Self-sabotage anxiety is a very real and debilitating condition that can prevent people from achieving their full potential in life. If you suffer from self-sabotage anxiety, you may find yourself constantly holding back, making excuses, or self-sabotaging in other ways that prevent you from reaching your goals.
The good news is that there is help available and you can overcome self-sabotage anxiety with the right treatment and support. In this article, we will explore self-sabotage anxiety in more depth and look at some of the ways that it can be effectively treated.
What Self-Sabotage Anxiety Actually Means
Self-sabotage anxiety is a term used to describe the anxiety that people feel when they are about to do something that they know will sabotage their chances of success. It can be a very paralyzing feeling, and it can prevent people from taking action even when they really want to succeed.
It can lead to self-sabotaging behaviors, such as procrastinating or not finishing tasks. Self-sabotage anxiety can also cause people to second-guess their decisions, which can lead to making poor choices. Self-sabotage anxiety usually comes from a place of self-doubt, and it can be triggered by things like perfectionism or a fear of failure.
If you find yourself feeling self-sabotaged anxiety, try to take a step back and assess your goals.
See if there is anything you can do to change your mindset or approach. Remember that you are in control of your own destiny, and you have the power to make your dreams come true. Self-sabotage anxiety doesn’t have to hold you back from living your best life.
Self-Sabotage Anxiety: 12 Common Ways It Manifests
Self-sabotage anxiety can be a tricky thing to pin down. It’s often characterized by self-destructive behaviors or thoughts that can undermine our efforts to manage anxiety in a healthy way. Here are 12 common ways self-sabotage anxiety manifests:
- Procrastination: Procrastination is a common form of self-sabotage that can often accompany anxiety. During times of anxiety, individuals may begin avoiding tasks and putting them off instead of addressing them head-on. This can lead to further stress and lower productivity in the long run as deadlines approach.
- Negative Self-Talk: Individuals who struggle with self-sabotage anxiety may find themselves engaging in negative self-talk and internal dialogue which reinforces their anxious thoughts. This can make it harder to confront the task at hand and make progress toward goals.
- Capacity Overload: Anxiety often leads to individuals taking on too much work or responsibility in order to avoid focusing on one particular task or goal they are anxious about completing. This leads to feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with all their tasks, leading to further frustration and decreased motivation.
- Perfectionism: Perfectionism is a common trait associated with self-sabotage, as individuals become fixated on achieving perfect results instead of striving for improvement over time. This can lead to feelings of failure if things don’t turn out perfectly, making it more difficult to produce quality work or complete tasks efficiently.
- Isolation: When experiencing anxiety, individuals may isolate themselves from family, friends, and colleagues in order to avoid social interaction. This could potentially increase their existing levels of stress or discomfort.
- Hesitation & Indecision: Self-sabotaging behavior due to anxiety often manifests itself in an individual hesitating or being indecisive. When it comes time to take action towards their goals or performing any sort of task they feel uncomfortable with tackling it individually.
- Escaping into Distractions: Anxiety can lead an individual down a path where they constantly seek out distractions such as social media, video games, TV shows, etc. In order to escape from confronting whatever it is that is causing them distress or fear which prevents them from progressing forward in life goals/tasks/plans, etc.
- Critical Judgmental Attitude: Anxiety can also cause aggressive tendencies such as having an overly critical judgmental attitude towards one’s own ideas or those around them. This causes tension amongst family/friends and creating an unproductive working environment for those involved in projects together (i.e., workplace).
- Unrealistic Expectations: Setting unrealistic expectations for oneself due to stress caused by anxiety can also be a form of self-sabotaging behavior. Since these expectations cannot be met without tremendous difficulty, thus leading an individual back into the same cycle of uneasiness they were trying so hard break away from initially while attempting said tasks/goals/projects, etc.
- Cynicism & Pessimism: Anxiety may lead someone down the path of cynicism & pessimism which makes it difficult for them to take risks necessary for completing tasks and achieving goals. As they expect failure anyways due to preconceived notions created by their pessimistic views on life events surrounding said activities over time period prior struggling period related to said activity/task/goal etc.
- Self-Doubt & Limiting Beliefs: Another way anxiety manifests itself through self-sabotage is through doubt about one’s capabilities. This ultimately limits potential success given how much effort will be put forth into completing said task/goal given limiting beliefs held by the individual about his own abilities (i.e., “I am not capable enough; I don’t have what it takes)”.
- Burnout & Exhaustion: Anxiety-related burnouts occur when an individual has worked too hard either because of procrastination due to avoidance tactics. Or simply because they put an excessive amount of energy into something without proper rest. This results in exhaustion which zaps both energy & motivation necessary success completion project/task etc.
