How to Get Out of the Habit of Self-Sabotage

Last week I talked to you about creating ONE impossible goal for 2019. Did you do the assignment? I really hope so because it’ll change your life!  

When you have a BIG goal it becomes even more important to understand the spiral of self-sabotage.

Self-sabotage defined. It’s the act of creating unnecessary problems for one’s self that interfere with your own goals.

Self-sabotage is a reAction to uncomfortable negative emotions. Thoughts cause the emotions we experience, and emotions drive all the action or inactions we take. It’s really important that you understand this because any time you set out to accomplish a goal you’re always going to be uncomfortable.

And because of the way the brain is designed it’s naturally going to avoid discomfort (negative emotion). Remember the good old Motivational Triad?

As humans we’re wired to avoid pain (discomfort), seek pleasure (seek the opposite of discomfort) and exert the least amount of effort (goal discomfort is unfamiliar and takes more effort than just doing the same old thing). No wonder there’s so much self-sabotage. It’s a wonder we ever get any goals accomplished or try anything new!

That knowledge is powerful. It’s half the battle because you don’t need to waste further precious brain juice criticizing yourself or trying to “figure out what’s wrong with you.” Instead you can bring wisdom and understanding to self-sabotage and what you wish to create.

The Motivational Triad.jpg

Does it make sense now that self-sabotage is a choice? When you understand how the Motivational Triad works you claim your power back over self-sabotage. You’re no longer a victim to self-sabotage because you understand that it’s not something that just happens to you. You’re much more powerful than that.

How the self-coaching model gives you an advantage over self-sabotage and can help you achieve your goals

Luckily we have the ability to override this Motivational Triad by using the most advanced part of our brain the pre-frontal cortex— which is responsible for conscious thought, setting and carry out goals and other purposeful behaviors. This part of the brain is so powerful, but we use little of it’s power because we aren’t formally taught how to manage our minds, which is arguably the most important skill to have.

That’s where the self-coaching model can really help. Because when you learn how to manage your mind there’s really nothing you can’t do. You have a HUGE advantage when you know how to manage your mind.

It’s so important for you to understand and make the shift from self-sabotage as something that’s just happening to you — to I'm choosing self-sabotage. Then you get curious, like, "huh, why am I choosing self-sabotage?" This is such a good question to ask yourself. I can tell you that every single time it’ll be to avoid discomfort, i.e. negative emotion. That’s why we have to be willing to process negative emotion. So what’s this whole process look like?

What you do to self-sabotage  

The six main ways you self-sabotage:  

1. Procrastination

Do you put things off? Maybe you can’t seem to complete something, or when you do it’s at the last minute. This causes so much stress and negativity. Even when you have time off, you can’t enjoy it because you're constantly thinking about what you “should be doing.” Which in turn makes you not want to do it even more.

We usually put off the activities that help us get closer to our goals because we’re afraid we might fail or we’re afraid that we won’t immediately get the result we want. We want instant gratification, but that’s not how it works with most goals, especially BIG goals.

So because we want to avoid negative emotion, many of us end up spending much of our time buffering and seeking false pleasures. Of course this interferes with our progress and we end up using these avoidance behaviors as evidence to prove our worse fears— namely fear of failure. But this isn’t even true evidence of failure. You can’t fail if you never tried, or only tried a couple of times and gave up.

Unconsciously, we use fear of failure and fear of other negative emotions to self-sabotage with buffering behaviors such as overeating, over-drinking, doing busy work instead of work that’ll move us towards our goals, overspending, over-watching TV— or whatever it is you do when you had planned on working towards your goal.

One of my clients, Janet, set a huge business goal this year as a consultant. We laugh now because she’s onto herself about how she “somehow,” ends up cleaning (her buffering activity of choice), her entire home when she has scheduled herself to sit down and write a proposal for one of her most desired clients. We’re doing the work allowing her negative emotion to come up and doing the work anyway. It takes some practice and coaching.

