The Anatomy of Self-Sabotage and How to Crush It

Flowers in Beth England

I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the Astonishing Light of your own Being. ~Hafiz

It turns out there is after all a name for that irrational, incessant and intrusive behavior which we so precisely insert between ourselves and success. It doesn’t take a psychology degree to recognize this mental obstacle. It is called self-sabotage and it is a beast. If you say you have never met with this beast, I will guess you must then be on top of your game and at the peak of your life because it is unimaginable what we can achieve without self-sabotage.

We are ALL meant massive success but a majority of us do not make it.

Why? Well, it depends whom you ask but we all sure have opinions on the topic. We blame luck, timing, resources and finances. We blame our place in the world, our age, our genetics, our culture, our bodies, our parents, our children, our dogs and the weather. We say we don’t have the talent, the IQ, the intelligence, the foresight, or the vision. Still, we know better because every day we see real examples out there – brutally true stories – that prove us dead wrong.

In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. ~ Albert Camus

Oh yeah baby. Those are just excuses that feed our self-sabotage. The truth is beautiful and inspiring.

  • You can come from totally poverty and still be massively successful.
  • You can be totally handicapped and still become spectacular.
  • You can be a failure by all standards of society and turn around to be the visionary of the next century.
  • You can receive the least education and be awarded honorary doctorates from the schools which earlier rejected you.
  • You can write a best seller that changes the world while surviving on food stamps.
  • You can be shunned by the whole world, thrown in jail, stripped of everything and still manage to do work that will let you go down in history as one of the greatest minds that ever lived.

You can start from nothing and be every man’s ultimate dream and fantasy.

Technique and ability alone do not get you to the top; it is willpower that is the most important. This willpower you cannot buy with money or be given by others…it rises from your heart ~ Junko Tabei

What really happens then to those of us who do not succeed is quite simple yet terrifying: We destroy our own chances of success. We usually do it when we are closest to it. We see our own potential and we ignore it. We hear our inner voice and we turn a deaf ear to it. We know a path is wrong and we still take it. We know a relationship is bad for us and we stay in it.

We know we can do better and we choose not to. We feel something amazing come alive when we are in the zone and still we respond to distractions. We believe we can be spectacular but we settle for mediocre. We can feel that our job can eventually kill our livelihood and we choose to do nothing about it.

The biggest irony of all is this: We know without a shadow of a doubt and from our very core that when we do what we love, we are on fire, we light up our world, we attract everything from good to great, we align to our core values and to our truest self, and we are destined for success and yet, YET, we make room for self-sabotage when it shows up.

We give it the audacity to talk us into doubt, into fear, and into severe anxiety.

We let it consume us with stress and worry. We allow it to let us compare ourselves to others and feel small rather than inspired, and feel insignificant rather than empowered.

Oh yes. We do all this, even if we deny it and then we wonder why others got “lucky” and why we didn’t quite “make it”? Self-sabotage is the answer, baby.

It is self-sabotage that shows up when we need to stay on top of our finances but we are drawn into over-spending and it is self-sabotage that talks us into eating a pound of sugar, disguised in a fancy plate of desserts. Yeah, we know what to do by logic but we need to fight self-sabotage clad in armor. I am ready if you are. Let’s crush it using these 4 practical steps.

Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth. ~ Rumi

FIRST Recognize Self-Sabotage

Learn to recognize it. Self-sabotage shows up in so many places, all uninvited but alas, we welcome it nonetheless. Look for it in your behavior, in your daily habits and patterns of activities. Look for it in the smallest things you do that impact the outcome of something important to you, maybe it’s something you say to someone that ruins your entire profile, maybe it’s something you eat that you didn’t even crave, maybe it’s in your work or in your art. Look for it nonstop.

Question your own behavior: Are you doing what you do in the course of the day consciously and intentionally? Do you quickly respond to things or people that pull you out of your best productive zones and happiest places and ruin the outcome altogether? Do you see what is happening and can you at least learn to recognize it first?

SECOND Take Responsibility for Self-Sabotage

The worst thing you can do is take the side of self-sabotage. Don’t make up excuses and reasons when you see it occurring. Just stop yourself after recognizing it and then admit to what is happening. For instance, say: “Yes I set out to write this blog post tonight and I let self-sabotage completely take over and distract me for an entire evening…”

When you hear yourself take responsibility, you are far more likely to change a bad behavior. When you say it out loud or to someone else, you enable yourself toΒ  move away from the harmful behavior. When you stand up and become accountable for the small stuff just as well as the big stuff of life, then you will be empowered to crush self-sabotage and move in the direction of your greatness.

THIRD Fight the Urge to Give in to Fear and Doubt

It’s easy enough to be inspired after reading a good book or watching a great movie. The problem comes on a dull Tuesday afternoon when you are tempted to drop our amazing momentum and change gears by moving into a negative space. The issues arise when you shift from a mindset of total possibility to a place of doubt and fear.

