Nine Simple Steps to Stop Self-sabotage and Increase Self-confidence
Do you stop 10% shy of success? Do you turn things in late even when you had the time to turn them in early? Why do we engage in self-destructive behaviors? And more importantly, how do we stop sabotaging our success?
The underlying belief that leads to self-sabotaging behavior is some version of “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not worthy.” This belief probably came from some behavior on the part of your parents or teachers. Unfortunately, dwelling on that issue in therapy often does little to improve or change the belief. Few people had perfect parents or teachers so many of us have some issues with self-confidence and self-belief because, inevitably, someone said or did something that completely shattered your shining confidence at an early age and you are still bearing the scars. Okay, so we are damaged goods, now what?
The good news is that all beliefs can be changed. Nevertheless, prepare yourself, as it may take some concerted, conscious effort on your part to override this negative, self-limiting belief depending on how deep-seated the belief is.
Let’s first start by taking a closer look at your particular brand of self-sabotage. Start by listing all the ways you are sabotaging your success. Below is a list you can choose from, if you need some help figuring out ways you might be undermining yourself:
- Turning things in late
- Showing up just on time or late
- Overuse of acceptable substances: caffeine, alcohol, sugar, carbohydrates (think white flour)
- Any addictions (e.g., gambling, sex, drugs, smoking)
- Gossiping (destroys trust in relationships)
- Waiting until the last minute to start work on a project (so you get an adrenaline rush)
- Not wearing a seat belt
- Overspending (if you are carrying credit card debt this is a sign you are overspending)
- Not practicing safe sex (use a condom!)
- Not saving sufficiently for retirement (i.e., a minimum of 16% of your gross income)
- Not carrying disability insurance or other insurance that you need (e.g., excessive and unnecessary risk-taking)
- Not having firm and clear boundaries (see the 4-step Communication Model for boundaries here)
- Not getting your personal and emotional needs fully satisfied (take the Emotional Index Quiz to find out your top 4 needs)
- Not asking specifically for what you want
- Not asking for a raise or promotion when you deserve it or after you’ve done something great at work
- Not having a three to six month’s cash reserve in a liquid money market or savings account
- Not putting your work out there in the world (e.g., not publishing your book) for fear of criticism
- Not getting the support structure you need (e.g., training, coaching, counselling)
- Not investing enough in yourself (e.g., getting the education, training or coaching you need to do the job well)
- Not asking for advice or help soon enough
This is just a short list of the many common ways we engage in self-destructive behavior. Not logical that we do this stuff, but then again, emotions aren’t ruled by logic so we need a cure that isn’t logic-based, but tackles the underlying belief.
Here are the Nine Simple Steps to Stop Self-sabotage and Increase Self-confidence (aside from the obvious for addictions of getting yourself into the requisite 12-step program):
Step 1. Realize you are not alone. It helps to realize that almost everyone lacks confidence in some areas. Very few of us are supremely confident and those that are may be bordering on arrogance or delusions of grandeur (some political leaders pop to mind). Most of us are regularly engaging in some self-destructive behavior otherwise chocolate donuts wouldn’t exist. Relax, you have plenty of good company.
Step 2. Get support before you think you need it. It helps to get some support for making life changes. Hence the burgeoning profession of life coaching.
Step 3. Choose better beliefs. Once you realize that it was you who made up the belief that you aren’t good enough (after all, it isn’t written in stone anywhere), you soon realize you have the power to make up a new, more empowering belief, such as “I’m amazing.” Or, “I am a very successful and talented [fill in the blank].” To cement this new belief into your brain simply write it down 10 times a day until you bore yourself silly with this new belief and find yourself saying to yourself, “Of course I’m amazing, enough already!” I wrote, “I’m the bestselling author of Coach Yourself to Success” 10 times a day for months until it came true. This may take many months of writing daily so keep at it. Make sure your new empowering belief is 100% positive. Don’t use any negatives in your statement, such as “I am not going to let another year go by without losing weight.” This one sentence, although positive in intention, contains three negatives! Instead write something positive such as, “I am beautiful and perfectly healthy in every way.”
Step 4. Put firm boundaries in place. It is very difficult to develop self-confidence if you don’t have firm and clear boundaries. I recommend everyone puts in place bigger boundaries, to include: People can’t hit me; People can’t smoke around me; People can’t give me unsolicited criticism; People can’t waste my time; People can’t make rude, sexist or racist remarks or jokes around me; People can’t make put down remarks or jokes to me; People can’t take advantage of me. Use the 4-Step Communication Model to enforce your bigger boundaries. Without boundaries, you’ll never grow in self-esteem or confidence. You also won’t get the respect you need to get promoted at work.
Step 5. Get your personal and emotional needs fully and completely satisfied. We all know neediness is unattractive at best, repellent at worst. But, can you tell me what your top four personal and emotional needs are? If you can’t, take the free quiz here. If you don’t know what your needs are, how can you get them satisfied? It helps to know what they are for starters.
Step 6. Act as if. If you believe that you aren’t good enough, you will act as if that is true. So the cure is to pretend that you are good enough. How does a bestselling author act? I looked at Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, one of the biggest best-selling non-fiction books in history with over 80 million copies sold. What did these authors do? For two years straight, without fail, they did five things a day to market their book. Two years of relentless marketing before it took off and the rest is history. That is a huge commitment to marketing. If you want to be a world-class pianist, then you’ll soon discover you’ll need to practice about eight hours a day because that is what the world-class musicians do. Pretend that you are a world-class whatever and start doing what the world-class people do who are successful in what you want to do. Simple, but not necessarily easy.
Step 7. Get some small successes under your belt. Success breeds success. Get some wins in and you’ll start to build your confidence. Start small. That is fine. Better to start and get some momentum going.
Step 8. Delegate the stuff you aren’t good at. Why keep struggling when you’ll never be good at some things? Hire it out. Let someone who is good at it do the parts you aren’t so good at. You don’t have to be good at everything. Masters focus.
Step 9. Celebrate your success, however small. Write down your weekly accomplishments. Pat yourself on the back. Break open a bottle of champagne. Host a party. Do something to acknowledge your success. The more you do that, the more you remind yourself that you are good at many things.
Confidence, like most things, is something that you can develop and acquire. I’ve given you the steps, but again, this isn’t something likely to be cured overnight. Having a life coach give you encouragement and support along the way makes it much, much easier to be successful. I wouldn’t be successful without one!