Self-sabotaging can prevent you from reaching your fullest potential by creating anxiety and doubt, which can limit your growth and success at work. Insecurities, lack of confidence, and fear of failure all contribute to these feelings and can quickly impact performance.  

Letting your emotions rule is not something that’s very easy to overcome, but it is possible. To do so, you need to find the root of your critical inner voice — or “obnoxious roommate,” as Thrive’s Founder and CEO Arianna Huffington calls it — and explore where these tendencies stem from. Doing so can help you lessen the impact of these feelings. Here are a few ways you can break your self-sabotaging behavior.

Recognize the signs

First, you need to be able to recognize how self-sabotage manifests for you at the office. “It can be anything from holding back on going for what you want, to procrastinating your required tasks, or even setting yourself up for failure by committing to an impossible schedule for completing assignments,” Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and senior editor of PSYCHALIVE, tells Thrive. These tendencies occur when your obnoxious roommate gets the best of you. “Thoughts like ‘You are never doing enough’ can lead to overcommitting. Thoughts like ‘You have done enough, take a break’ can get you to procrastinate,” Firestone says. All of those thoughts can hold you back from reaching your true potential.

Pay attention to what you are telling yourself

We tend to say self-destructive things to ourselves without even realizing it. Since those thoughts can be damaging, it’s important to pay attention to them, and then redirect accordingly. “Destructive thoughts or critical inner voices are often mistaken for a realistic true evaluation of ourselves,” Firestone says. But they’re not true at all. “By paying attention and catching on to these thoughts, you can be more mindful, and not over-identify with them and mistake them for an accurate assessment of yourself. Instead, you’ll start to see them as an internal saboteur undermining you and your goals,” Firestone says.

Cultivate a kind attitude towards yourself

You need to be kind to yourself. When trying to fix self-sabotaging behavior, you may find that you’re approaching this change from a place of self-hatred. “It is a much more productive strategy to be curious about what is getting in your way,” Firestone says. Cultivate kindness and curiosity about your inner thoughts, rather than beating yourself up for continually having self-sabotaging instincts. Change won’t happen all at once. “When you have more self-compassion, you can directly face the behaviors you don’t like in yourself, and begin the process of change,” Firestone says.

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  • Tess Eberhardt

    Thrive Global Editorial Intern

    Tess Eberhardt is a Thrive Global Editorial Intern and a sophomore at Barnard College. She is originally from Westchester, New York but spends most of her time in the city. She is so excited to be a part of the Thrive Team and is looking forward to contributing and helping to end burnout in the workplace.