Share this pen


Finding and Eradicating Your Self-Sabotage Habits


May 22, 2020

Let us first understand sabotage. Sabotage means to “deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something)” It is not just a belief, it is an action. Self-sabotage implies that you actively undermine your efforts. It can be done instinctively and automatically without you realizing it, or you may watch yourself doing so in slow motion.

You need to understand this internal troublemaker before you can stop the self-sabotage. Procrastinating and undermining yourself at work is a sure sign that the inner saboteur is at play. So, what do you do when the saboteur within you turns up?

1. Responsibility for Actions

Whether you are after a promotion or a complete career change, you look at the reasons why the job is not right for you. You tell yourself that you are underqualified, or you are not prepared to take a pay cut.

The inner saboteur relies on your sense of self-preservation; it wants to keep you safe (and predictable). The inner saboteur thinks it has your best interests at heart, but it actually keeps you trapped from moving forward in your career and life.

The saboteur is not real. You create this character so as not to take responsibility for your actions. Realize that there is only you - no saboteur. It is you that carries out the actions or not. 

2. Bigger Picture

The saboteur says it's all about you: your career, your future, your likes, and dislikes. There is no space for the saboteur when you are doing things for other people’s benefits. The weight lifts when your focus is redirected.

Let your choices be inspired by how your actions will be contributing to the people around you—that is, shifting the purpose beyond yourself. The inner saboteur will be silenced.

3. Create an Anti-saboteur

You can find a hero to your saboteur’s villain. Someone you look to for inspiration can be called in whenever self-doubt arises. Ask yourself, “What would a such-and-such person do in the same situation?” 

4. Avoid Weak Language

By using minimizing language with words such as “just,” “I think,” and “I feel,” you reduce your credibility to almost zero. Confidence is key to career advancement, yet we often undermine ourselves when we use weak language, sabotaging our efforts to present ourselves with authority.

Jerry Weissman encourages us to replace weak, meaningless words with stronger ones in his Harvard Business Review article, Replace Meaningless Words with Meaningful Ones. Replace weak words with stronger ones such as “I expect,” “I’m confident,” and “I’m convinced.”


5. Never Focus On Negatives

Don’t pay attention to your gremlins: those limiting beliefs that make you think less of yourself. They subconsciously sabotage your progress and embody your biggest insecurities. Concentrate on all your accomplishments; forget the bad things that have happened to you.  

Self-awareness, determination, and practice will enable you to silence the troublemaker.