Self-sabotage is something that just about everyone is guilty of in one way or another. By my definition, self-sabotage is robbing yourself of success subconsciously, in a manner where you ultimately justify it and oftentimes even play the victim.
Here’s an example of this, just to drive the point home. Let’s say you’ve been training to run that marathon you’ve always wanted to compete in. You’ve been training for six, seven, eight months running every day. You work daily to get up to the mileage that you need in order to do it.
The day before the marathon you decide to go out and play paintball with your friends. While you’re out having fun playing paintball, you’ve got your mind off the marathon. As you’re running around, you twist your ankle and now you can’t run in the marathon you’ve trained so hard for.
You’ll blame the paintball game, saying how much you were looking forward to running that marathon but now you can’t because you twisted your ankle.
Or in business, let’s say you’ve been getting ready to launch a new product you’ve been working on and it’s time to start your advertising campaign. In this scenario, you had been taught how to advertise on Google. But instead of listening to exactly how you were taught, you decide the Google gods have blessed you and you have instantly become a Google expert, so you must know the better way to advertise on Google than what you’ve been taught.
So, what do you do? You fail. Then you damn the person who trained you saying, “I knew it wouldn’t work for me.” When in reality, you didn’t do it in the right way, to begin with.
I could probably fill up volumes of books with the times in my life when I have self-sabotaged myself. We all do things that self-sabotage our own efforts.
Why do we do it? It could be fear, inadequacy, or just not wanting to take responsibility. There are multiple other reasons we can certainly delve into but let me explain these three.
Fear is not isolated to the feeling you get when you face uncertainty; it can also be a fear of what others may think. Oftentimes, we unknowingly believe that if we don’t complete the project or task at hand then it can’t be criticized. If they can’t criticize what was done, then we won’t feel that pain and possibly the embarrassment of criticism. If we don’t feel embarrassed, we can continue in our lives without this pain, and everything will come up roses for us.
Feeling that we’re just not good enough is another way we self-sabotage ourselves. So again, we avoid this pain by not completing the task or project at hand. Inadequacy is an internal feeling which reflects our own opinion of ourselves. No one can make you feel inadequate—they can only amplify that which is already there. In other words, if someone says something to you and it makes you feel inadequate, you had that feeling long before that person said it. Their words and statements just amplified the feeling that was already sitting there, maybe in even hibernation, but it was there nonetheless.
Not taking responsibility is just as dangerous as the first two examples of self-sabotage. Life is about taking control. If we let others take responsibility for our life, we ultimately let others take control of us. In order to succeed, we have to be responsible. We have to take responsibility. We have to be in control of our own lives.
I am just like anyone else in my self-sabotaging ways. I’ve often noticed myself self-sabotaging my efforts in order to complete something. Often, I even let it pass and yes, in certain cases, I even put the blame on others because it was their fault not mine that something wasn’t accomplished. This is not a victim game. Life is a game of responsibility, and we have to take that on for ourselves.
The next time it looks like you might be heading down the road that leads to self-sabotage, be brave and believe that you are more than adequate. Take responsibility for your own success and move forward.
Quit stalling your success, and always remember that success leaves traces.