Self-sabotaging behaviors are those negative or Self-Sabotaging Behavior where the person seems to be doing things voluntarily but is not. It is often difficult to know if you are self-sabotaging because it starts innocently with a seemingly small act of avoidance, over-eating, procrastinating, and so on. We at Leave Better offer this information to help you, or a loved one, understand why self-sabotaging occurs and how to overcome it.

Self-sabotage is: “To interfere with the best interest of one’s own needs.” And “To hinder or obstruct (oneself) from accomplishing something.” As life coaches and counselors, we considerably see this phenomenon in our clientele. We have put together some tips to help you recognize self-sabotaging behaviors in yourself or others.

Tips To Recognize Self-Sabotaging Behavior

1. Self-Sabotaging Behavior typically begins with what seems like a small act—such as procrastination, skipping the gym, overeating, or over-drinking. Notice that these activities are often used to escape from the problem at hand. For example, if a person is struggling in their love relationship and can’t stand to be around their partner, they will often turn to food as an escape. In other words, they overeat so they can’t feel how unhappy they are in the relationship.

2. People will do things they know they shouldn’t do to avoid something or to prevent feeling something they don’t like. While it may seem that avoiding what you want won’t cause harm, it will create unhappiness. Over time doing this becomes an essential part of the person’s identity. It becomes how the person defines themself and how they appear to others. For example, a young woman who is constantly late for work may procrastinate in the mornings because she doesn’t want to be a “bad employee.” A person afraid of rejection may over-drink or become promiscuous to avoid the pain of rejection.

Identifying what the person is genuinely avoiding can help point you in the right direction toward understanding why they are sabotaging their health goals.

3. The message a person sends themselves and others through Self-Sabotaging Behavior is that bad things will happen if they don’t do what they want. The person often doesn’t say it to others but internalizes the message in their talk “If I don’t do this thing, then bad things are going to happen.” If a person feels like they must continually engage in self-sabotage, they even begin to believe that their efforts at changing won’t work.


The best way to stop Self-Sabotaging Behavior is to replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations about change. Leave Better offers self-help audio programs to help you replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Our programs help you replace “I can never do this” with the positive affirmation, “I can change and reach my goals.” To know more, contact us at [email protected]