Self-Sabotage: Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy

Oops ... I did it again.

Self-Sabotage: Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy

Oops ... I did it again.

Oops ... I did it again.

Self-sabotage. It’s all too common - and most of the time - you don’t even realize you’re doing it. So why do you do it? Are YOU the only person keeping you from accomplishing your goals? Why do we end up sabotaging our goals and how the hell can we just get out of our own way?

Our limiting beliefs are like a self-imposed ceiling … you rise up only to bump into the ceiling and get sent back down. You set a big goal and start to go after it and those (often hidden) limiting beliefs push you right back down as if to say:


“I don’t think so … that upper level is not accessible to you … VIP guests only.”


Usually you don’t see the ceiling so you can’t understand why you keep getting pushed back down. But it’s you – getting in your own way with your limiting beliefs. You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah … but I WANT this. I want to accomplish this goal. I don’t want to bump into the ceiling anymore!”

The status-quo is in our comfort zone. You’re not sure what’s on that next floor.

"What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t fit in? What if they find out I’m an impostor and I wasn’t really invited?"

That’s the thing … you’re waiting for some green light, a sign that says you’re ready, an invitation that will never come because the invitation has to come from YOU.


One of the biggest red flags letting you know that you might be entering the self-sabotage zone is if you find yourself saying things like:

“Yeah, but …”


“It’s not really that big a deal …”


You self-sabotage by not believing in yourself or by telling yourself it’s not that important.

First you have to recognize that you’re doing this and then you have to be willing to stop. It might sound simple, but sometimes it can prove to be incredibly challenging to push through that ceiling with your all-access pass to any floor you damn-well please! Here are two tips for finding your all-access pass and preventing self-sabotage:


1. You need to find your “why”

And not just the 1st why … the surface why … but the REAL why. The why that’s at your core.

Grab a piece of paper.

Think about a goal you are working towards and at the top of your paper write down your goal. Underneath your goal, write out in one or two sentences why that goal is important. That’s your “Why #1” … the “why” that’s above the surface. Underneath “Why #1” write down why your “Why #1” is important.


Why is that important? (Why #1)
Why is THAT important? (Why #2)


Here’s an example:

I injured my shoulder a few months back and ended up derailing myself from all of my strength training. I’ve been trying to get my butt back to the gym and somehow can’t seem to get myself moving. As I was writing this post for you, I decided to figure out my “why” so I could provide you with an example:

See ... I really did write it out!

See ... I really did write it out!



Start strength training again

Why is that important? (Why #1)

I want to feel strong and stay healthy.

Why is THAT important? (Why #2)

Because I want to be able to use my body when I want to in order to enjoy doing what I love to do in life.


That’s your “Why #2”; and guess what … you’re going to ask yourself that same question 2 more times.


Why is THAT important? (Why #3)
And why is THAT important? (Why #4)


It might feel hard … you might get stuck … force yourself to keep going. Really sit with it until you get to that 4th why because that is the why deep underneath the surface at your very core. Here’s what the rest of mine looked like:

Why is that important? (Why #3)

Because I am here to live and experience all that life has to offer and I want to do it with a sound body and mind.

Why is that important? (Why #4)

Because I want to know that I lived my life and didn’t just let life happen.

Like this!

Post it up like this!

Whoa. Even I was surprised. That #4 why is the real why. When you think to yourself “I don’t know if I can do it today” and you’re trying to find your motivation, connecting to your why can be a powerful reminder of what’s really important to you and helps you make a decision from that place. My decision about strength training today isn’t only about wanting to be strong and healthy, it’s about really being able to live while I’m alive. You can even post it up as a visual reminder of what you really want.

2. You need have the ability to visualize what you want

This means you need to have both the vision and the courage to say what you really want and then be able to actually see it in your mind. If you can’t see it in your mind, you won’t be able to see it in your life. This isn’t about magically manifesting a winning lottery ticket by simply seeing it clearly in your mind (if only!). This is about allowing yourself to see that something is possible (and battle those limiting beliefs) so you can start to believe that it’s possible.

Those limiting beliefs create filters so we only see what we expect to see. For the next 10 days (yes 10 days!) spend five minutes every day visualizing something you want to accomplish. Set an alarm to remind you. Don’t worry if you can’t see it very clearly at first. Just keep doing it and you’ll be amazed at what you can see by day 10.


