The Peculiar Art of Self-Sabotage (and 3 Ways to Combat It)

September 25, 2018

It’s very peculiar.

You know what you need to do…

Be productive! Speak up for yourself! Stop saying “yes” to things you don’t want to do!

You’ve made promises to yourself…

Wake up early to go to the gym! Get organized once and for all! Be the best version of yourself every day!

(Or simply avoid snarfing down the entire box of Wheat Thins…)

The next thing you know, despite those goals, you’re hitting snooze, agreeing to volunteer to run the second-grade bake sale, avoiding difficult conversations with your boss, insisting the scale is lying and stuffing those Wheat Thins hand to mouth until the box is empty.


How did that happen?


Also, am I the only one with a Wheat Thins problem around here?

Foot on banana peel the peculiar art of self-sabotage (and 3 ways to combat it)

Why Do We Keep Slipping Up?

We start our year with resolutions. We create weekly and monthly goals. We begin each day with the best of intentions.

And then we dismantle the plan bit by bit, sometimes without even realizing it.

Before we know it, we’re off the wagon, lying in a heap of our own self-doubt.

We blame the forces that seem to conspire against us, the hurdles we have to leap, the roadblocks in our way.

In doing so, we make excuses for our own behavior.

We’re so “Crazy Busy,” that we can’t get anything done at all!

We all know we should do better and yet… we don’t.

Isn’t it peculiar, how we do this?

Welcome, my friend, to the Peculiar Art of Self-Sabotage.

I am an expert in this particular art form. I eat healthy all day only to polish off that box of Wheat Thins at night. I’m a goal-setter but also a procrastinator. I intend to write a new blog but instead wind up reorganizing my spice drawer. (It looks very nice, by the way).

As I examine my own peculiar self-defeating, goal-killing behavior, I ask the question:

“Why do we keep getting in our own way?”

Reason #1: We’re Perfectionists

I’ve written before about how Perfectionism is a Creativity Killer. It’s also a key ingredient of self-sabotage. Perfectionistic tendencies keep us from trying anything we can’t do… well… perfectly, resulting in those old – and unhelpful – habits.

Embrace progress over perfection knowing that every goal starts with a single step.

Reason #2: We’re People Pleasers

Do you always put someone else’s needs before your own? Do you believe it’s noble to sacrifice your self-interests in favor of helping everyone else with their own? Are you always Running for Someone Else’s Hot Dog so that you’re missing the game?

Stop putting yourself last on your own list and build your own Cast of Supporting Characters for mutual support.

Reason #3: We’re Protecting Against Failure

So often we think through a Plan B – what will I do if this doesn’t work out? – rather than imagining what it might be like if our efforts provide success beyond our wildest imagination. What are you preparing for? The backup plan or the A+ plan?

If we can’t imagine it, we can’t be ready for it. Steer yourself towards a success story. I refuse to be 
a bit player in your plot. 
im starring 
in my own story. The peculiar art of self-sabotage (and 3 ways to combat it)

So, what’s the part you want to play? A bit player in someone else’s plot or a starring role in a story of your own design?

Would you rather stay with your bad habits or build better ones that can take you someplace new?

The outcome is only uncertain because you haven’t been there yet.

Don’t stop before you’ve started. And don’t lose sight of the goal.

That’s an art. And there’s nothing peculiar about that.

How about you? How and when have you self-sabotaged your best efforts? What happened?

Valerie gordon work web the peculiar art of self-sabotage (and 3 ways to combat it) Valerie Gordon is the founder of The Storytelling Strategist, a career and communications firm that uses the power of storytelling to grow future leaders, build strong teams, and provide clients and audiences with strategic storytelling skills to grow their own success and satisfaction. A master at self-sabotage, she’s continuing to learn to get out of her own damn way,  

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