How Self-Sabotage Prevents You from Being Successful

Don’t let self-sabotage stop you from even beginning.

Why do we make up scenarios in our head that prevent us from being successful?

Tell me if this has happened to you:

You have an idea that will create an incredible opportunity, sending you on a trajectory of success. There’s just one problem. You have to reach out to someone and pitch yourself. Maybe you have to ask them for a favor. 

And then the idea, the opportunity falls dead in your brain. You no longer choose to pursue it because it’s not worth putting yourself out there, or inconveniencing someone, or feeling that rejection. 

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. 

The process goes like this: 
I have a brilliant idea or I think I can create this exciting opportunity for myself. 

To start this idea moving forward, I just need to do this simple thing:
I just need to send her a LinkedIn message.
I just need to write a quick pitch to a complete stranger.
I just need to ask her to put me in touch with her editor. 

But almost immediately, my brain sends me a big NOPE. The mind has the ability to create very convincing, full-fledged (and often totally absurd) scenarios that can prevent you from taking that very simple first step. 
That person is busy. What makes you think you’re worth her time?
Email a complete stranger, are you crazy? They won’t respond.
You are not good enough to be put in touch with an editor. You’ll embarrass yourself by just asking. 

My brain creates these scenarios that stop me from pursuing potentially amazing ideas or opportunities before they even get off the ground. 

This is called self-sabotage. 

Can we just take a moment to say those words out loud and really consider them? 

Self. Sabotage. 

It’s a deliberate choice to stop yourself from getting the things you want and deserve. 

Self-sabotage is any behavior that interferes with your goals. There are a lot of underlying reasons why it’s done. It could be:

  • Fear of abandonment, criticism, and failure (definitely me).
  • Lack of self worth or perceived fraudulence. 
  • Comfort or dependence on familiarity (also me). 

All of these stem from the desire to protect oneself. But when you self-sabotage, you’re doing the opposite and causing harm. 

So today I invite you to explore what’s causing your self-sabotage. Take some time to reflect on it. Identify when it happens and work on creating awareness of your own self-sabotaging behaviors. 

And can we now, just this once, tell our brain that it can’t predict the future? That the scenarios it creates are wrong and misleading? 

And at the same time maybe can we build up the tiniest bit of courage to do that thing we want to do, like reach out to that person who has a connection you’d like to make. 

And then, perhaps after doing it once or twice, we can work up to doing it every day, or at least more often. And maybe with time, it will hurt less when it doesn’t work out. Maybe we can start to re-frame and think that failure and rejection isn’t that bad. It’s just part of the process. Completely normal. And absolutely necessary on the way to success. 

What do you think? Are you ready to start? How do you self-sabotage? 

Image Credit: Danielle MacInnes


  1. Reply

    This is a truly lovely post that I believe many people can identify with. Putting yourself out there is tough! The first step is realizing when you’re putting yourself in your own way.

    1. Reply

      Yes! I love you your phrased that: “Putting yourself in your own way.” I do it way too much.

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