Self-sabotage is extremely common, and it happens for a number of reasons. 

One of the most common reasons we self-sabotage is, we have mixed— or even negative— feelings about the goal we’re pursuing. 

Sometimes we feel intimidated by a goal. We think that doing the things we’d need to do to achieve that goal will involve more pain or hassle than we want in our lives. 

Sometimes we feel that if we actually achieve a goal, it’ll turn out to be an ultimately negative thing. 

People who have a “fear of success” often feel this way. They think that if they actually succeed, it might change them or their lives in ways they don’t actually want. 

Sometimes we self-sabotage because a goal wasn’t something we actually wanted in the first place. It was a goal picked FOR us by somebody else. 

You see this a lot with people whose parents or families have strong feelings about what they should do with their lives. 

Sometimes we self-sabotage because we haven’t sufficiently listened to ourselves or paid attention our needs. 

If we are denying or ignoring some of our basic needs in the pursuit of a goal, those needs won’t just stay quiet. 

Rather, they’ll get our attention via any means necessary— including sabotaging our attempts to achieve our goals. 

Sometimes we self-sabotage because we don’t believe we deserve a goal. 

We imagine achieving a goal, and we feel like a fraud or an imposter— and our brains don’t want us to have to deal with those feelings. 

So they throw a wrench into our plans. 

Sometimes we self-sabotage because we like the process of working toward our goal much better than the idea of actually achieving that goal. 

We worry that if we achieve a goal, we’ll be without the process that has given our life structure and meaning— and who needs that? 

There are lots of reasons why we might get in our own way when working toward a goal. 

If we’re really going to address our own self-sabotage, we need to understand it— and that means observing our own behavior and listening to our own feelings and needs, without judgment. 

Goal achievement is VERY much wrapped up in judgement. 

From a very young age, we are told that in order to be “worthy,” we need to be working toward certain goals (very often specific goals that other people choose FOR us). 

If we don’t work “hard” enough, we judge ourselves (or other people judge us) to be lazy or incompetent. 

It’s a recipe for self-hatred and demotivation. 

We need to separate our self-worth from our life goals. 

You can go your entire life without achieving one meaningful goal, and still have worth. 

Goal achievement does have to do with happiness and fulfillment— but not basic worth. 

You are worthy whether or not you achieve goals easily. 

You do not have to be a high achiever to be deserving of happiness and respect. 

We need to rethink how we set goals. Setting goals is not about proving our worth. 

Setting goals CAN be about creating lives that are interesting and feel good. 

But only if we move away from the myth that goal achievement equals worth. 

Pay attention to how you’re thinking about your life goals. 

When you get in your own way, pay attention to that too. 

If we observe ourselves and our behavior with enough patience and compassion, we WILL figure out what’s going on. 


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