The Art Of Self-Sabotage

The art of self-sabotage materializes when we act in counter-productive ways that interfere with achieving our goals. This can become a skill.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Photograph Compliments of Noah Buscher

Self-Sabotage Defined

Self-sabotage is a pretty heavy subject. People can destroy themselves emotionally, physically, and mentally, undermining their goals and values with self-sabotage.

Here’s the good news – now that we have gotten the definition out of the way, we aren’t going to delve into the huge negativity associated with the practice of self-sabotage. There will be no discussion about bipolar disorder, self-immolation, comfort eating, and self-medication.

We will discuss psychology, comfort zones, and self-esteem. Pretty lightweight material, but little things can hinder our daily habits and eventual goals.

Why We Practice The Art Of Self-Sabotage

The attitudes we carry with us many times originate from our childhood environment. Internal and external causation influence our attitudes and beliefs. We can control how we react to life’s circumstances by our response. All of us have allowed and created mental prisons of some sort. Learning how to free ourselves can be an amazing process. Understanding the belief systems we carry is part of the journey.

Chances for our success are available to us more often than we think. Many of us are caught up in our expectations, unable to see open opportunities. If we don’t see it why bother pursuing the notion.

The Comfort Zone

Life is demanding and stressful; there are variable challenges in day-to-day reality. Stepping away from relatively stable circumstances can be uncomfortable; why would you want to do that? The familiarity with our environment helps us stay in control and experience lower anxiety and stress levels. It’s an excellent place to be, knowing what to expect and how you will deal with your daily expectations.

You get to stay confident and draw on your successes, minimize risks, spend less energy on daily tasks, avoid too much tension, and you can rejuvenate quickly. That’s why it’s called a comfort zone.

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Thoughts are powerful. Thoughts are energy; they stick to our brains. Best to remind yourself not to confuse them for reality but to keep them abstract. Negative musings are only musings. They have no power unless we allow it.

Photograph Compliments of Miquel Parera

What is a belief? That has been the philosopher’s puzzle since time immemorial. Defining belief and truth is challenging. In the age of out-of-control social media, the projection of belief is difficult to understand. At best, the cacophony of noise that, today, is being projected, all the differing opinions presented as facts, is unsettling.  

Self-belief is both a negative and positive thinking process. I propose that belief in one’s self is paramount. For example, as I grew up, my father told me that if people weren’t rich by their twenties, they would never grow rich. I read later that most millionaires come into money in their fifties and sixties. I believed through my thirties that I could never become wealthy because of what my father taught me. My actions followed that distorted belief.

Isn’t fear related to unconscious thinking? Can’t I control the thought rather than it controlling me? Why allow the consequence of fearfulness? I seek to remind myself to reclaim lost mental real estate. Surrendering to things beyond my control becomes an option. If I have created excuses to hide failures, then the fact of the matter is that I am lying to myself. Some circumstances offer no alternatives, and the built-up stress becomes destructive. Another form of self-sabotage.  

Various Mindsets Of Self-Sabotage


There is such a thing as being so in love with the process that you never finish what you started. Part of your identity lies in the actual process of doing the project, not finishing it.

Then there are those folks who are constantly getting ready to get ready. All the ducks need to be in a row before moving forward. A person can continuously practice the paralysis of analysis, a self-fulfilling prophecy of never being quite ready.

I have a friend who wanted to record music. Before deeply investigating the recording process, he decided to build a studio. He felt he had to have the proper tools before he could move forward.

He constructed a building separate from his house, complete with isolation, soundproofing, and HVAC. A comprehensive monitoring system was implemented, with multiple XLR inputs and electrical outlets on all the walls. The best components needed to be available, so he purchased Neumann microphones and analog inputs, stretching his budget to the limit.

After his dream recording studio was built, he discovered the actual recording process was too daunting and time-consuming. Everything had to be perfect before he could move ahead with his failure. Now the fancy little studio is a storage shed.


Procrastination comes in many forms. You can put off doing something till the last minute. A couple of examples would be letting yourself be distracted from your appointed tasks by sitting on the couch with a pint of ice cream and watching television or sleeping in when you shouldn’t.

Another form of procrastination is taking on too many projects. Maybe you are trying to avoid a project by taking on another; this can lead to an endless cycle of avoiding completed undertakings by finding something a new priority. This practice will help prevent the completion of other projects.

Are They Holding You back? 

Photograph Compliments of Pandav Tank

Who are you working with? Putting too much dependence on other people’s ethos is bound to come to disappointment. If they do not share your passion, fire, and commitment to your collaborations, you are bound to have less than positive outcomes.

The people you desire to work with probably have attributes you do not. Remember, when they become involved in your in your projects, you take on a part of their life. If their life interferes with your ongoing work, it’s time to cut the chord.

It’s easy to fall into a codependent relationship with folks you think are necessary to your success. When the commitment others make to you and then neglect to follow through, you are left holding the bag.

My hard drives have many projects of great potential left on the table. The people I patiently waited for had lives that contradicted their genuine commitment. These relationships became self-sabotaging.


Complacency often lies in tandem with being content where we are. Is the concept of accomplishment thrilling and exciting? Is there passion for the cause? Does it fire you up to see what’s next and what further progress lies in your future?  


Photograph Compliments of Anderson Rian

There are lots of great ideas out there. I know because I come up with them all the time. Putting that great idea into action is another game altogether. What if the aim challenges my comfort zone? 

What if they don’t like my work?

I might fail.

How much will change if I succeed?

There might be a lot of work involved.

I don’t have enough time.


The reality of it sums up like this: 

What if I don’t triumph in my efforts? Well, you might not end up at the place you had envisioned. There may be that gnawing feeling that you aren’t capable enough or even deserve the reward. Perseverance is everything. I have repeatedly heard that this is not a sprint but a marathon. Is it a matter of how fast we run 42 kilometers, or is it the accomplishment of only crossing the finish line? That, by itself, is a huge deal. 

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Fighting Self-Sabotage


To make that great idea come to fruition requires massive effort. There are myriads of challenges that may slow or even stop your progress. You can be distracted by your job, relationships, and social obligations. Isn’t it easier to watch a flat screen, observing others achieving destiny, than to act upon it one’s self?  


Friends, family, and social life are tenets of our societal contract. Yet attainment is usually done in isolation. Great sculpture usually isn’t created watching a football game with our buddies and beer. It’s a challenge to provoke yourself into action. Our relationships and associations should affirm who we are. They should compliment who we are and what we are becoming. 


Are you around people who are an inspiration? Who are your associations? Do you have a coach, a mentor, a person who has gone before you and knows the ropes? Like-minded people who are on a path like yours are everywhere. God made the internet; use it.  

Photograph Compliments of Federico Beccari


It’s everywhere. Fake it till you make it, which is a premise of many network marketing concepts. People can see through the falseness; I have perpetuated it myself. Self-aggrandizement is prevalent on tons of social media. Deception often has a way of coming back around to haunt you. Keeping promises to others and yourself is super important; say what you do, do what you say. A great teacher once said, “Let your yes be yes, and your no a no…” 


Do you remember from where you have come? Can you identify the events that have brought you to where you are now? Who helped you along the way? Were there natural gifts and talents you received at birth? Who loves you? Is today a good day? Is breathing and being alive a blessing? What compulsions influenced your venture into the foray? These are some examples that deserve thankfulness. 

We are Rooting For You

You owe it to yourself to finish what you have started. You owe it to the rest of us, as well. How will we understand and appreciate who you are without the revelation of your work?

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