2. Quitting & Not Showing Up

When you have plans to do something that’s important to you, do you get started but soon after quit or have 100 little quits along the way? Maybe you tell yourself it’s too hard, you can’t figure out the technology, can’t save the money- or don’t have the money but you’re too scared to spend it on yourself. Quits suck up your energy and waste time. Not showing up for yourself is an example of this. This is why Janet sought out a coach in the first place.

Maybe you're not showing up for others either because you tell yourself, “I’m too busy,” or you simply can’t get yourself organized enough. These are all excuses to avoid negative emotion by quitting.

3. Lack of awareness 

Sometimes you’re on autopilot or you've got a blind spot or two and you’re not really aware enough about what’s actually going on in your life— even if you think you are.

You'll want to become a keen observer of your life. Get to know what patterns of thinking, feeling, and actions you have that are slowing you down.

Claudette is one of my newest clients in my Irresistible Life Coaching Program. This month in my new client consult calls (AKA mini sessions), I’ve been helping you all come up with your ONE impossible goal for the year. It’s been so fun. Claudette set an impossible goal to make 150K in her business. She also wants to feel more connected in her relationships. She was thrilled during our mini session when she realized she’d been lacking awareness. 

She said, “I’ve been so stuck and now I understand why. I hadn’t even realized that I wasn’t being aware. I knew I was sabotaging myself but I didn’t know how or why? Now that I know you’ll teach me your “keep it simple” formula to set goals and accomplish them I’m not so worried that I’ll fall back into old pattern of unawareness. Now, I’m just excited about my future. I’m realizing I can accomplish whatever it is I want and that feels like relief and excitement.”

YES! I love when you all get super excited about your future that you once didn’t think was possible.

4. Lack of future planning and not setting goals in the first place causes self-sabotage

A lot of my clients don’t think they're in self-sabotage. But when I ask them if they have goals— their answer is no. If you don’t have any goals or your goals aren’t big enough that’s a clear indicator that you're in self-sabotage. You’re quitting ahead of time.

Every 30-days I set goals for a project, small or big. It’s changed my life. I know I can count on myself and that every 30-day period I'll accomplish something that really matters to me. I totally recommend you set smaller 30-day goals too.

One of my clients, Laura, who's been overwhelmed because she’s not been working efficiently in her business is currently learning the skills to work smarter and faster. She’s now got an extra10-hours free in her week she used to spend working —since we started coaching together, that are totally available to her for whatever she wants. She decided to make a 30-day goal in January to declutter every room in her 3-bedroom home in sunny Los Angeles. This means every drawer, cupboard and closet will be decluttered. She’s also getting her home office, her car, and important documents in order that she’s literally been “meaning to do for the past 10-years.” 

Having a clutter free living environment allows for new abundance to usher in. I’ve seen it so many times in my life, and in the lives of my clients. When you do this work, your life and your mind have more room to grow. It’s almost magical the things you attract when you have more space. 


  1. What are 12 goals you’d like to accomplish this year? Brainstorm for 5-minutes and write all your ideas down.  

  2. Decide on the first three 30-day goals you have for January, February and March this year.

  3. Make a commitment to yourself for the first three months worth of goals.  

  4. Schedule them in your calendar. 

  5. Honor your calendar. 

  6. Email me for fun and declare what you decided to work on!!

Et viola! Your goals become more easily attainable. It feels amazing. 

5. Being past-focused instead of future-focused causes self-sabotage

When you're stuck in past-focused energy it’s hard not to make progress. Many times it feels like you’re stuck for some really good reason, but it’s always just a bad habit. Every time you find yourself obsessing over the past, gently switch your focus to the future. What do you want to create? Being stuck in past-energy can mean you stay there for years. Has doing this ever gotten you anywhere? If you look closely enough you’ll see the answer’s a clear “no way Jose" There’s never a point to getting stuck in the past. Learn from it and move on. That doesn’t require obsessing.

6. The desire and attempt to control things outside yourself is self-sabotaging

You can never really control things outside yourself no matter how hard you try, so there's just no use in wasting your energy, time and money this way. I see this mostly in relationships — unfortunately most of us are still operating from a place of expecting that someone else’s behavior will make us feel a certain good way.

