How to Stop Self Sabotaging

This week at work I had a realization that made me wonder why I hadn't thought of this before. Quick briefer, I'm a therapist, sorta. Technically I am, but I'm unlicensed, which means I'm in the process of earning my hours to be able to qualify to sit for the licensing exam.

I've completed my master's program and been trained in how to sit with everyday people and talk about the stuff that makes them feel like they are living anything less than a happy life. Thankfully I knew what I wanted to do from a young age, and maybe at one point I'll write about what actually led me to choose to study psychology and counseling.

But back to what I was saying, I had a realization. After a tough session with one of my regular clients, I found myself feeling really frustrated about how the hour had went. I was frustrated and they were feeling defeated, all because they were self-sabotaging in their everyday life.

Here's the thing, people base their worth, their ability to accomplish things, and how others will respond to them on past experiences. Meaning if others always praised you, you will most likely grow up to believe that your efforts will be recognized and good things will happen to you. On the flip side, those who have faced rejection from a young age have a worldview that tells them that hard work doesn't always mean rewards, people will never fully accept them, and that some things aren't worth trying for.

Related Post: How to Stay Healthy If You Hate Working Out

Are you guilty of sabotaging yourself because you fear what might happen? Read for the six steps I work through with my clients to help them achieve their full potential.

In the case of my tough session, I was frustrated that my client couldn't see both her potential and the ability for her to advocate for herself. This is a clear example of me being a bad therapist though. Why? Well I wasn't taking into account her worldview, which means I was pushing my beliefs of how fair the world is on her.

If you're someone who routinely tells yourself there's no point in trying, nobody will care, or that other's will mock/hate/laugh at what you create, keep reading to find alternate ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone one step at time.


How you judge your ability to succeed and be accepted is based on your past experiences. Before setting a goal that scares you, take time to reflect on past experiences that caused you anxiety or simply didn't work out. Break it down to what the barriers were, both within your control and outside of it.

Now that you know the barriers to success, compare those barriers to the ones today. If they are similar, address the ones that can be fixed. For example, do you have a friend who is constantly talking you down? How hard would it be to simply disconnect from this friend or make the choice to not involve them with your new goal. If the barrier is outside of your current control, such as lack of funds, explore who you can reach out to for support or ways in which you can create new revenues of money until you have what you need.


Some things are never going to change, and accepting those harsh realities are some of the reasons people attend therapy. For example, if you're an anxious person, most likely you will always be slightly shy or nervous. The trick is to not only accept this part of your personality, but embrace it!

Find the thing you cannot change, accept the reality, and embrace the pieces that you can. In my case, I am always going to be a blunt and slightly abrasive person. This means not everyone I encounter will want to be my friend, which I've learned to accept by celebrating the friendships I do have and embracing others with similar qualities. In no way do I try to change this aspect of myself, instead I accept my obstacle to making friends easily and encourage others to more authentically express themselves regardless of how others perceive them.

Related Post: How to Not Bail on Your New Year's Resolutions (5 Ways to Stay Committed)


As a therapist it's my job to work with my clients to set clear goals. Typically the goals we set have a six month span, meaning we aim to create goals that are attainable in six months and that we will revisit in six months. The trick to setting a goal that you won't bail on is to set a SMART goal, meaning it is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time based. If your goal can meet those five criteria, you're likely to be able to achiever it.

Are you guilty of sabotaging yourself because you fear what might happen? Read for the six steps I work through with my clients to help them achieve their full potential.


Let's pretend you came to me for therapy for a second. After a few sessions you set a goal of being able to run a half marathon six months from now. While this goal is a SMART goal, it's much too broad for you to get started. Analyze your goal and see how you can break it down into even smaller tasks, such as running twice a week, then running at least 5 miles a week, etc. Splitting your large goal into smaller more easily achievable tasks will prevent you from getting discouraged when you feel as if you're not making any progress.


Who says rewards have to come at the end? Once breaking down your overall goal into smaller tasks, set rewards for certain ones that will be difficult to accomplish. The reward doesn't have to be huge, plus you can choose rewards that relate to your overall goal. Let's say you were working towards a half marathon, a halfway point reward could be buying new sneakers or running pants.


I'm not going to lie, I'm not a big believer in positive self talk, but for some people it just really works. I follow a lot of life coaches on Instagram who consistently remind me to tell myself strong/smart/beautiful I am. In my case, I know I'll just end up laughing and rolling my eyes before moving on to whatever next thing is on my to do list.

You might be different though, which is why it's always worth testing out some positive affirmations in your life. Just don't ask me to give you any, unless you wanna repeat into the mirror, "you got this, and if not, fuck it. You'll just try again." Instagram is a great place to find life coaches who can help you learn how to affirm yourself, plus they usually promote one another to aid you in finding the one that best fits your personality.

So tell me, what's one thing you consistently self-sabotage? In my case it's my desire to be vegan, share yours in the comments below!

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1 comment

  1. I'm currently training to run a half marathon and i keep ignoring my training plan oops. I know I need to be running because if I don't, come race day I'm gonna be screwed but it is still a struggle to get out every day.
    So we'll see how this goes.