And then you are paralyzed, and self-sabotage led you there, dear one. Self-sabotage may be invisible but it doesn’t make it any less real. Then what good are you to yourself in the midst of all this second-guessing and self-judging? You are simply paralyzed. It’s too late now. You will kill hours and days digging yourself out of thisΒ  swamp all because you entertained mean possibilities in your mind when self-sabotage showed up. Instead, fight the urge to give in to fear – well, unless your physical safety is in danger or some such thing but you get my drift!

FOURTH Reaffirm Your Beliefs and Reawaken Your Conviction

After you recognize and then take responsibility and fight the urge to give in to those monsters of fear and doubt, you are ready to hear your own beliefs and renew your conviction. There is no such thing as reminding yourself of what matters too many times. There is no such thing as too strong a conviction or too positive an attitude or too motivated a heart and soul. There is only not enough but you can have more than enough to be massively successful.

So whatever method works for you – I love mantras as I have often mentioned, you may use a myriad of other techniques – but remind yourself of your path, of your dream, of your direction in life. Maybe a song will light up that fire in you again. Maybe you have a friend that can remind you just how gifted you are and how you owe it to yourself to make your mark in this world so shame on you if you give up.

Maybe you can just walk over to a mirror, take one good look at yourself and say, “Yes, I too can be and shallbe massively successful. I don’t care how many have come before me and how many more will come after. There is more than enough room for massive success for all of us and more than enough time for my dreams. And there is no way in this world I am letting self-sabotage win this race and walk all over me.”

Our own life has to be our message. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Your turn, your thoughts:

My dealings with self-sabotage are hardly at the “expert” level. So I turn to you for an extension of these thoughts, or better yet, brand new thoughts on how to deal with self-sabotage. Share them in the comments below and please share this with whoever might find it useful.

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  • John Falchetto

    My biggest enemy, competition is myself. Nobody else knows how to knock me out, and kick me when I am down.
    Those 3oo to 700 words we say to ourselves everyday can helps us or destroy us.

    I have become very focused on the words I tell myself. Meditating helps me look at these thoughts that enter my mind, negative feelings about my work, watch how they influence my mood and my workflow and let them go.
    I don’t believe we can ‘not think’ negative thoughts but we can CHOOSE to give them zero importance. I observe them like I look at a fire in my fireplace or a scenery. I admire their destructive force and then choose to wave them good-bye, yes, they will be back.
    I take them for what they are, thoughts. I can choose to take action on them or not. They can define my reality if I choose to take action and listen to them.
    I choose to let them slip, and focus on the task at hand. Breathing takes a big place in this process.

    We can train our brains. Thank you Farnoosh for reminding me I can push boundaries.

    • Ruth – The Freelance Writing Blog

      I COMPLETELY agree with John here. You can never eliminate negative thinking altogether. I’m quite sure it is impossible.

      But you can learn dispassion and equanimity in the face of negativity.

      On the flip side, it can be just as counterproductive to be overwhelmed with confidence and self assuredness. The best strategy is to observe our thoughts and feelings (as John has so eloquently stated) and to let them go. Thoughts and feelings are fleeting; they will come and go. We need to disengage and carry on with the business at hand. Only when we allow them to have power can they sabotage.

      GREAT post Farnoosh.

      • Farnoosh

        Hello dear Ruth, “dispassion and equanimity” – I love it. That is the Ashtanga yogi talking, for sure.
        So I think you probably subscribe to the belief of acknowledging and releasing our thoughts – good or bad ones – which is the core of meditation for me …. that helps me better understand the counter-productivity you mention from the positive feelings, Ruth. You are right. They could be distracting from the core purpose of why we do what we do …. very interesting. I have to watch it. Maybe my morning today went so badly because I was too confident yesterday ;)! Just kidding but I do see what you mean. Thanks for coming by!!!

    • Farnoosh

      Wow, John, I had no idea you were so centered and so into meditation and breathing. I am smiling because it’s great to find someone else. As I write this, I have had a morning where EVERYTHING went wrong – it was good from 4:30am to about 7am but somehow it went downhill and the whole AM was shot but I am going to spend even more time before working by meditating because I know it will center me and make the rest of the day much better. THANK YOU for sharing a really honest response, especially the part about the negative thoughts never going away …. not the greatest news but perhaps we keep learning and refining and maybe that’s the whole point. :)

      • John Falchetto

        Well I became a student of my own body when crippling asthma left on the bench watching my school friends play, run, jump, climb.
        I came to meditation ‘backwards’ I started with focused breathing exercises for my asthma. This allowed to go from not being able to run in the garden to finishing a half-ironman. Then I started to find out more about the other benefits of what I was doing.
        It has helped me a lot in life, at work and now as a Dad. The other morning I wanted to wake up early but my daughter had other plans, she woke up at 1am, 2am and 4am. So things don’t go as planned but I we just keep walking :)

        • Farnoosh

          I had no idea, John…. what a grand struggle and yet what a hero you are to come out so positively!! I had a CRAZY friend who did the Ironman and I cannot imagine doing anything like that …. so bravo to you for pushing yourself to a half-crazy level πŸ˜‰ Just kidding – that’s COMMENDABLE.
          And yes, plans do fall apart but we gotta keep going…..well-said.

