Self-sabotage: What, Why and How

Today’s topic is too common to be ignored…. It is also hurtful and difficult to deal with. But that’s why I felt like talking about it.

It is our dear friend called Self-sabotage.

How many of you have already done something that they know they would regret later? And how many of you have repeated that over and over again?

As Kay Zega explains, “Self-Sabotage is the unconscious sabotaging/disrupting of best intentions that hinders some people from reaching their full potential and can stop others from enjoying the success they have achieved”.

So what does it really mean?

It means that there is something in you that blocks you. It keeps you in a negative energy where you just sabotage or disrupt the good things you are intending to do. Whether it concerns your health, your finances, your relationships… Self-sabotage can show up in any area of your life. It can even break down good things you achieved, just to keep you from enjoying the rewards of success.

Self-sabotage is subconscious. It is a drive that makes us do things, even if consciously, we really don’t want that!

The most difficult part is to realise it, to become aware of it. Once we recognise it when it shows up, it is easier to deal with it. Self-sabotaging happens mainly when tough difficult emotions take place inside. Whatever is happening, those emotions open the door to our self-sabotage. We let them take over and we let them make us do something harmful, or perhaps we let someone do something harmful to ourselves…. The most common emotions that trigger such a behaviour are fear, low self-esteem, timidity, jealousy and envy, criticism, hatred, pessimism, laziness, sense of futility, frustration, panic, anger, rage, arrogance, greed. . .


These are the most common self-sabotage symptoms. But of course, there are many others:

-          Improving your daily habits only to go back to the old bad ones shortly after

-          Starting something and quitting before completion

-          Eating/drinking/doing things that are harmful to you, to your physical and mental health, to your wellbeing

-          Inability to stay on long term relationships, or staying in destructive relationships

-          Saving money for an important special reason for you, and spending it all suddenly in an uncontrollable manner

-          Joining a class (dancing, art, a gym, whatever it is), but never attend because you are too busy, or only once or twice at the beginning, and feel bad and guilty about it

-          Whatever you accomplish, you feel it is never good enough. And to you things have to be either perfect, or everything is ruined. Those self-defeating thoughts are what we call perfectionism. Often perceived as great, they are usually depressing and lead to many self-sabotaging behaviours

-          Feeling stuck on your way and not being able to move pass that point

-          Feeling like being a fake, being a failure and no one but you can really see it (that’s what you think of yourself), not belonging to where you are, not deserving your success or happiness

-          Not doing things today because you are going to do them tomorrow (that’s what you think). This is called procrastination: "the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday" (Napoleon Hill).


Those are the most common signs of Self-Sabotage to me. They can vary a lot depending on the people.


It’s often the fear of success that holds people back, sometimes even more than the fear of failure. They are consciously, or unconsciously, scared of what would happen if they did succeed. Some people sabotage their own success because their people start looking differently at them and they don’t want to become “different”, they are scared of losing those people. But to be honest: if those people were the good ones for you, wouldn’t they be up there celebrating your success rather than criticising it? Again, it’s all in your head and it depends a lot on your mindset.

It can also be because you have deep negative inner beliefs, often from your childhood (SEE MY BLOG about it). You don’t believe in your ability to succeed. You think you don’t deserve it. You think it’s just not for you. So what happens is that you self-sabotage your own success in order to prove to yourself that those negative and limiting inner beliefs are right! This might be completely unconscious but I do believe that this happens many times.  

Do you have a self-talk going on inside of you where you often hear: “I can’t”, or “I shouldn’t”, or “I don’t deserve”, or “I won’t last”? All those things create a negative energy around you that actually attracts negative things from the same vibrational energy to you. The result? The result is exactly what you were saying to yourself: you can’t, you shouldn’t so you haven’t, and you don’t last because you just quit whenever it becomes a bit harder.

When you start recognizing those patterns: the limiting beliefs, leading to negative thoughts, leading to self-criticizing and self-punishing negative self-talks, leading to self-sabotage…… then you can choose to change them and get out of this self-sabotage spiral. By recognizing those negative thoughts, you can start avoiding them, stopping them. TELL YOURSELF OFF! Choose positive, encouraging, loving thoughts. Work on your inner beliefs. Those that are ingrained in you and that you have to re-program to realize that YES, you are worth it. That YES, you can do whatever you want to. That YES, you can be as successful, or even MORE successful than the people you admire. CHOOSE to be positive, and loving. Choose to attract great energy to you, positive people, positive mindsets. Choose to be kind to yourself, and stop punishing yourself every time you do something “wrong”…. It is useless. Instead, acknowledge what you did, maybe enjoy it! and move on. Don’t stick with those negative self-talks. They put you down and honestly, you don’t need that!

And while you are liberating yourself from those negative energies, get over the limitation of other people’s minds. Don’t let them keep you from doing or achieving what you really want to. Their own beliefs and values limitations… are theirs. You don’t need to make yourself smaller just to be at the same level. Rise up. Free yourself. Stop being so humble and be PROUD of who you really are! That’s why it is so important that you surround yourself with people that are in line with your goals, people who believe in your greatness even more than you believe in yourself. People who will attract you into their own circle of positive energy, of freedom. And the other ones on your way? Well hopefully you can inspire them and show them that YES, they can achieve great things too.


