Self-sabotage: how to avoid it

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right." A very timely phrase by Henry Ford that allows us to think about all the times we gave up before we started. Behind this is self-sabotage.

What is it and how to avoid it? In this article we are going to delve into it to elaborate some tips that will be useful in order to prevent its appearance.

What is self-sabotage?

In simple words, self-sabotage is "the stone in the shoe" of our projects and goals. It is everything that prevents us from moving or stops us when we are very close to achieving it. Attention! Well, it can come from many open fronts.

Working on self-sabotage also involves asking about self-concept. Although it is a notion of enormous interest and that has been studied by different disciplines, on this occasion we can refer to Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist.

For Rogers, the self-concept is made up of the following:

  • Self image, that is, what we believe about ourselves and how we see ourselves.
  • The self-esteem: how much we value ourselves. We may have an image that is both overrated and underrated.
  • The ideal what we have.

Keep reading: Tips to strengthen self-esteem

Causes of self-sabotage

Self-sabotage has different causes. Here we will address some and comment on them so that you know them. You can feel identified with them and recognize practices that have become habitual to you. Let's see.

Self-esteem plays a key role in self-sabotage and is a concept that greatly influences how we stimulate or block ourselves.

The glasses with which you look at reality

Many times, putting "buts" before starting anything has to do with the way we interpret reality and different situations. Something like glasses that you wear and from where you see what happens.

Now, if we continue with the metaphor, glasses are not neutral elements, but can be magnified, for example. This is what we would call cognitive biases And they can sometimes be the cause of your self-sabotage. Some of the best known are the following:

  • Selective abstraction: is the tunnel vision that makes us look at a single aspect of a situation, paying attention to a single detail.
  • Generalization: it is the cognitive bias that leads you to apply a general conclusion to all particular cases. For example, if you were once bitten by a dog, it seems to you that all dogs are bad.
  • Arbitrary inference: it is characterized by obtaining conclusions even in the absence of evidence.
  • Maximization and minimization: here the mistakes and mistakes of their own are classified, without stopping to think that there are also skills or positive aspects to highlight.

Excuses, excuses and more excuses

Self-sabotage is the best friend of excuses, so to move forward it is important that you identify which ones you are using. Then you must relativize them.

This will allow you to verify that not all of them are equally important and that some have something to teach you. For example, if one of the excuses to start a project has to do with lack of money, it may have something real, but it will also help you plan mitigation measures.


Having very high performance standards means that before starting the journey the task seems unattainable. That puts anyone off!

Moving through small steps is better than not moving forward. In addition, it helps you focus on smaller units of tasks, so you will feel the satisfaction of what has been accomplished.

One of the ways you can "put in check" your perfectionism is to set MAREA goals: measurable, achievable, relevant, specific and on time:

  • Measurable: It refers to establishing indicators that allow you to identify the degree of progress of the objective.
  • Reachable: it refers to the specificity of the objective, to something that is within your reach.
  • Relevant: make it an important goal for you, in such a way that it also inspires you to achieve it.
  • Specific: Make it clear and refer to something specific.
  • On time: assign a deadline to avoid procrastination.

Tell me who you are with

Sometimes, the sabotage comes from the environment you surround yourself with, from people who are not optimistic, too cautious about what they do, fearful. So they see an elephant where there is none. This makes you doubt.

We even sabotage our projects many times in order to make others happy. Recognizing what role your inner circle plays in decisions is also a good starting point. to start setting limits.


Self-sabotage also has a root in self-denial, in the lack of recognition and respect towards us. For example, the boycott itself is comfortable in phrases like "In the end it is not so important" or "I'm not interested".

Other experiences and voices

Many times, its origin is related to other life experiences. For example, having heard in your childhood for a long time an adult voice that told us "You won't make it", "you are useless", "You are useless" it may have worked as a seed to believe that we have no capabilities.

The experiences were sometimes painful and required more work and an accompaniment of a professional. So beware of self-sabotage that ends up fulfilling as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It may interest you: Know how to identify toxic thoughts

Tips to avoid self-sabotage

We leave you here 5 tips to start the path of avoiding and fighting self-sabotage.

1. What would you say to other people?

You can ask yourself the question about what would happen if someone else did what I want to do. Would I speak to him in the same way that I am speaking to myself? Many times we are our own worst enemy, so trying to think what we would do in other cases helps us to recognize that that high bar that we try to apply is the other side.

2. Ask for advice

Talking with someone who has already done the route you want to do can help you to get rid of the doubts and fears that are holding you back. Similarly, do not lose sight of the fact that there are as many ways to achieve something as there are people on this planet. So, although a story can serve you, you should always find your own style.

3. Connect with the pleasant

Spend time on the things that allow you to enjoy. It is even an endocrine issue, since the release of certain substances allow you to feel well-being. So resting, clearing your mind, and activating little pleasures is also a good starting point.

Doing pleasant things, going out, enjoying and activating the hormonal mechanisms of the hormones that stimulate us are great steps to avoid self-sabotage.

4. Be aware that you do not go from 0 to 100 in 2 minutes

In other words: recognize that there are difficulties along the way, both to stop sabotaging your projects, and in the project itself. That is, it is important to avoid magical thinking.

5. Identify what your strengths are

It can recognize your strengths, so you put your skills into play. We all have positive aspects that can serve as a counterpoint for those things we are not so comfortable with.

Self-sabotage slows us down

Self-sabotage is a brake on our projects and our well-being. So knowing and being encouraged to look at the causes that originate and sustain it is a first step to get out of it.

We have given you tips that you can apply in everyday life. Do it slowly, step by step, but firmly. Make the decision and you will notice how you face existence with another spirit.

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