8 Patterns of Self-Sabotage

This post is inspired by the writings of Marcia Wieder of Dream University in her book Overcoming Failure in the Dream Movement Series.  She talks about these 8 patterns of sabotage:

Sabotage #1:  Negative self-talk and self-doubt are useless.

If you recall the three hurdles we talked about earlier in this series, lack of belief was number one, “I don’t believe I can do it.”   We identified three was to jump this hurdle: focus on your desires, focus on who you are being and take action.  If you are in action toward making your dream come true, there is little room left for self-doubt.

It is important to remember that our thoughts create our reality, so be aware of your thoughts, change them and you will change your reality.

Sabotage #2:  Putting your fears into your dream will kill the dream.

This is what Marcia recommends to transform this sabotage pattern:  “Any fears we have about our dreams are just part of the present reality.  Divide a piece of paper in half.  Label the top “My Dream” and the bottom “My Reality”. Honestly describe the dream and assess your reality about the dream. Include in the reality section, all of your fears about the dream. Now you can clearly see where you stand.  You can also decide (on a daily basis) if you are more committed to your dream or to your reality, which includes your fears.  Zig Ziglar, one of the world’s foremost motivational speakers, uses a wonderful acronym for the word FEAR: ‘False Evidence Appearing Real.’  Take a close look at how you are using your fear and at what’s real and what’s not.”


Sabotage #3:  Being vague about the dream will keep you confused.

We’ve talked about this in a previous post as well.  It is essential to have clarity about your dream.  Write it down, create a vision board, start telling people what your dream is and use their questions and comments as feedback to gain clarity.  Communicate it often.  Eliminate the qualifiers when you share your dream.  For example, don’t say “some day I’m going to be a successful business person.”  Do say, “I’m going to be a success business person.”  Do you see the difference?  One is more self-assured, the other leaves room for doubt.

Sabotage #4:  If the dream stays a dream, it will never become a reality.

You must be in action on making your dreams a reality because nothing happens without action.  If you have a really big dream, the first step is to ask yourself “how can I make this happen?”  Then break that down into projects or goals.  Set a date or time limit and start moving one step at a time toward completing that goal.

Sabotage #5:  Scheduling unrealistic deadlines will lead to disappointment.

Don’t schedule yourself into overwhelm.  I’ve been there and done that.  When I feel overwhelmed I usually want to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head; nothing gets done that way.  This is what the Get Stuff Done Tool was created for.  If don’t already have this tool, sign up in the box with the red arrows on the right hand side of this page and it will be sent to you.  We also discussed this in a previous post so you can review it there.

Sabotage #6:  Loss of perspective can send you into a tail spin.

Telling yourself that you will never make it, or how bad things are is a sure way to sabotage the dream.  This can even make the situation worse than it really is.  Or just as bad, we pump ourselves up pretending things are much better than they are.  Denial is a waste of your time.  Make a visual – create a chart or graph and show how much you’ve already accomplished, then look at how much there is left to do and break that down into smaller projects.  Remember, one step at a time leads to success.


Sabotage #7:  It’s so much easier to do it myself.

This usually comes either from ego or you are a control freak.  We’ve talked about having your dream team, or a success team.  They are on your team to help you when you need.  You just need to ask them.  Also, google whatever information you need and search for free training.  I learned so much of what I know and put into practice by watching free video trainings and attending free webinars and teleseminars.  If I had trouble putting into practice what I learned, I asked for help.

Sabotage #8:  If you kill yourself in the process, you won’t get to enjoy the dream.

Take care of yourself.  If make yourself crazy and overwhelmed, if you are stressed, you are wasting energy and putting yourself and your dream at risk.  Slow down, see what you need and provide that for yourself.  It’s okay to take a break or work less hours and take a bit longer to get things done.  After all, you want to be happy and healthy enough to enjoy your dream becoming a reality.

Which one or more of these patterns have you fallen into?


