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Check out our blogs! Get valuable information, tips and tricks for dealing with anxiety, overcoming depression and overall self-care!

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4 Self-Sabotaging Behaviors To Avoid Doing

June 24, 20233 min read

To understand self-sabotaging behaviors, we must first define what ‘self-sabotage’ means. What is self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage is acting, thinking, or behaving against your own progress, success, or best interest. This can be experienced consciously or unconsciously. Psychologists believe that it happens because of past experiences—abusive relationships, traumatic childhood, etc., which makes you think you don’t deserve the progress, the success, or that one good thing that’s about to happen to you.

The negative experiences in the past produce negative beliefs of what you can achieve. Some have developed the fear of taking a risk, which is also tied to the fear of failure. Then there are others who have low self-esteem. These are just some of the effects of bad experiences. If not put under control, these will lead to self-sabotaging behaviors like the following:

Delaying Tactics

You know you are sabotaging your success if you constantly delay the completion of important tasks that could open up opportunities for you. We also know this behavior as procrastination. If you keep delaying what needs to be done today to tomorrow, your end-result will be:

  1. You lose your job or, if you’re running a business, you close down your business.

  2. You have to start over again when you lose your job or close down your business.

  3. You cram up many tasks in so little time that your work quality becomes less than what is expected and you end up stressed trying to beat the deadline.

  4. You get frustrated at yourself and you start hating everything and thinking that life is unfair to you for letting you suffer.

Impulsive Spending

This behavior can get you in a lot of trouble. You may end up with a mountain of debt and so much financial stress. Impulsive spending may ‘soothe’ your negative feelings for a short while—many women claim that shopping is therapeutic, but at the end of it all, you trap yourself in a whole new cycle of financial problems, especially if you are spending money you do not have on things you do not need.


You may consciously or unconsciously want to escape opportunities by keeping yourself busy, which can lead to overwork. This behavior, although it may get things done, is a cover up to the fear of the unknown. You have an opportunity in front of you but you are afraid of what’s ahead, so you keep yourself busy where you are now as if to say you have no time for it.

Overwork is detrimental to your physical health, too. You may not have time to properly take care of yourself. It leads to fatigue and exhaustion, which then leads to low productivity or physical illness.


We’re not talking about self-medication through healthy home remedies for common ailments. We’re talking about self-medication using over-the-counter drugs or substances to calm your nerves or put you to sleep or make you feel better. This is considered to be an addictive behavior. You may also feel some negative effects on your body if you don’t take as prescribed.

Overcoming self-sabotage is not done with a flick of a finger. It is a gradual process that requires patience, persistence, self-care, and self-love. By identifying your self-sabotaging behaviors, you can find the right solutions for yourself and take a step towards success, growth, and a good life. Next time, we’ll talk about how you can stop self-sabotaging your success.

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Jeanne Prinzivalli

Jeanne Prinzivalli is a licensed psychotherapist working with adult individuals. She supports people on their journey to self-awareness, self-care and overall wellbeing.

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Jeanne Prinzivalli
Therapist + Coach

I help ambitious, anxious women learn how to trust and put themselves first, so they can stop burning themselves out trying to meet other people's expectations.

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