18 Ways People Sabotage Their Own Lives

Ah, self-sabotage—the art of getting in our own way without even realizing it. We’ve all been there. Thankfully, once we’re able to identify the ways in which we’re doing this, it becomes much easier to break free from destructive patterns. Here are 18 ways in which we self-sabotage our lives.


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As noted by Verywell Mind, procrastination is a common habit among self-sabotagers. Procrastination is something we all do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change it. Putting off tasks until the last minute or spending hours worrying about something without taking action leaves us with unnecessary feelings of stress, guilt, and anxiety.

Fear of Failure

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One of the most common causes of procrastination is a fear of failure. While it is understandable to have concerns about our efforts being in vain, this fear can really hold us back in life in the long run, especially when it prevents us from taking important steps to improve our lives.

Negative Self-Talk

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Sadly, many of us are constantly criticizing and belittling ourselves in our heads. While this may seem normal and benign enough, it can lead to a significant drop in our self-esteem and confidence over time. Practicing mindfulness and challenging negative thoughts is a great way to combat this prevalent issue.


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Most of us want to help people out where we can. However, saying yes to every request can easily leave us feeling burnt out, stressed, and anxious. It’s important to prioritize the most important tasks and responsibilities in our lives and say no when we simply don’t have the time or energy.

Not Setting Boundaries

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Speaking of saying no, this is just one of many boundary enforcements that are crucial in maintaining our mental health and well-being. Constantly letting others overstep our boundaries is likely to decrease our self-respect and self-esteem and can also put us in dangerous or damaging situations.


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While it can be healthy to set high standards for ourselves, constantly expecting ourselves to attain unrealistic levels of perfection is unhelpful and harmful to our mental health. According to Forbes, this need for perfection can also prevent us from taking important first steps for fear of the end result not being “good enough.”

Avoiding Confrontation

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There aren’t many of us who enjoy heated arguments and emotionally volatile situations. However, there are situations in which it is very important to speak up, even if it means we may be met with a challenging reaction. By avoiding confrontation at all costs, we may be damaging our relationships, mental health, and opportunities in the long run.

Living in the Past

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Reflecting on past mistakes can be beneficial when we use these reflections to learn and grow. However, if we are always dwelling on past failures or missed opportunities without seeing the value in those situations, we are likely causing unnecessary emotional turmoil and preventing ourselves from moving forward.

Comparing Ourselves to Others

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With the rise of social media and everyone’s seemingly perfect online lives, it’s easy to compare ourselves to others. But as stated by the Jed Foundation, doing so can quickly cause us to feel jealous and unhappy, and damage our sense of self-worth. Instead, limit time spent on social media platforms and only follow people who inspire you.

Ignoring Self-Care

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We usually think of self-sabotage in terms of not working hard enough or achieving enough, but self-care and mental well-being are just as important in cultivating happy and fulfilling lives. Ignoring self-care can leave us feeling burnt out, stressed, and unhappy.

Not Taking Responsibility

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Nobody likes the feeling of messing up or negatively affecting those around them. However, it’s important to take responsibility when these things happen. Excessively blaming others or our circumstances for our faults or failures will prevent us from identifying the real issues and moving forward in our lives.

Staying in Your Comfort Zone

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Comfort zones are… comfortable. So it’s understandable that we usually prefer to stay well inside them. But spending too long in our comfort zones can stop us from trying out new and enriching experiences and growing personally or professionally.

Prioritizing Short-Term Pleasure Over Long-Term Goals

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Unfortunately, it seems that our brains are wired to go for short-term gratification over long-term achievement. However, following these cravings can prevent us from attaining fulfillment and life satisfaction. It is important to use tools and strategies to increase our self-discipline and help us make significant steps toward where we want to be in life.

Failing to Plan

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Speaking of taking steps toward our long-term goals, one of the biggest obstacles in the way of this pursuit is a failure to plan. Thankfully, we can overcome this issue by utilizing tools such as SMART goals and organized to-do lists that help us prioritize our tasks and get things done.

Letting Fear Control You

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It’s normal to feel anxious and fearful sometimes. But if we let fear take over our lives and dictate our every decision, this can quickly stop us from embarking on enriching experiences and growing as people. Mental health tools such as therapy, mindfulness, and meditation can effectively improve this issue.

Wasting Time on the Inconsequential

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While it can be easy and fun to get caught up in everyday distractions and diversions, these seemingly mundane situations can end up costing us hours of wasted time in the long run. Because of this, it’s important to prioritize our key tasks every day and ensure they get done before spending too long on trivial matters.

Dependence on External Validation

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As social creatures with strong social needs, it’s natural for us to value the opinions of others. But constantly depending on others for approval and a sense of self-worth can be damaging to our mental health. It’s much healthier to cultivate a sense of self-love and worth within ourselves using tools such as meditation, affirmations, or therapy.

Focusing Solely on What’s Lacking

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When things go wrong or we are lacking in our lives, it’s normal to feel negative emotions. However, obsessing over what’s lacking in our lives and failing to see the positives can lead to a sense of dissatisfaction, sadness, or even depression. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to boost our mood and shift our focus to everything we do have.

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