Have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, paused for a second, and thought to yourself, where you could have reached in life if you had no fears, self-doubts, insecurities, self-consciousness, or any other source of negativities?’
There are a bunch of people who are self-driven and well-motivated and often end up being highly successful. The secret to it is that they believed in themselves and worked towards achieving their dreams and goals.
We often catch ourselves brooding over such kind of people and conveniently end up thinking and concluding that ‘I can’t possibly do all that; I don’t have the potential in me’, ‘life is just not meant for me’ or, ‘If only a miracle happens, I can end up as successful as them’ and the like.
Well, my friend, you are basically just sabotaging your own life and not allowing yourself to be successful in all aspects of life, and this is the reason why you often find yourself to be miserable. They say that it is wise to keep our friends close and our enemies closer, but what if the enemy is you? Why would you take a gun and shoot yourself? Similarly, why would you let your inner negative thoughts dominate you and take control over your life?
Let’s find out what exactly does self-destruction or self-sabotage means!
Self-sabotage refers to thought patterns, actions, or behaviors that keep you down and keep you away from doing what you need to do. This destructive pattern of thought or behavior can make you undermine your own value – for all of us, including YOU and me, are capable of doing amazing things in life and sometimes, we are our own enemies who consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously affect our own minds in an adverse manner. This can end up as an unhealthy cycle of undesirable behavior patterns that would be very difficult to let go of.
Common Signs Of Self-Sabotaging Behaviors
- Being excessively lazy and unproductive.
- Too much self-depreciative humor.
- Struggling to form and work towards achieving your goals, aims, or dreams.
- Obsessing over something or somebody else that is making you feel worthless and miserable, or obsessing over something over which you have no control of.
- Lack of self-control.
- Feelings of worthlessness.
- Negative inner voice that is too difficult to control.
- Being too much in your comfort zone.
- Indulging in substance abuse or overuse.
- Not turning up for social events.
- Ending up doing other people’s work.
- Denying help.
- Lying to yourself and to others.
- Finding it difficult to be vulnerable or to open up to others when the situation demands.
- Taking up too much stress or being a burnout.
- Avoiding enjoyable experiences.
- Picking arguments/conflicts or ending up in undesirable dramas.
- Missing out on major opportunities (for example – work, school or academic related).
- Dating people who aren’t right for you.
- Self-blaming and being overly sensitive about yourself.
- Constantly blaming others (can be an act of projection).
- Problems related to eating or sleeping patterns.
- Addictions of any kind (for example – video games, shopping, gambling, etc.).
- Denial of your potential.
- Finding yourself feeling empty or disconnected.
- Fear of building or forming intimate relationships.
- Deliberately keeping yourself busy or occupied with things.
- Picking on your skin, hair or body for no reason at all.
- Neglecting self-care.
- Indulging in undesirable activities that further lead you to be miserable.
- Being out of focus or losing your concentration.
I am sure that every one of us can relate to one or more of what has been mentioned above. We are all human beings, and it is important to take care of ourselves and know that we are the ones who are digging our own graves, many a time in life, consciously or subconsciously. Let’s read on further to understand more about self-sabotage and how it takes place.
This is when you are fully aware of what you are doing wrong but still do it anyway because you have no idea as to how to get out of this pattern or cycle of behavior. For example, procrastinating to a whole different level when you know that you have your finals in 3 days (Just thinking about this is stressing me out!!, and yeah, overthinking and stressing yourself out due to that is also another way of sabotaging your mental health!). We should always keep a practical and positive mindset to be able to conquer great feats in life.
This is when you are not fully or 100% aware of your self-destructive behaviors. The subconscious part of our mind can highly influence our thoughts, actions, behaviors, and beliefs without our current focal awareness, and that is why the subconscious mind is the most powerful. For example, people who are perfectionists would have trouble submitting their assignments or presentations before or within the due date. They would not have even initiated the project work because of wanting to make it look so perfect and end up setting unrealistic standards which they won’t be able to achieve and hence, delay the submission. Trust me, there are more people like this than you think, and it is ridiculously common!
Now that you have read about the basics of self-sabotage, let’s move on to the various ways in which we creatively screw our lives with or without having complete knowledge of it!
Sixteen Common Forms Of Self-Sabotage
This should be the universal act of self-sabotaging. Do you know those five most relatable words? ‘‘I haven’t started it either’’? Yeah, that pretty much sums up the act of delaying or postponing activities that really need to get done. If I had procrastinated, this article would have never been made in the first place! (I guess there might be people who would like that idea! Just kidding!).
Oh boy! Where do I get started on this one? It basically refers to the expression of criticism, pessimism, or cynicism, and it can be internal or external. If you are negative towards your own self, you will naturally channel that energy to the outside world, knowingly or unknowingly. Furthermore, Negative Automatic Thoughts (NATs) are another topic of discussion altogether! They can lead you into a black hole of deep-rooted misery. Willie Nelson once quoted that ‘‘once you replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, you will start having positive results’’.
