18 Signs of self-sabotage (and how to stop getting in your own way)

How to tell if you are self sabotaging

Signs of self-sabotage you should recognize

Sometimes we blame circumstances, or other people for our lack of progress in life, or unhappiness in our lives, when in fact these issues are more likely signs of self-sabotage. 

What is Self-sabotage and how do you know if you are sabotaging? In order to stop self-sabotage, you must first learn to recognize self-sabotaging behavior in yourself.

And as you can imagine, it is hard to recognize the subtle signs of self sabotage.  These habits become so part of your life it takes deep conscious work to spot signs you are self-sabotaging your happiness. 


What is self-sabotage

Self-sabotage is unconscious behavior whereby our subconscious mind tries to keep us safe by steering us clear of situations we are scared of even if these are exactly what we need to grow.

You may engage in self-sabotage when you want to achieve a certain goal to improve your life but somehow you find ways to hinder that progress because the goal feels too big or you just don’t believe you can do it or are worth it.

Signs of self-sabotage may show up as imposter syndrome making you doubt your ability and self-worth. 

 Signs of self-sabotage occur due to the subconscious conditioning that is meant to keep us safe from unfamiliar and likely dangerous things and situations. 

That is why we are so afraid of the unknown. You see, our subconscious mind goes—“this is likely not good for you because we don’t know what it is. And there may be a lion lurking around the bush yonder…”

Your subconscious mind tries to protect you from the danger of the unfamiliar.

Unfortunately, sometimes, that scary thing is just what you need to do to change your situation or to achieve life goals. 

How do you stop self sabotaging?

How do you stop self-sabotaging?

The best way to stop self-sabotaging is to be more conscious of your thoughts and actions. Learn to identify the signs of self-sabotage in yourself. Be more aware when you make choices and decisions. Ask yourself questions about why you have engaged in a particular action. 

Ask yourself for example, are you doing one thing to avoid doing another?

For example, doing laundry is easier than writing a guest post, applying for a job, working on a new product, writing that book, or calling your sister-in-law and talking things out to mend your relationship. 

Do you find a million ways to procrastinate on crucial things? 

Then you are likely self-sabotaging. 

In this post, we look at many other ways people self-sabotage. See if any of them resonate with you. 


Let’s look at some common signs of self-sabotage

This post may contain affiliate links, see the full disclosure here. 


How to tell if you are self-sabotaging 

#1 Not asking for help when you need it 

Signs you may be self sabotaging

Do you believe you can do all things at all times and cannot bear to have another person help?

Or let me say, do you try to do all things and really hate asking for help?

You know like being a mom, and you work outside the home but you won’t ask your spouse or kids to help. 

Cooking, cleaning, working 9-5, a side hustle, PTA, little league, and you take on more and more responsibilities till you are running frazzled.

Stop already.

If you run rugged till you are disappearing and lose sight of who you are and what makes you happy.

That is s sure way to self-sabotage. If you recognize that you try to do all things, this is a telltale sign you self-sabotage. 

Delegate, and ask for help, and when people do, don’t come behind them to redo the chores. 


#2 Excess self-criticism

Are you perhaps too critical of yourself?

If you find that you are constantly finding fault in yourself, criticizing and diminishing your abilities, that is a sign of self-sabotage.

When you put yourself down you diminish your ability.

It is all in that manifesting.

Say good things to yourself. Be kind to yourself first. Treat yourself with love. And talk to yourself like you talk to your friends. You encourage them, and you say you believe in them and their abilities.

You say they are amazing. Say the same to yourself. Practice those self-uplifting mantras.

They may feel odd and funny at first but they work. Say affirmations when you first wake up and as part of nighttime self-care. 

And believe you can do great things.  

If there are things you have done that you are not proud of, don’t let them define you.

You learned the lesson. That was you yesterday.

Today is a whole new day and you are going to do better. 

how to stop self sabotage

And as for what you can do, you won’t know till you try. So take that first step.

Scary but crucial and you will see you are holding untrue beliefs about yourself.

The brain likes to play tricks on us to keep us safe and comfortable.

But that also keeps us small.

You were made for greatness.

Go for it. Don’t say another mean thing about yourself because the brain believes what we tell it.. and then it starts to send us those same messages.

Think about the times you have bought a certain car, and then every time you see the same car over end over yes, your brain is primed to what we think. 



#3 Perfectionism

How do you stop self sabotaging?

