Sometimes in life, we can be our own worst enemy.

It can affect anyone, regardless if you’re a confident person, or you struggle with your self-perception. Situations can arise where, despite you understanding your goals and what you want to achieve, your mind decides it wants to play a few games with you.

This is self sabotage.

It is common and can cover anything from professional work, to your relationships with family or the diet you’re trying to stick to.

When you’re faced with such an anxious situation, such as public speaking for example, your brain looks at all the information available to it. Based on your personality and your conditioning, it will then make its fight, flight or freeze response.

Before that decision is made, internal questions start popping up in your mind. “I’m very nervous, what if they laugh at me?”, “I can’t do this, what if I choke and nothing comes out?”. The easiest route out is to go on your initial impulse, but we all know how that can end up.

These questions, by default, are designed to keep you safe. Before our species evolving, our primitive selves would need to be wary of predators in the wild, and this part of our brain still exists today. Assessing the situation keeps you alert, but with physical danger removed, you can work on your techniques to answer these questions and allow your “fight” response to come out.

If we take the safe, indulgent route out of difficult choices in life, we won’t get to where we want to be, and our own self worth and confidence will suffer as a result. Don’t feel bad, as humans, we’re hard-wired to take that path of least resistance.

Instead of making decisions on autopilot, it’s time to start employing techniques to help you overcome your self sabotage and achieve your goals.


Research self sabotage and understand it in more depth

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This article is the most absolute basic introduction to what self sabotage is, based on my learning and experience.

To get to grips with its intricacies and the different branches of it that can occur, it’s best to educate yourself on it and learn from the real experts in the field.

For a quicker read, check out these pieces by Healthline and Psychology Today.


Recognising self sabotage and patterns of behaviour

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Behaviours of self sabotage are very individual to each person based on their situation.

Some overthink and waste energy on something that doesn’t happen, whereas some turn to substance abuse when things aren’t going well. It’s important to notice these patterns of behaviours and the triggers that cause them.

Noticing them and their origins are the first step in doing something about it.


Don’t shy away from these feelings or try to bury them

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These are currently a part of who you are.

Trying to ignore them, or worse, bury them, will not solve anything. It will no doubt exacerbate them and affect your health.

Acknowledgement of the situation is important, but to be consciously aware of it then allows you to change these patterns.


Praise yourself and change your inner self-talk

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Self-doubt comes from, amongst other things, a lack of positive self-talk.

Confidence isn’t something that you can change overnight, but how you mentally talk to yourself is. Your words have an impact on others, so of course, it will have an impact on you. Change those “I can’t do it” thoughts into “I’ve come so far”. Change those “my luck is rubbish” to “I control my life”.

Small, subtle changes to your self-talk will make a big difference to your confidence, and your ability to deal with future scenarios.

As the Law of Attraction says, you can manifest whatever you focus on, good or bad.


Use a mind model to manage these thoughts

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You’re not the first to have these doubts, and you won’t be the last.

A huge array of models have been created which help with how you manage your thoughts, yet one of the most influential has been The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters. This mind management model teaches you how those urges, those primitive drives, are you “Chimp”, running on jungle mode and trying to hijack your desired behaviour. It teaches you to name your Chimp and learn about it, as it is as much part of you as the rest of your mind.

As you begin to understand your Chimp and accept it, you can learn how to manage it in a way that works for both you and the Chimp.


Make small but decisive changes to your behaviour

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Think of it as an intervention.

If you begin to have these self sabotaging thoughts, recognise it, take a moment and have a mental intervention. Logically think through these thoughts and your response to them. You’re not going to die, you’re a competent person and you know what you want. Calm both your body and mind down, take a few deep breaths and realise you’re in control.

Everyone has their methods, but your thoughts will be there, it’s your response that you can control.


Review your behaviours consistently

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Are the outcomes you’re getting what you want?

If so, you’re heading in the right direction. If not, what can you change to how you’re dealing with a scenario? When and where is your mental intervention coming in?

Assessing how you’re doing is a good indicator as to what you can adapt, which is where the likes of a mood journal could be beneficial.


Test your comfort zome in a smaller way

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Practice makes perfect.

If public speaking in front of 30 people is an issue, can you practice in front of 6 friends? After this, can you join a local book club, where you might be expressing your opinion to a safe group of about 10 randomers?

You don’t always have to go from nothing to the championship rounds, some training can help.


Self sabotaging behaviour prevents you from getting to your goals or the desired outcome in life.

It’s not a physical restraint, but a mental one which has been self-generated. Self sabotage can be tough, but you can work on these patterns and behaviours.

It’s not an overnight fix. But if you commit to working on yourself, you’ll find yourself progressing so much quicker once you realise that you’re not captive to these thoughts.


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