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Home » Blog » Self Sabotaging Behaviours in Leaders: Check Out For These Common Self Destructive Habits

Abraham Lincoln, Fred Rogers, Michelangelo, John F. Kennedy, and George Washington all experienced some aspect of Self Sabotage before they made history.

Self Sabotage is more prevalent than we realize. (Leadem, 2017).

Self Sabotage meaning, also known as self-defeating behaviour or standing in one’s own way, can interfere with the best-laid plans and objectives. Why do we do it? There are numerous reasons why, rather than aiming for the moon, we end up aiming for our foot.

Self Sabotage is any action that undermines your goals. Need to meet a deadline for a project? But after rearranging the living room furniture.

In this blog we are going to discuss, what is Self Sabotage, why leaders Self Sabotage, signs of Self Sabotage behaviour, and how it undermines. In the end we have also mentioned the ways to get out of your Self Sabotage patterns. 

What Is Self Sabotage Meaning?

The act of sabotaging anything involves undermining or ruining it in some way, typically in a hidden manner. Because it usually implies direct and deliberate involvement on the part of the saboteur – which is why the word is most commonly used in relation to spying, or in business situations where an insider is causing the damage – the context in which the word is most commonly used in is business situations where an insider is causing the damage.

When you engage in negative activity with the intention of bringing it upon yourself, we call this “Self Sabotage.” At first, you might not even be aware that you are engaging in self sabotage behaviour. On the other hand, destructive self sabotage behaviours might be interpreted as a sort of psychological self-harm when they persistently sabotage an individual’s efforts.

At Crosswires: Self Sabotage and Self-Esteem

A lack of self-esteem is one of the primary reasons people engage in self-sabotage behaviour. The reasons for this can vary greatly, but the results are always the same: thoughts of worthlessness or inadequacy, the conviction that you do not deserve success, and even self-hatred.

You can be concerned that if you are unsuccessful, your family will have a negative opinion of you, or if you are successful, your coworkers would be envious of you. These ingrained beliefs and sentiments produce negative self-talk, which in turn fuels your anxieties and the behaviours that you engage in that are self-destructive.

Some people engage in Self Sabotage behaviour because it gives them the illusion that they are in command of the circumstances surrounding them. They might feel better about themselves in the short term if they sabotage a situation and then pull themselves out of it by the skin of their teeth. It might even give you a little rush of excitement. On the other hand, these so-called benefits end up being harmful over the course of time.

How Self Sabotage Patterns Harms A Person

Self Sabotage sets you up to fail in a number of ways.

First and foremost, it encourages you to engage in actions that reduce your chances of success. As a result, you might find that you’re always falling short of the objectives you’ve set.

Your reputation may also be harmed as a result. If you don’t follow through on your promises, you run the danger of being perceived by your supervisor and coworkers as untrustworthy, uncommitted, lethargic, or lacking in motivation.

If you’re prone to Self Sabotage patterns, you may also have difficulties controlling your emotions and becoming passive-aggressive. Friendships, familial ties, and professional partnerships suffer as a result of these tendencies.

Failures and disappointments exacerbate feelings of shame and frustration. Eventually, this might lead to feelings of shame and low self-esteem.

There are many signs of self sabotage behaviour, but some of the most common and well-known are procrastination, substance abuse, emotional eating, and interpersonal strife. They are especially harmful because they are so subtle—you may not realise the extra cookie you’re eating or the extra drink you want to buy before last call—and, at the time, they may even seem to settle you down to relax you. In the end, these activities can lead to a deep pit of self-doubt that is difficult to get out of.

Why Do People Self Sabotage?

Fear typically motivates self sabotage behaviour, which can manifest as unhealthy perfectionism or chronic procrastination. This causes anxiety and prompts individuals to consider hypotheticals and worst-case situations. People may avoid emotional discomfort, such as rejection and failure, out of distorted views about themselves, others, or the world.