13 Likely Causes Of Self Sabotage Anxiety
Self-sabotage anxiety can be self-defeating. It can hold you back from reaching your goals and achieving your full potential. Here are 10 common ways that people self-sabotage their anxiety:
- Unresolved emotions and traumatic experiences: Self-sabotage can be an unconscious attempt to protect oneself from feeling emotions that may be too overwhelming or painful to process. Experiences such as physical or emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a challenging childhood environment can lead individuals to create defensive mechanisms like self-sabotage in order to cope with their feelings.
- Perfectionism and Fear of Failure: People who have a fear of failure may experience difficulty taking risks or trying new things due to the fear of not being perfect or successful. This can manifest itself in the form of procrastination, avoidance strategies, perfectionism, overthinking, and other kinds of self-sabotaging behaviors.
- Negative core beliefs: Low self-esteem, low confidence levels, and other negative core beliefs can lead individuals to engage in behaviors that ultimately sabotage their own success and well-being. These beliefs can include irrational thoughts about themselves such as “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve happiness” which then lead them to create patterns of self-defeating behavior in order to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions that these beliefs trigger.
- Lack of Structure: People who lack structure may find themselves opting for behaviors that ultimately do more harm than good in the long run because it is easier than actively engaging in activities that will further their goals. With no clear plan or vision for their lives, they end up creating chaos instead of stability by participating in habitual patterns. They know that it will not benefit them but still feel more comfortable than actively making decisions toward achieving something better for them themselves.
- Overwhelming Stress: When faced with intense stressors such as a demanding job, financial difficulties, health problems, etc. People may unconsciously opt for maladaptive coping strategies such as substance abuse and other forms of self-sabotage which provide temporary relief. But ultimately create more problems the line when left unchecked and unresolved.
- Poor Coping Skills: Individuals who lack practical coping skills are more likely to resort to behaviors that provide short-term relief rather than long-term solutions when dealing with difficult situations or challenging emotions like anger, fear, sadness, etc. This often leads them into cycles of self-destructive behavior because certain types of escapism and avoidance tactics are more accessible than developing healthy ways of managing complicated feelings and experiences.
- Anxiety Disorders/Mental Health Conditions: Mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders can cause people to become overwhelmed with feelings and thoughts which then leads them into patterns of destructive behavior. These behaviours provide a temporary relief from all those intense emotions that overwhelm them on a regular basis.
- Addiction: Some individuals who struggle with addiction unknowingly engage in forms of self-sabotage because they prioritize using substances over pursuing higher goals or resolving conflicts and situations. Since it is an easier task under those circumstances even though it does not help them get closer to achieving what they truly want out of life. Something they deep down know but cannot bring themselves to act on due its addictive nature leading into a cycle where they keep sabotaging themselves without realizing it until it’s too late if left untreated.
- Unrealistic Expectations/Demands: Having unrealistically high expectations for oneself can be incredibly damaging when it comes to motivation levels since most likely this individual will never reach their own standards. This leads to feelings of frustration, despair, resentment, and failure along with a vicious cycle repeating itself over again. Setting realistic achievable goals should be done beforehand.
- Unconscious Limiting Beliefs: Limiting beliefs such as I don’t deserve love, I am too old/young, I am inadequate, I don’t have what it takes, etc, can greatly affect our mindset leading us into unhealthy decisions we make which ultimately serves us nothing but harm. Learning how to identify those thought patterns and uncovering the source behind them is a vital part of overcoming this type of self-sabotage.
- Childhood issues: Parents’ uncaring or overly-critical attitudes, lack of consistency in rules, dealing with parents’ divorce, physical or emotional abuse, and unmet needs in terms of attention and support can all lead to self-sabotage through chronic low self-esteem and insecurity.
- Relationship issues: Difficulty trusting others, fear of intimacy, and difficulty communicating one’s needs and feelings may be caused by a history of inconsistent or abusive relationships. This can lead to self-sabotaging behaviors such as avoiding meaningful relationships or tolerating unhealthy ones.
- Low Self-Esteem: Poor body image, excessive comparison to others, feelings of shame and guilt, and perfectionism are all symptoms related to low self-esteem that can lead to the development of anxiety disorders such as OCD or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). These disorders often manifest themselves through self-sabotage as a way of avoiding failure.
Signs Of Self-Sabotage Anxiety: 14 Sings & Symptom
Self sabotage anxiety is characterized by a range of different behaviors that can interfere with your life in significant ways. If you’re struggling with self sabotage anxiety, you may:
- Emotionally rehearsing challenges or problems before they even happen. This often involves ruminating on worst-case scenarios and can lead to feelings of dread and helplessness. It can be especially damaging if the person starts avoiding certain activities or situations as a result, which can further limit their possibilities for success.
- Developing an unrealistic set of expectations for oneself and/or others may lead to disappointment, frustration, and eventually self-sabotage when those expectations are not met. These unrealistic expectations can make it hard to achieve goals, as well as lead one to believe that any failure must be because of their inadequacy or lack of effort.
- Impulsively engaging in behavior that is counter-productive to achieving goals or outcomes. This could include staying up too late, procrastinating tasks, not setting boundaries with others, etc., all of which can add up to feeling overwhelmed and further adding to anxiety levels over time.
- All-or-nothing thinking – when someone believes that they have succeeded only if they’ve achieved perfection in all areas. This type of thinking is usually accompanied by high levels of stress and fear about the possibility of failure leading to criticism or negative feedback from others.
- Feeling like a fraud – this type of thinking is common among those who suffer from self-sabotage anxiety. The person often feels like they are inadequate compared to others in the same area (e.g., job performance). They constantly worry about being found out for not meeting expectations or being “found out” as a fraud in some way.
- Low self-esteem – this may manifest itself in various ways such as comparing oneself unfavorably to others, needing external validation from others to feel good about oneself, putting on a false persona around other people so as not to stand out too much (so they won’t be noticed), etc. All these things contribute towards feelings of insecurity which can lead one towards self-sabotage behavior if left unchecked over time.
Some other signs and symptoms of self-sabotage anxiety include:
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty sleeping
- Digestive issues
- Constant negative self-talk and criticism.
- Excessive worrying and rumination.
- Inability to make decisions or take risks.
- Low moods, helplessness, and despair.
Here are some questions that can help you to identify whether you are suffering from self-sabotage anxiety or not:
- Do you often find yourself procrastinating or putting off important tasks?
- Do you frequently second-guess your decisions or doubt your ability to succeed?
- Do you engage in self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse, risky behavior, or overeating?
- Do you have trouble following through on commitments or meeting deadlines?
- Do you struggle to stick to healthy habits like exercise or eating a nutritious diet?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s possible that self-sabotage anxiety is holding you back from reaching your full potential. But don’t despair – there are things you can do to break free from the cycle of self-sabotage and start living a happier, more fulfilling life.
Coping With Self-Sabotage Anxiety: 12 Effective Ways
If you’re someone who self-sabotages when it comes to anxiety, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, self-sabotage is one of the most common ways that people cope with anxiety.
There are a number of reasons why people self-sabotage, but the bottom line is that it’s a way of avoiding feeling anxious. So, if self-sabotage is your go-to method of dealing with anxiety, here are 12 coping mechanisms that you can try instead:
1. Make Sure To Take Time For Yourself And Focus On Self-Care
Self-sabotage anxiety can be tricky to handle. On one hand, you want to push yourself to achieve your goals, but on the other hand, you’re scared of self-sabotaging and not reaching those goals. Here are a few ways to cope with self-sabotage anxiety:
- Make sure to take time for yourself and focus on self-care. This can be anything from getting a massage or taking a relaxing bath, to simply taking a few minutes each day to meditate or journal.
- Challenge your negative thoughts. When you have a self-sabotaging thought, ask yourself if it’s really true. Is there evidence to support it? Often, we’ll find that our negative thoughts are based on irrational fears or past experiences that no longer apply to our current situation.
- Focus on your successes, not your failures. When we’re dealing with self-sabotage anxiety, it’s easy to dwell on our mistakes or things we haven’t accomplished. But instead, try to focus on all the successes you’ve had, no matter how small they may seem. This will help you remember that you are capable of achieving great things.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. This can help you understand your patterns of self-sabotage and figure out what triggers your anxiety.
- Give yourself grace. Remember that you’re human and that it’s okay to make mistakes. Learning from your mistakes is part of the process of reaching your goals.
By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to managing self-sabotage anxiety in a healthy way!
2. Develop Mindful Practices
This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy where our anxiety fuels our self-sabotage, and then the self-sabotage increases our anxiety. It can feel like a never-ending cycle. We might even avoid social situations altogether, fearing that we’ll say or do something embarrassing.
But there are things we can do to break out of it. One of them is developing a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness practice can help us deal with self-sabotage anxiety in a number of ways.
For one thing, mindfulness helps us to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings. This self-awareness can help us to catch self-sabotaging thoughts before they take hold. Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment, without judgment.
When we’re mindful, we’re not reliving past experiences or worrying about the future. We’re just observing what’s happening right now. And that can help to break the cycle of self-sabotage anxiety. With mindfulness, we can learn to accept our thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.
We can observe our self-sabotage tendencies without judging ourselves for having them.
And we can start to see how our self-sabotage might be feeding our anxiety. With mindfulness, we can start to make different choices – choices that are based on what we want, rather than what our self-sabotage anxieties are telling us to do.
When we accept our anxiety, we’re less likely to self-sabotage in an attempt to escape it. Mindfulness can help us to develop a more compassionate attitude towards ourselves. When we’re kinder to ourselves, we’re less likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors.
3. Identify Triggers
Self-sabotage anxiety is defined as the self-defeating behavior that gets in the way of your goals. It’s self-destructive because it’s usually done without conscious awareness.
There are many different types of self-sabotaging triggers, but some of the most common ones include procrastination, perfectionism, self-doubt, and Fear of failure.
Identifying your self-sabotaging triggers can help you to become more aware of them and begin to make changes. For example, if you realize that you’re self-sabotaging by procrastinating, you can start to work on changing your behavior by setting deadlines and breaking tasks down into smaller chunks.
If you’re self-sabotaging because of perfectionism, you can work on accepting that mistakes are part of the learning process and that they don’t mean you’re a failure.
And if self-doubt is triggering your self-sabotage, you can start building up your self-confidence by setting realistic goals and celebrating your accomplishments – no matter how small they may be.
Making even small changes in your behavior can make a big difference when it comes to self-sabotage anxiety. So if you’re ready to start making some changes, begin by taking a closer look at your self-sabotaging triggers.
4. Reach Out To Your Support System
When it comes to self-sabotage anxiety, one of the best things you can do is to reach out to your support system for emotional support. Just talking to someone who understands what you’re going through can be a huge help.
It can also help to have someone to talk to about your anxiety and how you’re feeling. Talking openly about self-sabotage anxiety can help to lessen its hold on you. In addition, your support system can offer practical advice and assistance when it comes to dealing with self-sabotage anxiety.
They can help you come up with coping mechanisms and strategies for dealing with your anxiety. Having a strong support system is essential for coping with self-sabotage anxiety.
5. Spend Time Focusing On Positive Outcomes
Self-sabotage anxiety is when you self-sabotage yourself because you are anxious about a potentially negative outcome. For example, you might not apply for your dream job because you are anxious that you will not get it.
Or, you might not makes efforts for anything new because you are anxious that it will not work out. Self-sabotage anxiety can be debilitating and make it difficult to live a full life. However, there are ways to cope with self-sabotage anxiety.
One way is to focus on positive outcomes rather than dwelling on potential negative ones. If you focus on the possibility that things will work out, you are more likely to take action and achieve your goals. Self-sabotage anxiety can be tough to deal with, but if you focus on the positive, you can overcome it.
6. Work On Improving Communication Skills
Self-sabotage anxiety can be really tough to deal with. It can feel like you’re all alone in your battle, and that can make it even harder to cope. But one of the best ways to deal with self-sabotage anxiety is to work on improving your communication skills.
When you’re able to communicate openly and honestly with others, it can help reduce the feeling of isolation that can lead to self-sabotaging anxiety. And when you have a strong support system, it can make self-sabotage anxiety a lot easier to manage.
So if you’re struggling with self-sabotage anxiety, don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone about it. You might be surprised at how much better you’ll feel just by talking about it.
7. Set Realistic Goals And Expectations For Yourself
If you’re the type of person who often self-sabotages, it might be helpful to set some realistic goals and expectations for yourself. This can help you to stay on track and avoid getting overwhelmed by anxiety.
When setting goals, try to break them down into small, manageable steps.
For example, if your goal is to get healthy, you could start by making a list of simple changes like eating more vegetables or taking a brisk walk every day. By taking things one step at a time, you’ll be less likely to self-sabotage and more likely to achieve your goals.
Similarly, it’s important to have realistic expectations for yourself.
If you’re constantly putting pressure on yourself to be perfect, you’re more likely to self-sabotage. So try to cut yourself some slack and give yourself room to make mistakes. Remember that everyone is imperfect and that’s okay. By being kinder to yourself, you can help reduce self-sabotage anxiety.
8. Create A Plan For When Setbacks Occur
If you’re not careful, it can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to all kinds of negative consequences. The good news is that there are things you can do to cope with self-sabotage anxiety, and one of the most important is to create a plan for when setbacks occur.
By having a specific plan in place, you’ll be better equipped to deal with any self-sabotaging thoughts or behaviors that come up. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you create your plan:
- Identify your triggers: What are the things that tend to trigger your self-sabotage? Once you know what they are, you can be on the lookout for them and be ready to deal with them in a healthy way.
