How to recognise and avoid self-sabotage

how to avoid self-sabotage

Do you sometimes feel like the world is against you? Like no one understands or cares about your needs? Like you spend your time being there for others, but almost feel unworthy of being there for yourself?

The good news is: that’s something that you can change by working on your mindset. The bad news: you’re not going to like what I’m about to tell you. Because more often than not, feeling like that results from self-sabotage.

You are in charge of your own happiness, and thus it’s your job to care for yourself. Not anyone else’s. A great way to become happier is to learn how to recognise and avoid self-sabotage.

Disclaimer: In this post, I am talking about self-sabotage in the sense of interfering with your own needs, wishes, and goals. If you tend to engage in more severe forms of self-destructive behaviour, please get the help you need! 

You self-sabotage to prove others wrong

Let’s start with a simple example. Have you ever asked your partner to do the dishes, but he or she forgot? Probably.

But have you ever decided to then do them yourself, just so you can have a reason to be mad? To prove that their mistakes make your life that much harder?

I used to do that all the time. Instead of doing the right thing (leaving the dishes dirty and reminding my partner to do them, or doing them and asking him to do another chore instead), I took on his chores out of spite. 

Then, I would tell him that because of that, I have not had time to complete a project or something like that. That was self-sabotage.

There really is no sense in that. Why did I punish myself by taking on more chores? Why did I prefer being mad instead of being patient? 

By doing something just to prove someone wrong, you’re usually trying to control the situation. You want things done a certain way, at a certain time. And if people don’t comply, you’re tempted to show them just how wrong they are. How much they make you suffer when you have to correct their mistakes.

However, life doesn’t work that way. We don’t control people, and we don’t have to take on their part of the job. Instead, we can choose to communicate our wishes while respecting theirs as well, so that everyone ends up much happier.

You don’t ask for help because you feel like people should offer it to you

Sometimes, you can recognise self-sabotage when you don’t ask for help although you need it.

Because you believe that others should see on their own that you need help. Because you feel unworthy of self-care. Like when you are sick and still do chores, although you know that you probably shouldn’t.

Again, this is something that I used to do so often. Like, I would be carrying something heavy, and keep hinting at how heavy it was. Then, I would either accidentally drop it, or hurt my back or something. Which was just the perfect reason to say “That’s all your fault, why didn’t you help me? It was way too heavy!”.

But did I ask for help? No. Did the other person understand that I needed help? Also no, because their only life-purpose isn’t to read my thoughts! That’s usually when someone asks: “Why didn’t you say anything?” and I’ll reply “Well it was clear, wasn’t it?”.

The thing is, nothing is clear. Because no one is you, and so they don’t know what’s going on in your head. The only way to communicate your needs is to, well, communicate. Put yourself first sometimes. It doesn’t make you a selfish person!

My fiancé is a great guy, always ready to help. But unlike me, he usually doesn’t notice when people (including me) need help. So, I have to tell him. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

You put yourself last because you feel unworthy of self-care

Imagine someone asks you to do something, but you know that you’ve already got too much on your plate. A healthy reaction would be to say “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to do that right now”.

Similarly, if you have too much to do at work but your house also needs cleaning, you would either just leave it be or ask someone to help you.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

Sometimes, we engage in self-sabotaging behaviour by saying ‘yes’ to something we cannot actually handle. Then, we get mad, irritable, and feel like the world is unfair. Is it just to prove that we’re perfect, or because we feel like we don’t have the right to say no?

Other times, we ignore our own needs to serve other people. Maybe it’s to look better, or because we secretly feel like we don’t deserve to put ourselves first. Like when a mum cooks family dinner before having a snack, although she’s actually starving and her family is not.

Lastly, we can also tend to hope that someone will end up being so sorry for what they did to us, once we break down under all the pressure they caused. Although it would be a much better option to take action now and set healthy boundaries. 

Self-care is crucial because we can’t pour from an empty cup. So, whenever you feel like you can’t attend to your own needs, it’s simply untrue. You can always put yourself first. You may choose not to for various reasons, but that choice is always yours.

How to avoid self-sabotaging behaviour?

The first step to combat self-sabotage is to recognise it. That’s what we’ve done now, hopefully.

The second step is to change your mindset. 

Self-sabotaging behaviour can result from a feeling of unworthiness. From wanting others to read our thoughts instead of communicating our wishes. From trying to control a situation, even when it means taking on too much.

In order to be happy, successful and have good relationships, you need to overcome such limiting beliefs. You always have a choice. You are worthy of everything you desire. And you do not need to make up for other people’s mistakes.

Overcoming self-sabotage means respecting yourself just as much as you respect others. And I promise you, it’s not that hard once you pay attention to it on a daily basis!

how to avoid self-sabotage

Now, tell me: did you recognise yourself in any of these self-sabotaging patterns? Or am I just crazy? If you liked this post, please share it on social media! 🙂

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