Self-Help

Reasons why you self-sabotage and how to stop

When was the last time you did something that harmed your well-being? Considering that you’re reading a blog post about self-sabotage, I bet it wasn’t so long ago.

We all make bad decisions from time to time, but self-sabotage goes a little further than that. Self-sabotaging means engaging in activities that don’t allow you to grow and constantly interfere with your functioning.

Why would someone prevent themselves from personal growth? Well, we are not fully in control of what we are doing on a daily basis.

Most of the time we are moving through life with very little conscious effort. A lot of the cognitive effort required for daily functioning is handled by the subconscious mind. But what does it have to do with self-sabotaging?

You don’t sabotage yourself consciously. It’s all your subconscious mind’s work. The subconscious mind stores all your fears, irrational beliefs, and unhealthy thoughts that drive self-sabotaging behaviors.

You may be consciously aware of your desire to be successful, but as soon as you stop paying attention to it, your subconscious mind will begin to tell you a different story.

If you’re afraid of failure, your subconsciousness will generate a thousand reasons not to try. If you don’t believe in your worth, you will give up your opportunities and tell yourself that “it’s not the right time”.

Self-sabotage is not always easy to recognize. Your subconscious mind is good at defending itself. It will always come up with justifications and make the self-harming behaviors not to look like red flags to the conscious mind.

Self-sabotage may appear as:

  • Procrastination
  • Sticking to the comfort zone
  • Trusting your automatic thoughts
  • Constantly comparing yourself to others
  • Focusing on what is not working
  • Discouraging yourself before even trying
  • Maintaining toxic relationships
  • Perfectionism
  • Picking fights with your partner
  • Being reactive instead of proactive

Common reasons why you self-sabotage

1. Poor self-image

Self-image refers to how you perceive yourself. The different aspects of your self-image have built up over time and influence your actions and thoughts. You are always acting based on how you perceive yourself and most of the time you are not even aware of it.

Poor self-image is linked to low self-esteem and makes you feel bad about yourself. It is a result of the criticism and disapproval you may have been experienced. The feelings of rejection or unworthiness associated with certain events make you doubt your chances of succeeding in similar situations.

2. Fears (of rejection, of failure)

You are missing out on so many things because of your fears. They are emotional, goal-oriented responses that make you feel unsafe and disturbed. Most of the human fears are conditioned responses to events that are very unlikely to cause real harm.

Your fears of rejection and failure are based on your past unpleasant experiences, so you are subconsciously afraid to repeat them. Those can be childhood traumas, failed relationships, or other people’s neglectful behaviors.

4. Patterns learned in childhood

People choose familiarity over happiness. It’s comfortable, easy, and consistent. If you’ve been neglected when you were a child, it must be comforting to keep putting yourself in that position. Or if you saw specific toxic behaviors in your parents, you will subconsciously tend to repeat them as you are attached to those patterns.

How to stop self-sabotaging?

It is pretty obvious that to stop self-sabotaging you need to fix the cause of your behavior. In the previous section of this blog post you’ve read about the common reasons of self-sabotaging behavior: poor self-image, fears, and patterns learned in childhood.

Those root causes of self-sabotage have one thing in common. They are all stored in the subconscious mind. To change the beliefs and habits that interfere with your growth, you need to build new ones. New, consciously built beliefs and habits will gradually infiltrate in the subconscious mind and produce new outcomes.


If you believe the cause of your self-sabotaging behavior is a poor self-image, work on how you perceive yourself instead of trying to fight the habit. The same goes for fears and patterns.

Here are some practical solutions:

  1. Use daily affirmations. Even when you don’t feel like saying ” I am good enough.”, do it anyway. Your subconscious mind fixates everything. Repeat something often enough and your mind will take it as the truth. You can use daily affirmations to improve your self-image and eliminate the limiting beliefs.
  2. Work on your self-awareness. Learn to detach yourself from your thoughts and simply observe them. Self-awareness is an incredible tool that can help you manage your thoughts and actions. By paying attention to how you behave, you gain more power over yourself and your actions.
  3. Take time for self-reflection. The most successful people are those who know themselves. Take time to analyze your choices, actions, and thoughts. The cause of all your problems is always hidden somewhere inside your mind.

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