Breaking the Cycle of Self-Sabotage: How to Overcome Anxiety and Achieve Your Goals

Often driven by anxiety, fear and self-doubt, people can find themselves in a cycle of self-sabotage that undermines their efforts to build the life they desire. Self-sabotage becomes especially problematic when it becomes a habit, done so automatically that you don't even realize that you're doing it or that it's leading to negative consequences. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) defines self-sabotage as behaviors or thought patterns that slow you down and prevent you from doing what you want to do. It can lead to chronic struggles with food, liquor, drugs, gambling, and self-harm.

It can also strip people of their motivation and make them anxious. If this sounds familiar, you could be sabotaging yourself. Of course, there are many more examples of self-sabotage, but here are some of the most common: procrastination, perfectionism, overthinking, negative self-talk, and avoidance. The quickest form of relief you can achieve is to avoid it.

By avoiding the situation that is stimulating your anxiety, you can expect some immediate freedom. However, this is not a long-term solution as it undermines your success despite your own desires, dreams, or values. So how do you break the cycle of self-sabotage? The key is to understand what need it serves and then develop alternative behaviors that meet the same need in a healthier and more productive way. One of the best ways to develop alternative behaviors for your self-sabotage is to study other people like you.

Let's say you want to give up the self-sabotaging behavior of watching the news as soon as you get home from work, because it's a waste of time and leads to you not achieving more meaningful goals. If your alternative behavior to this is eating a small healthy snack instead of eating junk food, what could stand in the way of that new behavior? That's why I think its fifth point of values reinforces the merit of vision boards. A vision board appeals to the right side of the brain, which is more connected to your artistic and less rational side. The use of images, sounds, scents, tactile material, etc., can help you communicate with your amygdala-driven being.

These deep-seated thoughts and feelings provoke negative self-talk, fueling your fears and self-sabotaging behaviors. Every time you discover a trigger, try to produce one or two productive reactions to replace self-sabotaging behavior. And because it has gravity, it will help move you toward your goal and your new behavior, which is key if you're trying to resist the gravity of old, self-sabotaging behavior. It seems that speech therapy could be useful in rethinking self-sabotage behavior in the broader scheme of “will to sense” rather than “will to power” or “will to pleasure”.

Mere behavior change is unlikely to overcome your habit of self-sabotage in the long term if it doesn't also change the emotions and thoughts behind it. Regardless of your self-sabotaging behaviors, it's essential that you overcome them if you want to make the most of your life and career. If you're a manager, self-sabotaging behavior can have a negative impact on your team's chances of success as well as your own.