Why We Sabotage Ourselves (And How To Stop Doing It)


Do you say you want to lose weight and get healthy and then do all kinds of things that prevent that from happening? Self-sabotage is the root of most failed efforts to adopt healthier habits. The obvious question you may be asking is “Why do we sabotage ourselves?” It doesn’t seem to make sense that we would do things to deliberately prevent ourselves from getting what we say we want, and yet this is exactly what we do.

What’s the mastermind behind self sabotage? Drumroll…. The mastermind is in fact fear. Fear that we’re not enough, fear that we’ll fail, fear of judgement from others. 

The underlying root of self sabotage is stories. It’s the stories we tell ourselves—about who we are, what we’re capable of and what we’re not—stories we begin to believe.  

I have to warn you, once you become aware of these self-sabotaging stories, it gets harder and harder to talk yourself out of making healthier choices.

Here’s a list of some of the top self-sabotaging stories we tell ourselves, and the truth behind each one.

Story #1: “It’s too hard.”

We often tell ourselves, “I’ll fail anyway, so what’s he point?”  We’re don’t feel up to the task. Maybe we’ve tried and failed before. The odds seem too far stacked against us. We don’t feel we have it in us, we don’t have the willpower. It seems like we’re just not like those “other” people who make it look easy.
The truth: Living in a body you’re not comfortable with is way harder than doing what it takes to feel good. There’s no doubt that taking better care of ourselves can take some effort, but that doesn’t hold a candle to how hard life is when we’re trapped in a body and behaviors that are keeping us stuck. 

Story #2: “People will judge me.”

Maybe you’ve tried a bunch of diets only to return to your previous weight (or more). You know the people in your life have seen this. They’ve seen you try--and fail. Having them see you go through the effort one more time seems like putting yourself on display to be doubted or ridiculed.

The truth: Yes those “others” may have their doubts. But so what? This is not their life. Ultimately you are the one living your life in your body. And how awesome will it be to really show them when you succeed?

Story #3: “I know I need to do this, but not today.”

How many times have we said we’d start after New Year’s Day or “on Monday” or the first of the month? How many ‘last weekends’ have we had?
The truth: We all know what happens when we wait until the perfect time.  When we’re truly ready to do something, we begin now.

Story #4: “I don’t have enough money.”

Maybe you tell yourself, “I can’t afford to do this.” That healthy food or finding the right support will cost too much.  

The truth: When we create priorities--when decide what is most important to us, we find a way to make it happen.  And once they’ve lost the weight and are living in a body that looks and feels great, how many people look back and have regrets about what they spent on healthy food or the right support? This fear is almost always about the fear of failure.

Story #5: “I don’t have enough time.”

Do you tell yourself you don’t have time in your life to make healthy food? That you’re too busy and have too much going on in your life to do what it takes?

The truth: See truth #4.

Story #6:  “I’m too old.”

This is the story our culture tells us is true.  That once you hit 40 it’s all downhill. Weight gain and health problems are inevitable as we get older. We should just accept it and learn to live with it.

The truth: Can weight loss be somewhat more challenging after 40? Perhaps, but the truth is we have way more control over our weight and our health than we think.  With the right process and support just about everyone is capable of getting to a healthy weight, regardless of their age. Weight gain is not inevitable as we age.

Story #7: “I’ll lose my identity.”

This is the big “fear of change” story.  If I change this about myself (how I eat-- and consequently how I look), who will I be? Even if things are hard now, at least they’re familiar.  Who will I be if I dropped my excuses and started making stronger choices?

The truth: The food you eat does not define you. The fat that is or isn’t on your body does not define you.

Story #8: “It won’t work for me.”

So many stories fit in this category.  “I won’t be able to do this forever, the sacrifice is too big, I’m not like those ‘other’ people who were able to succeed, there’s something wrong with me that will prevent me from succeeding (my DNA, my family history, my lack of willpower...).

The truth: Vibrant health is in your nature.  You can totally do this. Even if you’ve tried and failed before. Even if it seems impossible.  Our ancestors enjoyed lean, healthy bodies; our DNA hasn’t changed much over the generations.  Even if you have a genetic predisposition toward weight gain, that doesn’t translate into actually being overweight or unhealthy. You can alter how that shows up for you.

These are all stories. 

They’re the stories that keep us stuck.  The stories that keep us from ever making a start. These stories are birthed out of fear. Fear is a natural, normal response that comes out of our instinct for self-preservation.  “Watch out for the tiger! That bear! That cliff...!” All those scary things out there that could harm us in our past were real.  Our more recent fears, not so much.

"A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

How do you get unstuck from your stories?

When you hear any of these stories playing in your head, the first step is to recognize it as just that: a story. Then, ask yourself:

What is the story I’m telling myself? Where is it coming from? What the fear that lies behind it?

Then ask: What is the truth behind the story?

You get to choose your story.  

When you can name the story, it starts to lose its power. What’s cool is that you can change your story at any time. 

Which of these stories has been keeping you stuck lately?
What story will you choose next?

If you’re ready to change your story and dive into a new one,

click here to book a call with me.