Do you ever wonder how people sabotage themselves? There are of course different ways of looking at it, but one I found particularly insightful was a model developed by Shirzad Chamine, which he presented in his book Positive Intelligence. When you read this, please remember that you too are “people” – and while it’s of course interesting to learn how people sabotage themselves, it gets really useful and powerful when you take some time to reflect and figure out how you are sabotaging yourself.
When you get a clear picture of how people sabotage themselves (and how you do it), it’ll help you to become more aware of what you’re doing, and also help you to help others. And conscious awareness over how you subconsciously sabotage yourself is the first – and most crucial – step in stopping self-sabotage.
One way how people sabotage themselves – and this is by far the most common and prevalent kind of self-sabotage – is being judgmental. With ourselves and others. Always looking out for faults and mistakes, laying blame on us or others, rather than taking responsibility. (Note: there is an important distinction between taking responsibility and blaming yourself – one empowers you to move on and make things better, while the other depletes you of energy and gets you stuck in misery).
People Sabotage Themselves with Perfectionism
A common way how people sabotage themselves is an almost compulsive desire to have things “done the right way”. Things must be perfect. Of course, things never are truly perfect – but by pursuing perfectionism, they kind of protect themselves from being judged by others. The problem is that perfection is an illusion – you can’t really reach it, and perfectionism will often lead to frustration and ongoing anxiety.
Perfectionists are also very intolerant when it comes to mistakes – and of course, if you can’t accept mistakes, you try to avoid them by any means, often to the point where you don’t finish things or put yourself under so much pressure that it breaks you.
People Sabotage Themselves By Being Addicted to Problems
This kind of self-sabotage is quite tricky, because people are even less aware of it than other kinds of self-sabotage, and they have an harder time to admit it. They are subconsciously addicted to having problems, they have an unconscious desire to suffer and fail. The problems, the suffering, the emotional pain they go through, it all serves a purpose: to get attention from others.
People Sabotage Themselves By Ignoring Problems
Simply put on a pair of these nice rose-colored glasses, and everything will be fine. Need to meet a tough deadline? Well, don’t get all stressed up about it, relax first, watch a movie. This is probably the most pleasant way how people sabotage themselves, but it’s a very short-term pleasure.
If there is a conflict, they tend to want to avoid it, or even pretend it doesn’t exist. If there is a problem – well, just sweep it under the carpet. Peace of mind is the number on priority.
People Sabotage Themselves by Scaring Themselves to Death
Fear is one of the most powerful forces in our lifes. This might not sound nice, but it’s true. It’s a mechanism that’s deeply-wired into our brains – and for good reason. After all, fear does serve a good function: it keeps us alive. Being afraid of things that could kill or seriously damage us makes sense. But for some people this fear-mechanism gets out of control.
They live in a state of constant anxiety. They always doubt and worry about pretty much everything and everyone – including themselves. They always expect the worst and are suspicious of other peoples’ hidden motives.
This kind of fear of course stops people from doing all kinds of things which could lead to a better life, and it gets in the way of building meaningful relationships with other people, especially because these people are often kind of cynical.
People Sabotage Themselves by Depending On Other Peoples’ Approval
Always wanting to please someone, being accepted by others and belonging to some group – these are powerful motivators for some people, so powerful that they become more important than being happy, successful, achieving goals or living the life they truly dream of.
One of the problems with this kind of self-sabotage is that you might fail to take care of your own needs, be they emotional, psychological, physical or financial. You might be so preoccupied with helping others that you burn out. Or develop a kind of suppressed resentment towards others.
People Sabotage Themselves by Looking For Happiness In The Wrong Places
These people constantly need to refill their self-respect with new achievements – they might be high-performers who seem successful on the outside, but inside they feel miserable. They pursue goals in order to validate themselves, rather than because they find them to be worthwhile goals. They look for happiness on the outside, rather than inside themselves. They have no lasting inner peace, and happiness is like sand running through their fingers – they might occasionally grab a handful of it, but they never manage to hold onto it.
People Sabotage Themselves By Holding On To Control
Control-freaks are often very good at getting things done. Want fast results? Control freaks are good at delivering that. But it comes at a high price. Because they tend to micromanage things and have such a hard time with trusting others, that they deplete themselves of their mental, emotional and physical energy. And they often alienate the people they work with, because instead of letting people truly contribute and empowering them to perform at their best, they dominate others.
People Sabotage Themselves By Switching Off Their Emotions
Of course they don’t really “switch off” their emotions – because nobody can do that. But they simply suppress them and exclude them as much as they can from their conscious awareness and actions. These people often have a very sharp, analytical mind and are highly intelligent. If your on the other side of the table during a discussion with such a person, they’ll give you a very hard time – because they are masters of logical reasoning and have their ways of getting to the conclusion they want.
But because of that, they also get out of touch with themselves – they’re lacking that connection to the true inner values and dreams which would inspire them to lead a fulfilled life, and the same is true for their relationships with others: they often feel alone and misunderstood. Because they are so out of touch with their emotions and intuition, they can become very successful at climbing up to the top of the ladder only to find out that they’re standing on the wrong ladder.
People Sabotage Themselves By “Being Busy”
Some people are addicted to being busy. Even though it pushes up their stress-levels and often leads to burn-out, they can’t stop running in the hamster wheel.
They are often jumping from one activity to the next. And yes, they often do feel overwhelmed too, but they still can’t stop it. They’re always looking for the next thrill – and if they hardly ever get stuck in a down feeling, because when a negative emotion just tickles them a little bit, they immediately escape into busyness. Some people keep them self busy with “things that must be done”, while others use “fun adventures” – but both kinds of busyness are a way of self-sabotage. They distract from the experience of the present moment – and if they’re not high on adrenaline or stress hormones, their life feels empty and meaningless.
When such a person has a good thing going, they often subconsciously sabotage it, because the risk of losing it gives them the thrill they use to fill out the emptiness inside of them.
These are some of the ways how people sabotage themselves. But knowledge is only useful if you do something with it. So for tomorrow, please pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and actions and ask yourself: which saboteur is at work here? How am I sabotaging myself? Am I engaging in busyness? Am I shutting out my emotions? Am I striving for other peoples praise? Perfectionism? Go over this list of ways how people sabotage themselves again and see which ones are most common for you. You’ll get to know yourself better – and that is the first step to wisdom and conscious change.
And if you want a faster way to stop sabotaging yourself, you can use the self hypnosis download. Listen to it regularly, at least three times a week. And when you listen to it, make a conscious choice to make this a little break from your day to day life. Make sure no one disturbs or interrupts you. You can listen to the audio hypnosis before you fall asleep in bed if you want to – in fact, that’s an excellent choice as this is the time when your mind will process positive hypnotic suggestions even better than during daytime. Because at night, when you sleep and dream, your subconsciousness works on integrating what it has learned during the day.