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

Cornerstone of Eating Disorder Recovery

Emotions are inescapable. Negative emotions are powerful. Attempts to rid them are what eating disorders thrive on. It is often easier to have an eating disorder than to feel bad

The Benefits of Avoidance

By Gregg Levoy on September 17, 2016 in Passion!
Resistance to your passions and callings may be a good omen. Why?

Crying on the Job: When Anger turns to Tears

Crying on the job is a catch-22; you’re weak if you "tear up" or "break down," but something worse if you "amp up" and "call out" the person who ticked you off.

4 Ways to Determine if You Have Self-Esteem Issues

If you struggle with self-esteem, you likely, repeatedly hit the same roadblocks within yourself and feel at a loss for improving your situation. There's a way out of this spiral.

On Making Mistakes

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on September 11, 2016 in How To Do Life
Thoughts on how to make fewer mistakes at work, outside work. Plus when risking failure is good.

It Might Be Time to Ditch the Backup Plan

By Amy Green M.A., C.C.C. on September 08, 2016 in Psy-curious
Is your backup plan a safety net holding you back? Research suggests it might be just that.

Mentally Strong People Don't Resent Other People's Success

Seeing people have what you want can be hard. But resenting their success will rob you of mental strength.

Our Loved Ones Are Not "Bun Worthy"

By Fran Simone Ph.D. on August 29, 2016 in A Family Affair
When addiction trumps good intentions, loved ones feel betrayed.
K. Ramsland

What If Jack the Ripper Lived With You?

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on August 27, 2016 in Shadow Boxing
An early tale based on Jack the Ripper shows the subtle way in which people see only what they need to see.
Free for Commercial Use/No Attribution Required/https://pixabay.com/en/choir-grilling-meat-celebrate-992493/

Who Are You?

By Tim Carey Ph.D. on August 18, 2016 in In Control
Angst, stress, and inner torment can arise when the goals of different mes are incompatible or even oppositional.

Acting Out of Conviction vs. Acting Out of Resentment

Conviction is the strong belief that a behavior is right, moral, and consistent with your deeper values. Like resentment, conviction provides a sense of certainty.

9 Habits That Can Keep You From Achieving Your Dreams

Your bad mental habits could be sabotaging your best efforts—and you might not even realize you're doing it.

Why It's So Hard to Get Over Some Breakup
s

By Suzanne Lachmann Psy.D. on August 08, 2016 in Me Before We
Chances are the more tumultuous the relationship was while you were in it, the more tumultuous your response in the aftermath of breakup will be.

Does Having a Plan B Sabotage Your Plan A?

Research has found that when you plan for failure, you're basically giving yourself permission not to succeed.

Why I’m Giving Up My Job as an Undercover Muppet

By Kristen Lee Ed.D., LICSW on July 29, 2016 in Reset 24/7
Are you a perpetual people pleaser? Our performance driven culture can leave us depleted, requiring us to rethink our obsession with perfectionism in favor of self-compassion.

How to Stop Dieting: 3 Keys to Sane, Sustainable Weight Loss

Most diets don't work because they're impossible to stick with for the long term. Try following these principles for successful sustainable weight loss.

Eating Anger

By Susan McQuillan M.S., RDN on July 25, 2016 in Cravings
You're angry because you're hurt. Don't make it worse by overeating or otherwise self-destructing; find new ways to cope.

5 Reasons We Tell People More Than We Should

There are many reasons why oversharers insist on telling you more than you want to hear.
PaulAloe/Flickr/Labelled for Reuse

Behaving Badly for Good Reasons

By Tim Carey Ph.D. on July 20, 2016 in In Control
The key to changing unwanted behavior is to find and get to know that place in your mind where the behavior is not unwanted.

Peanut Butter's Revenge

By Gregg McBride on July 20, 2016 in The Weight-ing Game
Hell hath no fury like a "trigger food" does for someone with a dieter's mentality. Especially when that someone is trying to eat, live and think healthy.

The Causes of Misery: Column A and Column B

Why do we become unhappy? There are two sets of factors, and knowing the difference between them can help us know how to cope.

The Case for Confrontation

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 17, 2016 in How To Do Life
Sometimes, a confrontation and refusal to back down is what's required.

Difficult Conversations

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 16, 2016 in How To Do Life
Alan Dershowitz talks about race, rape, and other third-rail issues.

Why Limit Yourself?

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on July 14, 2016 in Think, Act, Be
Sometimes what seems like a self-esteem problem turns out to be our intuition telling us we're capable of more.

The Poison Tendrils of Negative Emotions

By Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. on July 13, 2016 in Don't Delay
A recent research summary argues that negative emotions poison every aspect of successful self-regulation. Understanding this process is key to understanding procrastination.

Single and Frustrated? You May be Too Judgmental

By Caitlin Cantor LCSW, CST on July 09, 2016 in Modern Sex
Your judgmental thoughts may be in the way of getting to know people and connecting with them. If you're single and frustrated, it's time to get out of your own way.

3 Reasons Why Parents Let Their Kids Bully Them

Do you let your kid push you around? Here's how your childhood set you up to be bullied by your children.
Purchased from Deposit Photos/so47pics

5 Warning Signs That You Won't Succeed

By Pamela D. Garcy Ph.D. on July 07, 2016 in Fearless You
Warning: You might be sabotaging your success!

Taming Blame and Shame

By Michael F. Kay on July 06, 2016 in Financial Life Focus
What could be more destructive to your financial success and happiness than wallowing in blame and shame?
Photo by Kristin Meekhof

A Crisis of the Heart

Why some widows can't seem to make a relationship work post loss