A severe inner critic can also lead to unproductive behaviour or the avoidance of beneficial activity. Negativity bias contributes to the formation of distorted beliefs. Our brain diligently searches for potential problems to protect us from any form of danger. As a result, we frequently watch for danger, cling to old problems, and conjure up new ones as a means of preventing bodily or mental harm.

This perception of danger in the world might be caused by childhood (or more recent) trauma, unstable family relationships, or dysfunctional attachments. These unpleasant experiences can lead to a fear of abandonment and rejection, as well as a lessened sense of safety and security, all of which contribute to self sabotage behaviour.

Common Signs of Self Sabotage Patterns in A Leader

Are you in charge and have you been for a long time? Even so, have you noticed any changes in your leadership skills or in how you affect the people on your team who work under you? There’s nothing to worry about because things always change and the world is always going through new things. But keep in mind that positive change is great and that negative change should be carefully watched and analysed to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

Learning is a process that never ends, and it shouldn’t. The world is a big classroom, and there are a lot of things to learn. No one can learn everything at once and then have nothing left to learn. Even if you are the leader of a group or community, there are many things you can learn to improve your skills and abilities. 

The most important thing is to know your habits and how they affect your ability to lead and your duties as a leader. If you don’t know what went wrong with your leadership skills in the first place, you won’t be able to fix it. Here are some self sabotage patterns or actions that stop you from being a good leader.

  • Depending On How Other People Define Success

Success is a relative term, and each person has their own idea of what it means. It’s really important to know what success means to you. You can’t let someone else’s idea of what success means limit you. If you only look at success through the eyes of someone else, you will never be able to feel the satisfaction that comes with being successful. Even if you reach the level of success that someone else thinks is a success, you won’t feel the happiness and contentment that come with success. If you aren’t happy with the work, it doesn’t matter how well your team does it. You will never reach the level of perfection you want.

  • Not Putting Much Thought Into Your Goals

It is very important for a leader to take his goals seriously and work hard for them every day. You can’t be a real leader if you don’t have a clear set of goals you want to reach. It means that you can’t find your way and have nowhere to go. Set goals for yourself and work hard and with all your heart to reach them. You need to be a good role model for the people who look up to you. You can show them why hard work is important by taking your goals seriously.

  • Putting Off Work And Getting Bored

The most important people don’t have time to waste or get bored. If you think you spend too much time on social media for no reason, you should change this habit because it is not good for your ability to lead. True leaders are always eager to learn and interested in the world around them. They’re always trying to learn something new instead of putting things off or getting bored, and they’re completely committed to what they love.

  • Neglecting Your Own Needs

To become a real leader, you need to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of your health, it won’t do you any good and will make you too weak to do daily tasks well. Mental peace and happiness are part of health, as well as physical fitness. Make sure you have a healthy diet that gives your body all the nutrients it needs. Also, try to relax your mind with healthy stress-relieving activities. This will help you become a better leader by making you more creative and tolerant.

  • Disregarding Boundaries

One of the most neglected signs of self sabotage is disrespecting boundaries of your own and other. It’s critical that you accept the boundaries people sets for themselves. You ought to be able to tell an imposition from a reasonable expectation. It is clear that you are not a good leader and that your subordinates will despise you if you are the kind of boss that forces commands on people. Learn to recognise and respect your own boundaries so that you can stay on course, as well as the boundaries of others so that you can establish a cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the team.

  • Possessing The Idea Of Being Able To Do Anything

Everyone is great at something, but everyone makes mistakes, therefore it’s normal. Leaders who mistakenly believe that they can do anything and everything just because of their position seriously jeopardise both their own mental health and their relationships with their subordinates. A strong leader surrounds himself with individuals who can cover for his flaws while he excels at his strengths. It is acceptable to be bad at something.

  • Constantly Seeking External Validation

You must be able to validate and satisfy yourself on your own. Your satisfaction and ability to perform successfully will entirely depend on external variables if you are continually seeking external affirmation and praise. Your ability to think clearly and work professionally will be destroyed. Therefore, instead of seeking approval from others, always be your biggest admirer and supporter. Without a doubt, successful people are more interested in doing their own thing than in promoting themselves.