Recognizing those patterns is the first step. Now if you are ready and willing to break free, to let go of dominating or controlling everything (or being controlled), to take power over your own thoughts and beliefs, than you are ready to let go of your self-sabotage.

Here are some essential steps to overcome your self-sabotage:

-          Recognize when you are actually sabotaging yourself. Admit it, accept it. Be aware of it without judging, without blaming, without feeling guilty or ashamed. You know it, you can see it coming when it is on its way again, and that’s ok. Now, you know where it comes from and you have the tools to change this negative pattern. Self-destructive talks won’t have their place anymore

-          How do you self-sabotage: in your relationships? Your destructive eating/drinking consumption? Your binge eating? Your professional career?

-          Understand why: why do you react like that? WHAT IS IN IT FOR YOU? How does it make you feel better, in some way? Get to the core of why you behave like that. Analyse your emotions: fear? Guilt? Anger? Shame? Maybe you will sabotage your relationship, but the underlying cause will still be there and you will be confronted to the same situation with your next partner…. You have to confront the real issue. This is one of the toughest part maybe. But don’t be afraid. Go deep in there and change the pattern.

-          Don’t let your happiness depend on others: your happiness is IN YOU! You have the power to do what you want, to be happy, to live the life you want. Don’t let destructive emotions like fear, guilt, low-confidence, anger, take control over your life. If you are willing to change, REALLY WILLING to change, than you can do it. Often people don’t like change, even if it is for the better. They are so used to their “poor” condition that they don’t even imagine living any other way. So be willing to be at your best, to TAKE THE CHANCE to have the life you want. Go for it.

-          While you will consciously change, your unconscious mind has to transform at a deeper level, and that’s where we talk about the “paradigm shift” (SEE MY BLOG HERE). Your inner beliefs and program of thinking have to change, for a better. Use the tips I give in my blog to help you change them

-          Your journey will be perfectly imperfect, exactly as you are! With many ups and downs. Celebrate each step. Yes you will most probably self-sabotage yourself even if you are more aware of all of it. IT IS NORMAL. Stop blaming yourself. Accept it and move on, knowing that you are on the right way and that as you are working on it and as time goes by, you will be self-sabotaging less and less. Just be happy about yourself and celebrate each one of your success, as little as it still seems to you!!

-          Learn on the way. Learn about yourself, and let yourself…grow! Yes you will be making mistakes on the way, and that is why you will grow even more. Learn from them, and move on. No negative emotions anymore. Life is beautiful. Be loving, kind, be your best friend.

Some personal special tips about the most common cases of self-sabotage:

If you are on a healthy lifestyle journey and see yourself binge eating (or falling for junk foods, “bad” foods…) and you don’t know how to “control” those crisis: STOP CONTROLLING! Binge eating (or falling for those "bad" foods) usually happens BECAUSE you are trying to control everything: you control what you eat, you might be counting calories (BIG mistake!!), how many times and how long you train, etc etc. You are putting so much pressure on yourself, that if one day you have just a tiny bit of a “forbidden” food, to you it means you failed for the day and you just binge eat because anyway, you screwed it up! This is a symptom of too much pressure, too much PERFECTIONISM. Life is made of ups and downs, some days will be better than others, but you don’t need to beat yourself up like that just because your day hasn’t been “perfect”. Have that little chocolate if that’s what you feel like and everything will be ok. Perfectionism is often the outcome of a deeper inner belief where you might think things like: “I am worthy of love ONLY IF….”. This is the type of PARADIGM that you might have had since childhood, maybe because that’s how you felt towards your parents. Some kind of conditional love: if you are not perfect, we won’t love you as much. Think about it, meditate on it, and above all, LOVE YOURSELF. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone! Life is not about being perfect. I like to say that everyone is perfectly imperfect. We all have our weaknesses. But that’s what makes it all beautiful and even more interesting. So stop punishing yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself, it is so not worth it. Love yourself NO MATTER WHAT. Some days you will be at the top of the top, and some other days you will feel down and not as good. Well you know what? Laugh at it. Because you know that those destructive emotions won’t last anyway. We all go through them from time to time. The most important is the way you react to them. It is amazing to be focus on your own health and fitness. But loving yourself is the basis and is a MUST during the journey. So be the awesome imperfect person that you are, and enjoy your life! And you will see: with time, you will eventually stop self-sabotaging yourself like that.

On a more “physical” note: if you count your calories, and tend to eat low-fat foods…. Your body will always go on asking you more as it is not getting what it needs. Cravings are often also a sign of Adrenal fatigue. So for this and for many other reasons, I would suggest you add some good fats in your daily meals, like Coconut Oil, Avocado, grass-fed meats or wild-caught fish, nuts and seeds, olive oil….. Stop counting your calories and balance out your meals better. This might help you A LOT.


I hope this article gave you some good insight about how to handle your self-sabotage. There are also many holistic therapies that can help you target better your deeper inner troubles, like EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Hypnotherapy, Counseling…. At the end what counts is your awareness and your personal inner work. Dip down into yourself and again, BE LOVING. Whatever you will find, it will be an enormous step for you, as it will help you become so much better, in everything. So trust the journey, trust the abundance of Love everywhere, and ENJOY LIFE.

I am happy to help if you have particular questions regarding your own self-sabotage behaviour.

In Love and Happiness,