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5 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Success That You Didn’t Know

5 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Success That You Didn’t Know

Do you ever feel frustrated because you have an awful lot of ambition, but no tangible results to show for it? If so, then you are probably sabotaging your success without even realizing it. Read on to discover how self-sabotage happens and why your gut instincts cannot be trusted.

1. You put short-term desires before long-term success.

“Woo-hoo, I exercised today! I deserve a cookie.”

“I actually managed to save a few hundred dollars! Time to buy a new wardrobe.”

These quotes demonstrate a common form of self-sabotage, which is “treating yourself” with rewards that are in direct conflict with the long-term value you are trying to put into practice. A person who values their health wouldn’t use exercise as an excuse to eat junk. A person who wants to become wealthy wouldn’t splurge on unnecessary wants as soon as they manage to save a bit of money. Rewards are a good way to stay encouraged, but those rewards should not undermine your goal. Setting such a precedent could make a massive dent in your long-term progress if you get carried away with it. Since it will take a larger dose of a reward to satisfy your cravings as time goes on, you might eventually find yourself taking two steps backward for every step forward. Don’t risk it.

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2. You overestimate your capabilities and ability to commit.

“I know I haven’t exercised in a long time, but I’m totally going to train for an hour every day next year!”

“It’s been years since I have cooked at home, but it’s time to change. I am going to prepare home-cooked meals every day!”

These quotes demonstrate overconfidence in one’s abilities, which leads to extremely unrealistic expectations. If you eat fast food every day and haven’t been to the gym in over a year, then it is absurd to think you’re going to be able to follow a strict diet and training routine. You would have to willfully ignore a past history chock full of failures to believe that would be possible. Please understand that I’m not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. I just want to save you from disappointment. If you bite off more than you can chew, then you will merely set yourself up for failure. This experience could be so demotivating that you end up deciding you might as well give up. You probably won’t drop a waist-size in a month and you’re sure as hell not going to change all of your poor health habits overnight. Small changes stick better. Be patient.

3. You kid yourself into believing you’ll do better “tomorrow.”

“I’m already halfway through the week and I haven’t exercised yet. Oh, well. I’ll hit it hard next Monday!”

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“I know I shouldn’t eat all of this pasta, but that’s okay, I’ll just be sure to make REALLY good decisions tomorrow.”

These quotes demonstrate an insidious form of self-delusion that enables people to procrastinate indefinitely. Let’s be honest. Out of all the times you have said you would work out on Monday, how many times did you actually follow-through? If you can claim a success rate above 50%, I will wire you a thousand dollars. Okay, I’m not serious about the money part (NOT because I’m wrong –because you couldn’t possibly prove it), but you get the point. I played the, “I’ll work out on Monday,” game for an entire semester of college and it wasn’t pretty. My success rate was closer to 10%. To truly believe that you will do better “tomorrow,” you would have to delude yourself into thinking your future self will (somehow) be more disciplined than your present self. I hate to break it to you, but your present and future self are actually the same person. The more you kick that commitment to the next day (or week), the more likely you will keep doing it.

4. You do things that appear to be productive (but really aren’t).

“I reorganized my underwear drawer and made a To-Do list. Time to take a break!”

“Too bad I didn’t work out today, but hey, at least I read a bunch of fitness articles online!”

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These quotes demonstrate how easy it is to kid yourself into believing you did something “productive,” even though it resulted in no forward progress whatsoever. Procrastination is so clever that it can disguise itself in tasks that appear to be productive (but really aren’t). If you work from home and have projects with impending deadlines, then reorganizing your underwear drawer is the last thing you need to be doing. If you spend a lot of time reading fitness articles despite the fact that you rarely apply the advice they contain, then you are wasting your time. If an activity doesn’t result in forward progress, then you need to be brutally honest with yourself. You’re probably just mentally pleasing yourself in a misguided effort to feel better about your inaction and consequential lack of results. Harsh, but true.

5. You lie to yourself so much that your gut instinct can’t be trusted.

“I am better/different/smarter. This would never happen to me.”

“Man, I can’t believe some people are dumb enough to delude themselves like this! Poor chumps.”

These quotes demonstrate the fallacy of believing you are “superior” when you are far more likely to be average just like everybody else. Indeed, people who are overconfident are the most prone to make the mistakes discussed in this article, because their exaggerated (and often unfounded) belief in their abilities makes them arrogant. Arrogant people feel like they are better than everybody else, so they won’t be mindful of these forms of self-sabotage, and thus will be even more susceptible to them. Talk about irony!

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Remember these five steps if you want to stop sabotaging your success.

Have you noticed any of these forms of self-sabotage in your life? If so, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts in the comments. If you know a friend who could use a reality check, please share this article in a thoughtful email or social media share.

Featured photo credit: sascha lindner via flickr.com

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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