Self-Sabotage: The Definitive Guide + Worksheet
This guide tells you everything you need to know about self-sabotage: what is self-sabotage, why you self-sabotage, and how to stop self-sabotaging.
Self-sabotage can keep you from your biggest success, and from living your happiest, best life.
So if you have been self-sabotaging and are wondering why you do this to yourself, or you keep reaching new heights and then bringing yourself back down, then don’t worry:
You’ve come to the right place.
Let’s get started.
What is self-sabotage?
Self-sabotage happens when you undermine yourself.
There are lots of self-sabotage definitions, but I think Alyce Cornyn-Selby, author of What’s Your Sabotage?, sums it up best:
Self-sabotage is, “when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.” (p. 1).
Self-sabotage can be self-defeating behavior or even just self-defeating thoughts, and it usually shows up when things are going great.
Another way to understand self-sabotage’s meaning is - if your ultimate goal is to create your happiest, most amazing life - then anything you do that undermines that can be considered self-sabotage.
One of the challenges of stopping self-sabotaging behavior is that you may not be aware of how you self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage can happen subconsciously.
The beliefs running around in the back of your mind can quietly manifest things that get in the way of you reaching your dreams.
For example, you might say:
“I want to get a job that pays me $100,000 a year with great benefits and allows me to do what I love.”
But, in your head, there might be an old tape playing in the background saying:
“I don’t deserve to get paid this much,” or, “I don’t deserve to get paid to do what I love.”
Limiting beliefs like these can then result in self-defeating behavior and self-sabotage.
The good news is:
You can change this!
One of the ways you stop self-sabotaging is by becoming more aware of yourself and who you are.
I cover that more in the section further below called, “how to tell if you are self-sabotaging.”
Why do I self-sabotage?
Gay Hendricks describes why you self-sabotage best In The Big Leap:
Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy.
When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure. (P. 20)
Self-sabotage happens because you have a limit to how happy you think you should be, or what you think you deserve, or what you think you are capable of doing.
When you exceed that limit - that inner thermostat that Hendricks talks about - you do something to bring yourself back down to your comfort zone (i.e., self-sabotage!).
So where do that limit and these self-sabotaging behaviors and self-sabotaging thoughts come from? What causes self-sabotaging behavior?
These upper-limits have been called lots of different names (traumas, constructs, neuroses, past life agreements, survival patterns, etc.).
A common source of upper limits are the limiting beliefs every person has about what is possible for them and what can happen in life.
As you go through life, you develop thoughts about how things are in the world and what can and can’t happen.
These beliefs can limit you ultimately cause you to self-sabotage if you are going beyond what you think is possible for yourself.
I wrote an in-depth guide about limiting beliefs here if you want to learn more about where limiting beliefs come from and what they look like. (You can find information on how to clear both self-sabotage and limiting beliefs in the last section of this self-sabotage guide).
How to tell if you are self-sabotaging
The signs of self-sabotaging behavior are different for each person.
Usually, though, the tell-tale sign of self-sabotage is that you are acting out of alignment with who you are, or doing something you never do.
Your true self is confident enough and knows enough to make the right choice or say the right thing.
When you self-sabotage, you get in the way of yourself and keep that true self from showing up.
The key to recognizing self-sabotage is knowing your authentic, true self so that you can recognize when you are not being that.
Self-sabotaging behaviors can be sneaky, which makes knowing your true self even more important.
My husband and I recently sold our home of 22 years and were on the hunt for a new house.
A friend of mine told me about a house going on the market that might match the description of my dream house.
We arranged to see the house, and I started feeling very excited. I felt it in my bones that this house was going to be the one. Was it possible I was going to get all my “wants and desires” met?
As my husband and I walked up to the front door of the house the very first time, I tripped and fell.
I went splat on the concrete walk.
My body was subconsciously testing my limits.
A part of me thought, “Who am I to have the home I have always wanted?”
As a result, my body didn’t even want me to walk in the front door.
Self-sabotage is always trying to tell you something about your internal limit for goodness.
When I fell, I could have said, “I am hurt. We can’t see the house right now. Why does this always happen to me?” or I could have let it get me in a negative mindset.
Instead, I was able to recognize the self-sabotaging behavior and invite myself to see larger possibilities instead of remaining stuck in that moment.
