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8 Forms Of Self-Sabotage That Are Silently Complicating Your Life

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8 Forms Of Self-Sabotage That Are Silently Complicating Your Life

Even though at times you yourself can be your only ally, the truth is most of us are constantly sabotaging ourselves in one way or the other. The first step to avoiding self sabotage, is identifying the things you are doing, that are working against you in the long run. Here are a few common examples of what could be holding you back from your true potential..

Holding A Negative Belief About Yourself

Despite the progress of neuroscience and psychology, there is much we still don’t know about our minds. One thing we do know of however, is the placebo effect. Which is perhaps, the perfect example to demonstrate the power a belief can hold. It can help you heal, it can alter your reality. Also, recent studies suggest that perhaps the way you view stress and choose to react to it, has more to do with it’s negative effects than the stress itself. It’s fair to say that beliefs can be very damaging as well.

If you hold a negative belief about yourself for too long, it can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You are lazy because you decide to believe that “you’re just lazy”, and therefore never tackle the issue at hand. Or you’re just “socially inept” or “technologically challenged”. By harboring these beliefs not only are you demotivating yourself from even trying in the first place. The belief that it is harder for you to learn, can actually MAKE it harder for yourself to learn.

Having Preconceptions About Things You Have Not Tried, People You Have Not Met

A lot of the time things are completely different than you expect them to be. Sometimes realizing that is a pleasant surprise, and other times it can be devastating. Now personally I don’t believe it’s possible to completely stop having ideas and expectations about things, but at the very least be aware of when you’re spouting pure guesswork. And when you catch yourself, don’t be afraid to challenge your perception by actually trying, experiencing or meeting the thing or person in question. Make an actual effort to completely experience both the positives and the negatives, to get the whole picture. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself confirming your own theory misguidedly through the help of confirmation bias, but more on that later.

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Being Arrogant

Like it’s counterpart, arrogance can lead to staleness and inactivity. This article over at Neurobonkers suggests that being praised for intelligence as a child or adolescent in a certain way can actually lead to becoming less intelligent. Specifically, the way that tends to hone ones ego. The idea is basically that if you’re taught to think highly of your innate ability, instead of encouraged to keep honing your intellect, you will become comparatively less intelligent in comparison to your peers as you age because of lack of effort.

Arrogance is rarely a good thing, and it’s good to keep yourself in check. Even when you’re completely overachieving, try to focus on exactly what you’re doing right, and just keep moving, rather than getting caught up in yourself and your ego. That way you can also help other’s achieve the same at a later point in time, possibly in exchange for monetary compensation.

Discouraging Yourself Before Even Trying

See the trend here? Anything that get’s in the way of taking action and trying is usually a bad thing. Of course, if your goal in life is to jump naked off a skyscraper and learn to fly before you splat, it’s probably a good idea to discourage yourself out of trying. But in most mundane settings where effort and commitment are the usual roads to success, you can’t get anywhere without trying. So don’t work against yourself by talking yourself out of even taking a chance.

Having A Negative Outlook On Life.

When we really put our mind to it, most of us like to think that we’re capable of objectivity. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the idea of confirmation bias. It’s the idea that you have tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms your own ideas and preconceptions. For example, there’s two people, one who thinks his life is shit, and another who thinks life is all rainbows and pots of gold. If you have them experience the exact same thing, it’s very likely that they’ll interpret it in completely different ways.

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Let’s say they both have a day where they meet two new people, and then their microwave breaks down when they’re trying to heat their dinner. A negative person(me in the past) would have easily thought “Wow! I can’t even eat a microwaved meal in peace!!” And exaggerate the latter event, while the positive counterpart is more likely to focus on the positive and downplay the negative event. “I made new two new friends today, what does one cold meal matter!”

So in many cases, it’s simply a matter of what you choose to focus on. Focus on what you’re good at. What you enjoy most, and spend less time dwelling on the negative, and over time you will see a significant improvement in your general outlook on life.

Prioritizing Instant Gratification Too Much

From instant gratification like a chocolate bar every day and gaining weight, to being impatient and buying something on a payment for twice the actual price.

There’s a difference between living in the moment and completely sabotaging your future self. Which is why I never understood the “YOLO” thing which seemed to be used more as an excuse for bad decisions motivated by instant gratification, than truly appreciating that our time on earth is limited and that that’s all the more reason to make the most of it. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself right NOW, but try to keep it at a level that doesn’t have you working twice as hard in the future just to try to maintain your current life.

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A few things to avoid: Overly excessive partying, insane payment plans, too much comfort food.

Maintaining Harmful Relationships

Harmful relationships can be anything. From douchey, poisonous friends to violent partners, there are many harmful relationships. The latter is a complicated issue that you can read more about dealing with here. (Advice from actual experts on the subject.)

But if you’re troubled by a bad friend, always finding yourself annoyed by them.. if he/she not only ruins your mood half the time you see him/her and constantly discourages you, but also frequently borrows money/stuff and never returns it.. there’s an easy solution: A clean break. Simply stop hanging out with them, make it clear that you have no intention of doing so ever again if you have to, and move on with your life. Life is short, and sure.. friends are precious, but that only goes for real friends. Don’t be afraid to prioritize your own happiness when someone is clearly working against it.

Postponing

In a way postponing little things like laundry and doing the dishes, is kind of like giving the finger to random strangers when you’re dunk. You know that it’s not a very smart thing to do, and there’s a chance of things becoming quite ugly, but you do it anyway. Except in this case, the hapless victim is your future self.

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A small percentage of us perform better under stress. And then there’s us who like to think that we do. Being an internet person, I have to admit that I feel like postponing tests and assignments until the very last minute has become the norm. In my Facebook feed I’ll often see stories about last second papers, and later the surprisingly decent grade they got. But perhaps non-internet-dwellers are more diligent.

I don’t know when postponing became cool, but I’ll readily admit that I’ve been postponing things for far too long. There’s a sense of peace and tranquility when you finish early that is a far, far stretch from the stress of an impending deadline.

Prioritize doing the things that you really need to get done. Little things like laundry and dishes can easily be done in small pockets of free time, maybe in the immediate aftermath of cooking dinner or eating lunch. For more time consuming things, like assignments and papers, set aside time well before the deadline. And when you get there, simply force yourself to get started. Try the pomodoro technique, and putting on some classical or instrumental music to help you get started. I like Erik Satie, Nujabes, Emancipator, and a variety of calmer movie soundtracks. You could also try Focus@will, I’ve heard good things about it but never tried it myself.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, if you don’t manage to identify how you are sabotaging yourself, you won’t be able to do anything about it. Therefore it’s important to always remain vigilant. Be observant, notice the little things you do that add up over time to become huge annoyances, or even insurmountable obstacles down the road.

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More by this author

Ragnar Miljeteig

Ragnar is a passionate writer who blogs about personal development at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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