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Diahanne Rhiney's picture
Diahanne Rhiney
Subtle ways in which we self-sabotage

I WANT to discuss a topic that is not often spoken about because it is often so subtle and occurs in the subconscious.

We engage in behaviour that is so natural and logical, we do not even recognise it when it is happening. When you say you want something and set goals to achieve it, you then go about doing everything that can be done to make the goal not happen.

I’m talking about self-sabotaging behaviour, which creates problems and interferes with your goals and dreams. Common types of this behaviour can include procrastination, self-medicating using drugs or alcohol, comfort eating and in more extreme cases, self harming.

These acts, whilst initially may provide relief, when done repeatedly can undermine us.

As a psychologist, I see the aftermath when self-sabotaging behaviour can become just as serious as drug or alcohol abuse, overeating or self-harming, which is why I want to highlight the very subtle ways it occurs, as often it is not associated with negative behaviour.

Fear of Success

What this actually means is the fear of change or resisting change. We may feel that we will turn into different people or will not be able to rise to the challenge. The key is not to dwell on how the responsibility could go wrong, rather focus on how taking such a step will empower you to do bigger and greater things.

Dwelling on too many options

Too many options can lead to decision paralysis, which is a finding from psychology that says that “the more choices we have, the more likely we are to freeze up and go with the path of least resistance, or worry about which path to take”. The secret to overcoming this paralysis is simple – take action!

When the going get tough, so do you

Success takes consistent hard work. Therefore, you have to set realistic parameters and smart goals for judging the success or failure of any project. Also learn the difference between failing and quitting, as this will lessen the likelihood of you quitting and seeing your project through to completion.

Too much planning

Planning takes a lot of work and for all the long term planning and setting of five year goals, it all means nothing if you do not simply just start. That’s not to say start without being prepared, preparation and planning are two different things. Start with a quick, initial plan and a strategy, but then focus on gaining feedback and constantly evaluate to stay on track.

You don’t take responsibility

Radical responsibility is hard. Our culture encourages us to shift the blame or point the finger at someone else. Responsibility can be scary, as sometimes it means going out on a limb, but you are responsible for your life, so embrace it.

You talk negatively to yourself

Many of us are walking around with negative stories in our heads.

• I’ll never be good enough.
• I’ll never live up to my parents’ expectations.
• I’ll always be second best.

Psychology tells us that this type of negative self talk is harmful, as what you regularly tell yourself will shape your mindset and belief systems. So change the narrative and start writing a new positive chapter.

You avoid hard work for the mundane

Last time I checked, the best inventions weren’t made whilst the inventor checked his email or was on Facebook. If you want to do something important, achieve something great, or create your legacy, you won’t do it jumping out of your seat every time your phone rings. In order to reach your goals you will be required to focus your attention on being creative and solving problems.

You let others control your time

Time is your most valuable resource because it’s finite and non-renewable. You can never replace it or get it back once it’s gone. Therefore, learn to recognise your peak productivity times and start to guard your time jealously from distractions and interruptions. If you manage your time spent with chatty friends or workers with unplanned visits then you’re less likely to end up losing an entire day to disruptions.

And this list isn’t exhaustive, the key, as always, is to become aware so that you can recognise when you are settling into a pattern of self-sabotage. Then, if you catch yourself procrastinating, putting yourself down, feeling unworthy, you can take steps to stop it and fully step into your greatness.

Follow Diahanne on Twitter: @diahanneuk

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