What Is Self-Sabotage?

Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals. The most common self-sabotaging behaviors are procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating, and forms of self-injury such as cutting. These acts may seem helpful in the moment, but they ultimately undermine us, especially when we engage in them repeatedly.

People aren't always aware of their own self-sabotage as the effects of their behavior may not show up for some time. Unfortunately, connecting a behavior to self-defeating consequences is no guarantee that a person will disengage from the behavior. Still, it is possible to overcome almost any form of self-sabotage, and people do it every day. There are behavioral therapies aimed at interrupting ingrained patterns of thought and action and strengthening deliberation and self-regulation processes. Motivational therapies reconnect people with their goals and values. There are even computer programs that help eliminate the constant temptation of online distractions.

Recent posts on Self-Sabotage

Relaxing the Over-Controller

By Tara Brach Ph.D. on June 21, 2017 in Finding True Refuge
How do we shift from the identity of a controlling, wanting, fearing self into a compassionate witness that can see what is going on and knows how to rest and just be?

What’s “Emotional Reasoning”—And Why Is It Such a Problem?

One of the most baffling psychological problems is to acutely feel the reality of something without its having any basis in fact. Here are some examples...

The 5 Defense Mechanisms That Can Sabotage Your Relationship

Defense mechanisms are a common way to manage anxiety, but they can get in the way of your close relationships. New research shows how to make your defense mechanisms work for you.

Are You at Risk for an Emotional Online Affair?

Committed partners should not seek emotional fulfillment online. Telling yourself you are “just looking” online puts you at risk for becoming emotionally attached to what you see.

The One Thing Recent Grads Get Wrong About Work

By Caroline Beaton on June 12, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
What I didn't realize about the real world.

Why That Person Who Hurt You Will Never Apologize

Here's why the person who hurt and betrayed you won't get it and feels no remorse.

Do You Have Toxic Anger Issues and Not Know It?

By Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D. on June 11, 2017 in Living Forward
People with problems managing their anger are often the last to know how damaging their anger can be to those around them. Learn how to increase your awareness and self-control.

Four (Dysfunctional) Things We Do to Avoid Disapproval

To best understand yourself and how you relate to others, you need to consider how, as a child, you might have adapted to your parents’ only partial acceptance of you.

Seven Toxic Relationship Habits That Need to Be Broken Today

Wouldn't it be great if relationships came with survival guides or instruction manuals?

Psychology of Peak Performance, Continued

By David Dillard-Wright Ph.D. on June 02, 2017 in Boundless
Endurance athletes teach lessons about mental toughness for everyone.

This Is What Happens to Your Brain When You Fail

By Caroline Beaton on May 25, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
Not only is this kind of failure spiral common; it's biological.

4 Ways People Sabotage Their Breakups

Healthfully letting go brings self-knowledge and psychological wellbeing. Here are a few common ways that people inadvertently sabotage their breakups and divorces.

4 Ways to Bring Self-Esteem to Your Romantic Relationship

When one or both members of a romantic union feel positively about themselves romantic bliss becomes less elusive. Here are 4 ways to work on your self-esteem in your relationship.

Decisiveness: The Fresh New Key to Success

Do you suffer making decisions? I have a solution for you. Incorporate this new approach into your life: decisiveness.

Three Reasons Why Most Motivational Speakers Are Dead Wrong

By Bobby Hoffman Ph.D. on April 24, 2017 in Motivate!
Many authors and speakers tout "proven formulas" and share "motivational secrets," guaranteed to improve performance and personal growth, but do these methods help or harm?

Are You Addicted to Your Sibling’s Addiction?

Help an addicted sibling by first saving yourself.
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Having to Hit Bottom Before You Change Is Often a Fallacy

By Gerry Heisler Ph.D. on March 21, 2017 in Relationship Boot Camp
Most struggle with behaviors which are self sabotage

You Are What You Think

Ways to change common negative thoughts and make positive life changes.

How to Stop the Break Up-Make Up Cycle

The pain of ending a meaningful relationship can be so great that many go back again and again to the same partner. Here are four ways to stop the break up-make up cycle.

Stop Sabotaging Yourself

How do you deal with your inner critic? How to keep that negative voice from sabotaging you.

Don’t Let Your Thinking Sabotage Your Goals

By David Ludden Ph.D. on February 24, 2017 in Talking Apes
How you see yourself in the future can either help or hinder your ability to delay gratification.

Letting Go of Unattainable Goals Has Psychological Perks

By Christopher Bergland on February 03, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
A new game-changing study identifies an unexpected silver lining of depression: People with depression can let go of unattainable goals more quickly, which has psychological perks.

How Do You Deal With Disappointment?

Your choices make a difference.

7 Truths If Someone You Love Is Addicted

Addiction can be overwhelming, especially to those on the outside looking in. Knowing what you’re dealing with helps.

The Sex Test Post-Test

By Mark B. Borg, Jr, Ph.D., Grant H. Brenner, MD, & Daniel Berry, RN, MHA on January 30, 2017 in Irrelationship
Irrelationship, the defensive mechanism many couples use when the prospect of true intimacy begins to show itself. It can easily manifest in sex and sexual behavior.

Climbing Maslow‘s Pyramid and the Courage to Change

By Po Chi Wu Ph.D. on January 18, 2017 in Jacob's Staff
How often do we focus on where our energy really goes when we try to change our behavior? Where does our moral compass guide us? How can our beliefs limit our growth?

Edgy Goal Setting

SMART goals are a great idea. But how do you actually implement them? Interval Goal Setting is a straightforward way to use your own performance to set new goals.

Caution—A Child’s Mistakes Can Last a Lifetime

In the above title, I’m using the term *mistake* in a dual sense. It’s intended to refer not only to a child's mistaken behaviors but also how parents can mistakenly react to them.

5 Ways to Stop Settling for Less Than You Deserve

A person becomes an accomplice in their own dissatisfaction when they always settle for less than what they want.