  • John Sherry

    I was an expert sniper in my own life Farnoosh always ready to snuff out my chances pulling the trigger in my mind to shoot down any plans or hopes I had. I think this stems from a combination of tougher younger days when you rely on the world around you to say, ‘You’re OK’ as you’re not mature enough to yet realise that life is of your making and often it doesn’t quite do that. Also it depends on what emotions you then put on top of this – I added fear, self-loathing, mass criticism of anything I did, and limiting beliefs. With these ingredients self-sabotage is only a mere thought away. The change was when I focused on small things I knew I could accomplish and grew from there. We are our own biggest critic but we are also our own firmest friend too….if we allow it. Great post, of enormous value I feel, bless you.

    • Farnoosh

      Hello dear John, too funny – how do you make this stuff up? Younger days? Do you know that even in my early 30s, I sought that “approval” from the world around me … it takes a lot to shake it off and move on and through without it. Small things do reward us much better in the long run. And I love that you remind me that I am my own firmest friend, especially since my friendships have been less than reliable….sigh…. I got me, that’s enough. :)
      Thank you dearest John for taking the time to share these wonderful thoughts!

  • The Vizier

    Hi Farnoosh,

    You’re perfectly right. Self-sabotage is a great obstacle that stands between us and success. We can give many many justifications for our failure to succeed or for not even trying or even just holding for a little longer. But these justifications will not get us the success we want. Self-doubts, fear, anxiety, adversity, all of us face these things in life. All of us face these things on our pursuit of success. What is most important is how we deal with it.

    I am no expert on managing self-sabotage, but I have always taken a few precautions to help me manage better.

    1. Self-doubt and Fear:

    When faced with self-doubt and fear, I always make it a point to see if there is any validity. Whether there is or not is not important. What matters is to focus on finding solutions to overcome my doubts and fears to get to my goals. If one method does not yield the results I desire, I learn from my mistakes and adjust as needed until I succeed. We do not overcome self-doubt and fear by worrying or holding back. We overcome self-doubt and fear through action.

    2. Failure:

    Failure is the mother of success. For it is only through our mistakes and the lessons learnt from them that we know what works and what does not. From there, it is merely a matter of making adjustments to our methods until we succeed. This is the way to manage self-sabotage instead of viewing ourselves as failures.

    3. Attitude:

    When the going gets tough, the first thing to give way is our minds. It is so easy for adversity to overwhelm us and cause us to give up. But we must remember that there is a reason why we go through so much hardship to reach our goals. Success is not something we can just attain. We must have the capacity to achieve success and to hold on to it. And the only way to develop this capacity is to go through adversity to gain the depth and experience needed. Only if we do not give up in the face of adversity will we be able to succeed. Only by doing so can we overcome self-sabotage.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

    • Farnoosh

      My dear Vizier it is a delight to see you here and I think you wrote an entire post in response to my post, and a much better one to boot. The one thing I will never forget again is failure being the mother of success.
      I think it is a gift you have with words that you can tackle these intangible topics and make it sound so clear and obvious. Thank you for all the lovely nuggets, it is going a long way to read this for me today …. I am not an expert or even an advanced one when it comes to self-sabotage, trust me, Irving, but I have learned a lot from reading your reply. Its’ great to see you back. Hope you are doing well

  • Marica – Aprovadimamma

    I’ve always been shy, but when I was little, people seemed to appreciate this as it was very close to politeness. I liked to be liked, and I kept my inner instinct and nourished it to grow and grow. Now I’m still quite shy, very polite, but what’s worse I’ve become extremely humble, way too humble. I avoid competition in order not to loose, because I’m always afraid I COULD loose, and I even avoid trying. A mean humbleness that threaten my success, my projects, my ideas. At some point, something inside me says “oh well, c’mon, nice idea but you CAN’T really do it, can you? how many people can do better than you?”. Humbleness is my self-sabotage, and I need so much start believe in me and my abilities.
    I think that one of the ways to deal with self-sabotage is a deep excercise of self-esteem.
    Thank you Farnoosh for this post.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Marica and welcome to Prolific Living! Ah shyness and politeness, interesting….. I have never thought of humility as a form of self-sabotage, and I don’t think that’s so much what is happening with you and that conversation, as it is lack of courage and confidence ….. self-doubt more so than humility – you doubt you can do it because others do it better etc, and that is not good, dear Marica, because you CAN do it your way and just as well if not better – you won’t know until you try – not trying to throw a cliche but it fits perfectly here. It’s never too late to change. You can start tomorrow. Thanks for sharing this and I hope to hear more from you. I wish you the very best!!!

