Self-Sabotage: How to Recognize and Change It

“I can do it! No, I’m scared. I can’t do it. Watch out world, this is my year! Wait, this is just too hard. Now, I’m really ready this time, no turning back I’m doing it!”

Does this sound familiar? It’s a symptom of self-sabotage.

We’ve all been there. You’re excited and ready to go. You have a great pep talk, you’re prepared and ready to move forward. Then the next thing you know, you’re talking yourself out of it. You’ve come up with all the reasons why you can’t, shouldn’t or don’t want to do it (whatever the “it” is).

Self-sabotage is a tendency where an individual limits themselves from achieving a goal, trying new experiences and sometimes truly enjoying their life. This behavior leads to internal conflict. We’ve all seen the images of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. That’s how self-sabotage looks. The angel/positive thoughts say “you can do this and you will be successful” while the devil/negative thoughts say the opposite.

When you are insecure about who you are, your true ability, experience, gifts and talents you believe you are incapable of being successful or even worthy of being happy. Self-sabotage will not only hinder you from achieving your goals in life but will also lower your self-esteem. This cycle can lead to frustration. We regret doing this yet we do this time and time again. We talk ourselves out of things more times that we care to admit.

You can't let rejection, fear of failure or lack of confidence hinder your ability to move forward. When something inevitably goes wrong, we can't beat ourselves up. Mistakes, disappointment and even failures, happen in life. It’s the way we look at these things that can change whether we keep trying or give up.

Recognize self-sabotage when you’re in it.


  1. You give into your fear.

  2. You continually doubt yourself and your ability.

  3. You’re ofte terrified of failure.

  4. You dream all the time but never take action.

  5. You always have an excuse as to why you can’t.

  6. You have a negative outlook on life in general.

  7. You compare yourself to others

Change self-sabotaging behavior to self-empowerment behavior!

Here’s how:

  1. Acknowledge your self-sabotaging behavior. Ask yourself what triggers this behavior and determine how you are going to change/eliminate. This step requires you to be completely honest with yourself.