The key in this situation was that I knew myself well enough to know what my body was trying to do. It was trying to self-sabotage.
If you want to become better at recognizing when you are self-sabotaging and out of alignment with yourself, you have to become familiar with your authentic self.
Luckily, the first step in my Superpower System is Know Yourself, and I have created other guides to help you do just that!
Your values are the bedrock of who you are, and are good things to pay attention to if you are concerned you are self-sabotaging.
For example, if you value communication, you might self-sabotage in your relationship by randomly not communicating important information that you normally would to your partner.
If you value health and wellness and find yourself eating a whole tub of ice-cream, you might be self-sabotaging.
Your superpower is what you are best at and is your life purpose. You might be self-sabotaging when you take actions that don’t align with your superpower.
My superpower and life purpose is facilitating personal transformation. If I were to start looking for jobs that didn’t allow me to do that, I might be self-sabotaging because I am scared of living my purpose.
Getting to know your deep, authentic, true self will help you identify when you are self-sabotaging.
How to stop self-sabotaging
The way you stop self-sabotaging is by clearing away any beliefs limiting (from family or otherwise) that lead to self-sabotage.
To do this, you have to take a trip back through the different experiences of your life that have caused your limiting beliefs.
The stuck energy of your past is just waiting to be released so that you can be free to live the life of your dreams!
I have created two methods for clearing the sources of self-sabotage: The Invitation and The Open Heart Process
The first method I created for clearing sources of self-sabotage, The Invitation, is outlined in my book, What’s Your Superpower?
In my book, I call the sources of self-sabotage the Energetic Karmic Scrap Heap.
The Energetic Karmic Scrap Heap is made up of the different sources of self-sabotage. They can be:
Childhood wounds or traumas resulting from betrayal, abandonment, shame or overwhelm.
Family entanglements resulting from a violation of order, balance or belonging.
Soul choices from past lives such as sacred contracts or vows.
The Invitation helps you overcome the Energetic Karmic Scrap Heap with inviting statements, inviting questions, and healing sounds. You can listen to samples of The Invitation on Youtube:
You can also get the CD and What’s Your Superpower? in the Llama store.
The Open Heart Process
The Open Heart Process is an incredibly powerful technique that you can use to overcome and stop self-sabotage.
This process involves seven simple steps that let you overcome your self-sabotaging behaviors, change limiting beliefs and manifest amazing things in your life.
It is both the fastest way to move in the direction you want to go and to clear the self-sabotaging behaviors that might be in the way.
You can find the 7 steps to the Open Heart Process below.
I have also created an Open Heart Process clearing self-sabotage worksheet that you can use to clear self-sabotage and limiting beliefs that block you from reaching your intention.
You can enter your email below to get the worksheet along with an example of how to fill it out.
1. Make your intention known to the Universe.
The starting point for the Open Heart Process is a clear intention or goal.
Maybe your intention is one you have been struggling to reach for some reason or one that is on the way to your happiest and best life.
Say or write down your intention loud and proud.
The intention I am using as an example is, “I desire a love that is easy, comfortable and makes my heart sing,” but the open heart process can be used for anything.
2. Clear any energetic blocks in the way of your intention showing up in your life.
This ties back into the causes for self-sabotage above.
As you go through life, beliefs from your family or previous experiences can cause you to limit what you think you deserve or how happy you can be.
In the example of a relationship, if you haven't had much success, you might have started to believe it will never work out. Maybe you think that you can't trust anyone in a romantic relationship.
These beliefs get in the way of your intention showing up.
If you believe you can't trust anyone, then that is what the Universe is going to give you. You have to clear those limiting beliefs before what you want can show up in your life.
Here’s how I like to visualize clearing these beliefs:
Imagine you are a planet. The universe is sending incredible abundance your way, but all of the hurts and limiting beliefs you have accumulated throughout life are surrounding your planet in the form of an asteroid field.
Each of those limiting belief asteroids is blocking that amazing universal abundance from reaching you. It hits an asteroid and pings off and goes in a different direction.
If you want that incredible universal abundance to show up in your life, you have to clear away those limiting belief asteroids so that it has a path to reach your planet.
You do this by using clearing statements and clearing questions (examples below).
As you say these, imagine feeling the most incredible feeling you have ever felt.
