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How to know whether your behaviour is self-sabotaging

Hand on heart, are you someone who never allows yourself to succeed? Who throws a spanner in the works of everything you do, time after time, destroying or postponing important things so that they never happen?

Instead of celebrating your strengths, you only see your own shortcomings. You literally look for excuses that mean there is no point in even trying to achieve change, no matter what situation you find yourself in. All the promises you’ve made to yourself about tomorrow being another day or that after the summer you really are going to get to grips with your new life. There are so many such instances that you stopped keeping count of them long ago. There’s a word for this, and it’s self-sabotage.

That famous notion of acceptance

Self-sabotage is absolutely not a conscious event. No person is seriously going to go in for trying to make their own life a hell on earth or consciously setting out to put themselves through constant defeats and failures. But it’s important to gain the insight and accept that it is actually YOU who can achieve change – no one else can. It’s not about colossal bad luck or that nature has equipped you with bad genes. Everyone has their cross to bear, and the first and most useful thing you can do for yourself is to accept the position you’re in and the circumstances that surround you.

Cast off the mantle of victimhood

Once you have accepted a situation, you can also start to take action.The first thing you need to do is cast off the mantle of victimhood and stop playing the martyr. It is neither becoming nor comfortable to go around with the attitude that you are a victim all the time – and it doesn’t help your self-development either. You should always take full responsibility for your life here and now. Whatever your baggage, YOU are the one who needs to steer your life in the direction you want from this point onwards and to do what needs to be done to get there. Maybe you have experienced things and incurred psychological wounds that you’re not able to heal yourself. Get help by talking to a person or some people who have been through similar things and find strength in the fact that you became the person you are precisely because of what has happened in your life up till now. People all over the world survive the most horrendous events but manage to live meaningful lives by taking responsibility for their actions and reactions, and by coming to terms with themselves and their past.

Don’t blame external circumstances – face your fears!

Financial issues, lack of time, a partner who isn’t there for you, a job you dislike – you can make a long list of obstacles preventing you from succeeding in getting what you want from life. But no, that’s not the reason that you failed ‘over and over again’. The reason is that you don’t allow yourself to succeed. Repeat it aloud to yourself: ‘I don’t allow myself to succeed’. Then consider why that might be, which in itself is not a simple task. Start by sitting down with a piece of paper and a pen and writing down your greatest fears. You’ll probably find some answers in what you write down. That’s if you dare to be honest with yourself. Success in various fields leads to demands being made of you, having to meet expectations and becoming the object of other people’s attention. Climbing the career ladder may involve you meeting groups of people and public speaking. Many people have that high on their lists of greatest fears. Losing weight and living a healthier life may mean that you need to stop comfort eating or giving in to sweet cravings and deal instead with the suppressed thoughts and feelings you’ve managed to drown in the past by eating.

Stop making bad choices – believe that you can succeed and that you DESERVE to

When you’ve stopped blaming circumstances and dared to face your fears, it’ll be natural for you to stop making what are bad choices for you. Like not bothering to go for a run and eating pizza on your sofa instead, even though you did actually manage to lose a few centimetres around your waist in the last month. Or missing the interview for your dream job and thinking it was just as well because you wouldn’t have got it anyway, even though what it is actually about is your fear of failing, were you to be given more responsibility or more difficult work tasks. For many people it is all about low self-esteem – they don’t feel they deserve to succeed. It is incredibly sad, and I really hope that if you are reading this and feel it applies to you, you’ll do something about it! YOU DESERVE to succeed, no matter what other people say or have said, or you think yourself. So, next time you are so close, so close to succeeding – stand up and dare to go the whole way instead of coming up with something to cut the ground from under your own feet when you’re approaching your goal.

Procrastinating – stop putting things off to get out of short-term discomfort

A useful word for something that is really common is procrastination, which involves putting off time and again things that you consider to be unpleasant. It provides short-term relief but is disastrous in the long term. People get into debt and all sorts of other problems because they think it’ll make them miserable to open their bills, so they put them on a shelf in a cupboard instead. Not to mention those difficult phone conversations that have a knack of landing right at the bottom of their ‘to-do list’, resulting in even more gnawing anxiety. Instead … just do it. Make a conscious effort to practise doing anything that is frightening, causes anxiety or in some other way immediately causes resistance to well up inside you. Short-term solutions only mean you are deluding yourself. Tackle that job that has been sitting on your desk for a week now, ring the bank and put together a debt-payment schedule, or put your running shoes on and get going.

Self-fulfilling prophecies – stop saying ‘I knew it’ (as in ‘I knew I’d blow it’) and think positive

This preparing for disaster in advance by constantly being negative is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Thoughts are powerful and YOU are the one creating the ‘disaster’. If you think hard enough about something, you will also unconsciously act in a way that takes you in that direction. It may sound like hocus-pocus, but to a great extent it’s true. In other words – what might happen if you do the opposite? Start focusing on what you wish would happen coming true instead of catastrophising? ‘I’m going to get the job, do well in the exam, manage to run a mile, resolve the situation with my partner.’ Paint pictures in your mind of what it’ll be like when you reach your goal, immersing yourself in the thought that it is going to happen. Think about saying ‘I knew it!’ with a smile on your lips instead of with frustration, disappointment and a feeling of being a failure.’

These are a few examples of how you throw a spanner in your own works, and the most important thing you can do is to realise and accept that YOU are your own worst enemy. When you have done that, you can also start working FOR instead of AGAINST yourself. It’s often all about lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, and that’s the spirit in which you need to start. No matter what – YOU DESERVE to succeed, in every way. Repeat it aloud to yourself, and often: ‘I DESERVE to succeed’.

Hugs from your coach!

Updated January 7, 2022

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