Questioning Your Purpose
Having a sense of purpose is vital to survive and succeed in this competitive world, in a peaceful manner. However, many people may reach a point in life where they find everything to be meaningless and struggle to find their purpose in life. This is similar to that of having an existential crisis. Don’t lose hope because this world and the meaning you attach to this world and your life in this world are often transient. A sense of purpose is the motivation that drives you towards attaining a satisfying future and if you constantly feel empty and find no meaning in anything and proceed to be that way without being accountable for your unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, then it is a perfect example of self-sabotage.
In this digital era, you may fall victim to comparing yourself even after knowing that you are one of a kind. How can you not, right? With all these friendship, work/school life, family or relationship goals in place, which indirectly makes you believe that you aren’t living your life enough, or that you don’t have a perfect hourglass figure or the ‘‘perfect’’ life that you see others are having? Chances are they might have it much worse than us but based on whatever we see, from the peripheral level, we tend to compare ourselves with others. Talk about a better self-destructive behavior!
It is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize or recognize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of a person’s potential or competence, those with Imposter syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds or ‘‘tricking others unconsciously’’ and that they do not deserve the success that they have achieved; the proof of success is dismissed off as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking that they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. I don’t know about you, but I can definitely relate! This is yet another self-sabotaging thought pattern that isn’t going to take you to places!
Finding yourself with the third pack of those oily chips when you just want to distract yourself from those thoughts that you are having? Emotional / stress eating is an example of over-indulgence. Are you over-indulging in junk food, needless shopping sprees, listening to unwanted music 24 into 7, engaging in self-medicating practices, etc., to get rid of feeling what you fear of feeling at the moment? Or are you over-indulging in alcohol or drugs as a means to drink away your pain? Yes, this is yet another way to sabotage both your mental as well as your physical health and your overall wellbeing. Time to steer clear from such activities!
‘‘I don’t even care anymore’’. Ever notice yourself saying that all the time? Well, maybe you DO care, but just don’t want to or don’t have the time, energy, and effort to care. Running away from problems especially when it is best for you at that time to go on fight mode and win the battle, is a very common way of sabotaging your own life. Sometimes, ignoring stuffs that needs improvement wouldn’t be a bliss after all.
This is the act of making unnecessary and underserved sacrifices to people who don’t deserve nor appreciate it because you are unbothered about its consequences. Do yourself a favor and stop killing yourself for the sake of others who are undeserving of your whole existence! Come on! There are way better ways to self-sabotage than this! Just don’t be a slave and don’t let others treat you like toilet paper.
Choo Choo chugga chugga!! Stop that engine of the train of thoughts you are having now unless it is for a productive purpose! Overthinking is the number one reason why people don’t explore their skills, talents, abilities, or potential. ‘‘What if this may go wrong?’’, ‘‘What if I fail?’’. Chill! What if you won’t fail? Now, imagine the things you could accomplish if you knew that you would never fail? Manifestation, hard work, and determination will take you places, I tell ya! So, don’t be a prey to the most popular form of self-sabotage – overthinking.
Isolating yourself from social situations is something that many do; it can be because you are threatened by or scared of people or it might be because you think that the people you meet are not of your standard, wavelength, or vibe. Either way, you end up being alone, and sometimes when people are all alone, they tend to be lonely. The social isolation trap is a trap that you set for yourself; it can also be due to an underlying psychological disorder such as depression, anxiety, etc. Recognizing this self-sabotaging behavior is very much essential to lead a successful and peaceful life.
Being In Toxic Relationships
This happens consciously and unconsciously. Sometimes, you tend to think that you are not worthy of anything or anyone or even being loved and cling onto people who should be in the trash can by now (you might be thinking of a few people like that by now). Just do it! There are times when you yourself don’t recognize the potential and ability you have, and so you settle down with people who abuse, ignore or abandon you from time to time. This is a way in which you allow yourself to get sabotaged, knowingly or unknowingly. Be aware of this unhealthy pattern and get your life back together!
Social Media Sabotage
You do know how social media can be a major contributor to negative mental health. The dark side of social media is often notoriously known for lowering the self-esteem of many people as well as encouraging them to compare themselves and their lives with those of others. Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are well-known culprits with regard to that. Such kind of social media can also give rise to fake friendships and toxic people to get into your ecosystem and disrupt your peace of mind. Twitter and the like have a lot of people who have the fear of missing out and desperately trying to stay relevant! At the end of the day, what matters is that you should only have social media accounts in sites that help you develop and grow, both personally and professionally. Un-follow those accounts that make you feel uncomfortable or that are ridiculously unrealistic!
