Yourdictionary.com defines self-sabotage as:
(Noun) The sabotaging, whether consciously or subconsciously, of oneself;
(Verb) To sabotage oneself or one’s own plans.
Self-sabotage sucks and the worst part about it is that many times people don’t even recognize it in their lives! This is something that happens often when I work with coaching clients. They feel stuck (read: 3 Steps to Getting Unstuck), they feel confused, and often they feel a great deal of anger towards themselves. Below are a few tidbits of wisdom that have come out of my coaching sessions around what is helpful for clients to overcome self-sabotage.
Admit that self-sabotage is occurring
The first step to solving a problem is admitting that it exists. Self-sabotage may be hard to spot. Or a person may simply be in denial. However, once the realization occurs, it’s time to take action. Though it is hard to admit to self, it can actually be addressed once it is. Work with a professional coach and get to the admission stage faster! Here are some great books on recognizing self-sabotage that I have coached on with clients:
- Why Do I Do That?: Psychological Defense Mechanisms and the Hidden Ways They Shape Our Lives
- Addicted to the Monkey Mind: Change the Programming That Sabotages Your Life
- Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior
Understand what the self-sabotaging patterns look like
Once a person has recognized that self-sabotage is a serious and real part of what’s derailing their progress, it’s time to look inside. Figure out what those patterns look like that aren’t useful. Jot down what that looks like. For example, say someone is trying to lose weight but they can’t seem to stick to their diet for more than a few days at a time before eating junk.
This is the time to reflect. A person should ask themselves when they seem to be most tempted to eat junk. What type of junk do they crave when they fall off of the wagon. What times of the day/week/month do cravings for junk strike most frequently. The answers to these questions provide powerful insights into what is really going on behind the self-sabotaging behaviors. Some cool books I’ve coached on with clients around identifying such patterns include:
- The Saboteur Within: The Definitive Guide To Overcoming Self Sabotage
- Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life
- Stop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back
Make a plan to address self-sabotaging behaviors…one at a time
We’ve all heard the saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same goes for overcoming self-sabotage. Any person who has admitted and taken the time to do a little internal digging is ready for the next step. That step is to make a plan. But wait! This plan should be simple and straightforward. This means only one self-sabotaging pattern of behavior should be addressed at a time.
Let’s look at the previous example. For the person who is struggling with sticking to their diet, they have discovered they eat junk mostly after work on Wednesdays through Fridays. Ok, that’s telling. In this example, they need to examine what’s going on before the junk food fest occurs that triggers the event.
I’ve actually coached several clients in similar situations. The underlying factor was stress. Work stress increased after work as the week progressed. Each client came up with a different solution that worked for them. Decompression before leaving the office could work. Eating a snack before leaving the office is another possibility. Some books that clients have found useful in this action step of addressing self-sabotage include:
- Get Out Of Your Own Way 21 Days to Stop Self Sabotage
- The Fear Workbook: How to Stop Procrastination, Self-Sabotage, and Fear from Stealing Your Dream Goals
- Workbook: Overcoming Self-Sabotage: Get Out Your Own way
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Other posts of interests:
♦ 3 Steps to Getting Unstuck
♦ How Are You Finding Your Bliss?
♦ How to Give Yourself Permission to Want More
♦ 5 Ways Self-Sabotage Is Stopping You From Reaching Your Goals
♦ Secret Reasons Why Professional Coaches Are NOT Calling You Back