get in on this. So, and again, it's not that our brain is actually sitting there thinking those things. Our brain is doing it kind of subconsciously without us really knowing.

So the question to ask yourself, so it's noticing it first. So notice which one of those things that you do. So you have to get really quiet with yourself and understand, okay, I'm going to go for that goal. I tried doing that thing and then I did this thing. So which one of those things are you doing? So when you spot yourself comparing yourself to others, when you spot yourself being disorganized, when you spot yourself overindulgence or addiction or procrastination, whenever you spot those things, you have to stop and think about it.

Think about what fear are you trying to avoid, i. e. what is going to happen if you hit that goal? Now you might think to yourself, well that's a stupid thing to think of because Let's go back to our goal of losing weight. Well, why wouldn't I want to lose weight? Of course I want to lose weight. But what if losing weight means, what if someone once said to you when you were slimmer, Oh, I liked you when you were bigger.

Or, you look a bit gaunt, or, you know, thin pretty girls aren't fun, or smart, or like, it could be anything, and it could be, as you're listening to me say it, you might go, well that's ridiculous, I know that's not true, but sometimes our brain just doesn't quite realise that, so what it's trying to do is go, oh yeah, if I lose weight, then I'll be too much, or then I will be too confident, or then I will look too hot, and people will hate me, like, whatever the reason, your brain is trying to avoid you feeling those things.

So what I want you to do and what you can do is a little exercise is if there's a goal that you've been trying to go for and you're not getting and you're starting to realize it's because you keep sabotaging yourself, write down, do some journaling around, what is gonna happen if I hit that goal?

And you might start off by going, well, it'd be brilliant, or this, this, this, this, this, and then try and write down, well, what is the bad thing of me hitting that goal. Like it might be so often people self sabotage themselves as they get to the VAT register level in a business because they, or they hit, they don't quite get to the next money goal because they might in their head go, well, if I've got to be VAT registered, that's a nightmare and I will have to be a proper grownup business then.

And I'm probably not smart enough for that. And therefore they never quite get there because every time they get there, they do something self sabotage it. So, have a good think about what fear are you trying to avoid? What will happen if you hit that goal? So, once you've kind of worked that out and had a think about it, how are you going to stop it?

How are you going to stop that self sabotage? So, you need to notice the pattern. That's the first thing. As I said, slowing down and thinking. The minute you see it go, Oh, that's interesting. What was I going on doing then what was I planning on doing? And then I got distracted and I'm doing this instead.

So what's the pattern that keeps coming up? Identify the route. So this is exactly what I just said. The route is, how is this keeping me safe? So by me self sabotaging every time I go and do this thing, what am I trying to avoid? What is the thing that my brain is going? I want to keep you safe. Because if you put yourself out there to that podcast and they say, no, you're going to feel disappointment.

So I tell you what, I'll just self sabotage you every time you go to do that by procrastinating or by saying that you're not organized enough to do it because you haven't got XYZ, just so that you don't have the disappointment. And then address the need. So if it's trying to keep you safe by saying, you know, you might feel disappointed, then address that need and go, I might feel disappointed, but it'd be fine.

It's not about me. So. Really give those things, you know, some time. So notice the pattern, identify the route, i. e. how is it keeping me safe, and address the need. So this is where it comes back down to, and I've talked about this before, but the neural pathways.

So when a trigger happens, so the trigger is you're trying to do something to achieve that goal, and you can go down one neural pathway or go down another, i. e. the neural pathway that procrastinates you, or the neural pathway that self sabotages you, Or you can do the hard thing and go down that other neural pathway. This is where it gets tricky. If you've been doing this over time and time and time, which I'd put money on you have been, that you have been self sabotaging yourself in particular ways for a really long time, Then this isn't going to be an easy thing to shift across.

Remember what I said, if you've listened to that episode where I talked about neural pathways, that road is so comfy, so bright, so beautiful, so attractive that you don't want to go down that dark and scary route. So. Your brain will want to keep you safe and keep you going down that one self sabotage way that you've been doing for a long time.

It takes a lot of effort, a lot of time, and a lot of courage to make yourself go down that other route. So don't beat yourself up if you've noticed it and you do it again, and you notice it and you do it again. That's okay. It's going to take some time. Remember about you're trying to rewrite that story.

Okay. So you're trying to rewrite a story that has formed over many, many, many times of you self sabotaging. And it's about taking those small actions, those 1% shifts. So it might be that, okay, next time I, Go to self sabotage that I will do this one tiny thing and then maybe it gets a bit bigger next time and it gets a bit bigger next time.

So don't expect to actually identify you sabotaging and then just basically fix it tomorrow. It's not going to happen. And practice that self integrity. Self integrity is so important. I've been doing some work around boundaries and doing some learning and reading up on it. And a lot of that has to do with self integrity is that often we will let ourselves down or we will put other people's needs and feelings in front of our own and say they're more important than we are.

And that's just not true. So think about how you're going to rewrite that story. And if you think, you know, every time I do this, I self sabotage this, why not journal on it? How would it look if you didn't? What might happen? And like I said, think about what's going to happen if you hit that goal. Good and not so good, because it's that not so good that's keeping you holding you back and self sabotaging you.

So even though you might sit there and think, gosh, well, there's no bad reason about me earning loads of money. Well, there might be. So have a think about that journal out, take those small actions and practice that self integrity. So. a real whistle stop tour into what self sabotage is and how we can try and prevent ourselves from going through it in future.

But these things, like always, take time and are much easier and sped up with someone to help you. And it would be totally remiss of me if I didn't mention that I can help you with these things. So you have a few different ways in which you can work with me, and I can support you in getting past these self sabotaging things so that you can finally hit your goals.

So if you've had something on your goal list for a long time and you are tired of looking at it and you're starting to doubt whether you even want it in the first place, then maybe it's time to work with someone. So, you can work one to one with me. I have a couple of spaces for one to one clients. I only take a few every so often and I have a couple of spaces available now.

So, come and check that out if you go to I also have the club where you can work with me in a group setting and we do mindset exercises and coaching calls and training and all sorts of amazing stuff. Or we have the executive club where if you are looking for a more mastermind type level, more accountability, in between the club and working one to one, then that will be for you. So if you want to find out more about the club, you can go Okay. Have a wonderful week and I will see you next week.