12 Self-Defeating Behaviors

Any behavior you engage in that is self-sabotaging, that takes you away from what you want, or that distracts you from your goals is behavior that is self-defeating. These behaviors zap your vitality, leaving you exhausted and without access to the powerful energy you need to create your best life.

Here are 12 examples of such behaviors (such as playing solitaire on the computer at work when you have ambitions of moving up the corporate ladder), help to identify your own, and what to do about them:

• Prioritizing your to-do list and then starting at the bottom.

• Stopping for fast food when you’re committed to healthy eating.

• Focusing on what other people need to do rather than on what you need to do.

• Getting on the phone with an old friend right before you’re supposed to be at the gym.

• Saying no, no, no to your kids and 15 minutes later giving in.

• Saying that you want to lay off alcohol and then meeting a friend for a beer.

• Longing to enhance your sex life and then staying up late every night watching TV.

• Dreaming about putting away money for your future and then spending more than you make every month.

• Saying you want to have a closer relationship with your teenage kids and then criticizing their choices.

• Procrastinating taking actions that will give you what you desire.

• Worrying about what other people think of you.

• You long to get out of debt, then you find yourself catalog shopping online in the middle of the night.

Make a list of the behaviors, choices, and habits you engage in that are in direct opposition to the fulfillment of becoming the person you desire to be. Now consider what new behaviors and choices you can make to have this year be extraordinary. Please visit The Best Year of Your Life to download a worksheet for identifying your self-defeating behaviors.

Adapted from The Best Year of Your Life, by Debbie Ford (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005). Debbie Ford will be presenting at the Omega Being Fearless Conference, 3/31-4/2. For more information, go to: www.eomega.org


Siobhan James
Siobhan James5 years ago

Your life is in your hands, your life is the most fundamental and precious resource that God has given us. When we associate our thoughts and emotions based on " miserable souls" who simply demoralize you, willing you to fail. Break the barrier by embracing passion for the best and forgetting all the rest.

Lucy D.
Lucy D5 years ago

I think feelings of inferiority cause us to sabotage ourselves sometimes. They preclude stepping out of our comfort zones to take a healthy risk (as opposed to overspending, overeating, etc.). Instead of converting anxiety into productive action, we let it paralyze us. I speak from experience. Meanwhile, time passes, the years pile up, and you realize that anxiety has devoured a decade of your life. So dangerous to embrace victimization!

Jen B.
Jen B5 years ago

The truth hurts. It's easy to ignore yourself when you think these thoughts...but seeing them here makes you have to start facing facts!

Larry R Schwable
Larry Schwable5 years ago

Nothing in our lives is an accident..... If it happened, you can bet it happened for a reason..... Self sabotage is an excuse, you and only you can make your life better..... Make a decision, then get it done, take care of yourself so you can take care of those who need you the most, only then can you achieve true harmony and balance..... YOU are the key to true happiness!!

Shailja M.
Shailja Mukhtyar5 years ago

self sabotage for short term gain- an ice cream, a chocolate, or video game or phone call that eats up precious time.... that cant be recycled.... once gone, time is a chunk of life lost...

easy to say, dont delay,... more diff to act on that !!

Anne V.
Anne V5 years ago

Great article, gave pause for thought.

Prochi T.
Prochi T5 years ago

Guilty !

K s Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Anna Maria M.

Excellent and sobering insight

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

Very good. Unfortunately I'm guilty of several of these behaviors. :(