  • Sandi Amorim

    There’s a study that shows that on average we have 60,000 thoughts per day and more than half of those are negative. Dr. Rick Hanson writes that our brains are “velcro for negativity and teflon for positivity” all for the purpose of our survival! We’re hard-wired this way, so there’s no sense in resisting or even fighting the self-sabotage. The key is to consciously choose activities that first balance out, and then tip the scales in favour of the positive. That’s where ‘smart habits’ come into play Farnoosh!

    • Farnoosh

      Hi dear Sandi, that’s a crazy study and I can’t believe it …… is that per day? No way!! No way!
      Hmmm. No fighting self-sabotage…. I don’t know if I agree with him. I am all for non-voilence but this thing has got to go ;)!
      Seriously, though, Sandi, I think choosing consciously is one form of “fighting” or “rejecting” self-sabotage, right?
      Thanks for showing your beautiful face here today!

      • Katherine Cunningham

        Hello Farnoosh, Sandi,

        that’s what I read Farnoosh… “consciously choose activities that first balance out, and then tip the scales in favour of the positive.”… For me the self sabotage that is in thought, that then paralyzes the body, can be shifted by choosing to Move the body… like a fighter getting up off the floor that one more time than you get put down…

        Creating a series of body movements that can even be related exactly to the particular set of negative thoughts, that move you through the thinking to the other side where you can trust your mind again!

        For me, that is the greatest pain… the betrayal, I normally love my mind, all the juicy good thinking that I can do, but when the spiral of nay saying gets stronger, “gathering momentum with each small compromise I made, cutting the keys to my brain” (from a dear brother’s book, Three … I hope it’s ok to put this here, please delete if not) I find that I am almost truly paralyzed… the very best thing to do then is change my state, move my body…

        Thank you for your writing, I am glad I have found your blog. My own writing is sporadic, but I do love it when I find myself there…

        With Deep Respect,

        • Farnoosh

          Dear, kind, wonderful Katherine, what a refreshing response and yes it’s ok to add a reference that is so relevant and so beautiful, I am tempted to read the book.
          In all irony, it’s been a rough week for me and the weight of negative thoughts have been heavy and they have managed to really trick me into giving in … I Love that you connected body movements to this idea. I created my 10 Minute Daily Invigorator because I believe the same thing about movements! Moving our bodies can take care of SO MUCH. I just came back from a hard core workout and I was a mess before I went and now I am feeling calm and centered.
          Thank you for finding me and it’s a delight to converse with you. Do come back anytime!!!

  • Srinivas


    I think the point you made about giving up when we’re so close to success is a very important one. Often when things seem as though they’re at the worst is when we’re on the verge of a massive breakthrough. But it’s in these final hours that our character, resolve, and determination is really put to the test. The finals are often the most difficult, but when we power through them we overcome self sabotage in order to shine.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi dear Srini, nice to see you back. I think I read a statistic about that – how we give up as we are SO close ….. why on earth! That’ is the last thing we need! πŸ˜‰ And you are right. Our character is put to test in those final hours. Thanks for sharing your poetic words here.

  • Patrick

    Very inspirational post.

    Without self sabotage we can do amazing things. That’s very true and realizing that truth as well as when we cause self sabotage can be very useful in increasing our opportunities for success and overall satisfaction.

    We often sabotage ourselves without realizing it or understanding the full consequences it can cause over time.

    And the more comfortable we become with self sabatoge the more we don’t realize it and how it’s affecting our lives.

    Thanks again for bringing up a topic that’s worth really thinking about.

    • Farnoosh

      Thank you Patrick. It’s nice to see you here. And it can be sneaky a lot of times and those are, I believe the worst. John and Ruth above mentioned that negative thinking never quite goes away completely. Perhaps it’s too ambitious to say we would be “without” self-sabotage anytime soon but here’s hoping we come very close. Thank you for stopping by!

  • Sue Mitchell

    Farnoosh, good for you for bringing up this rarely talked-about topic.

    Self-sabotage has to do with our brains’ natural tendency to resist change and the unknown. On a primal level, making a significant change in our lives feels threatening.

    In the Kaizen-Muse coaching model, we use something called “mind sculpting” to gradually expose the mind to the sensation of success for very short periods of time, even as little as 15 seconds. With regular practice, the feeling of being successful begins to become familiar, so we lose that defensive need to sabotage our own efforts.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Sue, I love that approach. I learned about Kaizen through my friend whose blog is at KaizenVision and I must say, the mind, once trained, does do wonders. And it’s more clarity – albeit a bit of disappointment too – to hear that on a primal level, we are going against the natural ways of our body…. no wonder it’s so hard. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Sue.

  • Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion

    It’s amazing how much energy and effort you put in your posts Farnoosh. Wow.

    If someone were in my mind, that might think that I’m a bit conceited. I say this because I do believe that I was meant for greatness, and that my party is just getting started, and that I wasn’t meant to do average things in these extraordinary times.

    But by no means am I truly ‘cocky’. I understand where my talents come from, see my weaknesses for what they are, and hope to improve a little each and every day.

    Incredible inspiration my friend.


    • Farnoosh

      Hello dear Marcus,
      Thank you – either do it well or don’t bother, right? πŸ˜‰
      There is a great difference and sometimes a fine line between “cocky” and confident … You should have no worries about the former, trust me. And you certainly need the latter to do what you aspire to do here, so I think you are perfect as you are, Marcus….. !! Keep at it, my dear friend and thank you for stopping by.

  • Mark

    Hi Farnoosh

    Lovely blog post and well done for talking about a subject that a lot of people tend to skip over. I …until recently…was an Olympic Standard Self saboteur…and reading your post brought to light my own process…which is not too far from yours. The only difference for me would be step Zero….hit absolute rock bottom emotionally and physically first…then the only way is up!!


    • Farnoosh

      Thank you Mark. Welcome here! And thank you so much for sharing your personal story which sounds fascinating…. Hitting rock bottom has got to be difficult, and yes, I do hope that you have been or are on your way up.
      So nice of you to take the time to stop by…. and hope to see you again soon.

  • Jimmy

    Hi Farnoosh,

    Self sabotage is like a thief sometimes. It will creep in and steal all our wealth without knowing it. It is a high tech thief too with all its modern disguises. How can we deal with thus threat then to prevent it from stealing our dreams? You have suggested a few excellent ways to keep this thing at bay.

    We must also set up our alert systems like the anti- burglary devices, the security safe in our houses, back up plans to deal with this unwelcome thief. Our detection devices could be our external scanning system to pick up any people who might steal our time or even our ideas. Our safe could be personal plans and routines that we keep well disciplined in life. Our back up plans could be mentors and like minded friends whom we can call upon when the time comes.

    Self sabotage must be eliminated. The price of failure against this is just too highly.

    Thank you for your post.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Jimmy, thanks for sharing and I love the analogies – all so so well made up – and it makes your point quite unforgettable. The idea of theft makes me so angry and yet that is the last thing that would help this situation – or ANY for that matter. Anger has never helped any situation but preparation, as you put it, is a phenomenal way to approach dealing with self-sabotage or anything else….. Thanks Jimmy and nice to see you here again!

  • Jackie

    Self sabotage can be like a chameleon, once you think you have a handle on how to kick it to the kerb, it up and changes its demeanour.

    Its challenging, to break free from existing comforts and stretch to that next level. Sometimes the self talk wins, and sometimes future me wins.

    Its a process, all I can do is observe and challenge. Sometimes a swift kick from someone else helps too πŸ˜‰

    Thanks Farnoosh, for a great post.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Jackie, so nice to see you here I simply love your profile photo… very clever! :)
      So now I will never think of a chameleon the same again …. but I will think more comfortably about self-sabotage, thanks to you.
      To be honest with you, hard to admit this one but today the self-talk is winning …. as in, not an easy day but I am going to push through. Thanks for sharing your original thoughts, Jackie.

  • Mark

    Love the post, Farnoosh. It reminds me of “An Art of Possibility” (Ben and Ann Zander)

    We are what we think (and what we eat!). Thanks for the reminders of our possibilities that come from your website.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Mark, I don’t know that book …. thank you for sharing. We are what we think is a lot better than the original version – can I please steal that one? πŸ˜‰ Thank you for stopping by!!!

  • KG

    For me my insecurity in letting people get close to me sometimes actually makes people NOT want to get close to me…..something i’m working on. I actually started a blog myself about that specifically….a way to get insight from strangers…..seems silly, but it’s been helpful.

    Sometimes we self sabotage without even knowing it….now i see it in myself and try to change…easier said then done

    • Farnoosh

      Hi KG, that’s a great way to deal with your insecurity – writing about it. Are you doing better? It’s very possible we don’t eve know what we are doing to ousrsevelves with self-sabotage until it’s too late… I am glad you are full aware of your own insecurity and that what you are doing to deal with it now has proven helpful!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

      • KG

        I realize it, but sometimes too late…..always too late it seems….but I keep trying. wrote about this specifically in this post.
        I’ve spend my whole life keeping people at a distance, self preservation, if you will. In a way it protected me, but in a way it hurt me, I’m 43 years old, and now when I DO want to let someone know me, when I want to make a friend, when I DON’T want to keep specific people at arms length….I’m awkward and weird and end up doing the opposite of what I wanted.

