Self-sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion, or action that holds you back. Here’s how to stop sabotaging ourselves.
I believe we all have dreams to do the things that we love most—to feel alive and fulfilled in every way possible. We’re here to find tasks that give meaning to our existence and make this mundane life livable. Philosopher Richard Taylor says our life is meaningless—what gives it meaning is a sense of purpose: the will to survive.
How many of us actually make those dreams a reality? The trouble is that before even beginning to achieve that dream, many of us have doubts about our ability to do what we love. We are apprehensive and hesitant to try out something different.
The voice in our head often says: “I don’t have the time or the money . . .”
I say this to myself alone: when you feel crushed, those around you look broken. When you glow, darkness turns to black light. If you hurt, even the comforts you are offered wound you. As you prosper, your failures prove to be just the right thing, perfect.”—Bahauddin, The Drowned Book: Ecstatic And Earthy Reflections Of The Father Of Rumi
Self-sabotage is any kind of behavior or thought that keeps us away from what we desire most in life. Reluctance on our part to take up new challenges is a characteristic trait of self-sabotaging behavior. It is the conflict that exists between our conscious desires and unconscious wants—or as Sigmund Freud would describe it, our identity versus our ego—that manifests itself in self-sabotage patterns.
This self-sabotaging behavior originates from our fear of failure. The overwhelming sentiment growing inside of us, gnawing at us, and saying, “You cannot do this,” is what deters us from our goal of achieving the greatness we are born to do.
What can we do to stop sabotaging ourselves?
Remember, Regrets Are Worse Than Failures
When I begin to fear failure, there is one thing that stops my fear in its tracks. I just think about that dreaded, terrible feeling of regret.
When lying in bed at night and regrets from the day come to steal your sleep:
‘I should have’
‘If only I’d’
‘I wish I’d’
. . . grab one of them and turn it into an ‘I will’ and sleep peacefully knowing tomorrow will be a better day.”—L.R. Knost
One feeling that lasts much longer and is more powerful than fear is regret.
Identify The Route Cause
Where does our fear of failure originate? Identifying the root cause is the first step to acknowledging our fear and overcoming it. I sit down, close my eyes, relax, take deep breaths, and try to understand my fear. Coming face to face with our anxiety is the best way to get over our trepidation.
Keep Your Eyes On The Goal
Once I have identified the cause of my fear, I try to focus on my goals. Every time a thought like “I can’t do this because . . .” comes up, I try to recalibrate myself, and focus on the small tasks that move me toward my overall goal. To conquer fear of failure, we must set our mind completely on the outcome that we want to create. The more we can focus on our end game, the more we obliterate pessimism from our mind.
Acknowledge Avoidance & Focus On Moving Forward
Once we shift our mindset from being the victim to being the bold one who wants to achieve their destiny, we have to take action. When we are scared, often we fill our days with busy work to avoid real issues. This avoidance through being busy justifies our lack of progress. To move forward, we must stop spending our valuable time on mundane activities.
Never Say Never
We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming—well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.”—Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses
We need to ask ourselves “How badly do I need to complete this . . . ?” At the end of the day, we are our best motivators. Failure is a part of life; it is failure that makes us stronger and more persistent to achieve our goal.
Trust Your Inner Guide
Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters To A Young Poet wrote:
“Works of art are of an infinite solitude, and no means of approach is so useless as criticism. Only love can touch and hold them and be fair to them. Always trust yourself and your own feeling, as opposed to argumentations, discussions, or introductions of that sort; if it turns out that you are wrong, then the natural growth of your inner life will eventually guide you to other insights. Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened.”
That says it all. In the moments of doubt and fear, I now trust the guide inside of me. I believe it has the solutions to all my problems. This inner guide is more powerful than any external influence, and has the ability to dissipate my fears from my goals. Many of my failures came from not trusting in myself.
Patience & Faith Are Our Best Friends
No one can determine the final destination of our life’s journey. Therefore, the next best thing to do is to keep our cool and have faith in ourselves. Whenever I feel I am detouring from my destiny, I try to remind myself that my journey is my path. It’s a journey full of peaks and valleys, sunshine, and rain. This faith allows me to explore unchartered territory with confidence. I am at ease to fail forward. Because even when we fail, we do not lose it all—we can learn valuable lessons, and build the foundation for our next chapter.
Keeping a can-do attitude helps us to never give up on ourselves. It allows us to recharge, reinvest, and reinvent ourselves by melting down our fear.