Breaking the Cycle of Self-Sabotage: Understanding and Overcoming Self-Defeating Behaviors

Self-sabotage is a common yet frustrating cycle of behavior that can prevent us from achieving our goals. It is often driven by negative self-talk, in which we tell ourselves that we are inadequate or unworthy of success. Self-sabotage can be seen as a pattern of thoughts and behaviors in which we participate, often without even knowing it, that creates obstacles to achieving our goals. It is the result of faulty conditioning of our subconscious mind, and can be caused by a lack of faith in ourselves or fear of abandonment and rejection.

Self-sabotage can affect almost every aspect of our lives, whether it's a relationship, a professional goal, or a personal goal such as weight loss. Common self-sabotaging behaviors include postponement, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating, and forms of self-harm, such as cutting. If you want to stop self-sabotaging forever, 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. Judy Ho, author of Stop Self-Sabotage (201), describes self-sabotage as a biological response, once necessary for survival.

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 you to not achieve more meaningful goals. Once you have a clear understanding of what need your self-sabotage covers, the next step is to generate ideas for alternative behaviors that address the need, but in a way that doesn't harm you. Self-sabotage can be incredibly frustrating and reduce our self-confidence. However, by understanding why we engage in these behaviors and developing alternative strategies to meet our needs, we can break the cycle of self-sabotage and achieve our goals.