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Self-sabotage: causes, characteristics and types

Self-sabotage: causes, characteristics and types

May 27, 2024

Juan has been with a girl that he likes a lot, however moments before the appointment is not very well and the annul. María has started a new project that can mean a great change and advancement in her life, but she never has time to finish it.

On numerous occasions people are involved in this type of dynamics. In certain cases the circumstances do not really favor you; However, in most cases the main obstacle is the person himself, which for fear of future changes falls prey to self-sabotage . Let's see what this phenomenon consists of.

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What is self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage and all those behaviors that are related to it, are unconscious acts that appear at times that can be a great change in the lives of people, whatever the type. These behaviors tend to hinder the achievement of goals or achievements through unconscious self-manipulations.


The goal of self-sabotage is keep the person inside their comfort zone , within which everything is easy or, at least, foreseeable. It is also a type of unconscious defense mechanism through which the person tries to avoid possible future suffering, situations of stress or unknown situations.

  • Related article: "Thoughts that sabotage us: this is how our mind acts"

Its causes

There are a lot of possible causes of self-sabotage . Taking into account these causes, it will be easier for the person to avoid them and thus more easily achieve what is proposed. These causes can be:


  • To have problems to prioritize the objectives .
  • Lack of self-control
  • Lack of motivation or high pressures during childhood.
  • Not really knowing what it is you want to achieve.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Limiting beliefs that the person does not deserve their own success.
  • Objectives imposed by third parties.
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of change and leave the comfort zone.
  • Internal conflicts.
  • Fear of not living up to the expectations of others.

All these signs, beliefs and traces that inhabit the mind of the person appear unexpectedly, acquiring control over the person and their behaviors and interfering in the projects and possibilities of evolution of this .


Self-sabotage is a manifestation of all those aspects that the person can not accept from herself, all those beliefs based on fears and that, over time, by force of not being confronted, have gained weight and power within her.

Therefore, these obsessive thoughts and harmful behaviors are only a symptom that there is something deep in the thought that should be examined . Although in many occasions the rummaging in these thoughts is not pleasant, this evaluation of oneself can be an opportunity to move forward and to learn to face any future situation that may arise.

Characteristics of self-sabotage

There are a series of defining characteristics of self-sabotage, which favor that this appears before certain situations but not before others. That is, a person who unconsciously self-sabotages when facing a certain aspect or circumstance of his life does not have to do it in all the others.

These self-sabotaging behaviors appear above all in situations that involve a great responsibility or when the person must make an important decision which will involve some kind of change in their life.

The symptoms or manifestations experienced by a person who is subject to self-sabotage include:

  • Intense fear
  • Insecurity .
  • Sensation of lack of control.
  • I suspect myself or lack of self-confidence .

However, it is perfectly normal for the person to perceive all these sensations when he is about to undergo some kind of change in his life, something that everyone experiences to a greater or lesser degree.

The main difference between people who self-sabotage and those who do not, is that those who do they let themselves be carried away by fear and by their beliefs that they will not get it , while the others are able to leave behind these fears and to overcome all the thoughts that generate insecurity.

The most important thing when facing any type of event or transformation is not to avoid or avoid this fear, but be aware of it and act accordingly , without letting it invade our mind.

When the person becomes aware of both their fears and their own beliefs, in many cases irrational, it is much easier to choose the most appropriate decisions and avoid carrying out sabotaging actions that stop or obstruct their aspirations.

Types of self-sabotage

There are four kinds of self-sabotage, which they are classified according to the type of behavior that the person carries out .

1. Do not finish things

In these cases the person initiates a great number of challenges or projects which ends up leaving half or, even, abandoning. Usually, the person tends to dedicate numerous hours of work and effort, and then give up when he is about to get it.

The explanation found for this phenomenon is that if the person does not finish this or any other project, you will never have to face the possibility of failing or not knowing how to live up to the subsequent demands that this success will bring.

However, what really happens is that it will never be aware of its potential, and at the same time will be perceived as a mediocre person without skills.

2. Procrastination

Procrastination is said to be the art of postponing things. It consists in the habit of postponing or delay those activities that the person must necessarily attend, replacing them with others that are less significant or simpler and more attractive.

This habit is one of the most common in the population, and the reasons for carrying it out are the most varied. Some of these reasons may be that the person does not really like the task to be carried out or, and this is the most widespread reason within the scope of personal and professional projects, that the person experiences a fear of the final result .

In this way, if the person is delaying the completion of the task and does not invest all the necessary efforts and resources will have a justification if this does not turn out as she expected. In other words, if the person spends all his time and effort to achieve something and still does not achieve it, it will show his supposed incompetence, therefore if he does not try this will serve as an excuse for failure.

  • Related article: "Procrastination or the syndrome of" I'll do it tomorrow ": what it is and how to prevent it"

3. Perfectionism

Perfectionism or the ideal excuse to never end. Under the shield of perfectionism the person finds the perfect excuse not to advance , without it seems that he really does not know if he wants to get what he is working for.

There are two possibilities within the excuse of perfectionism. Or that the person thinks that since he can not do something perfectly, directly he does not do it, or that through constant revisions and changes avoid finishing the project .

  • Related article: "//yestherapyhelps.com/personalidad/personalidad-perfeccionista-desventajas"

4. Excuses

In addition to all the above, the person can get to find a large number of excuses that justify not face any change or possible risk . These excuses can be from lack of time, financial resources, age, etc.


Masochistic Personality Disorder - self-defeating, self-sabotage, painful situations (May 2024).


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