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How to Deal With Self Sabotage

Before we dive full force into how to deal with self sabotage, let’s define what self sabotage is.

Self sabotage can be described as:

You, acting against your own best interests.

Why would anyone decide to act against their own best interests, you ask?

Most often, it has to do with the way a person frames their expectations. But we’ll get to this further on. For now, let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you’re trying to lose 30 pounds. Let’s even say you’ve been trying to lose these 30 pounds for the last 10 years.

The question, then, is: Why have you fallen short?

The answer is: Self sabotage stemming from impossible expectations.

How to Deal With Self Sabotage

(We promise this isn’t circular reasoning. Keep reading …)

Why Self Sabotage Often Wins

The reason you haven’t been able to stick with your plan to lose 30 pounds is because of the way you’ve framed your problem. Instead of using logic and reasoning, you’ve likely been setting totally out-of-reach expectations for yourself and framing your problem (the challenge to lose 30 lbs.) as an all-or-nothing affair. 

Here are some examples of this phenomenon in action:

  • You wake up in the morning and tell yourself you want to lose weight, so you should completely stop eating sugary, fatty foods. Later that day, someone offers you a donut at work, and you take it and eat it. This is an example of self sabotage.
  • You wake up in the morning and tell yourself you want to lose weight, so you need to start going to a walk-in aerobics class every single day after work. That day, you feel too tired, though, so you ditch and go home instead. This is an example of self sabotage.
  • You wake up in the morning and tell yourself you want to lose weight, so you should eat a healthy, well-balanced breakfast every morning. You take too long getting ready for work, however, so you have to grab a sugary “breakfast bar” on the way out the door instead. This is an example of self sabotage.

Self sabotage is when you actively give yourself permission to go against your own "rules". But here’s the kicker: It’s self sabotage because you are the one who has created those rules … and often, they are not at all realistic.

So, how do we change this?

Deflating the Negative Power of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often what’s at the heart of self sabotage and outrageous, self-inflicted expectations.

Note that in each of the examples above, what you told yourself “in the morning” was a goal that is actually very difficult to achieve — especially when you do little to no planning. 

The expectation, for instance, that you can completely cut out sugary and fatty foods is absurd. Telling yourself that you’ll exercise every day after work when you know you’ll be tired and will just want to go home? Give yourself a break! And finally, deciding to have a huge, well-balanced and nutritious breakfast every morning is fine … but how exactly are you going to execute this when you probably never have enough time in the morning to begin with?

You must learn to work with yourself and be realistic.

What all of this comes down to is slowing down, looking at each issue that is causing you problems or that you could possibly change, and deciding on a realistic, logical, doable task that could make your situation better.

This is how you deal with self sabotage. You stop giving yourself permission to act against your own best interests. And you start strategizing and creating realistic thinking patterns and attainable doing patterns that will actually create change for the better in your life.