Self-sabotage on steroids!

These past few weeks I’ve done a few things that I know always stop me in my tracks and send me off in a spin. It can take me a little while to recover, get back on track, to refocus on what I do best. Why do we actively do things that know will STOP us from making progress, no matter how small?

What is self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage is when we actively or passively do something to prevent ourselves from reaching our goals. It’s a behaviour that can impact any part of our life such as achieving our career goals or developing a successful relationship or weight loss. Half the time, we don’t even realise we’re doing it or, if we do notice, we don’t have the strategies in place to stop ourselves.

I’m curious about these repeating patterns of behaviour and how many different patterns we have that cause us to stop in our tracks, cause us to lose confidence and maybe give us an excuse to avoid or procrastinate.

Repeating patterns

I keep asking myself about one repeating pattern that seems to crop up on a regular basis in my working life. Whilst I’m getting better at recognising and managing it, I still trip myself up every now and again. None of us are perfect! I’m sure the C19 situation is exacerbating the situation. I’m noticing my lack of physical connection with others and lack of socialisation within the work context negatively impacts my confidence and is allowing the self-sabotage to take a firmer grip! Being with people online just isn’t the same.

So, what triggers the self-sabotage?

The triggers are different for all of us. I’ll try to explain what happens to me sometimes when I’m working:

      1. I get distracted, and my focus starts to wander.
      2. I think about what other people are doing and pick up my mobile. My finger, without any conscious instruction from me, presses on a social media app.
      3. I get caught in a social media rabbit hole – the perfect trigger for feelings of inadequacies on so many fronts and, weirdly, makes me feel less connected and alone.
      4. Having spent too much time on social media, now feeling a bit “meh”, I then speak to the 3 people who I love dearly, but who always manage to trigger my inner critic! Boom!
      5. I start feeling guilty about all the things I haven’t done and am obviously incapable of doing (in my head anyway)!
      6. I waste the next few hours of my life being annoyed at myself about not doing anything about it and start wallowing in self-pity. Another complete waste of time.
      7. I decide to go to bed early in the hope that I’ll feel better about everything after a good sleep (to be fair that normally works a treat!) and start reading the brilliant book ‘Mindset, Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential’ by Carol Dweck because I know, intellectually, this is what I need to channel right now. However, I start getting frustrated with myself at how many times I notice I have fallen into the fixed mindset trap. Where’s my growth mindset when I need it?? So annoying!
      8. Finally fall asleep.

Sometimes this cycle lasts all of 5 mins, other times it can last for a few days! Anyone else recognise a similar pattern?

What can you do to prevent it?

You can take positive conscious action right at the very beginning! If you can nip it in the bud early, you can save so much time and angst! To be honest, if you can stop the downward spiral at any point in the sequence, that’s got to be a win! Here are a few ideas, based on my experience above:


    1. Acknowledge the distracted feeling and welcome it! – Do something with the feeling of distraction as soon as it appears. Take a break, make a coffee, go for a quick walk, water the plants. Whatever it is that allows you to be distracted for a while! It’s OK. Don’t pick up the phone 😊
    2. Connect with your booster – If you do grab the phone, use it to phone the friend who you know is going to say the right things, without any prompting, to get you back on track. The one that always seems to make you feel better.
    3. Engage with social media positively and make it count – If you do sway into social media territory, engage with it positively and get involved in good conversation about the things you’re interested in and are useful to you, as opposed to watching silently from the sidelines at things that really add no value to your life or trigger negative thoughts.
    4. Practice positive affirmations. You have come this far because you are good enough! Say it out loud and know it is true.
    5. Recognise the energy shift & change it up – allow yourself to wallow for a bit, then do something to shift the energy. For me it’s exercise, listening to music, laughing with my children, downloading to my husband and having him say “Right, well you know what to do” whilst walking off as if nothing has happened! That told me 😉
    6. Trust yourself – know that you’re doing everything as best you can, and this is your way. Accept that it doesn’t have to be the same way as everyone else, as long as it’s serving your goals, your purpose and aligning with your values then it’s OK.
    7. Practise ‘reframing’ – Go to bed early and, in my case, read a positive mindset book knowing you are learning and developing good practises that will help you be even better tomorrow.
    8. Sleep 😊 – just because it’s brilliant for everything!


I hope some of these things I’ve learnt will help you with your self-sabotaging patterns. I’d love to know what patterns of behaviour trip you up and what you’ve learnt about managing them. Please leave your comments below.

By the way, if you’re interested in finding out more about fixed and growth mindsets, I’ve written another blog on mindset shifts and positive thinking, if you want to take a look!

If you need some help in managing your self-sabotaging behaviours, or anything else that causes you to become stuck in taking the next step, give me a call! I’ll have totally got my stuff together by then 😊!

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