Self-Sabotage: 10 Ways to Break the Cycle and Stop Defeating Yourself


The simplest way to define self-sabotage is getting in your own way of success.

All of us have certain dreams and goals in life that we desire the most. And often the only barrier standing between us and living the life we want is our negative behaviours. These are a set of habits that keep us from moving towards our dreams, and in short, stop us from living the life we desire.

Some of these corrupt practices get so much ingrained in our personality that we are often not even aware of them. We are on autopilot, repeating the same mistakes and getting the same pitiful results over and over again.

Being late to work, never finishing your projects, procrastination, negative self-talk, over self-criticism, over-indulging, self-abuse, passive-aggressiveness, etc. are all some of the common self-sabotaging behaviours.

Identifying and eliminating these self-limiting behaviours is a crucial measure we have to take if we wish to live our life to the fullest.

Fortunately, many techniques can help us make sure we are not working against ourselves. Let’s go through the top 10 ways that can help you break your self-sabotaging cycle.

1. Identifying your Self-Sabotaging Behaviours

The first step that you will need to take towards stopping your self-sabotaging behaviours is identifying them.

Sometimes you are aware of these habits, but you never take any initiative towards solving them. You have ignored them for so long that they don’t even register as a problem and we keep practising them knowingly or unknowingly.

Be honest and think to yourself. What things are keeping you behind? Think about the things you frequently fail at, and for no apparent reason. What are the things about your self that you do not like? And not only yourself, what things do people find annoying about you?

Asking such questions to yourself might be painful, but if you truly know what is causing you problems, it will be easier for you to tackle them directly.

2. Create a Journaling Habit

Writing your thoughts down is a key that can help you unveil your mind’s full rational powers.

A journal notebook is one of the best tools you can invest in. When you write your ideas, feelings and discoveries down, you get a higher perspective of your reasoning. Journaling over time helps you keep track of your thoughts and behaviours and how much progress you have made.

Journaling follows no rules; you don’t have to worry about grammar, patterns or anything. Just write your thoughts down and try to express yourself openly.

By writing, you will see yourself clearly, and it will help you understand where you are making mistakes and how you can solve them.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the act of being aware of your thoughts and feelings without engaging them. It will help you be aware of your self-critical and self-sabotaging thoughts and habits.

Practising mindfulness will help you acknowledge where you’re lacking. The instant you identify a negative thought in action, you can stop it or replace it with a decisive and more rational approach.

By being mindful, you will be your own supervisor. It will help you get off from autopilot and improve your bad habits into something positive.

4. Regret is Stronger than Failure

Better an “oops” than a “what if”.

Remember that if you do not take action, you might be missing out on some of the best things in life. Small changes in our present can have a massive impact on our future and how things turn out.

You don’t want your future self to look back and think “I had the chance, but I didn’t avail it”.

Understand the opportunities that are open to you and take them.

Taking action will help you pave a better path to your success and make sure you don’t regret anything in the future. Even if you fail, you will be in a far better situation than what you started with.

5. Make Small Meaningful Changes

After you’re done identifying your negative thoughts, you cannot just change yourself within a day or a week. The habits that have taken so long to develop will take some time to break.

So, you need to make small changes that are easy to follow, practical and make sense. Massive alterations will not only be unrealistic but hard to maintain.

Pick one small thing and start working on it. If you are disorganized, begin by taking 5 minutes each day to tidy up your room before you leave home. Etc.

Make similar small efforts, and over time they will help you develop better habits.

6. Don’t compare yourself to others

Do you find yourself always comparing your life to others? If so, then you need to break that habit immediately. Comparison almost always ends up making us feel worthless and inadequate.

The reason why comparison doesn’t work is that each person’s life is so utterly different from the other. There are so many variables that it’s unrealistic to try to be someone else.

We need to be our own authentic self instead of being someone else’s replica. We have different goals and different circumstances, so by comparison, we limit our beauty and potential.

7. Set Long-term Realistic Goals

A journey only becomes more comfortable when you have your destination in mind.

Create a list of long-term goals you wish to achieve and devise baby steps for achieving those goals. When you have your aim clear in mind, you will make better decisions in your way.

Having clear goals will help you avoid randomness and give you a clear and concise direction of where you’re headed.

Having step-by-step thought out plans will help us banish any irrelevant self-sabotaging ways and assist us in leading a positive life.

8. Be Your Own Best Friend

During your journey of finding and eliminating our self-sabotaging behaviours, you will find ourselves making many mistakes. Sometimes, because of frustration, we will be too hard on ourselves.

You have to keep patience and faith and never be too hard on yourself. You have to practice self-acceptance and self-care.

Relish the accomplishments that you made in the past and keep reminding yourself that you succeeded once and you can thrive again.

9. Face Your Fears

Start challenging your comfort zone and face your fears. The road to improvement is seldom straight. You should learn to face your failures and accept what you can’t change.

Some amount of discomfort and failure is vital for character building. It helps make you stronger and learn better. So, if you’re trying to stop self-sabotaging behaviours, don’t fear failures and ask yourself, “Do I really want to sabotage my chance of being happy in life because of fearing failure? “

Whenever you fail, keep in mind why you are doing this in the first place? Don’t let few setbacks squander your chances at living your best life.

10. Seek Out Professional Help

If you find your limiting behaviours too difficult for yourself to handle, it’s always a great idea to reach out to a professional Psychologist for help.

Therapists are trained professionals that are well aware of how our psyche works and what can be the best approach to improve ourselves.

A therapist will help you devise a custom approach best suited to your personality. You will have a mentor to guide you on your journey to stop self-sabotage. You will experience far more significant benefits with professional help.


Self-sabotage is mostly the only reason why we’re not living our life to the fullest. Following the techniques described above will help you detect and tackle these negative habits effectively and practically.

You will experience many difficulties when breaking your bad habits, but with time and patience, you will gain self-mastery and better control of your behaviour. Using these techniques will make sure you take back control of your self and live a more productive and meaningful life.

The International Psychology Clinic: Private Psychologists in London

The International Psychology Clinic: Private Psychologists in London

For more information about how to recognise and conquer self-sabotage, book a Consultation with one of our Therapists. We offer effective and up to date Counselling in London at our Therapy Clinics in Central London, Therapy Clinics for Expats in Italy and Online Therapy worldwide. Browse our London-based Therapists and Italy-based Therapists profile pages now to find yours.

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