How to stop self sabotaging and get out of your own way

Self sabotage can creep into the healthiest psyche via procrastination, perfectionism, finances, relationships. Here's how to stop it.

Understanding why you need to get out of your own way will mean you understand how to stop self sabotaging.

Self sabotage is something that can creep into the healthiest psyche. It’s when you stick a spoke in your own wheel of success. You mess up your own stuff.

Behaviour is said to be self sabotaging when it creates problems in daily life that interfere with life goals. Common types of self sabotage involve procrastination, relationships, finances, work and time. Even perfectionism can stand in someone’s way

Many of us will experience self sabotage in some way—to find out if that’s you, look at whether your behaviours are in line with your long-term goals. People aren’t always aware it’s happening or how to disengage from it.

Why would someone act in a way that harms their wellbeing? There’s often a struggle behind it: cravings for food, gambling, drink, or other temptations. But it can also be more subtle and internal and related to self image.

Inside your mind you have a mental picture of who you think you are. Then you have who you are on the. Most people aren’t in touch that much with who they really are. They’re stuck in their head, getting wrapped up in their self image.

That often reflects who we think we need to be to be admired or loved or accepted. A lot of that is created when we are kids. From zero to seven, things happen and we take them as little markers—what does that mean about me?—and we start making assumptions and generalisations about who we are.

This forms our self image, which is a story we tell ourselves.

It’s not really who we are. We are always so much greater than the idea we have of who we are, and we can change the story.

Here’s how to stop sabotaging yourself and change your story to let more success into your life.

It’s really common when someone achieves success to minimise it. They have their first coaching session and someone says ‘You are amazing’ and their first thought is, ‘Not that amazing. Lot to learn.’

Many of us want to be just mediocre enough for people not to notice how awesome we really are. It’s safer because then there’s nothing spectacular to live up to or defend, and we can just bob along avoiding attention.

That’s a safe game to play but it does no good for our self image. It keeps us small and nobody benefits from you or I playing a small game.

Try this. Next time someone gives you a compliment, savour it.

When someone says you’re doing a great job, try that compliment on.

Allow it in. Roll it around in your mind. Ask, ‘What does it feel like if I allow myself to feel I’m smashing it?’

A lot of people just block everything: ‘I love you.’ ‘Do you though?’ ‘Your ideas are incredible.’ ‘Hmm, they’re okay.’ We get really good at pushing things away away because the reality doesn’t match the image inside our minds of the world we should be living or the reality we should be creating.

This is where reality is bumping up against our self image ad this is what drives self sabotage. We want to open ourselves up to consistently update the story of who we are.

But who we are isn’t set in stone. Who you are will not determine who you will become unless you let it, and we can change our story by consciously, in every moment, opening ourselves up to the new.

Seek out people who will give you encouragement and compliments and inspire you to be your best. And when you these new moments of success, take a moment.

Take the words and emotions they create into your body and savour them.


One of Australia's leading coaches, trainers and speakers, and head facilitator at The Coaching Institute. In between mentoring thousands of coaches and leaders all around Australasia and helping others build incredible culture, Matt is passionate about fitness and music. His healthy office lunches whipped up in five minutes are the stuff of legend

Matt Lavars life coaching
Matt LavarsThe Coaching Institute