You are surrounded by divine love and light; life is fantastic, and everything you have ever dreamed of has come true.
Then, when you say these clearing statements, they are like laser beams of golden light coming from your planet, blowing up all those limiting belief asteroids to make room for new, amazing abundance to shine through.
It may take a while to feel like you can get good at this, but the more you do it and really feel it, the more impact it has!
Clearing statements and questions:
Whatever blocks my ability to receive love that is easy, comfortable, and makes my heart sing, everything that is, regardless of origin and nature, I de-story and clear it across all time, space, dimensions, realities and soul choices.
Whatever fear and resistance I have to achieving my love intention, everything that is, regardless of origin and nature, I de-story and clear it across all time, space, dimensions, realities and soul choices.
Whatever family patterns that prevent me from being in a healthy, happy relationship, I de-story and clear it across all time, space, dimensions, realities and soul choices.
What would it take to for my love intention to come true?
What would it take to integrate the fear and resistance I have about my love intention?
What else is possible with my relationships?
(The Invitation has many more great clearing statements and questions that you can tap into.)
3. Forgive yourself or others for anything that has happened in the past surrounding your intention.
Forgiveness gives you the space to move on from what happened in the past.
For the example of the of finding an easy love, those might be:
I forgive myself for the way my last relationship ended.
I forgive my partner for the way the last relationship ended.
I forgive my parents for not modeling a healthy relationship.
I forgive myself for making love hard.
I forgive myself for my contribution to the breakup.
I forgive my partner for his/her contribution to the breakup.
Really feel it when you say these things. You were doing the best you could at the time.
Maybe the reason it didn’t work out was that you self-sabotaged.
When you forgive yourself for how things turned out, or what you believe, it also creates space for something new to show up.
4. Offer gratitude for what has happened surrounding your intention:
Everything leading up to this point has been a learning opportunity, and now you have the chance to do it even better than before. Really appreciate what the universe has given you!
I am grateful for the love we had.
I am grateful for the good moments in my love relationships.
I am grateful I am opening my heart to see what else is possible.
5. Give yourself permission to achieve your intention:
Sometimes all we are waiting for is permission from ourselves to do what we feel is right. Give yourself that permission to be all that you are, and not who others want or expect you to be.
I give myself permission to love myself just as I am.
I give myself permission to have a love that is easy, comfortable, and makes my heart sing.
I give myself permission to transcend my family system.
I give my prior partner permission to have a love that is easy, comfortable, and makes his/her heart sing.
6. Clear any limitations to forgiveness, gratitude, and permission with these clearing statements
Don’t let those limiting belief asteroids block your amazing abundance any longer! Blow them up with love, light, and amazing goodness!
When you say these, imitate the same feeling as mentioned above!
Anywhere I can't forgive, everything that is, regardless of nature or origin, I de-story and clear it across all time, space, dimensions, realities and soul choices.
Anywhere I can’t appreciate and be grateful for my life just the way it is, everything that is, regardless of nature or origin, I de-story and clear it across all time, space, dimensions, realities and soul choices.
Anywhere I withhold permission for love, everything that is, regardless of nature or origin, I de-story and clear it across all time, space, dimensions, realities and soul choices.
Anywhere I withhold gratitude, everything that is, regardless of nature or origin, I de-story and clear it across all time, space, dimensions, realities and soul choices.
What would it take for me to forgive myself and others?
What would it take to appreciate and be grateful for my life just the way it is?
What would it take for me to stand in the forgiveness of self and others, appreciation and gratitude of self and others, and grant permission to myself and the others for my love intention?
7. Receive the goodness of the Universe and track it each day
At the end of each day, write down the goodness you received from the Universe. Nothing is too small.
Did you receive a coupon for $1 off your favorite sandwich? Celebrate it!
Did someone do something nice for you? Celebrate it!
What you focus on grows. By focusing on and tracking the amazing things delivered to you, you will get more of the good stuff!
By using this process, you clean the slate of stuck energy that keeps you self-sabotaging. It works on any limiting belief or pattern, so apply it to every aspect of your life to create the fantastic life you desire.
Self-sabotage doesn’t stand a chance!
Wishing awesomeness upon you,
Additional resources for understanding and working through self-sabotage: