Self Sabotage: The Biggest Enemy of Healthy Self-esteem

Self sabotage is your mind’s way of working against you for no logical reason.  Basically, it stems from unconscious beliefs that you are unworthy of happiness and/or success.  Low self-esteem is directly linked to self-sabotage because it reinforces those negative thoughts and controls what you believe you can achieve and puts a limit on how much.  Self sabotage can be reversed. It just takes figuring out the triggers, implementing the proper tools and consistently changing those negative thought patters.

Let’s call the inner person doing this damage (or sabotage) the saboteur.  Give the saboteur a name and create a visual so you know who you are combating when those negative thoughts come into your head.  Only you have the power to make the saboteur big or small, strong or weak, because you are the one allowing him or her to feed you with negative thoughts.

So how do you deal with self-sabotage?  First, you need to identify how you’re sabotaging yourself. Usually, the saboteur presents him or herself in the form of negative self-talk.  Examples: You can’t do it, you’re not smart enough, you aren’t thin enough, you will never get what you want, etc. The way we talk to ourselves started a long time ago when we were children and so it’s hard to change, but not impossible.  It just takes time and consistency. Negative self-talk will stay with you as long as you give it power. You simply need the right tools to fight it.

1) Become more in tune with your inner voice. I’m a huge believer in thought stopping.  As you hear yourself spiraling into the negative, literally say NO out load, stop the thought and immediately say 3 positive affirmations about yourself. For some reason, saying it out load actually makes you feel better and helps you realize how often you think negative thoughts.  If we are lucky, the number of negative thoughts become fewer day after day.  Envision the saboteur getting smaller and weaker. Don’t let the saboteur ever win.

2) I also like the idea of turning negative self-talk first into neutral self-talk. This gets you one step closer to positive self-talk and can be easier to do if the negative self-talk is strong when you first start these exercises. The saboteur loves mental complaining, she feeds off it. Don’t give her the satisfaction.  No more “I can’t” but how about “I will try.” If a friend cancels on you, neutral self-talk says “What should I now do with that free time?” If  you don’t get everything accomplished on your to-do-list, neutral self-talk doesn’t beat you up but says, “Maybe I can finish this list tomorrow.”  No complaining allowed, only neutral thoughts.  It takes time to recalibrate your thinking, but it can happen.

3) Another suggestion is to keep a journal and write down all the ways in which you consistently find yourself self-sabotaging. Put it right there out in the open for you to see; it takes the power away for the saboteur. Next, you need to add to each of those self sabotaging actions what positive or neutral actions/thoughts would look like. So the next time you find yourself self sabotaging in that exact manner, you can carry out the healthy plan of action that you already identified in the journal. The key is follow through.

4) ALWAYS surround yourself with people who truly love and support you. Stay away from negative people, they will only bring you down further.  Your saboteur loves negative people because having them around only reinforces their presence. If you find yourself with negative people, envision a shield protecting you and their thoughts simply bouncing off.  Visualization is an effective and powerful tool.


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About Carol Langlois
Dr Carol is a former University Dean and Associate Provost, trained therapist, researcher, educational consultant and writer. During her training, she counseled hundreds of clients in one-on-one sessions as well as in group settings where her work was with college freshman dealing with transitional and developmental issues on campus. Her primary research focus is female self-esteem development among teens. Her published dissertation “The effects of single gender versus coeducational environments on the self-esteem development and academic competence of high school females” focused on 15 year old girls in the Bay Area where her research findings showed disturbingly low levels of self-esteem across the board. This staggering discovery has led her to further research this topic. She is working on her second book called Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image, which is a compilation of interviews with teens girls on the topic of self-esteem while offering an effective and practical system designed to RAISE (Resilience, Attitude, Independence, Self-Respect and Empowerment) teen self-esteem. In addition, she runs groups for non-profits interested in adding self-esteem training into their overall mission.

3 Responses to Self Sabotage: The Biggest Enemy of Healthy Self-esteem

  1. Pingback: Waking up with a Positive Attitude Every Day | Dr Carol

  2. Pingback: Success is a team effort! – Who’s in your team? | Being a successful Woman

  3. Pingback: 3 Rules of Engagement – with Yourself « Personalpower4me's Blog

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