Self-sabotage and self-defeating behaviors can happen to anyone. Depending on your situation, they can lead to procrastination, indecision, anger, lack of focus, chemical dependency, self-pity, self-doubt and more. Whether you’re coping with too much pressure or too little motivation, you may need to take time to adjust your priorities and expectations. Stop demanding perfection and aim for improvement instead.
What Self-Sabotage Looks Like
Self-sabotage and self-defeating behavior is easy to find. These are the things that you do on a regular basis that you know are bad or self-destructive, such as procrastination, but you do them anyway. You have a report due on Friday but you wait until the last minute to get it done. You leave the dishes in the sink even though you know it angers your spouse. You don’t return important phone calls.
Chances are, your self-sabotaging behaviors have the same underlying cause. If you are not returning important phone calls, it may be because you lack confidence in yourself or, your abilities – you may also hate your job and are looking for ways to make the day easier. Though these coping methods may provide some short-term relief, they’ll ultimately make your life more stressful and difficult. You could end up paying for these mistakes with reduced income, lower self-worth, unfulfilling relationships and emotional turmoil.
How to Break the Cycle
1. Recognize the Pattern
To break the cycle of self-sabotage, you must first recognize the pattern. I’ve found that I tend to focus on trivial, minor tasks when I have an emotional block to my work. The project may be due tomorrow, but my self-doubt leads me to snack, tidy up, answer emails or reorganize my office. These are called non-confronts; you find other things to occupy your time so that you have an excuse when your work goes unfinished.
You insist that you were too busy to get it done, which is only half true. Yes, you were busy, but with all of the wrong things. You procrastinated by not prioritizing. There is a difference between being busy and being productive - successful people find a way to get focused and stay on what is important.
What are your non-confronts? What sort of “busy-work” do you put ahead of your obligations?