Are you the kind of person who likes to be uninformed and believes that ignorance is bliss at all times? Imagine following this ideology while preparing for your finals! Wouldn’t be much of a bliss, I guess? Exactly. Therefore, be open to learning new stuffs, gaining new insights, and forming opinions based on your experiences of observation and learning because ignorance is a silent way of self-sabotaging.
You don’t have emotions? No darling, you do! You just feel like you have the need to constantly act like you have got your life together and ignore the emotional aspects that life has to offer. You may find it difficult to emotionally express yourself and may come across as someone who is really cold and stone-hearted, but you are not! Emotional repression or denying the fact that you are a social and living being who has emotions can be the most enslaving feeling ever. Liberate yourself and don’t pave the way towards sabotaging your own life!
Self-harm is self-abuse, and self-abuse is a self-sabotaging behavior. Why would you want to be your own worst enemy? Cutting, biting, or scratching yourself until your skin begs for mercy can be considered as self-harm. Frequently pulling out your eyelashes or hair, excessive nail-biting, etc., are all self-destructive behaviors. If such problems exist, seek help from a medical professional and liberate yourself from being a monster to your own self.
Giving In To Anxiety And Depression
To be honest, most of these above-mentioned forms or types of self-sabotage can lead us to develop psychological illnesses and can contribute to our mental ill-health. Therefore, knowing and accepting these self-destructive or self-sabotaging thought patterns, beliefs or behaviors are very important to lead a simple and joyous life, free of any kind of negativities or toxic traits/habits.
Possible Causes / Reasons Behind Self-Sabotaging Behaviors
It can be characterized as thinking badly about yourself and having lack of confidence in yourself and your abilities or potential. If you are someone who deals with low self-esteem, you can surely work on yourself and increase your self-esteem by putting yourself out there because you are capable of many things, don’t you put a glass ceiling up there! The only one stopping you from becoming a better version of yourself is nothing but you, remember that!
Childhood Experiences And Patterns
Well, no matter how much people deny it, it is true that you and I have both learned certain patterns of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that may not always be helpful to us. Such unhealthy patterns might get in the way of our adult life and, without our own knowledge, we would be the ones killing our own dreams and goals. Therefore, identifying our faulty pattern of thoughts and behaviors is key towards stopping ourselves from indulging in self-sabotaging activities.
This is a no-brainer! Trauma is linked to many issues that can creep into our lives uninvited. That is why it is essential to seek help from a mental health professional if certain things are overwhelming, so that we can heal from them in the best way possible. Due to trauma, be it from our childhood, adolescence, adulthood, or the past, there are chances of developing unhealthy coping mechanisms and self-sabotaging behaviors that may show up as various ‘signs of self-sabotaging behaviors’ which I already mentioned at the beginning of the article.
Physical And Mental Ecosystem
The people you hang out with or tend to attract can also have a strong influence on your life, and if they are toxic or abusive, it can alter your mental and physical ecosystem. This is also applicable in cases wherein you get a job in a new city or got promoted or transferred to a different rank or department in an office, respectively. Sudden change in environments, especially under short notice or when you are unprepared can also lead you to adopt various unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns that may not prove to be helpful in the long run. So, how is your physical and mental ecosystem?
Psychological Illnesses / Disorders
There exist numerous psychological disorders such as mood disorders (depression, bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia), anxiety disorders, eating and sleeping disorders, personality disorders, psychosis, etc. In such cases, self-sabotaging behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs may also accompany the person unless they consciously tackle it, which in many cases, would be a very difficult and tiresome task. It is vital to seek help from a mental health professional, in such cases.
Self-Sabotage – Triggers That May Crop Up
Now that you have an overall idea about self-sabotage, it is time for you to understand, accept and change your unhealthy habits or thought patterns for a better you! Be cautious of the numerous triggers that can lead you to the act of self-sabotage. Some of them are as follows:
- Things going smoothly
- An unfortunate incident
- Failure or fear of failure
Things To Remember
In conclusion, when you encounter a trigger, make sure that you are well prepared. If things are getting out of hand or if you feel extremely overwhelmed with your situation, please feel free to seek help from a mental health professional. Other mindful activities that you can engage in while you face such situations could be: journaling, reading a novel you like or get all artsy or even phone a friend.
You can also make a DIY comfort-box in which you can incorporate all the healthy and productive activities that you would normally enjoy doing. Anything that keeps you away from enhancing and encouraging your negative thought patterns, knowingly or unknowingly which can result in the outbreak of a plethora of self-destructive or self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors, would help you unscrew your life!
Self-care is key to curbing self-sabotage because no one else is going to do it for you. You should be your number one priority and never forget to be a little kinder to yourself! So, steer clear from these acts of screwing yourself and un-screw your life for a better YOU.
You can do it! ❤
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