  • Choosing To Remain Attached to the Past

The worst thing a person can do is hang on to the past. Throughout their life, successful people make a lot of tough and uncertain decisions, and not all of them are the right ones. But it’s crucial to move past them by correcting your errors in the future and learning from them. The smart thing to do is to learn from your failures and make it better for future practises rather than clinging to one poor decision and then letting that affect your entire performance.

  • Waiting Rather Than Taking Action

Waiting for the circumstances to change in your favour rather than acting to make it feasible is the worst thing you can do for your success. Opportunities are never put on a plate for successful people; instead, they go and seize them. The best course of action is to put in the effort necessary to make the circumstance suitable for you if it doesn’t appear to be. Waiting around for the ideal moment is unproductive and not the correct leadership behaviour.

  • Focusing On Work At The Expense Of Family Neglect

Last but not least, great leaders prioritise their loved ones regardless of the amount of work and responsibilities they have. This is a majorly seen self sabotage pattern. They are fully aware that interpersonal relationships come before worldly accomplishment. If a person doesn’t put their loved ones first, no amount of professional accomplishment or career advancement will make him happy. You must be able to clearly distinguish between your personal and professional time. Working extra hours occasionally is not harmful because effort and hard work are the two key ingredients for success, but it shouldn’t become a habit that causes you to abandon your loved ones entirely.

(If you are battling stress of being a leader, here is a great ready for you: 8 Effective Ways for Leaders to Release Stress – xMonks)

10 Self-Destructive Habits of Leaders

Being more responsible is a leadership challenge. To listen to what people say. To maintain an open mind and curiosity and to embrace change, including those you may not be able to implement yourself.

Consider a terrible habit or a task that you perform automatically at work that doesn’t work. You are aware of what it is. Most leaders are aware of what they need to change.

Here are the ten self-destructive behaviors we see most frequently used at work:

“I’ll do it myself”: The internal dialogue might sound something like, “It’s all up to me,” or “I’m the only one who really cares about doing this the right way.”

Self-Righteousness: When you are upset you look for someone or something to blame, condemn or criticize.

Self Sabotage: This is about being hard on yourself and obsessing over your failings. Rather than share the blame for something that went wrong – you assume it is 100% your fault.

Acting Politically: This is about censoring your behavior and only presenting what’s socially acceptable or “politically correct.”

Cynicism: You can always see how something or someone might go wrong. You can point out the flaws and errors in every scenario.

Sarcasm: You use cutting remarks to lighten a situation or put someone in their place. People are likely to think you’re funny, but the laughter is always at the expense of another.

Intellectualization: You have an argument for everything and you challenge most people and ideas.

Domination: You use your position and authority to demand that people do what you tell them to do. You might even become a bully or shout or curse when you’re upset.

Coalition-Building: You find others who agree with how “right” you are. You may gossip or share with others about how upset you are.

Withdrawal: You disengage when you’re upset—disappearing behind the screen when conflict is happening or refusing to talk directly to the people you are upset with.

(Source: Forbes: Ten Behaviors Sabotaging Your Leadership Skills)

How To Break Self-Sabotaging Patterns

The good news is that Self Sabotage is something you can defeat and, with time and effort, replace with confidence. To overcome your inner saboteur, adhere to these steps:

  1. Recognize your self-destructive tendencies

You must first become aware of your own self-sabotaging habits in order to stop them.

Consider the objectives you’ve had for a while but never fulfilled. Are there any areas in particular where you’re delaying making a choice? Do you struggle with motivation issues, even for vital things?

Think about a task that you consistently fail at without knowing why. Is there something you constantly do—or don’t do—that irritates other people, especially your boss? Is there a project or activity that nags at you and makes you unhappy because you know you could complete it or complete it more skillfully?

It could hurt to ask yourself these kinds of questions, but it’s necessary. Pay attention to challenging circumstances so you can comprehend them better.

