girl holding hand up to stop

When it comes to facing challenges (or should I say opportunities?) in our lives, I never cease to be amazed at the sheer number of weird, wonderful and quite ridiculous ways that we go out of our way to – get in our OWN way.

I was pondering this topic one day as I realised I had somehow managed to find myself floating off course – rather than pushing forward solidly towards my goals and aspirations I seemed to be meandering a tad aimlessly. I’ve always been one for that buzzword ‘purpose’, so to find myself going slightly off piste was somewhat of a shock. And that’s when it hit me. Oh hello, old friend self-sabotage.

Now self-sabotage only ever has our best interests at heart. So we can’t be too hard on it. But when we recognise it’s happening, that’s when it’s time to do something different.

So what exactly IS self-sabotage? Sabotage alone is defined as the act of deliberately stopping someone from achieving something, or preventing a plan or process from being successful. And it usually happens when we REALLY want something. Oh, the irony.

Just a moment…

I probably don’t need to go through all of the enticing ways that people can self-sabotage, but for a moment, let’s consider a couple of the options. One of the nation’s ultimate favourites, let me introduce you to procrastination. Procrastination is your age-old friend, the comfort blanket that sits loyally by your side, telling you “It’s okay, all in good time.” You’ll say things like “Oh, I’ll just go check my phone,” (CLASSIC) or some other equally menial distraction that will suffice. Before you know it, you’ve found yourself in a wonderfully destructive spiral that is not only lacking in productivity, but also rich in self-judgement. Winning combo.

Sometimes, procrastination isn’t quite enough, so you might want take it one step further… Enter, total self-defeat. “Well, it’s not going to happen so I might as well just give up now.” Ironically, a lot of the time, it can be driven by impatience. “I haven’t achieved something instantly so therefore it’s never going to happen – might as well give up.” That’s one beautifully self-fulfilling prophecy. If you approach every challenge from this perspective, guess what? You NEVER WILL achieve the goal you so badly want.

There are a whole heap of other marvellous ways people can get in their own way, but if I went through them all you’d still be here a few days later. We are THAT good at it. Creating a mountain of crap that ultimately stops us from getting the things we want in life, is a skillset that we’ve worked hard for as humans. And this leads me onto the question…

But why?!

Why would we do that?! Well my friends, the answer is… drum roll please…Beliefs. Duh, duh, duhhhh. Absolutely everything we do is based on a belief of some sort – whether you know it or not. And beliefs aren’t necessarily bad. They can be very useful. But equally, when we hold limiting beliefs about ourselves and what we’re capable of, it DOES become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“You do not manifest what you want. You manifest what you believe.” Oprah Winfrey.

It’s funny. Up until recently, I’d always had the belief that if we want something bad enough we will get it. And while this certainly helps, it’s not enough. We need to BELIEVE in it. We need to have that compelling vision of what it is that we want, and we need to believe in ourselves enough to go get it.

In the net

I’d like you to think about the things that you aspire to in your life. The things that excite or interest you. Do you see them up there on that pedestal? That bigger life vision that is not about asking “But how?!” rather more a case of affirming, ‘When…”

If the answer is no, what is it that’s stopping you? When you think about the things you really want in life, or perhaps even a smaller challenge or opportunity that you’re facing and sabotaging right now, think carefully about what it is you want. And then, this is the important bit – notice what thoughts immediately follow…

Positive? Inspiring? Reaffirming? Didn’t think so. Any hint of negativity or self-deprecation, get that net out of the bag and over that thought right away. Pin it down where it is and honestly examine it. But careful now – not for too long or you’ll be right back in the bog of it.

When you’re looking at this thought or belief from afar, the question you want to ask is, “Is this belief useful?” and “Is it serving me in any way?” The answer is most likely to be NO.


If you’re struggling to identify the thought/s, just take a peak at the box on the right and spot your favourites. There are plenty of catchphrases that you’ll find yourself using, but what it generally boils down to is fear – fear of failure, fear of worthlessness, fear of rejection. Hmmm…what do these all have in common? A sense of, “I’m not good enough.”

It’s incredible how this sense of ‘I’m not good enough’ can create such catastrophic and self-sabotaging behaviours. But here’s something new. You have a choice. The wonderful Layne Beachley says in her Ted Talk on beliefs: “Obstacles and setbacks provide you with an opportunity about what you want to do with that information…when you feel rejected, you have a choice, you can become a victim of your circumstances or you can be a master of your life.”

So which one do YOU want to choose?

You create what you believe

If you continue to reuse that belief that is getting you such excellent results in self-sabotage, you will create THAT reality. Because what you believe, you will always seek proof of. “It’s not working…” “they all hate me…” “I failed AGAIN…” and so on.

But think about it this way. Setbacks and obstacles are AMAZING. Without them, we wouldn’t have these awesome opportunities to learn new skills and prove ourselves to be even stronger and more resilient than we realised. It’s very satisfying. A bit like getting the final piece of the sudoku/crossword puzzle. You made it! You did it! And yeah, that was YOU. All you. Add that one to your Life CV.

So make the choice today. Choose a new thought. Choose a new belief. Don’t let the automaticity of your brain lead the way…step outside for just a moment and think about something altogether more useful that will get you the results you truly, deserve.

Coming up in my next blog…What IS good enough? Changing beliefs around yourself and what you are capable of.

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