How to stop self-sabotage

Binge eating, procrastination, shirking responsibilities or commitments. Whatever it is that we trip ourselves up with en route to our goals. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about by 'self-sabotage' - you’re making good progress towards your goals, you’re putting the effort in, week after week, and then… bam! You derail yourself.


Self-sabotage is extremely frustrating, yet so common. It’s how 80% of New Year’s resolutions (and all following ones) fail by the second week of February i.e. in less than six weeks. There are often deeper psychological issues going on in the background; limiting beliefs we hold onto that - yes - limit ourselves.

Psychologist Gay Hendricks defined the four main upper limits we hold against ourselves as:

  1. Feeling fundamentally flawed. Feeling there’s something wrong with us that explains why we can’t succeed or we aren’t worthy of success.
  2. Disloyalty and abandonment. Feeling that, with more success, we’d end up alone, we’d be disloyal to our roots or leaving people from our past behind.
  3. Believing that more success brings a bigger burden. The more work, the more loss, pain or responsibilities.
  4. The crime of outshining. It is the false belief that we must dim the bright lights of our brilliance so that we won’t outshine someone in our past, so we tend to hold ourselves back from expressing the full potential of our innate genius.

If you recognise yourself in one or several of those common limiting beliefs, that probably means you’re ready to deal with it. Get professional support if you’re not sure where to start to reframe your beliefs.

In the meantime, there are other concrete actions you can take to stop self-sabotage. And here are the three most effective ones.

First, what helps our clients with self-sabotage is understanding that grit and consistency are high-performance skills. What matters most is not what you do well when all goes well, but that you can consistently replicate the behaviour over time when facing challenges or boredom. It is the ability to persist on the journey no matter the difficulty involved. The good news is that grit is a trainable skill. Start small and build your successes over time.

Second, when struggling with consistency, a common issue is the overrated search for perfection. The problem is, perfectionism kills action, and inaction kills performance. So when we derail, mindset is key, reframing “failure” as a learning experience and getting back to good habits straight away makes the difference.

In other words, it’s OK if you mess up once or more - just keep aiming for better.

Watch your inner dialogue and don’t miss a chance to repeat to yourself that failure is just learning, and learning is progress.

Third, accepting failure to be able to rise stronger pre-supposes daring and putting yourself at risk (emotionally, I mean), and this can be daunting. This is trainable too, and that’s more good news! Dare a little every day. Expand your comfort zone, and you can expect quick results in challenging your limiting beliefs and increasing self-confidence.

Think for a moment. What would happen with your work and life if you:

  • Stopped berating your performance?
  • Felt less conflicted?
  • Felt less indecisive?
  • Felt less isolated?

Are you ready to cope with the happiness you would gain with:

  • More self-control?
  • More social ease?
  • Greater vitality?
  • More tolerance and understanding of others?

I leave you with that sweet, daring thought. Visualisation often turns out to be a great motivator for change.

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London, SE14
Written by Raphaelle Hernu, Mindset & Sustainable Performance Coach | NLP Master Pract
London, SE14

Raphaelle is a coach & trainer in Sustainable Performance. She set up Strengthwise for people & businesses to get into a sustainable performing mindset, stay fully engaged & resourceful. She retrained after a 20 yr career in finance, in Paris & London. She now lives between London & the Monaco area.

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