Self-sabotage refers to behavior or thoughts that create problems in daily life and interfere with goals. People aren't always aware that they are sabotaging themselves. The roots of self-sabotage often lie in low self-esteem, negative self-talk, and related negative emotions. The most common self-sabotaging behaviors are procrastination, substance abuse, comfort eating, and self-injury such as cutting.
Self-sabotaging has a strong association with borderline personality disorder. In one study, researchers found that there was a positive correlation between these two factors among a sample of 76 participants. This seems logical due to the fact that the fundamental dynamic of borderline personality disorder is the elicitation of caring responses from others through overt self-destructive behaviors. This suggests that medical self-sabotage is primarily a behavioral characteristic of those suffering from borderline personality disorder.
One of the core behaviors of self-sabotaging is putting oneself down. Self-effacing behavior can emerge when people have trouble believing in their own abilities. They may ask “Why do I keep doing this?” and “Why does this keep happening to me?” when they feel trapped in patterns that create problems. Although they try to make changes and disrupt these patterns, somehow they end up in the same place, again and again. It’s important that we stay aware of harmful thought patterns and what causes them.
Other ways in which we can stop sabotaging our success is by identifying what triggers these behaviors and creating an action plan. For procrastination, it can be helpful to start a task without thinking about the entire project or timeline. Anticipating future behaviors, planning how to respond, and eliminating distractions until a designated time can also be valuable. At work, if negativity is an issue, plan to make one positive comment each day. Embrace improvements rather than elimination to make incremental progress toward your goal. Additionally, a good way to avoid sabotaging relationships is by understanding your childhood relationship patterns and identifying current triggers for self-sabotaging behaviors by journaling. You should always communicate your habits and progress to your partner and cultivate self-compassion.
Sansonse, R. A., McLean J. S., & Wiederman, M. W. (2008). The relationship between medically self-sabotaging behaviors and borderline personality disorder among psychiatric inpatients, 10(6), 448-452, doi: 10.4088/pcc.v10n0604