A Helpful Strategy to Stop Self-Sabotage

We often know why we need to get organized, but we don’t always know why we don’t just do it. One primary reason is a very real thing called self-sabotage.

Self-sabotage is when we interfere with meeting our own goals. 

Why do we do this? Well, the primary reason we self-sabotage is because of our inner critic. You know the One. That harpy in your  head who causes you to doubt your abilities. Questioning you when you’ve decided on something you truly want…maybe even suggesting you stop dreaming, give up on your goals.

Your inner critic loves to tell you that your goals are just too big for you to tackle. Or that important thing you’ve been putting off? Nah, it’s really not that important anyway.

Examples of Self-Sabotaging Behaviours

1. Self-imposed limits. This means being dismissive of incremental improvements, and often includes thoughts that begin with the phrase, “I can’t.”

2. Procrastination. This is defined as putting things off, worrying without acting, and includes over-complicating a situation to the point of inaction.

3. Self-Care imbalances. This includes the often-discussed coping strategy of ignoring warning signs of exhaustion. It also includes the less-talked-about reality of using pleasure in a denial-binge cycle (so work-work-work with no breaks all week, and then bingeing on a box of wine and 8 hours of Netflix in one Sunday)

4. Unhealthy relationship dynamics. This could include several things like surrendering your own personal responsibility for change (ie. Saying, “I won’t change until the other person changes first.”), and continuing with repetitive strategies that don’t work for you or for the relationship.

Those are just a few examples of self-sabotaging behaviours. A common thread throughout them all is that we begin to feel bad about ourselves because we didn’t follow through. Or we failed to use the power available to us and make important changes. And so we find that the self-reinforcing, self-sabotaging cycle continues.

Stopping the Self-Sabotage Cycle

So how do we interrupt the self-sabotaging spiral?

The first step is to recognize that self-sabotage is real. It exists for many of us. The second step is to find effective strategies that interrupt the cycle, and support you, rather than undermine you, in future goal attempts.

One effective strategy to interrupt self-sabotage is the 1% Rule. 

The 1% Rule asks you to look at a larger project or goal, and break it up into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Let me give you an example. Perhaps you want to de-clutter and organize your messy bedroom closet. You haven’t gotten around to it because it’s so disorganized you know you’re going to need a solid weekend to tackle it all.

The 1% Rule would ask you to focus what action you could take today to satisfy 1% of the 100% work that needs to be done.

So instead of de-cluttering and re-organizing 100% your closet over a whole weekend, you would set aside 1 hour and only go through only 1 section of the closet. So let’s say you choose your scarves. In that 1 hour you would choose which scarves to keep and which scarves to give away.

Your action satisfies the 1% Rule. AND it means you are making visual progress on your larger goal of cleaning out your bedroom closet.

Whatever way you make the 1% Rule work for you, first being aware of your inner critic and how it loves to use self-sabotage to derail you and your goals is HUGE. And it’s an important first step in stopping the self-sabotage spiral.  Learn more about you inner critic, and how you can interrupt it’s work on your motivation levels in my blog article here.