Are you are a perfectionist? Perfectionism may appear in things like overplanning, or the inability to make progress on a project because the planning phase goes on forever, and so you nerve really get started.

Perfectionism can really hold you back from achieving your goals. And it is one way we self-sabotage.

Nothing to you seems ready, or good enough to be shown to your audience or those who matter, or to the public. So you hide it. You say “I need to do this first or this then I will be ready.”

Remember, done is better than perfect.

Yes, cliche perhaps, but so true and liberating.

Leave perfectionism behind and show what you got.

You may be surprised.

And if they don’t like it.

Use that as feedback on what to improve. The next time you show your product or idea, you are more likely to get successful.



#4 Inability to take compliments 

How do you stop self sabotaging?

Some people just cannot take compliments. Compliments make some people uncomfortable.

That right there is self-sabotage.

Every time you find it hard to accept a compliment, you chip at your self-confidence. This is a very common self-sabotaging practice.  Why do we find it so hard to accept compliments? The compliments are nice. And we like nice things. 

Sometimes it is because we just don’t believe in ourselves, our abilities, and even our looks. We self-reject.

But learning to accept yourself and love who you are in spite of imperfections is liberating, and a great step forward to take in life.  

Many of the greatest achievers do so many amazing things because they have a belief in their abilities. There may be some exceptions of course as imposter syndrome is also a constant plague for many.  But the point is, when someones give you a compliment, believe them, and accept them with grace.

Then learn from that and replicate this awesome thing you have done for more success.

This will boost your self-confidence and can lead to bigger better things.  And if you are looking good, take pride in looking after yourself well.  

You have to go deep and check your views on yourself and start changing those that show a lack of self-esteem.  Tell yourself you are awesome and believe it.

Take good care of yourself too. That way you are more likely to take pride and accept compliments easily. 

Exercise, and groom properly to boost your confidence. If we take care of ourselves we feel better and our self-esteem rises.





#5 Self-sabotaging relationships. 

How do you stop self sabotaging?

Do you engage in self-sabotaging relationships? Self-sabotage in relationships happens when you try to ruin a relationship either because somehow you don’t believe you deserve this amazing person, and so you subconsciously do things to ruin it.

In this way, you prove yourself right-  and say “you see, they were too good to be true after all.”

But they weren’t.

You did not give them a chance because you didn’t feel deserving of them. 

But on the other hand, some relationships are just bad for you. 

Do you have friends who sabotage you?

This is essentially not self-sabotage, but you need to recognize when friends are keeping you from going after your best life.

You know -the friend who either puts you down or just wants you to stay small?

Some are just jealous.

So they want you to stay in whatever the current situation is. It keeps them comfortable when you don’t go out and do all these audacious things that make them feel less than others.

And when you follow them in whatever actions, like going out to a party instead of finishing a project, they keep you small, and you let them, so you basically self-sabotage. 

Are they encouraging of the goals you have or do they try to put you down every time you try to rise?

Keeping these relationships or hanging out with the wrong crowd that misguides you or makes you feel bad about yourself is a way to self-sabotage. 

 You are self-sabotaging also if you trust too early, or overshare.

  Be careful. Don’t say too much early in relationships.

This may ruin a relationship or have someone running for the hills.

Know someone well before you tell them everything. 

Don’t be dishonest but be judicious. People are funny.

They want to be with wholesome people even if they may not be. 



#6 Procrastinating

How do you stop self sabotaging?

I have to say. I have been battling procrastination for years. 

You see especially nowadays there are so many pleasurable ways to practice procrastination.

You can get on Youtube and get lost for an hour down the rabbit hole watching cat videos or all manner of people telling you how to make money online. Yup. Been there.

The whole time I have goals and things to do that would move my life forward-you know, like writing that blog post or making a budget plan, or calling that one person I am dreading to talk to or mending a relationship, or moving forward with anything that would change my life.

If it is uncomfortable, I tend to easily find something else to do instead.

Even cleaning the house to avoid the one thing my brain tells me is hard.

That is the way the subconscious brain “protects you from going beyond the boundaries of the comfort zone. And in so doing you self-sabotage.

You stay small. You avoid mending relationships, reaching for big goals, and doing anything that is sort of hard but meaningful. 

Or do you find yourself saying you can’t do something that is important because so far what you have done is not good enough? 

Do you suffer from perfectionism as a way of procrastination? You cannot show your website because something just isn’t right. You cant show your writing, or your artwork because it is just not good enough. I am not advocating for mediocrity, here though.  There is such a thing as too much perfecting. 