It’s time to see what’s on that next floor. You have your all-access pass. Are you going to pull it out and use it?






Comments ( 15 )

  • Chan sam

    Great resources.

    Thank you

  • Rick

    Can’t believe the timing… Only recently started swimming and a persistent shoulder injury is hampering my training – or is it? Weird that it didn’t really bother me when I went roller-skiing. My swimming ceiling is very low. Looking back, I’ve always backed off the last weeks of training, whether it be running, cycling or x-country skiing, as a convenient excuse for a poor performance? Time to write down the 4 reasons I started this a long time ago. Thanks Carrie!

  • April @ Everyday Fitness and Nutrition

    So glad I read this – it was exactly what I needed to see today as I’m working through marathon training. Taking a deep look at my why is really helpful to get me to my goal, even when the training gets tough and life happens.

  • I’m so glad to hear that reading this was exactly what you needed today. I really do feel like I am writing it specifically for the people that read it and I SO appreciate you taking the time to comment and let me know. Good luck with the marathon training and getting to your goal!!

  • That’s a powerful thing to explore … is it possible that backing off your training is your way of holding yourself back … having that ready excuse in your back pocket. AWESOME to hear that you’re going to figure out your 4 reasons!

  • Krisztina

    Very sound advise and could not be more timely! My daughter has been struggling with the ups and downs of motivation, finding her WHYs and recently with fall sport season winding down found herself not racing well as the end of season qualifiers were happening, despite a very good overall season and previous results. She talked to her coaches and us, and wonders how much of her ” below her expectation performance” is limited by her doubts, excuses…etc. She is reading your book, and your blog. Great resource for us!

  • I’m so glad to hear it’s good timing! Those doubts and excuses are such a powerful safety net. It’s hard to really let them go … but also the only way to truly see what we’re capable of. To let go of all of your fears of failure and allow yourself to be bigger than you are in this moment … you have to embrace the growing pains that come with it, which can be really hard. So cool to hear she’s reading my blog and my book!

  • Dan

    It hit me that I can use this for the last of my classes to get that degree. I can adapt it for my next purpose for the job that is going to open up at the exact moment I need it to!
    I know I must have got this in a email but the pressure is on to finish school and never made the time to read it. Today this came at the exact moment I needed it.
    Many thanks … You make life the bestest and completist ??

  • Thanks Dan! It’s amazing how all of these ideas apply just as powerfully to life as they do to sport. Good luck with the degree … and then the job hunt!

  • Clara

    Thanks Carrie ! It took me a few days to get my mind together and actually read your post. I knew I had to do it because I know I am my worst enemy : I feared reading about it again and feeling stucked with my cowardise to get forward and deal with it 😉 The way you talk about it is just what I needed : simple. As always, the best way to get on is to write it down. You just need to know what to write down : thank you very much for your simple but powerful techniques !!

  • You’re so welcome!! I loved what you said about how important it is to write things down and that you just need to know what to write down :) I’m so glad you read the post!

  • Pingback:3 Reasons You’re Failing at Your Goals (and 3 Ways to Stop) - Carrie Cheadle - Mental Skills Training Coach

  • Michael

    What happens when your goal is to podium at a bike race and your #1 why is because it would prove to myself I gave it my all in training and on race day and I never gave up, but then the #2 why was to feel validated, # 3 why was to get attention and #4 why was to feel good about myself. Doesn’t seem like this went in the right direction. I am prone to big time nerves in the days leading up to races that it sometimes makes me physically ill :( This seems like some really negative motivation! I don’t like the negativity I see in my why answers.

  • Michael! I’m so glad you made this comment. You could try going even deeper with it … why do you want to get attention? … why do you want to feel good about yourself? … you might have more “why’s” to get through :) One of the things I often hear is that more than the goal to win … is the goal to know that you did everything possible to put it all on the line and walk away feeling good about your performance. There are so many things out of your control in a race that might affect the outcome – which is one of the reasons it’s important to get to your “why” … the meaning underneath the win. I don’t necessarily see this as negative. I think you needed to keep going with your whys to get down to the biggest truth. And make sure you get my book On Top of Your Game!! I wrote it because I had a string of athletes experiencing those same debilitating prep-performance nerves and the book gives you the exact tools I used with them to help them have their best seasons ever!

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