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

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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Ragnar Miljeteig

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

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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