How to Stop Self-Sabotage

Who am I to try and do this anyway?

No one will pay attention to what I say.

It’s not going to work, so don’t even try.

It’s probably going to fail.

Do you relate to any of these self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings?

What is self-sabotage?

Self-sabotaging behaviour is the intentional action (or inaction) that undermines your progress and prevents you from accomplishing your goals.

It can impact everything from career to relationships to personal growth.

3 Types of self-sabotaging behaviour

Before we look at how to overcome self-sabotage, let’s talk about the types of self-sabotaging behaviour.


You may do this because you fear disappointing others, failing, or even succeeding (more on this in a minute).


Holding yourself to an impossible standard will cause delays. It hampers success because you won’t start until you know everything is going to go as planned, without a hitch. Or you hold back on starting because you fear it won’t be perfect once done.

All or nothing thinking prevents you from moving forward.


Because there’s a constant battle between wanting to be successful and limiting beliefs saying they can’t be, some people try to drown this out with addictions, self-harm, angry outbursts, or cynicism. These all result in more self-loathing, hopelessness and despair.

What causes self-sabotaging behaviour?

Self-sabotage often serves as a coping mechanism that people use to deal with stressful situations or past traumas. It may be conscious or unconscious.

Self-sabotage is usually the result of limiting beliefs such as, no one will listen to me, it’s not going to work, I don’t deserve success.

It’s important to try and identify what you are believing, and then figure out where that belief is coming from.

Childhood wounds

Maybe you were told you’d never amount to much, so you don’t. What people told you has become your inner voice, and you believe it.

Perhaps you were bullied or teased at school. Maybe you were never helped to overcome your fear. Perhaps you were physically, emotionally, or sexually abused resulting in low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem

Low self-worth often leads to self-sabotage because you don’t believe in yourself and your God-given talents and abilities. Again, this is usually caused by something in your past.


You may be afraid of getting hurt, or of failing, so you sabotage your own progress to avoid the hurt or embarrassment.

You may be afraid of commitment – of feeling trapped and not being able to escape, so you sabotage the situation.


You may doubt yourself and your ability to make a new endeavour work, so you don’t even try. Imposter syndrome shouts “Who am I to … What if people discover that I’m not really that good at … What If I really am not that good at…”

I have found myself engaging in self-sabotaging behaviour every time I start a new project – a new website, a new coaching program or course, my podcast.

I self-sabotage because I fear failure and I don’t believe I have what it takes to accomplish something new or hard. I’ve also worried that I’m just going to make an utter fool of myself.

But these are all thoughts that sync with the kingdom of darkness.

God wants us to grow and progress and do new things. He wants us to improve ourselves and advance His kingdom with our talents and abilities. And the devil doesn’t.

How do you stop self-sabotaging behaviour?

If you find yourself behaving in ways that confirm negative beliefs about yourself, here’s how to stop sabotaging yourself:

Ask God to show you what you mean to Him.

When you know what He thinks of you, and how He values you, you will be able to believe in yourself because He believes in you.

Examine the root causes

Become more self-aware and look for the deeper things. Do you have a pattern of self-sabotage? What are you believing about yourself? How do you value yourself? Are you afraid of failure and criticism, or looking like a fool?

Rewrite your inner beliefs

Challenge your limiting beliefs and replace them with truth. The truth is, God wants you to value yourself as He values you. He paid a high price for you and He wants you to believe in yourself because of what He can do in you and through you.

Stop procrastinating

Figure out why you procrastinate and deal with the underlying fear, anxiety, or perfectionism.

Related: 5 Ways to stop procrastinating

Take action

Make small changes and act on them slowly. By all means, have a goal, but create small steps for yourself so you can achieve that goal without it feeling overwhelming.

Stop perfectionistic thinking

Stop overthinking everything. Stop holding yourself to a perfect standard. Allow yourself to fail and make mistakes. Again, examine why you have this type of thinking. Where does it stem from?

Aim for progress, not perfection. Challenge your all or nothing thinking.

Not sure if you self-sabotage? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do your actions align with your goals? Do you have stuff you’d really love to do, but you just don’t ever do it? You feel like there’s a handbrake on.
  • What is stopping you from taking action to make your dreams/desires/wishes come true?
  • Do you feel uneasiness or discomfort when you progress?
  • Is this discomfort based on what others told you?
  • Is it based on fear of failure, or making a fool of yourself?
  • Is it based on a fear of success? (Yes, that is a thing! Fearing failure is one thing, but what if you succeed? How will you deal with it? Fear of success can cause you to not set goals. It can cause you to derail your success by giving up right before you succeed, procrastinating or placing obstacles in your own path that decrease your chance of doing well. You could be afraid of what will happen if you were in the spotlight, feel anxious about new responsibilities or complications, or fear criticism when you do succeed.)
  • Do you believe success is more than you deserve?

Overcoming self-sabotaging behaviours is not a quick fix. It requires introspection, self-awareness (why you do what you do), and a willingness to challenge the things you’ve believed all your life.

The truth is, God wants you to do new things, to grow as a person, to become a better version of yourself. Stop getting in the way of what God wants to do in and through you by sabotaging yourself.

Surrender your dreams and ambitions to God. If He keeps bringing them back to you, then step out and do it afraid. Do it in spite of what others may think. Do it in spite of how you feel. Do it in spite of yourself.

This is a huge step in personal growth and self-awareness, and becoming the person God wants you to be and fulfilling the purpose He has for your life.

Related: How to find your purpose in life

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has three grown kids and is married to her best friend, Richard. She started this website as a platform to help families, and specifically women, to take control of their lives and grow themselves spiritually, mentally & emotionally, and to discover their God-given purpose and live it out with confidence. She is a trained Life Coach and has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). She is a certified SYMBIS (Save Your Marriage Before It Starts) facilitator. She lives in sunny South Africa.

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