  1. Recognize the Emotions That Causes Sabotaging Behaviour 

For instance, you might have purposefully abandoned a report because you were outraged and irate that your supervisor had wronged you. The incident sparked the feeling, which then produced a self-defeating response.

Your manager might have been considering something else at the time, and they would be amazed and sad to learn that they upset you. But your emotional reaction doesn’t take it into consideration.

Always work to control your emotions to avoid making decisions that will harm others or have unjust effects on them. Before your anxiety or anger spirals out of control, be aware of the warning symptoms.

  1. Evaluate the Thoughts or Beliefs Behind the Emotion

It’s likely that your irrational beliefs contributed to the feeling that resulted in your unpleasant behaviour. Take a look at the data to support those ideas; in the example given above, your employer wasn’t being dismissive because they don’t like you; rather, they just had a lot on their mind.

Take note of your self-talk when you indulge in self-destructive conduct. Whatever absurd or irrational your negative self-talk may appear, write it all down.

When you are actively engaging in the behaviour is the best moment to accomplish this. Keep an eye on your “flow of thought” and record it. In our hypothetical situation, you might find yourself thinking, “I’m such a failure, my boss has probably had enough of me!”

Asking yourself what deeper beliefs are at the root of your self-defeating thoughts will help you identify your negative self-talk. Do these views make sense? Do they draw from any unambiguous facts?

  1. Revise your actions, feelings, and thoughts

You can start to challenge self-destructive feelings, behaviours, and thoughts as you become more conscious of them. And the other two of these three aspects will alter more readily if you can modify one of them.

Positive affirmations that are supported by reasoning can counter negative thinking. Make the opposite of your presumptions to obtain some much-needed perspective.

After that, relate your new, optimistic self-talk to your potential and goals. You can generate the mental, emotional, and physical states necessary to do everything you set your mind to when your abilities, beliefs, and habits are in harmony.

Opening Up To A Leadership Coach For Self Sabotage Beliefs

Working with a leadership coaching professional can be beneficial if you find yourself mired in a cycle of self-defeating thoughts and actions. You can identify the fundamental assumptions that underlie Self Sabotage and gain the tools and techniques to overcome them with the help of a leadership coach. 

In order to succeed, a lot of things must be sacrificed and it does not happen overnight. However, those who are genuinely passionate about their life’s goals and ambitions don’t hesitate to put in the necessary effort to realise their dreams. 

In order to keep their position, successful people must adopt a good professional attitude toward their work and life in general. The few major behaviours and habits that undermine leadership traits and achievement have been covered above. To preserve your hard-won position of authority, you must watch out for the aforementioned personality traits. There is nothing in the world that might prevent you from achieving the heights of success if you take time to rest and continue working hard and sincerely.

Self Sabotage is not a weakness; rather, it is a collection of actions, frequently motivated by fear-based false beliefs, that keep you from accomplishing your objectives in one or more areas. Be kind to yourself, and if you get stuck, ask for help from an expert who can enhance your leadership potential. 

The life you envision is within your reach.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes Self Sabotage?

Self Sabotage patterns are caused due to lack of self-esteem. Self Sabotage in a person leads to thoughts of worthlessness or inadequacy, the conviction that you do not deserve success, and even self-hatred.

What is Self Sabotage meaning?

Self Sabotage means to involve in act of sabotaging anything that includes undermining or ruining it in some way, typically in a hidden manner.

What Are The Signs of Self Sabotage Behaviour?

The signs of self sabotage behaviour are procrastination, break promises, dwell in mistakes, self-criticise, disrespecting boundaries.

How To Stop Self Sabotage Behaviour?

Self Sabotage behaviour can be overcome by recognising the reasons behind these emotions, being mindful of your reactions to stimuli and seeking help.

What Are Common Self Sabotage Patterns in Leaders?

The common self sabotage patterns in leaders are:-

  • Focusing On Work At The Expense Of Family Neglect
  • Waiting Rather Than Taking Action
  • Constantly Seeking External Validation
  • Disregarding Boundaries
  • Neglecting Your Own Needs