3 Practical Ways To Quit Self Sabotaging

March 18, 2024
3 Practical Ways To Quit Self Sabotaging

I have a crystal clear memory of an early experience self-sabotaging my success and learning how not to play small as a result.

Our 8th grade English teacher (and LEGENDARY track coach) Mr. Galloway used to give us weekly spelling and vocabulary quizzes.

One day he deviated from the lesson to ask everyone in the class to pronounce the word “often”. 

He didn’t say anything after each person said it out loud, but I could tell by his reaction they weren’t saying it correctly. 

Even though I realized you don’t pronounce the “t” by the time he got to me, I still said it like everyone else when it was my turn: “off-TEN.”


Because I was a 13 year old girl used to being singled out as “the smart one” and uncomfortable with how often that meant I looked and felt like an outsider. 

The brief look of “You know better” on his face before he moved on to the next person has ALWAYS stuck with me. 

He was someone I respected, whom no one every wanted to disappoint, and I could tell he knew I was playing dumb.

That day, I was deliberately self-sabotaging by not choosing the regard of someone I respected to play smaller in order to be like everyone else.

It was also the day I left behind groupthink, false consensus, and hiding my intelligence. 

It can take YEARS and considerable effort to unravel all of the ways and reasons why we engage in self-sabotaging behavior. 

Because it’s easy to fall into a trap of reinforcing our fears and doubts with thoughts, words, and actions that undermine our conscious efforts to achieve our goals and live our best lives. 

Swimming upstream is great…if you’re a salmon.

But if you want to get into the flow of your life and move towards your higher goals with ease, try these steps to getting out of our own way and letting your inner magic, power, and resilience shine through.

1) Develop the mindset of “YET”

If you find yourself reinforcing all of the ways you are not enough with negative, self-sabotaging statements, begin by attaching the word “yet” to the end of those statements. 

It won’t completely erase your habit of concretizing limiting beliefs about yourself.

But it will start to open your subconscious to the possibility that you are capable of transforming your current reality and achieving goals for your future. 

For example:

  • “I’m not educated enough…yet.”
  • “I’m not experienced enough…yet.”
  • “I haven’t lost enough weight…yet.”
  • “I’m not making enough progress in my career…yet.”

Once you make yet a habit, start crafting a plan for how you WILL achieve that next phase by figuring out just the next step you can take towards it.

2) Consider the “Null Hypothesis”*

Have you ever seen a car get stuck in the mud? 

The engine may be revving and the wheels may be turning, but the lack of traction and gravitational force of the mud don’t allow the car to go forward. 

The feeling of being “stuck” is often a result of making the effort to move forward in life while feeling that there is a force holding you back.

We are always endowed with the power of transformational change for our own lives, however. 

So, it’s important to keep in mind the ways in which you may be acting as the gravitational mud pit of your own life. 

One great way to do this is to consider “the null hypothesis.” 

Simply put, consider why you may be holding yourself back even when you think you are doing everything in your power to move yourself forward. 

For example, compare the following personal desire statements – what you SAY you want – with its opposite null hypothesis – what you ACTUALLY do:

  • DS: “I want to eat better and develop good food habits because my health is important to me.”
  • NH: “I DON’T want to eat better and develop good food habits because it requires me to learn more about proper nutrition and I’m afraid I won’t understand it, do it wrong, or fail at sticking to my diet plan.”

Or another example:

  • DS: “I want a job that pays more and also offers more time freedom and flexibility to spend more time with my family.”
  • NH: “I DON’T want a job that pays more and also offers more time freedom and flexibility to spend more time with my family because I believe that work has to be hard, and therefore unsatisfying, to be honorable.”

These examples make clear the discrepancy between the desire and the execution of it that proves the null true and prevents achieving the desire through self-sabotaging behavior.

By probing into the reasons we may not be fully committing to our desires and goals, it becomes easier to shift our sabotaging behavior and find more alignment between our intentions and actions.

3) Stop seeking disapproval from others

One of the more curious things we do socially is begin relationships and social interactions by relating over our shortcomings. 

While it’s always great to be willing to be vulnerable in our interactions, seeking the DIS-approval of others on a regular basis is often a sign of self-sabotage. 

Joking about how out of shape, neurotic, or unprepared you feel may seem like you are seeking reassurance, but if it’s a part of a regular pattern, it is unlikely that any reassuring statements made by others will change your opinion of yourself. 

This leads to a cycle of self-limiting beliefs and disappointment in others’ ability to convince you otherwise that can permeate all aspects of your life. 

To combat this habit, start by mimicking the speaking habits of people you admire, whether it be a sports figure, community leader, or a coworker or friend with a positive personality. 

If asked “how are you doing?” these people will often respond with a POSITIVE story or reflection about their lives, which you can do as well. 

Even if it feels difficult at first, making the effort to do so can alter the path you’ve conditioned your brain to take when talking about yourself and have a ripple effect in your thoughts, words, and actions over time.

Remember, small moments leave an impact. 

What you do in those small moments have an outsized effect on how big of a life you’re able to reach for and live out.

Stay fearless.

CC 💕

P.S. – *I don’t use “null hypothesis” in its strict, statistical context for this activity, but more as a tool for recognition and comparison. Don’t let the creative license stop you from giving it a try!

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