- Think about your goals: What do you want to achieve? Keep your goals in mind and use them as motivation to stay on track.
- Make a list of healthy coping strategies: What are some things you can do to cope with self-sabotage anxiety in a healthy way? Make sure to include both short-term and long-term strategies.
- Create a support network: Enlist the help of friends, family, or professionals who can support you as you work through your self-sabotage anxiety.
By taking these steps, you’ll be better prepared to deal with self sabotage anxiety when it comes up. Remember, it’s not always easy, but it is possible to overcome self sabotaging behaviors and live a happy, fulfilled life.
9. Employ Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques can be a great way to cope with self sabotage anxiety. This type of anxiety can often lead to self-doubt and negative self-talk, which can be very damaging. Relaxation techniques can help to reduce these negative thoughts and give you a more positive outlook on life.
They can also help to increase your self-awareness and self-esteem, which are both essential for dealing with self sabotage anxiety. There are many different relaxation techniques that you can try, so it is important to find one that suits you.
If you are not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources available online or in books that can help you find the right technique for you. Remember, the most important thing is to find something that works for you and that you feel comfortable with.
Relaxation techniques can be a great way to deal with self sabotage anxiety, so don’t hesitate to give them a try.
10. Practice Self-Compassion
Self compassion is when you are kind to yourself and understand that you are just a person who is capable of making mistakes. We all make mistakes and self compassion allows us to forgive ourselves for them.
Self compassion also allows us to move on from our mistakes instead of dwelling on them and self-sabotaging. Self compassion is a better way to cope with self-sabotage anxiety because it is more forgiving and understanding, helps us to move on from our mistakes instead of dwelling on them.
Self-compassion has 3 main components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
Self-kindness means being gentle with ourselves when we make mistakes or fall short instead of berating ourselves. Common humanity means recognising that everyone experiences difficulties in their life and we all have moments we’re not proud of; we’re all human. Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and accepting our thoughts and feelings without judgement.
Some ways to practice self-compassion are:
- Be mindful of your self-talk: what you say to yourself matters! avoid phrases like “I’m such an idiot” and replace them with more compassionate ones like “everyone makes mistakes”.
- Thinking of someone who needs compassion: if you can’t be compassionate to yourself, think of someone else in your life who does and send them some compassion.
- Write yourself a letter: imagine you are writing to a friend who is going through a tough time. What would you say to them?
11. Writing Out Thoughts And Feelings
Writing out thoughts and feelings related to self sabotage anxiety can be a helpful way to cope with the anxiety. It can help emotionally by providing an outlet for the anxiety, and therapeutically by helping to identify and address self sabotage behavior.
Bullet points may help to organize thoughts and feelings, and provide a structure for writing.
Writing can also help to clarify thoughts and feelings, and may lead to new insights about self sabotaging behavior. Ultimately, writing about self sabotage anxiety can be a helpful way to cope with the anxiety and begin to address self sabotaging behavior.
12. Take Time Off From High Demanding Tasks
We’ve all been there before – we’re working on a project that’s due soon, and we start to feel the pressure. We might start to doubt our ability to finish it on time, or even whether we can do it at all.
This self-doubt can quickly turn into self-sabotage, as we start to believe that we’re not good enough, and that we’ll never be able to succeed. This can lead to anxiety and feelings of overwhelming stress.
Fortunately, there is a way to cope with self sabotage anxiety – by taking a break.
Stepping away from the task at hand, even for just a few minutes, can help to clear your head and give you some perspective. It can also help to remind you that you’re not alone in feeling this way, and that everyone feels anxious at times.
In fact, taking a break can be therapeutic in itself, as it can help you to relax and recharge. So next time you’re feeling the self-doubt creep in, take a step back, and give yourself a break. You’ll be glad you did.
When it comes to self sabotage anxiety, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many people struggle with this issue, and there are plenty of resources out there to help you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try reaching out to a therapist or counselor who can help you develop a plan to deal with your anxiety.
There are also many online resources and support groups available, so don’t hesitate to seek out help if you’re feeling lost. Remember, you’re not alone in this – there are people who understand and can help you through this difficult time.
Gannon, E. (2020). Sabotage: How to Get Out of Your Own Way. Andrews McMeel Publishing.
Self-sabotage. (n.d.). PBS Update. https://magazine.psych.indiana.edu/fall-2016/research-news/self-sabotage.html
Ho, J., PhD. (2019). Stop Self-Sabotage: Six Steps to Unlock Your True Motivation, Harness Your Willpower, and Get Out of Your Own Way (Illustrated). Harper Wave.