Understanding self-sabotage

Tamra MerciecaBlogs, Mental Health2 Comments

If you’re ever tried to create change in your life, even just a small change such as learning something new – perhaps a language or a musical instrument – then chances are you’ve probably experienced at least a little self-sabotage.

Self-sabotage is where we either consciously or unconsciously (the latter usually being the case) act and behave in a way that prevents us from reaching our goals.

This kind of behaviour can affect any area of your life, from trying to lose weight, to getting on top of your finances, to enjoying more healthy relationships with your loved ones… and so on…

What I want to share in this blog is:

Why the self-sabotage happens.

That way, next time you’re trying to create change, you’ll have a deeper awareness of what to look out for, so you don’t let those old patterns of behaviour trip you up!

OK, so let’s use the example of anxiety, just because it effects a lot of people, so you might be able to relate to this one.

(Of course, this can apply to any change you’re wanting to create, ok?)

So you decide you’re going to actively take steps to eliminate the anxiety you experience.

To do this, you pick up a book that promises to give you the tools you need to overcome anxiety.

The first thing the book recommends, is to start meditating, so you can gently calm those negative thoughts that put you into an anxious state.

So you decide to enrol in a course and learn how to meditate; perhaps a course like The Way of Self-Love.

You start meditating.

And you feel quite drawn to meditating, ‘cause it gives you a chance to chill out.

As you continue reading the book, it says that coffee puts the body into a state of anxiety.

(You can read more about the effects coffee has on our mental state in my blog: What’s coffee got to do with anxiety?)

You think, ummmm… I really like my coffee, but you know what, I’m going to give this a try.

Over the next couple of weeks you ease your way off coffee, until it’s no more part of your life.

Between reading about how to rid yourself of anxiety, meditating, the reading and now living coffee-free, you’re starting to feel great!

The anxiety you were experiencing hasn’t been showing up in the same way as it used to, and when it does arise, you’re able to calm yourself down really quickly.

You have tools!

Life seems to be going really well… until

The resistance kicks in!

All of a sudden life gets busy and you miss a few mornings of meditation.

Then you have a night where you don’t sleep so well, which triggers off the urge to reach for the coffee.

You’ve always used coffee to help you get through those more difficult days, so you use it now.

Before you know it, it’s been two weeks since you meditated, you’re back drinking 2 cups of coffee a day.. and..

You’re feeling really anxious all the time.

Maybe you totally forget about the book you were reading or perhaps you think ‘Well, that didn’t work, did it! I’m as anxious as ever.’

Your plans to become anxiety free are now a thing of the past.

You go back to living with anxiety.

Managing…. just….

Has this happened to you?

Maybe not with anxiety, but when you’ve been trying to create some other change in your life, or learn something new?

Did you find you were taking some really positive steps, only to hit resistance?

Maybe the resistance wasn’t so obvious, but somehow you got off course?

If your answer is ‘Yes’, then you’re certainly not alone.

This happens to everyone!


Let’s look at ‘why’ this happens.

When we’re living our life, doing the things that feel comfortable – not always enjoyable or positive, but comfortable none-the-less – we’re essentially living inside our comfort zone.

When we’re inside our comfort zone we know what to expect, we may not like the results we get, but it’s familiar, and that’s what makes it comfortable.

Our thought systems – our beliefs – support this way of living.

Perhaps you have a deep entrenched belief of ‘I need to do a lot to achieve’ and so you make decisions and take actions that lead to a pretty hectic, drama-filled life.

A very full and exhausting life.

You say you want more ease in your life, but you keep inviting in things that make it anything but.

You do this, because on some level, you actually don’t believe it’s possible to get lots done – to be productive – if you’re not stressed off your head!

And so the pattern continues, and makes you feel super anxious all the time.

Stressed and anxious.

Then you decide enough’s enough, and you get on the meditation, coffee-free band-wagon.

Now this is completely counter to how you lived your life before.

Totally out of your comfort zone.

So out of your comfort zone, that at some point – because you have beliefs that support being busy all the time, and anxious – you hit resistance.

Now I know I’ve said this already, but stay with me for a moment…

You hit resistance because you’re doing something that goes against what you believe.

Remember, it’s out of your comfort zone.

There is a natural inclination for all of us, to want to stay in our comfort zone, even if it’s not getting us the results we want.


Because we know it so well.

It feels safe.

It feels safe because it’s familiar, not because it’s necessarily serving us.

Take a train, for example. 

It runs on its train tracks.

It’s safe for the train to stay on its train tracks.

If it wants to take a new direction, then you need to build new train tracks.

You can’t just steer it in a new direction and hope it goes that way.

The new train tracks you need to build within yourself, are new thinking patterns.

You need to carefully examine the beliefs you hold, and replace them with beliefs that will support you in going in that new direction in life.

You see, beliefs are responsible for the thoughts we have.

Our thoughts make us feel a certain way.

How we feel dictates the actions we take and the decisions we make.