#7 Overthinking 

How do you stop self sabotaging?

Overthinking perhaps is even worse than overplanning.  This is another sign of self-sabotage that many people don’t recognize. 

The trouble with overthinking is it just keeps you stuck. You analyze and analyze but you seem to find all outcomes and plans unfavorably. So you think about what to do, how to do it, and where and what outcomes to expect. On and on you go in a never-ending loop. 

If you can’t move forward or find it difficult to make decisions to go after your dreams, you may be overthinking. Just pick one course of action and implement it and start to move your life forward. 

Take the first step. Have an action plan, and break it down into minuscule steps. Start with the simplest step. Use a planner with daily goals and to-do lists to help you. And don’t forget to compliment and reward yourself. 



#8 Lack of planning

How do you stop self sabotaging?

Overthinking and overplanning go together. One way to self-sabotage is to plan too much till it becomes a handicap. You can be trapped in the planning phase till nothing gets done. 

You find things are not just perfect till every fine detail is in place. 

Planning is great don’t get me wrong.

But it is too much if all you do is a plan and then you find the plan is not good so you plan some more. 

 Is your planning a sign of self-sabotage? It is very well maybe.

Keep your plans simple and precise but not insanely intricate.

  Simple plans using the SMART method are best to move your goals forward. See how to make great goal planning here. 



#9 Putting yourself last 

Perhaps this is my worst trait. No, I am not a saint. I just lack the ability to say no. And in this I self-sabotage. Do you put yourself last? You then cannot live life on your own terms and this just brings unhappiness. 

When you put yourself last you may not practice self-care. Then you get too tired and fatigued to handle the important things that need to happen to bring about the changes you need in life to manifest the life and happiness you want.

So we need to stop saying yes to everything and have boundaries to protect our time and mental health. 

Signs of self sabotage



#10 Hiding out.

Sometimes it feels easy to isolate yourself when you are hurting and life is going wrong.

You see, the truth of this saying makes it hard to connect when things are not okay — 80 percent don’t care and the other  20 percent are glad it’s you having this problem.. paraphrasing from Les Brown’s quotes. ( he is an amazing public speaker. )

It is unfortunately an innate human trait.

But while you don’t have to share with everyone, there is still comfort in socializing with a few people who matter, maybe family or someone close.

Maybe even a few phones call every now and then are better than being in total isolation. 




#11 Pushing people away

signs of self sabotage

I know. You may just need space. But self-sabotaging is evident if you find you just have no one close to you. Somehow you may have a lashing tongue and actions that are abrasive and you tend to hurt other people when you are hurting.

You lash out at people. your project. sometimes we have so much bitterness and toxic minds that we find a way of telling ourselves that the problem is those other people.

As long as we believe they have wronged us somehow then we feel better about ourselves. 

Don’t you wonder why it is that people who are unhappy tend to just drive their loved ones away, or friends away and when they meet new people they somehow find fault somewhere and end up again with no friends?

It is last trying to make a certain story they tell themselves true. 



#12 Indulging in a negative mindset.

I am sure you have heard of the law of attraction.

Really, it works.  If you have a negative mindset you tend to see only bad things, and that also attracts to you bad things. Let’s say that you are looking to find a healthy relationship but you are an angry hard-to-please person.

Are you REALLY going to attract anyone, when you complain and are just not a joy to be around? You guessed it. No. No one wants to be around negative complaining people.

Don’t we all love pleasant happy people? Keep in mind,  be what you want to see in the world. So being pleasant, and positive is going to bring in your circle like-minded souls- happy less negative people. 

 That is how the law of attraction works.  Don’t self-sabotage, but be negative, complain, and see only the bad stuff. That is self-sabotage. 


18 signs of self sabotage

# 13 Deciding to be comfortable with the uncomfortable

Basically, settling. 

Do you find it easier to accept where you are in life, a current not-so-good situation, or bad relationships because well, you are afraid to rock the boat? Sometimes we accept something because it is easier to change it. 

This is a sign of self-sabotage.

If we say, well this is okay.

Or we excuse bad behavior then we don’t have to do the hard work of speaking up or going after hard work because that takes us off our comfort zone.

It is essential to growing. We are supposed to change. We are supposed to go after big life-changing goals. And this requires we to test new things. That we move off our comfort zone. 



#14 Allowing yourself to be bored.

Signs of self sabotage

You may wonder how is being bored self-sabotage. For one finding fulfilling things to do that help you in self-development, or simply resting is a better use of your time. 

