Self-Sabotage: 5 Fascinating Reasons You Hold Yourself Back

Do YOU Self-Sabotage Yourself?

While it might sound surprising, some people sabotage their own long-term goals and good intentions. The sad truth is that we all tend to self-sabotage to some degree at some point in our lives.

It might be as simple as skipping that yoga class or starting an argument with a new partner as things get serious. But the bottom line is that it can be challenging to overcome our own “stuff.”

When people start taking these harmful steps, their destructive behavior can negatively impact virtually every part of their lives, including their relationships.

When self-sabotaging behavior becomes an ongoing pattern, it might lead to you encountering challenges in each area of your life, including home, work, and relationships.

Self-sabotage affects mental health and can develop in lots of ways, including addiction to alcohol, drugs, and food. But it can even evolve into anger and attitude problems, procrastination, disorganization, and many other things.

Understanding why we self-sabotage and how to deal with it can be another phase closer to unlocking your true potential. So let’s look into some of the reasons we self-sabotage and what you can do about it.

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Why Do We Self-Sabotage?… And What Are The Signs

People hinder their progress for many reasons. They might deliberately or even unconsciously perpetrate acts of self-sabotage. The causes can range from childhood trauma to prior relationship outcomes.

Other causes for this sort of destructive behavior vary from having low self-esteem and coping mechanisms to problems with mental dissonance, which we” get into later.

These behaviors look different for everyone. It mostly depends on context. More commonly, though, here are some of the signs you could relate to:

  • Avoiding responsibilities, even if it’s because you “forgot”
  • Procrastination
  • Lack of preparation
  • Not keeping promises or following through on commitments
  • Showing up late to important meetings or appointments
  • What you WANT and how you BEHAVE are two different things
  • Quitting when things get too difficult
  • Substance abuse

…Now, let’s go into detail about the self-sabotaging things you MIGHT be doing to yourself.


People who self-sabotage often procrastinate. Procrastination is a way of showing others you’re never ready and putting off a good outcome. It’s because people fear disappointing others, failing, or succeeding.

Have you ever been stalled or stuck when having to do an important task? You’re not alone in this. You’ve adequately prepared. You’ve even done lots of research. But when you sit down to begin, you find yourself drawing a blank.

Your motivation has wholly faded away. So you avoid the task by organizing your junk drawer, cleaning out the refrigerator, or starting a Netflix marathon. Procrastination typically has an underlying cause, though. Some of these can be:

  • Issues with managing your time
  • Feeling overwhelmed by all the things you need to do
  • Doubting your ability or skills

Quitting When Things Get Too Difficult

We recognize that life isn’t always smooth sailing. There are times when we need to go that extra mile and even suffer a bit to get the results we want. It’s a delicate balance at times.

You should definitely step away from circumstances that make you emotionally or physically ill, but if you’re quitting too soon, you’re sabotaging opportunity. Suppose you leave a job as soon as your workload gets a bit heavier or your boss expects better quality from you.

In that case, it might be time to question whether you’re underachieving and missing out on some better opportunities just because you want to avoid challenging yourself. Perhaps you’re afraid of conflict or criticism. You may lack confidence in your ability.

You may be used to being sluggish and getting what you want with little to no effort. Whatever the reason may be, working through challenging circumstances is critical for personal growth.

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Another common trait of those who tend to self-sabotage is blaming others for their hardships and making excuses for their disorganization, procrastination, and overall lack of “pro-action.”

And because you’re self-sabotaging your life, your loved ones will likely want to know why. They want to know why you haven’t taken action to benefit your life or have yet to go that extra mile to make the most of an opportunity.

To avoid awkward conversations, you’ll likely seek to blame how others behave. You’ll create excuses as to why you couldn’t make a favorable decision or take action. But ultimately, you’re self-sabotaging and missing out on a chance to grow from an experience.

A list of excuses can sound like this:

“The workload was too much for me.”
“I was too busy and had no time to prepare.”
“Other people have had more time than me.”

And the list can go on. If you find fault somewhere else whenever you’re confronted with minor hiccups, you should look closely at the part you might have played in what happened. Why not write a positive to-do list rather than a negative one where you’re doubting yourself?

A Need for Control

One of the most standard reasons for self-sabotage is needing control. If you have past trauma that stems from a situation you couldn’t control, you might have developed a coping mechanism by trying to handle every situation you’re in.

Doing this helps you feel safe, as opposed to feeling vulnerable, as you might have in the past. However, while you might feel secure, your need for control means you might pass up some great opportunities, limiting your experience in life.

For example, You may avoid opening yourself up emotionally in relationships because you fear getting hurt. It may even be that you subconsciously think that allowing someone else to understand you on a deeper level might result in them not liking you as much.

In reality, though, this isn’t good for your emotional well-being. You aren’t allowing yourself to build intimacy through vulnerability, which is essentially what brings two people closer together.

Ways To Treat Self-Sabotage

Those who self-sabotage themselves might struggle to regulate their emotions and behaviors. Behavioral and emotional dysregulation is often caused by childhood trauma or even neglect. This condition can promote harmful responses.

People who self-sabotage can find many resources for their various issues, including substance abuse, angry outbursts, binge eating, and self-harm. Here are some therapies that have also helped those who tend to self-sabotage:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Using this technique helps you replace negative thought patterns and improve your overall well-being.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy: This technique works well on people with intense emotions. This could include impulse control issues, impulsive behaviors, and difficulties getting along with other people. You’ll discover how to regulate your emotions better with this method.
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In Conclusion

People who have a tendency to self-sabotage don’t realize that this is something that’s often intensely ingrained and difficult to recognize. And once you finally acknowledge the problem, noticing how you’re holding yourself back can be hard to digest.

But bear in mind that by identifying these behaviors, you’ve taken your first step toward changing your outlook. And you never have to do it alone. Your loved ones and a trained counselor can all offer their support.

You might be doubting that you have what it takes to revamp your life. But instead of saying, “Why even bother?” when deciding whether to do something, try giving it your all.

And who knows?… What you end up learning about yourself could have just as big of an impact as winning.

If you enjoyed reading this article and are looking for some more helpful tips, we also recommend reading: Bipolar Disorder and the 6 Vicious Myths Surrounding It




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