How to Stop Self-sabotaging Behaviors
Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with your life and goals. You may well be self-sabotaging without even realizing it.
There are many reasons you could be self-sabotaging – from holding dysfunctional beliefs to underestimating your abilities. If you don’t understand if and why you’re performing these types of actions, you will end up in a cycle of ever-increasing patterns of self-defeat. And these patterns are difficult to escape from.
Here are some common self-sabotaging behaviors you may be guilty of, with a look at why you may be doing them and how to stop.
Do you procrastinate? Why?
Procrastination is classic self-sabotage and it can be about any important task. When you procrastinate, you’re usually saying you don’t want to do something you dislike – or at least not right now, for example prospecting or cold calling. If you develop this mindset, you’ll become your own worst enemy. By putting off prospecting day after day it will become the norm and your business will suffer as a result.
Why do we display this kind of behavior? Putting off aversive tasks gives short-term advantages. By removing the disliked task, you’re displaying negative reinforcement – you’ve removed the unpleasant stimulus and you’re rewarded by feeling relieved.
To break the habit, you need to become conscious about this form of self-avoidance. Put aside negative emotions and simply get on with the task in hand. Just getting started will fuel your well-being and motivation. It will require conscious effort, and energy but by ‘acting on the moment’ you’ll develop new habits – the habits of someone who gets ‘stuff done’.
Why do you ‘party the night before the presentation’?
This can wreak havoc in your professional life. If you deliberately set out to ruin your chances of winning new business by making certain you’ll underperform, you could be afraid of or feel undeserving of success. Ironically, this can happen to some of the most driven people who work hard and aim high.
Your behavior the night before your presentation is in many senses the ‘scapegoat’. You can blame your failure on something else – not on yourself. Ever heard people say they failed the exam ‘because they didn’t go to class’? Not their fault.
Similarly, when you over-indulge the night before a big meeting you can blame it on your hangover when you fail to get the new business. It’s easier than saying it was because you weren’t prepared, confident or professional enough.
To stop this form of self-sabotage you need to understand that it’s you and not fate that determines what happens next. Believe you can control your own destiny. If your current success rate isn’t great, you can do things to fix this. Improve your soft skills so that you nail your presentations time after time – and enter each fray with positivity.
Why do you try to be perfect?
It can be paralyzing to not live up to your own expectations by feeling you’re not clever or capable enough. Perfectionism is more than high-achieving behavior, it’s really about a fear of failure.
By constantly setting the bar too high you will burn out. A tendency to perfectionism could date back to childhood, maybe from family or social pressure.
To help you overcome this self-sabotaging behavior try to see each setback not as failure but as a bump in the road on the way to success. And don’t compare yourself to others. If you work hard you can and will improve. Forgive yourself for mistakes. Successful people fail all the time in their endeavors. Unsuccessful people give up at the first hurdle.
Self-sabotage can have many causes, but in any case you end up with bad results and fall into a trap of more self-sabotage. It takes time to change behaviors and you’ll need patience and dedication as you replace old habits with new ones. But if you identify which behaviors you want to change, stick with the plan, and stay positive, you can change things around.