Are You Sabotaging Your Own Happiness and Success?

We've all seen bright, intelligent, talented people who flounder in life. While they have great potential, it seems they do everything in their power to thwart their own success. Overcoming self-defeating behaviors is difficult, but it's the only way to break the cycle of failure and accomplish your goals.

Old Habits Die Hard

Most self-defeating behaviors are learned very early in life and become ingrained habits. The actions you take are so automatic that you may not even realize what you are doing. Once you realize it, you may feel angry and frustrated at yourself, yet not have a clue what to do to change it.

Turn Off the Internal Voices

To change your learned behaviors, you have to teach yourself a new behavior. This doesn't happen overnight, and you may get discouraged and think it's not working, but diligence is key to becoming the new you. First, you have to turn off the voices in your head that say you are not in control of your own actions. Once that is accomplished, you can teach yourself to act in ways that enable you to achieve success. Using affirmations and positive self-talk is one way to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones that put you back in control of your life.

Know Your Triggers

Self-defeating behaviors can be involuntary reactions to a set of circumstances. Every time you self-sabotage, stop and think of what you were reacting to. Write down your self-defeating habits in a diary so you can understand what they are and where they are coming from. Learning what your triggers are can help you control them. For example, if you are dieting and tend to binge eat, figure out what triggers the binge eating. Ask yourself when you get the urge to binge if you are really hungry or maybe just lonely, angry or afraid. Only once you identify the emotion connected to the desire to eat can you work on correcting the problem. If you are lonely, instead of eating, call a friend and make plans to do something together. If you are angry, work on ways to resolve the situation that caused the anger.  

Just Start

Many times, the hardest part of accomplishing a goal is getting started. Procrastination is a self-defeating behavior that is often rooted in fear. Negative "what ifs" in your head often stop you before you give yourself a chance. What if you fail? What if you make yourself look foolish? What if nobody even notices your accomplishment? Unfortunately, you can't control those outcomes unless you begin. First ask yourself realistically what the worst thing is that can happen if you try. Most times you'll find that it isn't the horrible scenarios you have conjured up in your head. Take baby steps if you must, such as walking around the block instead of running a mile or writing one page of that dreamed-of novel each day. Tiny successes can spur you on to greater achievements.

Self-defeating behaviors are often ingrained in your psyche from an early age. They become automatic actions that steal your control over your life. If you have a problem with self-sabotage that is keeping you from achieving true happiness, professional counseling or a psychiatry specialist can help you recognize and change your thought patterns and your life.