How to Break the Cycle of Self-Sabotage


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Demetria Slyt, Opinion Editor

Have you ever felt like you are getting in your own way? You may be sabotaging yourself. This can happen when an individual has a goal that is outside of their comfort zone and the fight or flight responses are activated, trying to return the mind to the safety of that zone. Self-sabotaging can also occur when we enter new territory, whether it be a new relationship or a new position at work. You might be very grateful for these new achievements, but you have unsettled feelings. Like, what if it all goes wrong or thinking things along the lines of I do not deserve this. It is the fear of not being in that comfort zone anymore and being in a realm of unknown potential. It is the fear of failure. Self-sabotage also has to do with confidence and how we perceive our own self-worth. As they say, we are our own biggest enemy.  How can we recognize this behavior? And how do we end this cycle of self-sabotage or self-destruction? 

There are a handful of ways in which we self-sabotage, whether it be in relationships, academic or professional settings, it is hard to recognize these behaviors immediately. In a relationship you may see this behavior reflected in how you project onto your partner, your attachment style, or a feeling of doubt or insecurity. Others may recognize some aspects of this behavior in relationships and quickly generalize it as commitment issues. Here is a quick summary of the top 6 or so ways to break the cycle of self-sabotage and move forward in your life: 

  1. Recognize how you are sabotaging yourself 
  1. Recognize why you do this to yourself 
  1. Find better alternatives to live a better life 
  1. Learn how to cope with new challenges or change 
  1. Learn to tolerate the discomfort, little by little  
  1. Figure out what you really want 

In many cases, the best thing to do is prioritize your mental health and wellbeing. You can do this by simply eating healthier, practicing mindfulness, exercising regularly, meditating or journaling about your feelings or situations you encounter. Another big step is recognizing why you are doing this in the first place, or why you personally are experiencing self-sabotage. It is important to take a step back and think, “why did I do that,” or “why did I say that?” to look at yourself through a different perspective or critically. You have to push yourself to be consciously aware of these behaviors, because they may always be there. Self sabotage might not always be a negative thing, but the way in which we cope with or recognize it can make all the difference.  

There are a lot of great resources to learn more about this subject, and to deal with this subject in your personal lives. Counselling or simply asking for help are great resources when you feel like you need someone to talk to. It is important to realize that you are never alone in the challenges you face. A little support goes a long way. There are many books and YouTube videos you can utilize in order to initiate these changes in your life. This Psych2Go video describes the signs of self-sabotage: 


Demetria Slyt is a Dakota Student Opinion Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].