“I’m the problem, it’s me”: 10 signs you’re sabotaging your success and happiness in life

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Self-sabotage is a serious problem that many of us struggle with. 

Do you?

I didn’t realize that I was the problem until life forced me. 

I was undercutting my own success until years of frustration and confusion wore me down and I eventually stopped pointing the finger and started looking in the mirror instead.

I became obsessed with self-development and becoming more self-aware.

The result is that I realized my mindset and many of my habits and actions were actually undermining my own happiness and success in life. 

By cutting these out I was able to surge ahead in every area of my life. 

Here are the top signs that you’re also self-sabotaging (often without being aware of it). 

1) You blame yourself for what’s out of your control

This is one of the most common forms of self-sabotage and often shows up in those who were raised with a lot of shame or criticism. 

When something goes wrong, the first thing you do is get upset at yourself. 

Why didn’t I do more? Why didn’t I do less? If I was more likable maybe I would have kept the job! If I tried harder maybe my boyfriend wouldn’t have left!

No matter what, you blame yourself. 

It’s necessary to look in the mirror and realize that the problem isn’t always you, but often the way you look at yourself and blame yourself so much to start with. 

2) You don’t take blame for what is in your control

The flipside of blaming yourself too much is when there are parts of your life that are in your control where you dodge accountability

This is also a form of self-sabotage because it just leads to disempowering cycles continuing to repeat. 

For example: 

You may blame the tough job market for not trying harder to find work…

Or you may excuse not following a diet on the fact that you’ve been feeling down and it’s all a bit much right now…

Maybe so, but these things are in your control, and not taking accountability for them just leads to them getting worse. 

3) You believe the depressing voice of your inner critic

This ties into point one and is very sad to see.

I’ll be honest:

Many of us struggle to break free from our inner critic who tells us we’re not good enough, we’re ugly, we’re weird, we don’t belong…

Even when life goes well, there’s one bump in the road and suddenly the depressing inner monologue is kicking up a fuss once again. 

This often comes from a traumatic past as well. 

But you don’t have to believe it. Especially don’t believe it when that voice tells you that you’re alone and uniquely messed up. 

You aren’t, and many more people understand what you’re going through than you might imagine. 

4) You downplay and deny your own desires and needs 

What you want and need is not a side note or afterthought. 

You deserve to have your voice heard and it’s necessary to get used to directly voicing your needs and goals. 

Being overly self-effacing in a way that leads to “nice guy” syndrome or being seen as a “good girl” is very self-destructive. 

Before you know it, you feel like you’re playing a role in a silent film in which you’re barely even there. 

You are here! You matter! Make your voice heard! 

5) You avoid taking a stand or leadership and adopt a passive stance

Passivity is another very common form of self-sabotage. 

When you sit back and wait for the world to change, you set yourself up for disappointment and ennui. 

Not everyone is born to be a leader, and you may feel more called to an introverted, introspective role in life. 

But there are times when it is indeed up to you to seize the reins and take control of your life and certain situations. 

6) You try to change yourself to get approval and belonging

There are aspects of ourselves that we could all do to change and improve. 

But none of those changes and improvements are meaningful without a shift to a core conviction that we are worthy of love and valuable. 

When you change who you are, what you act like and what you believe to gain approval or get belonging, it’s like building a home on shifting sands. 

You’re undercutting yourself and feeding into a cycle of disempowerment. 

7) You underestimate your own potential and settle for a job you don’t want

Career self-sabotage is incredibly common but still awfully sad to see. 

When you doubt your own value or have inner beliefs about work and money that are disempowering, you’re much more likely to accept and keep a crappy job. 

You know the kind I mean:

The pay is small, you don’t like your colleagues and your superiors are jerks. 

So what should you do?

Keep that job while actively and intensely seeking new work. You deserve better and you will find it if you look hard (and long) enough.

8) You stay with romantic partners who treat you disrespectfully

A lot of the most damaging forms of self-sabotage happen in love and relationships. 

I wish I could say my experiences have been the exception to that rule, but they haven’t. 

I always seem to like the wrong people.

As Certified Clinical Trauma and Relationship Specialist Annie Tanasugarn explains

“When a pattern of self-sabotage centers around a person’s relationships, a hard truth to accept is that a person will gravitate to what they believe they deserve.”

Learning that you deserve more than disappointing experiences in love and coming to value yourself more is a key part of undoing romantic self-sabotage. 

You deserve better! And you will find it! (Or it will find you).

Also: you aren’t searching to win a prize or win somebody’s attention and affection, you are the prize.

9) You take rejection and disappointment personally

Rejection can be very personal, especially when a partner or friend tells you that aspects of yourself are why they’re cutting ties with you. 

The same goes with disappointments where you feel like you have failed because of a weakness or shortcoming in your personality or skill set. 

But the truth about highly happy and successful people is this:

  • They know that their own shortcomings and failures are nothing to be ashamed of and are just part of the path to success, and;
  • They know that rejection from somebody else is almost always more about the other person than them, and;
  • They know that their reaction to the rejection is what’s in their control and what they should be focused on in order not to let it cripple their self-esteem.

You may feel terrible about a setback or rejection and even see areas where you want to improve as a result, and that’s normal. But believing it proves you are lower value or not good enough is self-sabotage! 

10) You make decisions on the spur of the moment, or not at all

This is something I still struggle with a lot and am trying to improve. 

I have a lot of trouble with decisions, partly because the idea of how much is unknown in the future causes me a lot of anxiety. 

So I do one of two things:

I make a decision on the spur of the moment and impulsively, or I resist making any decision at all. 

Both are forms of self-sabotage and not believing enough in yourself and your mission, essentially. 

The truth is that decisions should at least be thought about somewhat carefully beforehand and the pros and cons weighed. 

As for avoiding a decision? That’s a decision in and of itself (and one of the worst ones you can make in my view). 

“I’m the problem, it’s me”

When you self-sabotage, you weaken yourself in every area of your life, allowing past regrets and addictions to swim up out of the darkness and keep overtaking you.

As Taylor Swift sings in her new song “Anti-Hero”:

“I have this thing where I get older, but just never wiser 

Midnights become my afternoons 

When my depression works the graveyard shift, 

All of the people I’ve ghosted stand there in the room

I should not be left to my own devices 

They come with prices and vices 

I end up in crisis…”

But take heart, Taylor, and all other folks who are struggling. Do not despair: 

Realizing that you’re self-sabotaging is a key step in switching to an empowered and clarified version of yourself. 

The irony with realizing that you’re the problem is that it’s not actually you that’s the problem, it’s the behavior, habits and debilitating beliefs that have crept into you. 

And you have the power to change those habits, beliefs and mindsets that are keeping you trapped. 

There’s no better time to start than now. 

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