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7 Ways to Overcome Self-Defeating Behavior

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Have you ever found yourself working towards something really important only to mess it up by doing something really stupid?

You might start a project and procrastinate or just never complete it because you weren’t feelin’ it. Or, maybe you feel anxious or stressed when trying to achieve a goal, which just makes you feel more anxious and more stressed.

You get caught in this cycle of self-destruction whose sidekick is often negative self-talk. You tell yourself that you’re unworthy, inadequate, or an “imposter”. Each time you fail at something, that voice in your head tells you that you just can’t do it.

This is self-sabotage at its core – the behaviors or thought patterns that hold you back and prevent you from doing what you want to do.

An estimated 70% of people experience impostor syndrome at some point in their lives, according to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science.

As a new business owner, I have, and still do, suffer from self-defeating behaviors. I’ve felt like an imposter despite achieving success in my Etsy store.

I was self-taught and had never taken a course on business or marketing before. No matter how many sales I had, I just couldn’t accept that people wanted to spend their hard-earned money on something I created.

In this article, I want to share the best tips I have learned to calm those negative thoughts or feelings of self-sabotage and help you accept that you are the kick-ass entrepreneur that I know you are!

Realize that the negative core beliefs about yourself are not facts

Self-sabotage, funnily enough, can be triggered by positivity. As positivity grows, the negative thoughts are going to grow unless you keep them in check. It helps to recognize those negative thought patterns and interrupt them with the realization that they are not reality, which can be really hard to do.

I am not an expert by any means, but I have found a ton of resources available to help you work through the process. Check out this site for more information on identifying and helping to eliminate self-sabotage behaviors.

Change isn’t always a bad thing

Many people don’t want to leave their comfort zone (I am one of those people). Anything out of the “norm” can throw you into high anxiety or fear that you won’t be able to handle the unfamiliar situation you are facing.

Most often, people will cling to old habits and make excuses for why they can’t meet their goals or even avoid setting goals altogether. The fear of the unfamiliar causes a paralysis

Next time you are faced with a new situation or a change in your business or personal life, make a detailed plan in the format of action/outcome/reaction scenarios. It will help you feel in control of the situation and give you back some power over those negative thoughts or self-sabotage tendencies.

Stop trying to please everyone

You cannot make everyone happy all of the time. Rushing around and trying to make other people happy is a huge trigger for self-sabotage. Whether you’re doing it at work or in your personal relationships, trying to make everyone happy all the time can cost you your health and your sanity.

I too am a recovering people pleaser. I have learned that I need to focus on pleasing the people that matter most to me, including myself.

Stop trying to please everyone for the sake of making everyone happy – some people simply don’t want to be happy.

Accept imperfection

If you seek perfection, you will never finish everything you attempt. Can you imagine Michelangelo continuing to work and work on the Sistine Chapel because it wasn’t exactly the way he wanted it? Nothing would ever get done!

Imperfection is part of being human, and most of the time, you’re the only one who will notice your mistakes anyway.

Repeat after me – Perfection is BORING.

Understand that sometimes, you will fail – and that’s OK

We have often created the false impression that to be truly successful you must never fail. But this is just bullshit…Everyone fails. EVERYONE.

Failure often teaches us more about ourselves than success. If you accept from the start that failure is an inevitable and an invaluable part of success, you’ll be better prepared when it does happen.

How you respond to this failure is what counts.

Stop being a lone wolf

Everybody needs help sometimes, even lone wolves. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help when you need it, because a severe, self-imposed sense of independence could actually be doing you more harm than good. Whether it’s in business or personal life, make friends, accept help, and seek help when it’s needed.

Don’t think of yourself as a loner, or a one-woman wolf pack. Get yourself out there, meet others, and grow your pack! There is so much to gain from sharing with others, leaning on each other, and learning from everyone’s experiences.

Drop the guilt

Guilt is a survival instinct. It’s there to make sure you get along with your “tribe” so that you can survive. When you feel guilty, it feels terrible, and that feeling compels you to do something different.

Misplaced guilt steals away your self-respect. Piece by piece, you continue to feel at fault for something you shouldn’t. You then continue to apologize to everyone and get lost in the demands of others or even yourself letting your negative self-talk win.

Stop saying “I’m sorry” and start saying “I’m a badass who deserves to get what I want.”

In trying to please everyone, you really just please no one, most of all yourself. So stop caring so much about what people think of you.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, self-sabotage is a habit.

For whatever reason, it doesn’t occur to people that being kind to yourself and celebrating your own accomplishments is a skill that you can learn. That doesn’t mean it will just magically happen—you have to actually practice!

If you’ve read through this article and even some of it makes sense to you, choose one or two of the tips above to test for a week or two. You may even find that your self-limiting beliefs are not limiting at all, and getting back on track is actually far more doable than you may have imagined.

Looking for ways to boost your motivation? Check out our article here on staying motivated as a small business owner.

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