Self-Sabotage: Why The Problem is Rarely the Problem

Spring is now a breath away. How marvelous the thought of a flower’s blossom is and the unfolding of a new leaf or even the snow slowly melting and washing away by the currents of a creek.

What a sight to behold; symbolic of a start of a new season. Nature being itself, leaving us in awe always, being its best.

Just like the spring, we want to do something impactful with our lives and that of others.

But how are we doing as we start to gain momentum this 2022?

Do we continue to head-on or leave things behind when things don’t go the way we want them?

And if we believe that a specific goal and intention is impossible, do we then settle for less and make excuses for not making it through? Or perhaps blame others when things go wayward?

We know we are destined for greatness, but why do we feel like running around a rotunda and going nowhere, stuck in the same place?

Is there something else beyond our choice of abandoning and procrastinating? If so, is there a way out?

Look beyond the Surface: Trauma & Self-Sabotage

Tanya J. Peterson, a mental health educator and author and creator of Wellbeing & Words, describes self-sabotage as “beliefs and behaviors that prevent us from achieving our goals, hopes, and dreams.”

It is a defeating behavioral and thought pattern that prevents us from taking action and moving forward. People who self-sabotage usually engage in procrastination, avoidance, pessimism, perfectionism, and conflict. These also go hand in hand with anxiety and self-doubt hindering us from creating the life that we always want.

Did you know that the root of self-sabotage is fear and insecurities caused by past traumas?

According to Dr. Jennifer Chain, president and owner of Thrive for the People, traumas from complex family and relationship dynamics lead to individuals’ inaction to avoid pain and protect themselves from future disappointments.

In other words, self-sabotage is a coping mechanism, but with debilitating outcomes triggering self-blame, shame, and perpetuating inaction.

Look below the surface. The problem is rarely the problem, and trauma plays a huge role.

Whenever we encounter a challenging task or goal, a subconscious activation happens. Internal conversations and self-talk commence within our minds, holding us back. However, the problem with these “internal conversations” is that it is most of the time negative, thus stagnating us.

Then the fear of failure, of saying the wrong things, or fear of loss sets in. Subsequently, a massive part of us starts to retreat because our desire to do things right is so high that we end up not doing anything at all.

Because of the anti-climactic surge of fear of the unknown or failure, self-sabotage keeps us in inaction for us to avoid mistakes, therefore not getting blamed for anything.

How to Untangle Self-Sabotage

Of course, depending on our history, if we have a trauma with something, we can stay stuck for years and not just hours. There is stagnation which can be further amplified with inherent anxiety.

To unlatch ourselves from the undermining claws of self-sabotage, we must be able to develop the following.

Awareness. This is the most crucial step. If we are unaware and do not acknowledge what is happening within us, self-sabotage will continue to haunt us.

Spending time on meditation and reflection heightens our awareness. Also, journaling throughout the day helps us keep track of our thoughts and where it stems from. Taking a break from our workflow allows us to check with ourselves.

Once we become in touch with our behavior and thought patterns, it would become easier for us to start and be intentional in making the changes within ourselves.

Self-compassion. Self-sabotage does not just last for hours. It may take weeks or even years. That is why we must be patient with ourselves, especially in dealing with challenges at work or in relationships. We must also learn to embrace our strengths and find ways to leverage these strengths that can help us support ourselves and tend to both fear and the dream.

Recognize what you need or what’s missing. To reiterate, self-sabotage can be a cumulative result of past trauma. Acknowledge within yourself that there are things that you cannot do on your own.

Consider working with a professional therapist who can gently guide you in processing and developing a deeper understanding of yourself. They can also provide ways to overcome self-sabotaging thoughts and foster emotional health.

Move to action from self-compassion and understanding. When we say it’s self-sabotage, all we are saying is we should be able to take action, or rationally speaking, there is an action that needs to be taken. But it must be taken with self-compassion and understanding that things will take time. And when we understand how these fits with manifestation, a whole new perspective opens up.

Life is not a race. We all have different paths and journeys to take. We must not allow our environment or relationships to overwhelm and eventually hinder us from breaking through self-sabotage. What matters is we are taking steps to become a better version of ourselves, even for a day at a time.

At Conscious Togetherness, we are passionate about supporting your growth. Learn how our coaching and mentoring enhances your leadership and career satisfaction.

Subscribe to our newsletter for tools and invitations that guide your purpose driven life & leadership.

Kawtar El Alaoui

Kawtar El Alaoui, LL.B, PCC is a Multi Award-Winning Consultant, Speaker & Coach. Her work and leadership model provide a roadmap and tools to enable leadership for a more prosperous and peaceful world. Kawtar is the Best-Selling Author of the book Unfolding Peace, 9 Leadership Principles to Create Cultures of Wellbeing, Belonging and Peace.
Scroll to Top