Positive Psychology | Good Life Tips: Self-sabotage & small thinking

Sweet Self-Sabotage – And How Small Thinking Helps

Sweet self-sabotage. Behavior that sabotages long-term goals, and yet feels good.

You know, you have some really important work to do and so, instead, you suddenly feel a compulsive urge to clean the kitchen, do the laundry and maybe even finally organize your books by alphabetic order.


Been there?

I have. Over and over again.


I’ve set a goal for myself years ago, something that’s really meaningful for me and that I’ve been dreaming about probably every day. Still, the time I invest in that goal is far from what it takes to make the dream come true.



Very simply, ego protection.


If I don’t do what it takes then I have a plausible reason as to why it never happen. If I make all efforts into making the dream come true and it doesn’t, then I have no excuse, I assume I’m not good enough and my self-esteem gets seriously hurt. And that’s the sweetness of self-sabotage, it’s a self-esteem guardian.


So how do I do this to myself?

My most favorite way is by being in a constant state of busy-ness. This works great as self-sabotage because not only it gives me a reason to fail to achieve my dreams that protects my ego, but it also gives me a sense that I’m actually doing something “important” with my life.


I’ve been practicing this since my high school times all through university, if there was some important work to do, sure I needed to do something else just before starting the actual work. Unconscious self-esteem protection. After all, if I didn’t do good in the end, I had the excuse that I lacked the time. How would I feel if I invested a really good amount of time and in the end didn’t get a really good result? Much better to leave it to a doable limit and, in the end, if there’s a good result under such pressure, be really proud of my skills.


So in this mechanism of defense, I get really busy. Checking emails, learning more and more, getting more and more inspired, and leaving the real dream builder action to the very bottom of my very full do-to list.


And apparently, being aware of this hasn’t changed much my behaviour. Seems like protecting my self-esteem (or should I say ego?) is still the top priority of my mind.


How am I going to fix this?

If I want to be a dream builder, not just busy, I need to think and do small, every day.

Make a habit out of taking small steps that bring me closer to my dreams.


Some say that social commitment works. Well, it hasn’t worked for me. Maybe because I don’t care about other people’s judgment, or I think that no ones cares anyway if I fail. The person that really cares about my own failure is myself, so maybe I should make a committed promise to myself. Promise it to my future me, for example, the mother of my children.


And for the love of the God in me, prioritize the construction of dreams. Sure I need to do the dishes but they can wait until I have finished will a little dream building task.


Honor the flow. If I’m trying to do a task that simply isn’t coming easily, take it easy, do something else less demanding. Go for a shower, take a walk, or do the dishes then. Don’t bully myself into doing it when it simply isn’t happening. Get back to it later, but get back to it.


Stop the research and all the inspiration seeking! Leave that to a minimum. Now is the time to act!


Take inspiration from envisioning the dream becoming true. What would I do? How would it feel?


Divide all in tiny steps. When we dream big that “final” destination might feel overwhelming and a universe away from the present moment. Instead think: what’s the best next step to take in that direction. All steps, no matter how small, count. No matter how slow and distant it may feel, be proud to be moving in the right direction.


And most importantly – believe. Believe in yourself that you can do what you set your mind to. Forget about the results, just act from that place of self-love.

Love what you are and what you can create.


There are no mistakes, just lessons.

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What dreams are you sabotaging? Can you think of a tiny thing to do in the direction of those dreams, today? Get the Goals Motivator coaching exercise on the form above, and find out more about what’s motivating you and what might be holding you back.


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  • Alexandra Pinto

    These words seem written by me… every single one… I know a lot about self sabotage. I know how to stop it and yet, I still keep doing it. Since the future I thought I would have, slipped through my fingers I started sabotaging my self… I dind’t want to start building a future all over again! I thought I wouln’t know how to do it. What road to walk… I just was to afraid to do it. To fail doing it…

    Fear. It’s all about fear…

    It has been a tough journey and yet, I haven’t given up on me… The gratitude path seems to be very important to acknowledge the good things in my life. That keeps me walking every day. Baby steps to the fulfilment that I seek. Soul fulfilment.

    I wish the best of luck to your new project! It was a nice surprise to find this special place of yours…

    February 12, 2016 at 7:02 pm

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