Another thing is learning to balance enjoying your own company and knowing when you need to be in the company of others. 

The trouble with boredom is that it can lead to indulging in bad habits, like overdrinking and other equally toxic things like drugs and others. 

Recognize boredom, and think of something constructive to do.  There is always something better to do. 


#15 Indulging in bad habits

Self-sabotage can easily be defined by the toxic habits you keep.  In many cases, this happens because we are trying to numb the pain or avoid feeling certain ways, including being bored.  And so you indulge.

This self-sabotaging behavior shows up in drinking in excess, chain-smoking,  drug abuse, laziness,- you know sleeping too much, and staying in a  messy house.

Remember messes physically and otherwise keep your mind cluttered and that stops you from thinking clearly.

A cluttered mind cannot function well, and so it is a form of self-sabotage. 

When this happens, one stays stuck. 



#16 Letting imposter  syndrome win

Oh, the power of imposter syndrome! The lies it tells us. I should know. Imposter syndrome is like that jealous friend who always delights in keeping you small.

Every time you think you can go after your biggest most amazing audacious goals, there is this nasty voice telling you… “You really can’t do that. You are not as good as you think.

That last time you got lucky.

Actually, they may very soon find out you are a fraud.

YOU just are not that good.” 

I have heard my imposter syndrome tell me these things and more. 

Yup, that is why I am yet to quit my job and become an online marketing superstar. I am working on it though.  So you see imposter syndrome is powerful in keeping you in what is familiar. 

But, I say do the things that make your soul happy.  Forget this voice. 



#17 Comparisons. 

Signs of self sabotage

Comparing yourself to other people leads many people to self-sabotage.

Do you find yourself feeling down because you feel you are not doing as great as someone else?

Are you just beginning on a journey and looking over at those who have been at it and feeling, like well, “I will never be as great as that” Or ” I never can be that good”… at whatever

It is hard you know when you see all these people doing all the great things you want to achieve but you feel so behind.  And the game is always changing before you ever catch up

But don’t let that stop you from going after your very own success.

You must only compare your yesterday and your today. That’s it.  Use the rest for a guide .. a loose guide in some cases of the path to success. 

Those doing so much better at the thing you want may have been at it for years.

Learn the steps they took to get where they are and commit to taking steps daily to move forward.

Don’t let other people’s success discourage you.

In the same way, don’t let the shiny display of whatever on social media make you feel like giving up because so many others look like they are doing and living so much better.

Keep in mind that people for the most part display only certain moments that they want you to see.

It is all curated moments. So do you.

And then believes in you and your goals and commits to that. 

Don’t self-sabotage through comparing with others. 

#18 Having a negative mindset

Remember that manifesting we talked about? It is quite some powerful stuff.

Things go wrong in life. Sometimes they are small things like someone cutting you off.

Well, it is a small thing but pretty annoying. Unfortunately, it can cause an accident which can be really bad. But if all is well and no one is hurt, then this calls for your positive mindset and grace. Maybe the other driver has a life-changing thing going on and they are worried and distracted. 

If you need more help with self-sabotage, this is a great book to read to get more in-depth guidance in avoiding negativity. And for a true year of inspiration try A Year of Positive Thinking

Forgive and let it go. Whatever is happening think positively. Hope for a better tomorrow. Count your blessings and practice gratitude instead of focusing on the negative.

You like let’s say you really don’t like your job. Well, you are still better than the person without a job.

So for the moment, be grateful as you lay up a plan to quit your job eventually.

Count your other blessing instead. Maybe you have a wonderfully supportive spouse, your children are healthy, and maybe it is sunny out…well, I like sunny. 

You are healthy. You breathing well.

Things may be wrong in some areas of your life but there is still so many things to be grateful for.

So let us help us maintain a positive mindset.

And you will find the more positive you are the more good things will happen.

So by being negative you are sabotaging all the good things that positivity attracts. Manifest instead with positivity. 

And so now, over to you! Tell me do you self-sabotage? How do you self-sabotage and how are you moving forward in life and going for your biggest most audacious dreams? Don’t let self-sabotage keep you small. Live the life you envision. 

signs of self sabotage

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  1. This is something that many of us struggle with at one time or another. I know that I have always had a hard time with many of the behaviours that you’ve listed here including perfectionism, self-criticism and overthinking. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I’ve started to identify these behaviours and address them rather than allowing them to destroy everything that I have been working for. One step at a time, right?

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