        Recently, I actually let someone in on my past (the reason I kept people at arms length for most of my life) and I think I shared too much and now they are a bit weirded out. Part of me did it because I didn’t want to invest myself in a friendship and THEN have them learn about my past and have a problem with it, cause that would really suck.

        Now that I think about it, I’ve learned that I should not let people I want in my life know everything right away. Maybe I should just have taken the leap and when/if they learned of my past, maybe by then it would no longer matter because they will have gotten to know who I am now 1st instead of the other way around.

        I don’t know….I keep making mistakes and I hope I’m learning from them…..sadly, I really like this person as a human being and really do want to get to know them better and maybe make a friend, but I think I might have screwed that up now. They seem uncomfortable around me now where they were not before.

        Maybe I can’t teach this old dog a new trick, but I’m trying and hoping they will change their mind. Good people that I actually want to be friends with don’t come along often, and I’d hate to think I missed out because of my insecurities fueling my self sabotage.

        I hope this makes sense. I just really need to be better at this….or at least not so bad at it.

        • KG

          OMG, right after I wrote the above response, the person I thought I screwed up with, called me and asked if I was nervous around them and if it was something they did……so I honestly explained that it was me, that I don’t usually care what people think, but that I care about her and would like to become friends and that I’m akward and not good at that, for reasons she knows (my past)…..and she was totally sweet and kind about it…and we’re cool!

          So maybe writing about things to work them out in my head and continueing to try will work out in the end and I will get batter at this.

          So relieved…..anyway, Just wanted to share that.

          Your post was very helpful and I plan to link to it in my next update which I will probably be writing later.

          • Farnoosh

            Hi KG, welcome to Prolific Living and thank you for sharing your thoughts. This was indeed a bit challenging to follow as far as your story but I am so glad you took the time to share it and it was pure serendipity that your friend called to talk to you. I am so happy to hear it. Friendships have not come easily to me since I left Iran as a child, so trust me that I understand your challenges – and as for how much to share with people, I would just trust your gut feel – each person is different and if they care about you, your past should not bother them. If they don’t care about you, better to find out sooner. Have a wonderful day and thanks again for sharing your thoughts here!

  • Chris Harris | Between the Temples

    One root of self-sabotage is comfort.

    We like things the way they are even if we are heading towards success. It’s not just that we fear change or don’t like it- but there is something seductive about being comfortable. When things are just so…

    We like comfort because it has within it predictability- even if it’s negative force in our lives. Comfort allows us to skate by. To achieve success you have to work hard and push yourself. It may introduce unwanted elements to get where you want to go.

    You end up shooting yourself down because its just too much trouble to be wildly successful.

    Another root is the lack of acceptance. Accepting that things do change or need to change. Accepting that you deserve the rewards of achieving success.

    Accepting that you can do better.

    • Farnoosh

      Chris, my friend, how do we kill comfort so it doesn’t bother us again? ;)! I KNOW what you mean – I fight my comfort zone every day … but I do crave it at times, and you are right – in a way, seeking the comfort zone and glorifying it is a form of self-sabotage…. because we could be doing so much else. I sure hope that you are pushing yourself well outside your comfort zone!!! I am all good with acceptance on achieving success. What about you?
      THANK YOU for your comment. So thought-provoking as always!

      • Chris Harris | Between the Temples

        Hi Farnoosh,

        Sorry for the slow reply… yes I push myself and I have acceptance about achieving success. My challenges are in other areas.

        As always- its a pleasure.

  • Melody | Deliberate Receiving

    This is so timely Farnoosh! I just discovered a new deepset fear the other day (I’m always looking for them) and I poked around at it a bit. Well, that night, I found myself craving, and I mean CRAVING a glass of wine. I really wanted to be drunk. That never happens. I sat with that for a while and realized that my subconscious wanted me to be distracted, because it didn’t want to face this fear. I backed off a bit and am still waiting until I’m ready to tackle it (it’s a big one, I’ll need to go slow), but it was such an interesting example of how my body created this craving in order to quell a fear. It’s the mechanism that makes you eat a whole chocolate cake when you’re trying to lose weight, because you haven’t addressed the belief that caused the weight in the first place.
    There was a time, when I didn’t listen to my body and I drank a lot more wine, when I would’ve given in without question. It would’ve been easier to just have the freaking wine. Now, I know that this is not normal for me and I question it. I listen more, I sit with it and relax until I figure out what’s going on. I’m gentle but very, very persistent. It isn’t always easy, but the payoff is enormous.

    Great timing!

