Self-Sabotage: Is YOUR behaviour holding you back?

You might be run off your feet, or feeling stressed. We’ve all been there and at one time or another we’ve justified our choices to put off reaching goals by telling ourselves: “It can wait till tomorrow”, “I’ll start again next week” or the good old “Just one more won’t hurt”.

But when these statements become your mantra and you feel like something is holding you back, maybe it’s time to shift the focus inward and put a stop to the self-sabotaging monologue.

Self-sabotage prevents you from achieving success – and defeating dialogue serves as a safety mechanism to protect you from disappointment and keep you cosied up to your comfort zone.

What is self-sabotage?

Often caused by low self-esteem, self-sabotage manifests in the behaviours, thoughts and actions that prevent you from reaching your goals. Your inner saboteur works at a subconscious level, sneaking under the radar and creating roadblocks to your conscious desires. The kind of bargaining or reasoning that takes place is nothing more than mental prescriptions we take as fact. As Mish says, “Fortunately, none of these prescriptions are terminal – anyone can make the change and choose to get healthy.”

Also read: 10 Ways to De-stress Quickly

Put a stop to self-sabotage

The first step in overcoming self-sabotage and regaining your power is recognising the thoughts, phrases and statements preventing you from making a change to your wellbeing.

Here are five common self-sabotaging phrases that could be pushing your health and fitness goals against the ropes:

1. “I’m too stressed out! I don’t have the time to … ”

If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends or running through your days like a mouse on a wheel, now is not the time to reach for takeaway and ditch your fitness plan. Eating sugary and processed foods can wreak havoc with your nervous system, increasing your stress levels.

Staying committed to your nutrition and fitness plan will fuel your body, providing it with energy, and give you the edge on stress and fatigue.

QUICK TIP! Vending machines and corner store impulse buys are bad news. Preempt the munchies by packing quick and healthy snacks in your bag before you head out each day. Munching on a banana or a handful of almonds will leave you feeling satisfied and more in control of your food choices.

2. “It’s too hard! I just don’t have it in me to … ”

As Canadian ice hockey coach Wayne Gretzky so aptly put: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If you don’t back yourself by taking the first few steps towards making a change you won’t ever find out what you’re capable of.

3. “I’ve had a bad day, so I’m rewarding myself with … ”

Instead of rewarding yourself with food or behaviours that jeopardise your goals, replace them with things that will help you achieve them. The ‘reward’ of a sweet treat is fleeting. Treating yourself to a massage, a trip to the movies or a warm shower reinforces healthy new behaviors and is far more effective than encouraging the unhealthy behaviours that put you behind the eight ball to begin with.

QUICK TIP! Put a dollar in a jar every time you make a healthy choice. At two or four week intervals (or whenever you reach a goal or milestone), reward yourself with a special purchase.

4. “I can’t work up the motivation to … ”

One of Mish’s favourite sayings is “Just Frickin’ Do It!” Motivation doesn’t always show up when you need it most, and like any emotion it comes and goes. So if you’re waiting for motivation to turn up at your door and take you to the gym or cook you a healthy meal, you could be in for a long wait. Consistency, not motivation, is key.

Also read: How to Train Your Inner Voice

5. “I’ll do it tomorrow”

It may sound like a cliché but it’s true – tomorrow never comes. When you make a choice not to exercise, or you succumb to a craving, you’re hitting the snooze button on your goals. Acting on your commitment to change, by going for that walk around the block, you’re investing in your future by making the most of the present moment.

QUICK TIP! Get accountable. If your own internal cheer squad goes AWOL, online forums are a great place to enlist support and keep you on track to achieving your goals. When you join the 12WBT you’ll have access to the Forums and thousands of people just like you, ready to cheer you on.

It’s your mind that got your body where it is today – don’t let your inner-saboteur stand in your way. By joining the next round of the 12WBT you’ll be working on your mindset to clear these roadblocks and set you on the path to a life you deserve.

You may also like


  1. Struggling at the moment. Partner has been sick and surgery in the past three weeks. I know have a stress rash that drives me nuts, and I’m getting sick with the hot and colds and can’t stand the thought of food.
    I dropped off for a few days but started to get back on track today. I drink about 1600ml of green tea a day and water as well.

    1. Hi Tracey – Sorry to hear about your partner – we imagine it’s very stressful indeed! It sounds like you’re not 100% either. Be kind to yourself and listen to your body. If you need rest, rest. If you need sleep, sleep. As often as possible, aim to eat nutritious foods through the day. Eating good food and eating regularly will help with your recovery and give you the energy you need to take care of yourself and your partner.

      Just a quick note – be mindful of out much green tea you’re drinking. It’s fine if you’re using a few teabags to make up the 1.6L but if you’re using sachets that contain other additives/chemicals or that are super concentrated, you might be doing yourself more harm than good. Hang in there, Tracey!

      All the best,
      12WBT Support Crew

  2. I’ve tried a habit swap and this week I’ve started to have a herbal tea when I get the late afternoon or late night munchies. If nothing else, it makes me feel a little sophisticated. Anything that boosts the confidence I need to stay with the programme is a positive.

  3. Mish what about the big energy drop about 5pm. When that glass of wine seems to give you an energy boost. I know wine is full of sugar. What else can we do to resist. H

    1. Hi Helen,

      A glass of wine in the evening is more of a habit than anything else. A glass of water (sparkling or tap), an apple, a quick walk outside in the sun or a quick workout around that time will probably have the same affect, giving you the energy boost you need! We suggest that our members have 2 small snacks per day – one mid morning and one mid afternoon… perhaps you can save this mid afternoon snack for the 5pm slump? Give it a try and free yourself from the 5pm wine!

      12WBT Support Crew

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Mindset