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Lynn Baillie - July 26, 2012

Great post Julia. From my own experience in business I see so many people who are affected by sabotage #4. It sounds so obvious but taking action is so critical to reaching your goals. Too often people wait for all sorts of reasons rather than getting started and learned/developing as they go. I know wrt social media stuff I’ve had to push myself recently just to get started rather than wait til I’ve got it all 100% the way I’d like it to be – so making progress but it’s a journey of success rather than a single destination 🙂
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    Julia - July 26, 2012

    Funny you should mention #4. There was a mildly heated discussion in another group earlier because one person said they didn’t believe hard work was necessary, that law of attraction says you can just sit back and think about what you want and it will come to you. I must say some folks jumped on that one rather quickly and the one word common to each post was ACTION. I’ve also had to force myself to take action before I was completely ready. I believe it’s better to just jump off the cliff and not wait until everything is perfect because you can wait for a long time.

    Thank you for leaving this comment.

Sherry Richert Belul - July 26, 2012

I so appreciate this article and the conversation happening in the comments! I used to think that if I wasn’t “feeling like it” that I shouldn’t take action because somehow the law of attraction would work in reverse. But I’m on a 30-day self-retreat regarding compassionate self-discipline and it means doing what I say I’m going to do, no matter how I feel. And wow, it has been so energizing to live my agreements to myself. I’m seeing that the payoff is just in the energy I create by being true to my word. If something comes as a result of my actions, well, that’s icing on the cake! Thanks, Julia, for these great reminders.

    Julia - July 26, 2012

    Thank you stopping by Sherry. As Marcia Wieder might tell you, you have to take action to demonstrate to the universe that you truly dedicated to your dream. I often joke these days that I feel like I’m just sitting at my desk and whatever I want comes to me. And while it is true that what I want is coming to me, now, the amount of time and energy that goes into being in action on what I want to come to me is enormous. This conversation has inspired the next blog post so thank you for leaving your comment.

Linda Ryan - July 26, 2012

Great post Julia! I have made significant progress with my goals by addressing #3. When I began to get REALLY clear about my goals is when things began to shift. For me, this took the form of writing about my goals as if they were happening~ making stuff up (MSU)! At first it is difficult, in that we feel silly or we tell ourselves we’re lying. But when we give it a go, it gets easier and easier and it does wonders to bring the dream closer and closer.
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    Julia - July 26, 2012

    Hi Linda. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. It took me a few minutes to used to that as well, however, I remember a teacher in my life used to say, “it’s just as easy to act as if. . .” So I don’t see it as making stuff up, rather it’s putting yourself into the mindset or creating yourself to be it. It does work.

Morgen - July 27, 2012

Thank you, Julia, for this wonderful post. I’m especially focused on taking action these days – the antidote to #4 – but it’s interesting to note that this stirs up some of the other patterns you describe… so I must be on the right track! Isn’t it amazing what a powerful spiritual journey it is to pursue our dreams? How much it brings up for healing?

    Julia - July 27, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your insight Morgan. I find I have to keep reminding myself of these patterns because while I have the capacity for massive action, which I’m in right now, I can also be very lazy, then several of these patterns raise their ugly head. I also agree that it is a spiritual journey and for me, part of my dream is to be on that spiritual journey. And I’m having a great time.

Nanette Levin - July 27, 2012

What a great list, Julia. I’m guilty of scheduling unrealistic deadlines and burnout (#8). These are two items I tend to forget in day-to-day activities, so appreciate the reminder to pay attention to this always.
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    Julia - July 27, 2012

    My pleasure to provide the reminder Nanette. Many of us have more than one of these patterns and it’s always good to be reminded to be mindful not to fall back into them.

Ivy - July 30, 2012

Wow, thanks Julia! I participate in these sabotage patterns so well. What is working for me now, is that when i catch myself in one, I know that it is my ego’s meanderings. When I am truly involved in helping others,focusing on others, I cannot be focused on my self, my conditioned mind, my fear loops, me, me, me, etc. Kinda like meditation. If I am with my breath, i cannot be in my thoughts. Shift back to the goal of assisting.

    Julia - July 30, 2012

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment Ivy. I’m with you – when I’m focused on doing my work and helping others, I don’t get caught in any of these patterns. If I’m not paying attention, though, I can get sucked in.

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