But if you’ve been paying attention to the concepts I teach, or examine your own life closely enough, you'll realize that you're thoughts are what cause your feelings, not what you deem as someone else’s “good or bad” behavior towards you. This is really some of the best news, because you're NEVER dependent on someone else to MAKE you happy or to feel good. When you truly understand and accept that your thoughts create your feelings and not someone else’s behavior you have true emotional freedom and great relationships. (Want more info? Read: Who has the Power to Make You Happy?).

There’s so much more to say about self-sabotage as it relates to relationships, so I’ve saved that for next week. SO TUNE-IN…

Deconstructing your identity as a self-sabotager 

Self-sabotage perpetuates the idea that you're not enough. Do statements like these sound familiar? 

"I'm just not cut out to be an entrepreneur, or at least not one that makes a good living. I just don’t have what it takes to achieve my goals for work or my relationships” That's just all a story. It's not the truth.

Now some of you will argue this with me... but I want you to ask yourself what’s the use of arguing to keep your identity of being a self-sabotager? You’re capable of so much better than that. Now stop the bad habit. Remember it’s just a function of the way your brain is wired in the first place.

In every new moment, you have the ability to reinvent yourself and your future.

You’re capable of doing the impossible. You just need to believe it and stop identifying with an old story that you're only capable of a certain amount in your life and no more than that— whether it’s in your work, or in your relationships. Those are just thought errors, mind B.S. It’s not true.

Self-sabotage is an action remember, which means it’s a behavior. Behaviors do not make you "who you are."  

So you can stop beating yourself up! Don’t give yourself a hard time for self-sabotage because it actually creates more of the same. Never beating yourself up under any circumstance is one of the best practices you can adopt. Anything else is just reckless. Self-criticism just stops you in your tracks and derails you from reaching your ultimate goals.  

You know you’re really living your potential when you’re pursuing your goals even though you are uncomfortable.  

You’re gonna be uncomfortable. Have you noticed that it's uncomfortable to grow? Being able to identify your emotions and process them on the way to your goals is huge! It's hands down the one skill that’ll help you move through obstacles and not quit when things get hard.

Have a plan to stop self-sabotage

Your plan can include becoming the watcher of your mind and writing your findings in a journal, schedule time to talk with a good friend, and seek out coaching. Your dreams matter and there’s totally a way to end the painful process self-sabotage can take on.  

Claim your dreams. Define, plan, believe in, visualize and declare your dreams!  

If you don't plan where you’re going, you'll end up someplace else. The goals you set are your own personal GPS system smack dab to the middle of your dream life.  

I want you to really think about your life. What if you gave up those 6 reasons for self-sabotage?

If you could completely give up self-sabotage, what would you create with your life?

If you don't stop self-sabotaging what’ll your life look like next week, in 6 months, or in1-year from now?

I can tell you you’ll be uncomfortable, but that’s ok because self-sabotage is it’s own discomfort. Opt for the discomfort that comes with achieving your goals over the discomfort of self-sabotage which results in nothing.

“I don’t want to do it,” is the mantra of self-sabotage

Treat yourself kind. As you’re working towards your goals keep asking yourself good questions. When “I don’t want to do it,” comes up, be your own coach and keep asking:

“How can I help you do this so you can get it done? “

“How can I help you feel like it?

How can I help you stop sabotaging?”

When you feel the discomfort and you do it it anyway you’re breaking the old habit, and you build momentum, and sooner or later you’ll just realize that self-sabotage isn’t an issue anymore.

You are capable of anything you can dream up. Isn’t that wild? Take advantage of it and don’t let a day, a year, or a decade pass by again because of self-sabotage.

Part of being loving towards yourself is knowing when to ask for help, or when to hire a professional. I know I’ve hired many coaches to help me with many of the hurdles I’ve had, and each has taught me something invaluable. I’ve never gotten down on myself for identifying that things would go a lot smoother, a lot faster, and a lot easier if I had the right help. Not everything or every skills will be in your wheelhouse and knowing when to get help is a strength, not a weakness. I’m always here if you need some guidance.