    • Farnoosh

      Melody, I just adore you – here you are on the comment, brainstorming your way through a brand new fear… your openness is something else!! :))
      And I learn from you every time you say something – I know, as I am sure everyone does, only too well, the feelings about self-sabotaging a diet… in fact, I am craving a raw vegan dessert right about now and it’s close to 11pm πŸ˜‰ – but the attitude, the sitting with it and thinking about it and knowing that it comes from another source, from a fear of something else … I am so proud of you. Gentle but firm. That’s the way to massive success, Melody.
      Thank you so much for brightening the blog by stopping by! Hugs back!

  • Karl Staib

    I’ve given into my fear too often and I regretted it. It’s why I started public speaking. I didn’t want anything to hold me back from my dreams.

    We can be our own worst enemy if we aren’t careful. The switch that finally happened within me was being my own best cheerleader. Like you said in, “…there is no way in this world I am letting self-sabotage win this race and walk all over me.Ò€ I decided that I can be great and it’s up to me to figure out how. I’ve been on a roll every since. :)

    • Farnoosh

      Hi dear Karl, nice to see you here…. and you are not alone, dear!!! Public speaking is fun and nerve-wracking. I did years upon years of Toastmasters and a few speeches – I need to do more – the preparation is what kills me, so much goes into it. And yes we can be self-destructive beyond measure… but if you have the sharp awareness that you display here, I have no worries about you :)! Thank you so much for stopping by!!

  • Ali Davies

    Hi Farnoosh

    I think two key enablers of Self-Sabotage are “blame” and “making excuses”. If we find a way to change these habits, any transformation is possible. Once we let go of the blame game and making excuses it opens the space for us to take 100% responsibility for everything going on in our lives and once we do that, then the sky is the limit.

    On the fear front, I see a lot of folk talking about learning to become fearless. I am not convinced by that as a strategy because fear is part of life and is, in some cases, healthy to protect us. My preference is to focus more on fostering courage and mindset that will override the fear.

    • Farnoosh

      Nothing to argue with there…. those two things are so ingrained into our minds that it takes tremendous willpower, even for the best of us, to completely get rid of them. The sky IS the limit, as we can see in super successful people all the time.
      I do love your practical and smart approach to fear. I know that I talked a lot about becoming a “fearless traveler” in my Travel Guide. Do you think that’s a turn-off, Ali? I meant it in the sense of overcome fears to the point of managing the travel … and I loved the idea of Fearless – it seemed empowering… It’s part marketing too because honestly, even I have some fears around travel but I do it nonetheless so the courage has surpassed the fear. Love your thoughts and thank you so much for being here.

      • Ali Davies

        No, I don’t think it is a turnoff Farnoosh. In the sense that you are talking about overcoming fear, not how to be 100% fearless all the time. It is the quest to be 100% fearless that I think is unrealistic. As you say, fear is always there, it is how we deal with it that decides the outcome.

        I used to be crippled with fear. Settling for a life of mediocrity as a result. Battling it seemed to make no difference. Then 10 years ago when I finally found the courage to escape the corporate hamster wheel I realised that being fearless wasn’t actually necessary to achieve your dreams and goals. Not only that, I realised fear is part of the human condition so chasing being fearless isn’t the best focus. I started to learn about fostering courage and my mindset and it has been truly transformational. Over the years I have let go of the unrealistic quest to be fearless and I encourage my clients to do the same. Instead, I believe that when we foster courage and upgrade our mindsets we are an unbeatable force that fear can not hold back.

        • Farnoosh

          Thank you for checking and for sharing your thoughts, Ali – and I really love your perspective. Do you mind if I quote you in one of my future podcasts? I will be sure to mention your name and blog so people can find you ….. Thank you for sharing these! It gives me a lot of hope as I deal with my own fears and think I am all done when they pop right back up. Courage is the answer. I can’t wait to see the blog post. Thank you again for the conversation, Ali.

          • Ali Davies

            Please feel free. I do not mind at all Farnoosh.

  • Stacy LaRosa

    As a tarot reader, I immediately get the 7 of Wands in my head…fighting off unseen, unknown enemies. But, I look at this card as battling with some of my selves. This article was excellent! I have just recently over the past few years broke all ties to “society” such as leaving a high paying job, coming forward after hiding my “abilities & gifts”, losing a home, breaking off relations with toxic family members instead of living a non stop, stressed filled existence. Scared? Absolutely, but my faith that if you continue to do the right thing, eventually Karma will smile a bit on you. When we accept responsibility for everything in our lives, including our weaknesses, fears & doubts, we are then 100% responsible for making it right again.
    Many opportunities have come my way recently. Some, I’ve worked very hard at and am beginning to see the fruits of my labor paying off. Yet, others I’ve not sought out, started but didn’t complete or did it, but didn’t do a very good job at it. So, we can face massive disasters & survive and everybody pats us on the back, but we still sabotage ourselves! It reminds us that no matter how far we come, we still have so much further to go. The journey never ends and we are all susceptible to this side of ourselves, at the right moment, taking over. Great article and many thanks!! πŸ˜€

    • Farnoosh

      Stacy, welcome here and what a profound, deep and beautiful response. THANK YOU for sharing. I am very proud of you – I left a very high paying job this May and with it, a lot of hype and a lot of expectations too – it’s great not to care anymore about toxic things ……. it is wonderful to hear your story in such raw and pure honesty – and your experience since then …. and yes to how much further we have yet to go! I love the way you put that. Thank you and please feel free to share this with anyone else that might find it useful. So kind of you to stop by, thank you Stacy!

