Individual, Family & Group Psychotherapy
Locations in New York & New Jersey
Oct 16

Top 5 Self-Sabotaging Habits to Stop Right Now



More than 150 people and counting have taken at least one of our new email coaching programs. Hope and I have learned a lot about the self-sabotaging habits that people tend to struggle with.

woman knock outI’d like to share the top 5 self-sabotaging habits with you, with a few key insights about each.

First, a self-sabotaging habit is a recurring behavior that takes us in the opposite direction of fulfillment and happiness. Knowing this, you’d think all of us would simply stop.

Yet, experience with clients and in our own lives tells us that it’s not that simple in practice.

Yes, by all means, STOP your self-sabotage. Just quit it.

And when you can’t seem to get yourself to simply do that, seek education and guidance. You’ll need it. When you just cannot keep yourself from doing things that cause you harm, then you need more information and guidance.

With that, here are the top 5 self-sabotaging habits we’ve been helping people (and ourselves) overcome – and what we’ve learned by working with 150+ people in the last month.

1. Procrastination
We’ve been surprised at how many people are dealing with procrastination!

So, you have some important yet not-so-enjoyable things on your to-do list? Wisdom says “get it done!” Then, you are free to enjoy your time doing other stuff, right?

When you procrastinate, you might be telling yourself that you’d rather be spending your time doing what you enjoy, so you justify procrastinating the nasty tasks you hate.

Not so fast. With annoying stuff to do hanging over your head, you don’t enjoy yourself fully even when you are engage in “fun” diversions.

Also, procrastination leads to feelings of overwhelm, guilt, anxiety, incompetence, low self-esteem and failure. In short, procrastination serves as a tool to keep these negative emotions alive.

2. Autopilot Behaviors
This is a general category that might include mindless eating/overeating, use of substances, marathon television episodes. Basically, when you act without thinking, following the easy path of least resistance.

Some of these may be legitimate addictions. Still, to make progress, you need to get off autopilot and begin to make conscious choices. Then, you may be confronted with the underlying reasons you are behaving this way.

These reasons may include feelings of self-deprivation, emptiness and a general fear of being happy. Amazing, huh? We fill our lives with mindlessness in order to steer clear of an inner void.

Yet, if we don’t acknowledge and confront the void, we can never learn to fill it with positive emotions that offer greater fulfillment.

3. Emotional Isolation
So many of us refrain from speaking the truth and sharing with we really think and feel. We justify doing this by telling ourselves that doing so would invite rejection. We don’t want to feel rejected and alone, so we hold back.

Interestingly, the only real way to connect with people is to share your genuine thoughts and feelings. So, withholding only guarantees that you will never connect. The solution to rejection and isolation, ironically, backfires in this case.

It’s true, if you express yourself, some may disagree or even disapprove of you. And it’s good to know who these people are. Conversely, there are those that will appreciate you and fully engage you when they get to know the real you. These are your friends and supporters – another good-to-know!

4. Self-loathing
Self-criticism is the vehicle that self-loathing uses to wreak havoc in your life. It can happen in any environment. You could be at Disneyland – the happiest place on earth – and make yourself miserable with self-criticism.

Regardless of what’s going on outside, it’s what happens on the inside that matters. Some people achieve the greatest success that the world has to offer, yet are still miserable on the inside. That voice in their simply never has good things to say.

This is self-sabotage at it’s finest. Most often, inner critics have roots in the past. They are the leftovers from an earlier time that hang on day-to-day. And there only purpose seems to be to make you feel miserable.

The way to deal with inner voices rarely involves trying to ignore them. Most often, it involves learning something directly from them. Only then can you move on.

5. Personal Martyrdom
Ignoring your needs, allowing others to control you, catering to others (often against their wishes) until you are exhausted, resenting your self-imposed obligations…

Personal martrydom involves a vicious cycle of self-sabotage. In this case, your own needs are repressed and you end up feeling controlled and used by the needs of others. There is no fulfillment in this.

Most of all, personal martyrdom rejects offers for help, as if we are wholly committed to self-sacrifice. The challenge of the personal martyr is to open up to asking for and receiving help without feeling guilty or undeserving.

These are five of the top concerns people have been working through in our email coaching programs. They are all subtle (or not so subtle) forms of self-punishment.

Isn’t it time to stop?

If it is, just stop!

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