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Here’s Why We Fall Into Self Sabotage When Things Are Going So Well



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If you’d like to learn how to not self sabotage so you can consistently improve your life, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of, Joel Brown.

We all know the age-old story. Work hard, keep your head down, do the right thing, and success is all but guaranteed. We’ve probably been on that awesome train ride ourselves at one point in time. We’re getting great results on a project at work so we come home happy and satisfied. We bring that energy home with us and project it onto our family which in turn has them happy and excited for us. 

Our relationships are full of joy and passion and it seems like our good fortune will never end. Then most, if not all of us, get that one little thought in our head, “things are going too well” or “something bad is bound to happen.” That’s the planting of the seed that blooms into self-sabotage. But what is self-sabotage? How does it affect us? And what can we do to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors?

What is self-sabotage?

As you can probably work out from the phrase itself, self-sabotage is defined as ‘the sabotaging of one’s self.’ What this means is that we allow our behaviors to actively or passively derail our long-standing goals which in turn can affect our daily lives. Those behaviors most often include procrastination, comfort eating, and more recently, binge-watching television. They also often include much more destructive behaviors such as self-medicating with drugs and alcohol or forms of self-harm.

Now obviously some of these are extreme cases and not to be expected in most circumstances. I myself personally, struggle with procrastination. I’ll be in a state of flow for a long period of time and then something will distract me long enough that I lose my train of thought and I’ll put off getting back to my project by telling myself “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “Once I’m back in the zone I’ll knock it out.” I’ll then unconsciously look for every reason not to finish whatever I was working on. It’s a challenge I’ve had since grade school.

But what is the psychology behind it? Why do we fall into these behaviors and patterns that keep us from achieving our goals and living our best lives? And most important, how do we recognize and avoid these unhelpful behaviors?

“We need to ascend beyond our own petty Resistance, our own negative self-judgment and self-sabotage, our own “I’m not worthy” mind-set.” – Steven Pressfield

Why do we do it?

One of the key reasons behind self-sabotage is a lack of self-esteem. While this may stem from a variety of different causes, the end result is still the same: feelings of self-doubt, worthlessness, beliefs around not deserving, and fears of jealousy or inadequacy. 

When these emotions and beliefs begin taking root, we tend to increase our negative self-talk, which only fuels those emotions and beliefs and entrenches them even deeper into our subconscious. And because of the way our subconscious mind works, when we embed these “commands” into our minds, we begin to unconsciously find faster and easier ways to manifest them. 

What does self-sabotage look like in our everyday lives?

While some of the examples above are often blatantly obvious, self-sabotage manifests itself in subtle and often disruptive patterns of behavior that we don’t automatically recognize or see. Behaviors such as making impulsive negative decisions, the inability to make decisions one way or another and unjustly criticizing yourself are all signs of self-sabotage. On the flip side, self-sabotage can also take the form of perfectionism.

Have you ever not done something or put something off because you thought it was less than perfect or just needed a little more “this or that?” Have you ever put something off because “you’re just too tired or you had a long day?” What about that time you shed 50 lbs and then on a whim decided to treat yourself to a late-night drive to Taco Bell that ended up lasting about 3 days? 

All of the above are behaviors and patterns of self-sabotage that most of us do every single day. The worst part is that once we fall into these behaviors, they tend to become patterns that snowball into devastating habits.

“You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, ‘I release the need for this in my life’.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

How do we recognize these behaviors and prevent them from becoming habits?

Step one is to take a deep introspective look at one’s self. In order to prevent these behaviors, we have to know the source of our actions and then actively challenge and confront them. This takes some time and self-reflection and will often lead to us reverting to a defensive mode in order to justify our self-sabotaging traits. However, it is necessary to understand why we behave this way and where those beliefs are rooted. 

One way we can begin preventing our self-sabotage is by becoming self-aware. We can revisit some of our past experiences where we have succeeded and thrived and ask ourselves questions such as “What challenges did I have to overcome?” and “What steps were involved in that process?” In recognizing and acknowledging these past experiences, we can then retool those same processes to overcome certain limiting beliefs that are leading to our self-sabotage.

Another method we can use is by changing the self-talk we allow into our language. In Neuro Linguistic Programming, we learn that our unconscious mind – like electricity – follows the path of least resistance to get to its desired outcome. By using words like “can’t” and “try” or phrases like “it’s too hard”, we are subliminally programming ourselves to seek out the fastest and easiest ways in which to not succeed. 

If we can eliminate words such as “not” and “hope/wish” from our vocabulary, we can focus on programming our minds to find the fastest and easiest ways to get exactly where we want to go. As an example, we can change the statement “I don’t know what to do” to “I don’t know what to do yet, but I’ll figure it out.” Our unconscious mind is a funny thing. By expanding that statement with the word ‘yet’ and then adding ‘but’ followed by an empowering statement, we are in essence deleting the former statement from being stored in our unconscious and embedding the latter empowering statement to take root instead.

And finally, another tool we can use to beat self-sabotage is to begin leaning into discomfort. Most of our self-sabotage reveals itself in the form of staying in our comfort zones. We don’t want to let go of that security blanket. It keeps us safe and cozy from achieving our full potential. 

When we can lean into our discomfort, we can begin identifying the challenges that come along with it. Only by identifying those challenges can we begin to start making a plan to overcome that fear or that trigger. Even if we can’t see all the steps in the process, just by taking the first step we build our confidence and self-esteem and can begin compounding that into a snowball of growth and progression.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for our readers on how to elevate your confidence in order to succeed in life? Share your thoughts below!

Sean Bustard is a life coach, author, NLP master practitioner, podcast host, husband and father of four. His experiences in overcoming childhood trauma, drug addiction and regaining purpose after starting a family have led him to become a leader in all aspects of life. He uses his passion for mental health to serve others and utilizes the many tools of NLP to help them find their own purpose so that they can make their own impact on the world around them.

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The Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

Balancing is for your checkbook, gymnastics, and nutrition; not for your people’s work/life ratio.



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Balance…it requires an equal distribution of value between two or more subjects to maintain steady composure and equitable proportionality. (more…)

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How to Find the Courage to Start New

Change is scary, but it’s a normal part of life.



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It’s 2023, a new year, new you, right? But how do we start over? How do we make the changes in our lives that we crave so much to see?  (more…)

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Failing is More Important Than Succeeding

Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures.



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People often consider failure a stigma.  Society often doesn’t respect the people who failed and avoids and criticizes their actions. Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures. Not to have endeavored is worse than failing in life as at some stage of your life you regret not having tried in your life.  (more…)

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma



Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.


Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:


1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.


2. Persistent Pain

Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.

4. A strong need for control

It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
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