As an entrepreneur, you know how the confidence you had at the time is what you got started on the journey of running your own business.  You had the ‘can do’ attitude and you made great progress in setting everything up. Then self-sabotage kicked in. Somehow you have started entertaining your own negative thoughts in your head, and beginning to talk yourself out of ‘going for it’.

Many entrepreneurs experience self-sabotage consciously or sub-consciously. Especially when experiencing failures or setback, it is harder to pick yourself up from behaviour that can have a negative impact on your business and personal life. Some never recover from it. Others rise above it.

I am going to share how to recognise it. Why we sabotage ourselves, and how to stop a self-sabotaging behaviour.

How to spot if you are sabotaging yourself.

1. When you are being a serial procrastinator – We all suffer from procrastination from time to time and occasionally put things off, but is your to-do list beginning to gather dust?

2. When you are spending more time checking other people’s post on social media than posting your own stuff. – So much time can be wasted browsing on social media and hours can pass in a blink of an eye when watching mindless videos. Meanwhile, you are not being productive.

3. When you start gathering reasons why you should not make that call or avoiding the phone altogether by going and making another cup of coffee – avoiding the tasks that can lead to bringing more business is damaging to the future of your business.

4. When you talk yourself out of taking a leap forward in business and in personal life. – Have you ever refused to record that video just because the bags under your eyes looked worse that day than normally?  Or perhaps, you suddenly had a ‘did not feel right’ moment when a great opportunity has presented itself, so you didn’t take it.

5. When you start reminiscing about how wonderful it was to be employed and to receive a salary at the end of each month instead of having an uncertainty of revenue clouding over your head. When you start thinking that going back to a paid job is going to be easier than being successful in our business, you need to take stock.

Why do we self-sabotage?

You can spot that you may be sabotaging yourself when you see yourself backing off from moving yourself forward. Despite the enthusiasm and the confidence you possessed at the beginning of the birth of your enterprise, you have begun to doubt your own ability and skills to see your business through to success.

Why is this so when the person who started the business is still the same person who is trying to succeed?

This is so in some circumstances, to an extent that it damages the business so much that the business must fold by the direct consequence of the action or lack of action the business owner is responsible for.

I have personally seen this not only at the start-up phase but equally when owners have been running a fairly successful business up till then. Some turn to drink and drugs and become reliant on them for them to feel confident enough to get through the tasks at hand, partly because success felt uncomfortable with them. Because they subconsciously believed they did not deserve it.

I have personally suffered self- sabotage as well. For example, in times when my business was just getting some recognition, I felt so uncomfortable, I used the lack of childcare service or something else as my excuse to close my business. It was nothing to do with lack of success. It was more to do with a lack of self-belief.

Without going into detailed discussions about how our psyche was influenced in our childhood or during adolescence by our environments, I can safely say most of the time self-sabotaging behaviour is a lot to do with the past experiences. What we grew up believing what we can achieve and not achieve can still affect our behaviours as an adult.

We grow up believing certain things about ourselves. It could be something like, ‘I am good with numbers but I am terrible at public speaking’. Sometimes it could be that ‘I am not as good as my sister/my brother/my friends’ that can translate in later life as ‘I’m not as successful as my sister/brother/friends etc’.

As an adult we know, that sort of limiting belief is complete b.s. but deep inside us, there might still be a little person who firmly believes this to be true. That little person inside you wants to ensure that you stay safe by ensuring you stay where you previously believed you belonged, i.e. the position that is below your peers and your desired outcome.

That is when you start your negative talk, procrastinate, do the opposite things to what you should be doing to move your business and your life towards your goals and successes.

How to stop self- sabotaging behaviour

Looking back at my own experiences, I found that family members who all came from the position of love and support, actually did not help at all.

If I was feeling not confident about taking a leap, they would comfort me and say, ‘well, never mind, you don’t have to do it today, do you?’. The effect was that the negative belief I had about myself such as ‘I’m not good enough’ was confirmed again.

Over the years, I have managed to rise above my self-sabotaging behaviours and I still use this method whenever I experience setbacks.

1) Positive Self Talk – some people use positive affirmations, which may work better for you. You may want to list the positive statement about yourself and paste it on the wall or mirror where you will see it every day as a reminder. The key is to write sentences in a present tense, such as ‘I am confident enough to captivate my audience’, ‘I can do….’. etc.

2) Positive Visualisation – slightly similar to meditation but use the time of reflection to visualise yourself doing the things your little negative voice has stopped you doing in the past. Visualise yourself feeling totally at ease with it and reaching the positive outcome you desire. You will be channelling the energy force so this can be very powerful. A word of warning. Only to be used in line with the moral code and not to be used to take advantage of others or hurt them.

3) Positive Anchoring – when you have experienced success or achievement, go beyond simply celebrating the event. You anchor the feeling, the sensation, the aroma, your physical stance, (even what you are wearing) and the vibration clearly so that your whole body and emotion memorises this experience. Take note of this and recreate by repeating when you need the boost or feel motivated.

4) Accountability Partner/Coach – Find someone who truly believes in your ability and wants you to succeed. Get that person to be your accountability partner so that he or she can keep you on track and kicks your butt when necessary. You want someone whom you can trust to have your best interest at heart while being able to spot and stop you from sabotaging yourself. If you don’t know anyone, get a professional life coach.

5) Personal Development – This can come in various forms from listening to audiobooks, podcast to attending motivational seminars and events. Continue to do this on a regular basis. Remind yourself that even the most successful people are human beings and some started from very humble beginnings where they had no confidence or pride.

6) Face Your Fear – Sometimes fear goes hand in hand with self-sabotaging behaviour. You may be sabotaging yourself because you are afraid of failing, afraid of making yourself look a fool or many other reasons. But the only way to overcome fear is to go through it. If you are afraid of picking up the phone to call that prospects, the only way to overcome that fear is simply by picking up the phone and doing exactly what you are afraid of doing.

I hope you have found this article useful.

If you have your own tips on overcoming self-sabotage or would like to share your own experience, please let me know by commenting below.