This is a guest post by Dr. Diahanne Rhiney.

I want to discuss a topic that is not often spoken about because it is often so subtle and occurs in a deep and complex part of the mind, our subconscious.

We’ve probably all done it at some point: you say you want something and set goals to achieve it, work hard to get to exactly where you want to be… and then you go about doing everything you can be done to make sure it doesn’t happen.

I’m talking about self-sabotage. This is the process by which we can actually create problems that interfere with our own goals and dreams. As a psychologist, I see the aftermath when self-sabotaging behavior becomes just as serious as drug or alcohol abuse, overeating, or self-harming, which is why I want to highlight the very subtle ways it occurs, as often it is not associated with negative behavior.

A Secret Fear of Success

What this actually means is the fear of change or resisting change. We may feel that we will turn into different people or will not be able to rise to the challenge. The key is not to dwell on how the responsibility could go wrong, rather focus on how taking such a step will empower you to do bigger and greater things.

Too many choices?

Too many options can lead to decision paralysis: “the more choices we have, the more likely we are to freeze up and go with the path of least resistance, or worry about which path to take”. The secret to overcoming this paralysis is simple – take action!

When the going gets tough, so do you!

Success takes consistent hard work. So, you have to set realistic parameters and smart goals for judging the success or failure of any project. Also learn the difference between failing and quitting, as this will lessen the likelihood of you quitting and seeing your project through to completion.

Planning overkill

Planning takes a lot of work and for all the long term planning and setting of five year goals, it all means nothing if you do not simply just start. That’s not to say you should start without being prepared, but preparation and planning are two very different things. Start with a quick, initial plan and a strategy, but then focus on gaining feedback and constantly evaluate to stay on track.

My responsibility?

Radical responsibility is hard. Our culture encourages us to shift the blame or point the finger at someone else. Responsibility can be scary, as sometimes it means going out on a limb, but you are responsible for your life, so embrace it.

Negative Thinking

Many of us are walking around with negative stories in our heads.

  • I’ll never be good enough.
  • I’ll never live up to my parents’ expectations.
  • I’ll always be second best.

Psychology tells us this type of negative self-talk is harmful, as what you regularly tell yourself will shape your mindset and belief systems. So change the narrative and start writing a new positive chapter.

You avoid hard work for the mundane

Last time I checked, the best inventions weren’t made whilst the inventor checked his Facebook. If you want to do something important, achieve something great, or create your legacy, you won’t do it jumping out of your seat every time your phone rings. In order to reach your goals you will be required to focus your attention on being creative and solving problems.

Letting others control your time

Time is your most valuable resource because it’s finite and non-renewable. You can never replace it or get it back once it’s gone. Therefore, learn to recognize your peak productivity times and start to guard your time jealously from distractions and interruptions. If you manage your time spent with chatty friends or workers with unplanned visits then you’re less likely to end up losing an entire day to disruptions.

This list isn’t set in stone. The key is that we all work harder on being self-aware so that we are able to recognize settling into a pattern of self-sabotage. Then, when we catch ourselves procrastinating, putting ourselves down, feeling unworthy and more, we can take steps to stop it and step into our greatness.

Dr. Diahanne Rhiney is a Domestic Violence interventionist whose passion lies in providing guidance, support, and education, and giving voice, to marginalized groups. She has developed groups, presented workshops, and spoken extensively on self-esteem, body issues, children in care, abuse, emotional wellbeing, and healthy relationships (including peer pressure and intimate relationship abuse). She is a long-time ambassador for children’s and women’s rights, safety, and wellbeing. A qualified psychologist, her pioneering Domestic Violence charity, Strength With In Me Foundation (S.W.I.M.) is aimed at equipping the next generation with the tools to avoid negative relationships and make empowered life choices.