Sunday, 15 January 2017

How to Avoid Self-Sabotage

For thousands of people across the globe, the New Year is a time for goal setting. Whether you believe in resolutions or not, we can’t help but feel slightly inspired to create a few ‘I’d like to do…’, or ‘I will achieve…’ situations for the year ahead.

As you all know, I do love a good list writing session, and jotting down all the possibilities a new year brings would be my perfect Saturday night! I haven’t been as regimented with my resolutions for 2017. My recent illness and battle with depression and anxiety have taken the shine off setting too many challenges. However, the goals I have set for myself are still bold enough to push me out of my comfort zone and keep me focused.

One of my main faults is a tendency for
procrastination. The pull of social media can be too much some days, and I will lose an hour or two surfing cute kitty pictures, or watching DIY videos on how to make bath bombs! I will then glance at my ever increasing to-do list and feel guilty.

Even though my procrastination doesn’t do any real harm, it is still an act of self-sabotage, and this is one of my top goals to work on during 2017.

Self-sabotage affects many areas of our lives. It can have an impact on our careers, friendships, and relationships. We can ‘act out’ in a variety of ways including over-indulgence in alcohol, and eating fatty/sweet (comfort) foods. I gave up alcohol three years ago because I realised that I was using it as a crutch. Instead of working on any uncomfortable issues or emotions, I masked them with a bottle of Chardonnay. Instead of developing my social skills, I flung as many mojitos down my neck as possible so that I could be ‘the life and soul of the party’. Unfortunately, alcohol is also a depressant so I would wake up the next morning feeling groggy and nauseous, and then over analyse every moment of the evening to see if I’d said something wrong, offended anyone, made a fool of myself or embarrassed myself or my friends/family. It was a vicious cycle of anxiety, guilt, and self-hatred. So I stopped drinking.

It’s only more recently that I understood the nature of self-sabotage. In truth, it’s just our warped attempt to protect ourselves from harm. I realise that my procrastination is linked to a limiting belief that ‘I’m not good enough.’ The only way I will change my procrastination habit is to recognise that fact and understand that this single belief is what’s driving my self-sabotage.

Can you resonate with this? Do you follow a similar pattern? Maybe you drink a bit more that you should, or rack up a credit card bill on inconsequential items. Are you single and feel like you’re always pushing potential partners away, or maybe you are often overlooked for promotion. All of these situations can occur because you are self-sabotaging.

How can you break the cycle?

I always revert to my obsession with list writing to help me dig a little deeper into my subconscious. Journaling works well but sometimes we need a list rather than a group of sentences.

If I wanted to discover more about my procrastination habits, for example, I would jot down everything associated with that word or theme.

Things like:




My list is much longer and if I think of anything else I’ll add it. Once complete I can analyse the words I’ve chosen to see if there is a pattern or any revelations.

The three words I’ve shared above cover my ‘I’m not good enough’ scenario quite well. Fear - I’m afraid that people will think I’m an idiot. Avoidance - If I don’t start a project then I can’t finish it and then I’m safe from people seeing it and thinking I’m an idiot. Humiliation – What if I complete a project and share it, and people think I’m an idiot?

I’m sharing this example with you because I am fully aware of where this limiting belief comes from (an ex-husband) and I’m working hard to dispel it. What I want you to do is take a look at your own life and see if you’ve developed any self-sabotaging habits.

Do you believe that you deserve good things in life? Can you follow your dreams and believe they will come true? Answer honestly. If you feel a resistance, think about the words or feelings that are bubbling up and jot them down. These words will help you to discover more about your beliefs.

Learning to avoid self-sabotage comes from an understanding of how you are holding yourself back. You can only change what you know. Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix, but to recognise what is driving your behaviour is a step in the right direction.

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here:  Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages and You can also find me on Pinterest


  1. Very illuminating blog. Having had 'never good enough' parents, I struggle with accepting that anything I do is 'good enough' from writing to being. And am constantly telling myself that I 'deserve' the nice reviews, the friendly people I meet. Do you think it is worse because of our gender? I meet few men who are as introspective and self-doubting as women.

    1. Thank you, Carol. As an avid reader of your books I can say with absolute honesty that you ARE most definitely good enough and DO deserve good fortune and friends. I think as women we share our emotions more than men so it probably seems like these feelings of self-doubt are linked to our gender. Having two sons and watching them also struggle with aspects of self-doubt I believe men also deal with this but keep it locked away.

  2. Thank you, Shelley. A great post. It rang lots of bells for me (but then, I'm female!)

    1. Thanks, June. Yes, as Carol mentioned in her comment, I think the female population tackle issues in a more public way - sometimes! I know that I struggled in silence for far too many years until I realised what a help it was for my own recovery and for other people. Thanks for stopping by x

  3. This resonated with me too, Shelley. I've battled with the 'it's my fault' syndrome all my life, a twin sister to 'I'm not good enough'. Similar reasons to yours, but I think I'm better about it now. It still gets me, though, especially if I'm feeling not good enough about something! Great tips as always!

    1. Thank you so much, Val. I notice how the feelings get stronger when I'm feeling low, or have been ill. It's like they attack when we are at our most vulnerable. x

  4. Ah. Yes. self-sabotage and I are old friends and for very similar reasons. Thank you Shelley, for the gentle reminder that we ARE good enough. Sue x

  5. An interesting post. Self-awareness is a good first step, but then I fall into the trap of knowing what I'll do and not thinking about how not to do it. We're all a work in progress.

  6. I totally agree with you, April. I'm starting to notice warning signs which help me face the trap you mentioned, however, it's taken time to notice the triggers and signs. X