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4 Ways To Overcome Self-Sabotage

Written by: Morice Mabry, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Do you ever start projects or tasks with motivation but lose engagement and interest to finish? What about working toward a goal and for whatever reason, you get off track and never complete the goal? Or you think through a plan, write it out, start executing it and quit without knowing that you did. From my perspective, these are clear examples of self-sabotage. Success is near and you’re literally 3 feet from the gold, and you throw yourself off track without trying.

man with his head down the table with crumple paper beside him

Sometimes, you may not know you’re off track because you lost engagement toward the prize and you’re off to the next thing that piques your interest. Then the pattern repeats itself and you find yourself in a never-ending revolving cycle where you are motivated to start something but never quite finish or achieve the goal. You never truly understand why this continues to happen, so you begin to lose interest in trying to go after goals because deep down you feel as though you’re not going to be able to complete the goal so why bother with trying.

These are thought patterns of people who sabotage themselves without knowing it. If that’s the case, then how does a person overcome it without knowing that self-sabotage exists? Well, I’m here to help you be proactive in creating awareness to identify where self-sabotage might exist. Here are 4 things you can do to overcome self-sabotage in areas of your life without knowing it exists.

1. Create More Self-Awareness

Creating self-awareness can be tricky especially when self-sabotage in certain areas can be a blind spot. When you don’t know what you don’t know is tough and it bypasses your thoughts. To create more self-awareness in any area of life, you must be intentional and proactive. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you pause for a few moments and journal your thoughts and feelings, solicit feedback about your blind spots, and seek understanding of why you feel doubtful or indecisive, you’re positioning yourself to increase self-awareness.

Journaling is powerful because as you write, you can easily become immersed in your thoughts. While writing, you’re thinking through thoughts and creating more consciousness and intention. Journaling creates more opportunities to explore your feelings in the moment. You create a visualization of what you want your thoughts to become. Or you may even explore where certain feelings come from to help you navigate in the present and move toward the future. This is the power of journaling.

When seeking feedback about blind spots to create self-awareness can be difficult because most people don’t want to know where their weaknesses exist. It creates a level of self-judgment and we all know that we’re our worst critics when judging ourselves. However, if you decide to suck it up and be open minded about receiving feedback from blind spots, it will create self-awareness.

Finally, take the moment to identify when you feel doubtful and indecisive the most. Then seek understanding of why it exists. This is challenging because it’s easy to ignore and avoid. It feels uncomfortable to address. It’s uncomfortable because self-judgment generates low motivation and worrisome feelings. Creating self-awareness in understanding your doubts and indecisiveness positions you to create a power of choice. It’s choosing not to be doubtful and indecisive resulting in you creating more confidence and avoiding the pitfall of self-sabotage.

2. Exemplify Reps Of Courage

Fear can be deeply ingrained to the standpoint of it becoming a blind spot where you naturally avoid it. For example, when you create momentum toward achieving a goal and during your journey, fear appears without you realizing it. You naturally avoid it thus causing you to stop your momentum and self-sabotage your process toward goal achievement. Once you can acknowledge that this type of pattern exists, it’s important to identify the fear and demonstrate the courage to overcome it. It’s best to attack the fear in small bites which I call exemplifying reps of courage. That means consistently demonstrating mini acts of courage to build confidence to address the fear long term. Let's say you’ve identified a fear of speaking up in meetings. Exemplifying reps of courage to overcome that fear would look like this. For the next meeting, you set intentions to share one thought. In the next meeting, you set intentions to ask a question. In the next meeting, you set intentions to engage a colleague with providing a compliment or recognition. In the next meeting, you set intentions to provide a positive contribution. As you commit to these small acts, which I label as being courageous because speaking up for you is a fear, these small incremental steps build confidence long term thus causing the fear to disintegrate. Exemplifying reps of courage can go a long way in helping you resolve self-sabotaging behavior.

