10 self-sabotaging behaviors that are keeping you from being happy

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Self-sabotage isn’t always something we’re aware that we’re doing. 

That’s because once it becomes a habit we undercut ourselves without even realizing it. 

Here’s how to spot your self-sabotaging patterns and avoid them. 

1) Black and white thinking

Black and white thinking is when you look at life in absolutes. 

You may feel you’ll “never” be happy, or that you’ll “always” be misunderstood. 

You may be convinced that your life is perfect and that it’s “impossible” for anyone to ever hurt you. 

Or you may be sure that your business success can’t be touched and that you’re destined for wealth and prestige no matter what. 

But these examples of overly absolutist optimistic and pessimistic thinking are simply not realistic. 

If there’s one constant in life it’s change!

And if there’s one thing we absolutely know about the future it’s that we just don’t know. 

2) Looking for outside validation

The search for outside validation is something everyone does at least a little bit: 

We’re group creatures who evolved to seek tribal belonging and approval. 

But looking for outside validation as a precondition, motivation or reason to do things in life is a complete form of self-sabotage. 

It essentially means you are outsourcing your happiness and success to other people. 

The fact is this:

There are more than 7 billion people on the planet and as kind and wonderful as many of them are, they have many different interests and priorities. 

Not every person you meet is going to be objective or be on your side. 

What’s worse is that even those who love you and do validate you have no power to actually live or “fix” your life. 

This is why having that subtle inner hope that somebody else will give you the answers or step in and tell you you’re on the right path is a form of unintentional self-weakening. 

It just doesn’t work.

3) Falling for imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome has its roots in insecurity and the search for approval as well. 

It often begins in early childhood when a lack of parenting or overly critical parents made us feel unworthy or not good enough. 

What happens is that no matter how much you achieve you have this inner sense of certainty that “I don’t deserve this!” or “This can’t really be me…”

Even if you’ve started a thriving business empire and have a loving family and are surrounded by people who assure you that you’re an amazing person, imposter syndrome can strike. 

In fact that’s often when it’s most likely to strike!

The only way around imposter syndrome is to face it head-on and start tackling these deep inner roots of insecurity and the wounding that was done to our inner child.

Here are some powerful healing exercises for your inner child if you’re interested.

4) Procrastinating and excuse-making

Procrastinating is a common self-sabotage behavior that many of us engage in. 

It seems harmless enough and to be fair it can be in small doses. 

The problem with procrastination is simple: it’s addictive. 

The more you do it the easier it is to do again. And again. 

Then your neural pathways of avoiding action and making excuses get strengthened and before you know it you’re procrastinated away a year of your life and are also falling into unhealthy mindsets of victimization and disempowerment. 

Do your best to avoid procrastinating, even on small things! 

5) Impulsivity and recklessness

As a quite impulsive and reckless person at times I know just how damaging this can be. 

It can be everything from deciding on a hotel to stay at and paying online without reading reviews only to show up and find a terrible or even dangerous place. 

It can go all the way to getting involved in dating somebody who’s just terribly wrong for you. 

The problem is that you never stopped to think much about it until the situation became full of drama. 

Being impulsive is almost never a good idea! 

Even if you make speedy decisions, make sure to put at least a bit of thought and caution into them before jumping in. 

6) Negative self-talk 

Negative self-talk can creep up on you and run your life before you even realize it. 

Like imposter syndrome, this often has its roots in early childhood and in beliefs we take on about our own low self-worth. 

No amount of outer validation can make up for negative self-talk 

Even celebrities who everybody loves can sink into despair despite all the validation they get from the outside. 

The reason often connects up to that voice in their head torturing them by saying “you’re not good enough,” “you’re ugly,” “you know deep down you’re a f*cking loser.”

Even Elon Musk’s own dad doesn’t support him and allegedly mistreated the tech founder growing up, an example of how some of even the most successful people have figures in their life who don’t approve of them.

One example of negative self-talk is: 

7) Excessive self-blame

Sometimes we are to blame. 

Sometimes self-doubt has roots in truth and there are aspects of ourselves or our behavior to change. 

But self-blame can go way too far into irrational exaggeration and obsession. 

If it reaches a certain level, you may start feeling like almost everything is your fault, even the fact that you’re not happy!

“I should feel happier, I hate that I’m not happier, I’m going to force myself to feel happier!” is the mantra here…

The result? Feeling even more miserable! 

As Steve Scott writes

“If you obsess over the past or constantly tell yourself that you haven’t achieved enough in life, or that your success is irrelevant compared to that of others, then you’ll be stuck feeling like you lack as a person.”

8) Trying to “manifest” your dream life via positivity 

This ties into the previous point about trying to force yourself to be grateful or happy. 

Let’s face it:

It’s just not authentic to force anything. 

Many New Age teachers take control of their students’ minds and money by telling them they simply aren’t positive enough.

The result is endless gaslighting and the creation of this false binary between “light” and “dark” emotions… 

Now we all have been around a place or person where we felt heavy, even horrible emotions or energy from them. 

Clearly there’s something to the idea of “bad” energy in some way…

But our internal journey is much more complex than just negative vs. positive!

Trying to force yourself to feel better or be “more positive” is a form of self-sabotage, because it’s a form of self-negation. 

You can’t succeed if you don’t choose to own and embrace who you are in all the messy details and contradictions! 

9) Focusing too much on what you don’t want

The flip side of toxic positivity and forcing a smile on your face is focusing too much on what you don’t want. 

It’s crucial to face problems and be honest about obstacles in your way in life. 

Otherwise you’re not ready when they hit you. 

But there’s a big difference between being ready and being obsessed. 

Focusing only on what you want or only on what you don’t want are two sides of the same coin.

They leave you unbalanced and unrealistically optimistic or pessimistic! 

Remember the importance of being aware and avoiding believing too much in black and white thinking…

10) Fearing success and transformation 

Trying to stop change is like standing in front of a storm and shouting at it to stop:

It doesn’t work. 

But with the tools and talents that are in your control it’s possible to build a meaningful life and leave your mark on the world. 

The trouble is that many of us have a subliminal fear of success: 

I know it sounds crazy, but imagine if all your dreams came true or you became a person who had truly superceded all the things holding you back and wasting your time?

Your life would certainly look a lot different. You’d have to embrace the unknown, the new you. 

That’s why some of us choose to play it small… 

“Typically, increased success brings about a number of changes, like the ones listed above, and more, such as, where you live, to the people you spend time with. This can come with a sense of loss or fear of the unknown,” notes Hilary Lebow

Here’s the thing about being happy…

Being happy is an ongoing process and journey. 

It’s not a prize at the finish line or something where you level up and your worries suddenly go away. 

Life will always have painful experiences and disappointments. 

But as you start becoming aware and avoiding the behaviors above, you’ll notice that a lot of the unnecessary drama and suffering in your life fades away. 

You’ll find yourself more able to enjoy the small things and pursue your goals and give back and relate to those around you from a place of strength and wellbeing. 

If you adopt these 9 habits, you’ll beat your imposter syndrome

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