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

Touchy Toughies

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on May 22, 2016 in Ambigamy
Everyone needs a way to say "nope, I'm not going to listen." Here we explore two main "noping strategies" with an emphasis on how the rugged type do it.

EgyptAir: Now What?

The cause will not be officially determined for some time. But no airliner has come apart in mid-air due to technical failure in more than sixty years.

At the Gates of Commitment, Leave Illusions Behind

The biggest mistake we make in love is assuming that our partners' experience is the same as ours and that events and behaviors mean the same to them as they do to us.

The Power of Positive Self-Talk

One of the ways to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, hope, and joy is to intentionally fill our thoughts with positive self-talk.

The Peter Pan Syndrome

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on May 13, 2016 in How To Do Life
Why smart people fail.

The Neuroscience of Binge Drinking

What drives people to binge drink? Groundbreaking research has identified the brain mechanics of binge drinking and pinpointed a way to 'put the brakes' on binge drinking.

Why Complaining Rarely Gets You What You Want

What is the number one reason why people complain?

How to Tame Your Inner Critic

Getting to know and challenge our "critical inner voice” is one of the most essential psychological hurdles we can overcome in striving to live our version of our best life.

If Donald Trump Is a Narcissist…

Finally, like other pundits making silly if not stupid pronouncements of how things will play out, I plead, "No contest."

A Sure-Fire Way to Silence Your Inner Critic

Most of us have been conditioned from childhood to be our own harshest critics. That inner judge can shadow us, scrutinizing our every move and making us quite miserable.

Why You Should Never Vote Angry

Think about the last time you got very angry. Was what you said or did after you felt angry helpful? Or, did it make things worse?

Can Donald Trump "Unring a Bell?"

Did Donald Trump go one insult too far. And so, how will his being on the retreat and on the defensive come across to his supporters?

The Perils of Splashing Out

By Susan Wise Bauer Ph.D. on March 29, 2016 in Under the Sun
When you're on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, it's tempting to rack up those credit card charges while you're enjoying yourself. History suggests that this might not be a great idea.

A Toxic Coupling: Codependence & Drug Addiction

"Intervention Codependent" exposes the dual addiction of drug use & codependancy. Interventionist, Kristina Wandzilak claims "Behind every addict is an equally great codependent".

There’s No Such Thing as (Real) Self-Sabotage

By Adi Jaffe Ph.D. on March 21, 2016 in All About Addiction
When we talk about self-sabotage, we fool ourselves into thinking that some people purposefully disrupt their success in life. But that's just not true.

Young Men, Masculinity and Rage

Nobody is more vicious, more dangerous to himself and others, than a young man in pain--especially one who has driven his own hurt so deeply inside himself that he can't name it.

20 Signs You Are Too Self-Critical

Recognize these not-so-obvious signs of self-criticism.

Optimism: a Habit Worth Making

Looking for the good beats cataloging the bad any day.

Are You Thinking Yourself Out of Being Productive?

By Nacie Pereira on February 17, 2016 in Working Life
Are you really as productive as you tell yourself you are? Here's a quick spot check you can use right now to tell.

Of Love and Murder

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on February 14, 2016 in Shadow Boxing
Some people who participate in murder later claim that "love" had caused them to do bad things.

Too Skinny Models: Are They Models of Eating Disorders?

We really want to see a more healthful portrayal of female models who our daughters seek to emulate.

5 Ways We Sabotage Our Relationships (and How to Stop)

Consider that there may be deeper forces operating between you and your partners--here are 5 common ways people self-sabotage in romance.

Heroin Addiction Is Destroying the Lives of Young Americans

By Christopher Bergland on January 27, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Every day, approximately 125 Americans die from a heroin or opioid-related drug overdose. What can we do to stop the rising death toll? To learn more, please read this blog post.

Are Narcissists Born or Made?

Narcissism can be understood through developmental theory, but it can only be addressed through honesty and hard work.

How Do You Give Away Your Power?

How to avoid five common habits that hurt your progress.

Fear and Shame on New Year's Day

By Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. on January 01, 2016 in Don't Delay
The Roman god Janus, for whom January is named, had two faces. One looked back to the past; the other looked forward. As we do this today, let's talk about how this makes us feel.

Why New Year's Resolutions Often Produce the Opposite Effect

...one of the pioneers in the field of ironic mental control is quoted as arguing that the secret of making successful New Year's Resolutions is to keep them affirmative

Sober New Beginnings and Dry January

There’s pressure to get into the holiday spirit from all corners and there is often unspoken social pressure and friendly encouragement to overindulge in food and drink.

My Advice to a Baseball Player in a Slump

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on December 18, 2015 in How To Do Life
Lessons that may apply to any of us that are on a bad streak.

5 Ways We Reject Love (and How We Can Stop)

By Lisa Firestone Ph.D. on December 17, 2015 in Compassion Matters
Most of us don't realize all the big and small ways we push love away, but these behaviors are sure signs we're doing just that.