Sometimes, we roadblock our own financial, professional, and personal progress. It seems counterintuitive that we would get in the way of our own dreams and goals, but it happens everyday. Think about the dieter who eats when he or she is feeling stressed, the student trying to get an academic scholarship who doesn’t do homework until the morning it’s due, the saver who goes on a sudden spending binge after months of working hard to grow his or her savings account balance.
These are all examples of self-sabotage—the process of disrupting your own progress toward a goal by consequence of your behavior. You’d think that, once you identify that you are the only person holding up your progress to your goals, it would be easy to put a stop to it. But then, you’d be underestimating the power of self-sabotage.
What Causes Self-Sabotage?
There are many different things that can cause self-sabotage. Inc.com mentions internal inconsistency as one source. Internal inconsistency is the process of battling yourself over the difference between your belief systems and your actions. For example, an individual who longs to have his work make a global impact for the less fortunate, but who takes a high-paying sales job and resents doing so, is effectively sabotaging both his dreams and his career.
Sometimes, according to Forbes.com, self-sabotage is caused by hitting your personal happiness ceiling—called the upper limit. This theory states that we all have an unconscious limit to the amount of happiness we’re comfortable experiencing. Once we exceed that limit, we subconsciously feel the need to dial it down a notch—and what better way than self-sabotage?
Other causes could be fear (of both failure and success), habitual behavior patterns, insecurity and so on.
When you realize that you are self-sabotaging, you can try to make note of both the incidents that precede the self-sabotaging actions and what actions those were. From there you may be able to determine what your cause or triggers are, which can allow you to stop yourself from reacting to them through your normal route of self-sabotage. Forbes.com recommends introducing an attitude of gratitude into your life. They suggest that it will dwarf feelings of fear and pressure from reaching your happiness limit that can cause you to react with sabotage. Inc.com advises looking at your inner system of beliefs and values and comparing them to your actions in your personal and professional life. Then, when you see incongruence between the two, you can determine how to better align them.
In some cases, you may need to consult a professional in order to truly understand the reasons you sabotage yourself. Getting professional help can be a difficult, emotionally charged process, but the self-discovery it affords will give you a real ability to take charge of your financial life without concern for a hidden saboteur lurking within.
Untreated, self-sabotage doesn’t just block your path to your goals; it can erode your self-esteem and foster feelings of self-resentment, both of which can negatively affect many other areas of your life. Figuring out the reasons behind your self-sabotage, either on your own or with the help of a professional, will allow you to heal and dedicate yourself to reaching your goals.