Why we self-sabotage (and how to overcome it)

Going to nature for a walk or hike recharges my soul. Going to the gym and taking yoga classes challenge my body and relax my mind. They all fill me with new energy. The time I spend amongst the trees, in the gym or the yoga studio feels like a retreat, transporting me into another reality which makes my everyday self work better.

But I missed the yoga class today… again… without any specific, real reason.

This made me think: Why do I continue to self-sabotage?

Why do so many friends and coaching clients do the very same again and again?

Maybe you do the same… sometimes… again and again…

You miss the yoga class. The gym session. The run.

You skip the night out with your friends.

The language class…

You don’t apply for that new job…

You skip and miss so much, again and again…

Things that you love.

Things that fill you with energy.

Again and again…

You love being there… You love how you feel there, and after…

Still…

You find yourself sabotaging things that are important to you. That fill you with energy. Your body. Your mind. Your soul.

Self-sabotage can be about anything and everything.

Gym or yoga class, as in my case today.

Your daily walk or run.

The language class.

Crafting. Reading.

Learning something new.

Applying for a new job.

Eating unhealthy fast food even if you know you should be more conscious about your diet…

Spending hours by scrolling social media, even if you know you’d better sleep or go for a walk instead…

Why do we self-sabotage?

In my experience, the real reason is always within. In most cases, it’s a subconscious fear or worry about the consequences, good or bad.

What will happen if I go to yoga again? If I take the language class? If I continue my crafting for an hour this morning? If I go to bed early today? If I apply for that new job?

The first and most obvious response is usually, “I’ll feel better… I’ll be healthier… I’ll be more relaxed… I’ll learn that language faster… I’ll have a much better job…”

However, these are responses on the conscious level — the surface. These might be true, of course… we feel better, healthier, more relaxed, more satisfied.

But many times, scratch the surface and these feelings also come with some guilt and fear.

Feeling guilty because of all the “I should do this or that instead” thoughts and assumptions.

Feeling guilty because of the good job that not only makes you wealthy but also brings you joy every day. So many of us think that work must be hard!

Feeling guilty when you can finally align your life with your purpose and core values, because life is so hard for others. Life must be hard.

Feeling guilty when you just do nothing, or nothing “useful.” We are conditioned to always do, do, do… simply “being” is considered “lazy” or “bad” by so many.

Feeling guilty because of that dream trip you can afford (but others could not).

Feeling guilty because of your healthy lifestyle, but also because of being fitter and healthier – due to those everyday decisions behind your wellbeing.

Feeling guilty because of feeling good is a real thing for many!

Self-sabotage always has an internal reason. This is why it’s so hard to notice and unravel it.

Even worse, once we’re conditioned this way, the fear of feeling guilty also appears.

You feel anxious well before you start feeling guilty, simply by thinking of those guilt-triggering events.

You get anxious about the upcoming guilt when you take that walk…

When you go to the yoga studio instead of cleaning up the kitchen…

When you attend the language class instead of doing one more round of laundry…

When you read, relax, or meditate instead of “doing” something “useful”…

When you go to that trip, because you know that you will be judged by others when you come back (or even already during the trip)…

Again, you get anxious because of the story in your head that tells you that you would feel guilty about feeling good…

You get about being the best version of yourself…

How to get unstuck from self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage is always something that your subconscious keeps telling you. It whispers in a way that your conscious brain does not hear, but your mind listens to…

This is why you need to turn within first… To understand why you work against yourself.

There are many blog posts, books, even apps, that promise quick fixes and immediate relief… However, these apps usually do not address the real reason… it’s like taking Ibuprofen when you break your leg in a bike accident… Healing the broken bones takes time… Ibuprofen might provide temporary pain relief, but your leg doesn’t become healthy and strong again unless you rest and pay attention to it…

To heal, you need to rest and pay attention…

To get unstuck from self-sabotage, you need observe without judging yourself.

You did not go to that yoga class?

You missed your run today?

You ate crappy fast food again?

You missed that trip (movie, theater, …) again, not really knowing why?…

Observe, observe, observe…

First, what are the facts?

Are you sick? – Of course, stay home and take it easy then.

You cannot afford that trip? – Maybe you can do something smaller then? Instead of going Bali, you might be able to drive to the beach or mountains closeby? Instead of two weeks, maybe you can do one week, or a long weekend?… Instead of staying in a five star hotel, maybe you can find something on AirBnB? How about camping?…

Sometimes we have real reasons, facts, that prevent us from doing what we really want to do.

And that’s ok. Life will give you another chance…

But sometimes it’s much more complex than that.

You’re not going to the gym because… you don’t really know why.

You’re not booking that trip because you worry about what your family, friends, or others in your life would think.

You’re not buying your dream car because you’re concerned about others’ opinions.

You’re not looking for a new job because you’re scared of the exit conversation with your boss (or colleagues).

Be very conscious.

Ask yourself the following questions. Be 100% honest…

  • What triggers you to seek excuses?
  • What paralyzes you instead of prompting action?
  • What patterns emerge? When do you repeatedly act against yourself?
  • What are you really afraid of?
  • How would you feel stepping up for yourself, and acting against our self-sabotaging anxiety? How would it feel to take that yoga class? Gym session? Book the travel? Apply for the job?…
  • What is the price of not doing? Short term, as well as long term?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • How would you feel in a year or two, staying where you are, still self-sabotaging yourself?
  • How would you feel in a year or two, overcoming your self-sabotage, and making a significant progress towards your goals (and the best version of yourself)?
  • You know you have to change something.

And here’s the secret:

After you notice self-sabotage in your life, answer these questions above, and unfold the patterns, you already made the first step.

Now, it will be much easier to distance yourself from those thoughts and say, “I see you… I know you… But I’m doing it anyway!”

➡️ If you want to talk about self-sabotage in your life, and the challenges you might experience, feel free to book a time with me here: Schedule a Call – Agnes Molnar

➡️ Recommended book: The Mountain Is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage Into Self-Mastery – by Brianna Wiest

I am a transformational life coach and leadership development coach, supporting high achieving professionals like you break down your limiting beliefs and step into a new, fulfilling reality that you never thought possible.

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