And those actions and decisions lead to very specific results.

If you’re holding beliefs that don’t support the results you want, then you need to change the beliefs.

If you don’t change the beliefs, then as you try and create those new results, you’ll hit up against resistance, and you’ll self-sabotage.

Ok, so that’s clear, yes?

In order to avoid self-sabotage, we need to make sure our beliefs match the results we want in life.

I teach you a really easy but powerful process for doing this in the Remarkable Relationships course.

Now while changing your beliefs is a crucial part of creating transformation minus the self-sabotage, you also need to be aware that resistance is a natural part of creating change!

Aha.. yep!!!

Resistance is part of the process for change!

The resistance arises to let you know that your beliefs don’t match up with the results that you’re working towards.

So in that way, the resistance is a sign on the path to change, letting you know: 

‘Hey, you’re doing so well! You’ve made some great progress. Now in order to maintain that progress and keep moving forward, you need to change your beliefs, so they match the results you want. That way you can maintain those results.’

See how the resistance is a positive thing!

It’s showing you your next step on the path to transformation.

Yet, usually at this time – when the resistance kicks in – people tend to give into the pull to return to their old behaviours and patterns.

They start drinking the coffee again or stop meditating.

They give up right before the breakthrough!

Yet, this time of resistance – that happens to everyone when they’re trying to create change – is what I call:

‘The breakdown before the breakthrough.’

The breakdown being the resistance.

The breakthrough being the decision not to give into old patterns, and continue on to the result you want.

How do you not give into the resistance?

Especially when it’s so strong??!!

Firstly, you recognise that the resistance is all part of the process for change.

It’s not a sign that you’re doing things wrong. 

It’s not showing you that this thing you want is too hard or out of your reach.

It’s not a signal to give up…

It’s a key part of the process!

Simply knowing this – knowing that as you embark on the healing journey – that you will hit resistance, is often enough to help you hang in there.

With this kind of awareness you can consciously choose not to give into those old behaviours.

At this time, when the resistance feels the strongest, this is when you need to re-commit to the path of change.

Look at your beliefs and thinking patterns.

Notice how you tend to self-sabotage.

We all have specific self-sabotage tactics we use.

Maybe yours is procrastination.

Or perhaps you tend to unconsciously pick a fight with your husband, and that gives you less time to do things like meditate.

(I’m using meditation here as an example of something you may be doing to help enact change, but please know not every growth path includes meditating!!)

Bring your conscious awareness to ‘how’ you self-sabotage.

Do you have a tendency to drink more alcohol when you feel resistance emerge?

Do you exercise or engage in physical activities that you know only hurt your body?

Do you stay up late so you feel exhausted the next day, and simply MUST have that cup of coffee?

Notice these self-sabotage tactics, identify them, make note of them – we all have them – and then refuse to give them energy.

Consciously choose NOT to cave into those old tactics.

Choose to think and act differently.

Choose to think and act in a way that someone with the results you want, would think and act.

Up all of your self-love practices.

Meditate twice a day!!!

Visualise and focus on all the change you want to create; how you would feel having already created that change.

Make that your absolute priority!

Stick to all of the changes you have made thus far.

Prioritise them above anything else, regardless of what other distractions might try to pull you away from them.

If life gets busy, that’s a sign that some self-sabotage is underfoot, and you need to be ever vigilant not to let the ‘busy’ steal you away from the transformation you’re on path to.

Whatever you do, stay committed!!

If you do, you will get the breakthrough.

Honestly, you will!

Like I said, that resistance is a sign that you’re on the verge of actually getting what you want!!!

Don’t quit right before the magic happens.

Don’t pop your balloon, before it’s had a chance to lift off, so to speak!

Know that the resistance is part of the journey.

Especially when you’re tying to create a BIG change.

Maybe a change you haven’t quite managed to create in the past.

If you know this, then the journey can be far easier.

Simply being ready for the resistance and self-sabotage tactics to rear their ugly heads, prepares you.

You know what to look out for, so you don’t get caught off guard.

I know when I work with clients as part of my One-on-One Intensive, simply having someone explain this – that resistance is part of the process – makes all the difference in whether they get the result they want.

This is why I was inspired to write this blog.

To let you know what to expect on the road to change, so you can be ready for it!

For when you know what to expect, it won’t catch you out.

Or at least, not so easily.

I hope this blog serves you in helping to end the self-sabotage patterns.

And if you feel you’d like someone holding your hand and shining light on those self-sabotage tactics for you, then I’d love to be there for you.

You can work with me more intensively as part of my One-on-One Intensive, which is a 5-month program where I personally help you overcome a major life obstacle.

Or you can learn how to do it for yourself as part of my Remarkable Relationships online course.

You still get one-on-one support from me in the online course, but the focus is on teaching you how to use the techniques so you can continue to apply those teachings to all areas fo your life, well into the future.

And as usual, I’d love to hear if you go with applying this teaching.

Share your experience in the comments below!

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