  • Grady Pruitt

    We can sometimes be our own worst enemy.

    For several years, I’ve had a novel that just needs to be edited to be ready for publication, but I keep letting my own doubts and fears get in the way. I have managed to be able to write the novel, thanks to NaNoWriMo, but can’t seem to get very far with polishing it.

    For quite a while, I had a similar situation with my site. I kept letting my fear of things not working out sabotage my efforts to get the site going. But when I stopped focusing on the fear and started focusing on the goal and what it would feel like to reach that goal, I started getting more things done on a consistent basis.

    Until you recognize that you are sabotaging your own efforts, you will not get very far. Once you admit that you are sabotaging your efforts and take responsibility for it, then you can begin changing your efforts to reach your goals.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Farnoosh

      Grady, so so nice to see you back here. You know, I have heard so much about NaNoWriMo, and in fact, I have an interview with a TV channel out of Chicago in advance of this annual November event to promote it as an author. I feel so fortunate and now feel so connected to someone else who is benefiting from the event.
      So here’s an idea: This is the mistake that a lot of people make and it’s this: We try to do it all on our own. If your gift and talent is in the writing, can you maybe hire someone to do the editing? Would it not be worth the end result and the professional job and with the resources today at our disposal, it is so affordable and accessible….
      As for all you said about self-sabotage, I agree – but we can beat it….!! Good luck, Grady and keep me posted on the publish date of that novel :)!

  • susie@newdaynewlesson

    I think the one thing I would add is to define for ourselves what success means to us.

    Success if very person specific and what might mean success to me might be something completely different than someone else. One person may think success is a very high salary, another helping thousands of people a year in a hands on way and yet another nurturing their family and having a close relationship.

    I think many of “sabotage” because we are unsure of where it is we want to go.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Susie, fantastic addition. That can be a long blog post in itself!!! I have listened to a lot of interviews lately where that is a common thread: What success and happiness means to each of us. Thank you for adding this. Thank you so much! And sigh, yes, not being sure where to go in life is hard but we CAN find our way. I drifted for a long time. Now, I believe it takes time but our purpose comes to us sooner or later. Nice to see you here!

    • Ali Davies

      Spot on Susie. Crafting our own definition of success based on our core values should be the foundation stone on which we build our life on. We should then use that to guide our decisions and actions. The problem is that this is something we are never taught how to do so many people go through life settling for mediocrity as a result.

  • susie@newdaynewlesson

    I also believe we can find our way. What gets in the way often is that time and creativity and drive are finite-there is a limit in the amount you can do in a day. Sometimes to get yourself over the hump and find your way you need to devote yourself intensely for a period of time and if you are not sure your way is right, it is hard to give up the other things you might need to give up.

    Long rambled answer but it’s late here so might not be as coherent as otherwise.

    • Farnoosh

      Susie, it was perfectly clear. I am glad you are confident about us finding the way. And time management is a big one. I am every single day trying to up my time management and be very careful on how I spend my time and you know what, Susie, I find pockets of time all the time when I change things so we can do a lot more with our time than we think we can :)! Nice talking to you!

  • Negar

    This is my new favorite post (I know I say that a lot!)! I have completely let my health go by the wayside these past 2 years. I have eaten out (junk) more in these past 2 years than I have all the other 24 years of my life combined. I justify in my head the “right” to go out to eat junk food at noon because of a rough morning, or because there are no windows in my office, or because I’m just super hungry and junk food is fast and cheap… etc. In the end, I’m only sabotaging myself and I’m the only one who feels gross, horrible and utterly-full (immediately) afterwards. IÒ€ℒm going to print this article out and post it up in my cube. I will glance at it every time I feel weak and about to grab my purse to go out to eat junk food!

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Negar, you do say that a lot but it does not bother the writer of these posts so keep saying it :)
      As for junk food, I’m afraid you have got to take better care of your body. I am hoping that the wedding jitters will work some magic and you will get into the bride mindset and be good at least until then and then start fresh with a new plan. Simply just don’t go! I mean, don’t do it once a week or once in a while. For the first month or so, just go cold turkey. I KNOW it can be done. I’ve watched Andy do amazing things with his bad habits. Crush that weakness and be good to your body! Thanks for sharing this and if you need more encouragement, just let me know!

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