3. Understand Your Core Energy

Understanding your core energy is the real deal. I’m not going to spend time discussing research data, but you can check these resources to make your determination. (Your Core Energy Determines Your Life Potential, The Impact of Corporate Catabolism on Engagement, Performance, and Bottom Line.) When I'm most productive, creative, motivated, and inspired, my core energy is up. When I feel frustrated, worrisome, indecisive, annoyed, or stressed, my core energy is down. Think of the success you’ve achieved in any area of your life. Now think of your motivation and creativity in achieving that goal. What was your core energy like? Was your energy fueling or draining? When creating momentum toward a desired outcome, challenges or hurdles will appear. Your perspective toward those challenges makes all the difference because it becomes the difference in seeing the situation as ‘the glass being half full’ or ‘the glass being half empty.’ From the latter perspective, it would generate draining core energy to sabotage your momentum. It’ll leave you stuck in a rut and make it slow for you to move forward. Becoming intentional in understanding the triggers that cause draining energy is key. Think about the times when you were in the flow and lost momentum. Whatever the hurdles were in that moment, they probably triggered some draining type of energy (i.e., feelings of frustration, anxiety, stress, anger, worry, doubt, insecurity, etc.). When you are intentional about knowing your triggers that create draining core energy, you’ve positioned yourself to have power of choice. You can choose not to accept that trigger or draining feelings in the moment because you understand that there’s a better state of being that you can shift to. I know this is easier said than done; however, the Energy Leadership Index Assessment can help measure your core energy in how you show up on normal days and during stress. The Energy Leadership Index Assessment measures 7 levels of energy where 1-2 levels are catabolic (draining) energy and 3-7 are anabolic (fueling) energy. To learn more visit here. You have the opportunity to take the assessment and receive a debrief from a master practitioner of this assessment or reach out to me directly to learn more. The Energy Leadership Indexä Assessment is rated as number 3 of 11 top assessments that executives should take by Forbes Magazine. This type of assessment is purely based on perception in how it influences your core energy. Understanding the facts of how perception influences your energy, you can make paradigm shifts anytime you decide. It will help you in overcoming self-sabotage behaviors.

4. Work with a coach

There are so many benefits in talking with a coach to overcome self-sabotage behavior. Remember, most of the time you’re probably unaware when the self-sabotage behavior happens. It can be so under the radar in how it appears. Think of it like this, when there’s an important decision that needs to be made, you might have felt confident up to that point. In that moment of thinking of a decision, there may be a limiting belief or assumption that derails your confidence about the situation thus causing your decision to be flawed, inconsistent, inaccurate, or just wrong. Because of the results of the decision, it affects your confidence going forward. However, you may feel you’ve moved on, but the pattern repeats itself.

Working with a coach in any area brings tremendous value and creates awareness. Working with a coach is a partnership with established trust in which conversations are meaningful, thought provoking, motivational, and inspiring. The coaching relationship is trustworthy in which vulnerability is high creating opportunities for you to self-discover your blind spots. The coach through conversations can help identify the self-sabotage behaviors that’s limiting you. Once identified, you’ll work with the coach to craft out a plan to overcome it. In other words, the coach helps you get out of your own way. The coach does this by being non-judgmental to validate, acknowledge, and ask thought provoking questions to help you craft out your plan to get out of your own way. At the end of the day, self-sabotage behaviors thrive from limited beliefs, assumptions, interpretations, and those not so pleasant thoughts of you telling yourself that you’re not good enough. Working with a coach is one of the most effective ways that you can overcome self-sabotage.

So, what’s next? Do you continue with the same pattern that’s preventing you from obtaining your desired results? It’s always easiest to do nothing and remain in a state of stagnation or a rut. Or you can take me up on any of the 4 points mentioned and start there. I recommend trusting your intuition to seek feedback from a trusted and reliable person of positive support that you can lean on first. Then do your due diligence to find a coach to connect with and start the conversation. The International Coaching Federation is a good starting point to find a coach. Or better yet, you can always reach out to @MoriceMabry, and I’ll be happy to assist in any way. Whatever you decide, the most effective way to do it, is to do it!

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Morice Mabry, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Morice Mabry is a Core Energy Leadership Coach working with executives, managers, supervisors, and career professions who feel stuck and out of balance because of internal barriers that limit their version of success in obtaining work/life effectiveness. His goal is to enhance awareness around core energy to assess motivation and productivity. Leveraging and assessing core energy levels is a key step in shifting culture, managing change, and improving leadership strategies to create better work/life effectiveness. He enjoys spending time with family, attending sporting events, fantasy football, traveling, and helping people create better versions of themselves.



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