4 Tips on How to Stop Self-Sabotaging Relationships

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Self-sabotaging behaviors are unhealthy patterns that can create problems in day-to-day life and cause emotional distress. Many self-sabotaging behaviors can prevent you from reaching your goals and cause difficulties in your relationships. 

These self-destructive behaviors are often unconscious and therefore difficult to recognize. But some of the most common forms of self-sabotage involve:

  • Self-criticism
  • Procrastination
  • Perfectionism
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Taking on too much
  • Passivity
  • Suppressing emotions
  • Low self-esteem
  • Having no healthy boundaries
  • People pleasing
  • Having a fixed mindset
  • Self-harm
  • Overindulgences such as excessive eating or alcohol and substance abuse
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Why Do We Self-Sabotage?

It can be hard to understand and accept that you can be your greatest enemy. Don’t we all want the best for ourselves? But, identifying self-sabotaging thought patterns and behaviors can help understand how to stop self-sabotaging relationships and bring such behaviors to an end. 

Low Self-Esteem

People with negative self-images are particularly prone to self-sabotage. Self-sabotaging behaviors often stem from low self-esteem and deep-rooted beliefs about own worthlessness or inadequacy.  

Some people raised in families with unhealthy dynamics adopted negative beliefs about their worth, abilities, or lovability that caused negative self-talk and self-sabotaging behaviors. 

Suppose you grew up believing that you cannot achieve the things you want. In that case, you could carry on this self-imposed sense of failure into adulthood. So, you may struggle in your adult relationships, believing that you don’t deserve to be loved, appreciated, and happy. 

A Sense of Control

Some people use self-sabotaging behaviors as a coping strategy, as these behaviors make them feel in control of situations in their lives. Sometimes the fear of being hurt, rejected, or disappointed can cause you to undermine yourself or hurt others.  

For example, if you fear rejection and failure, you may never apply for the job you dream about. You may worry that others will realize that you are a fraud, so you never accept responsibilities or show your skills at work. Or, you fear your partner may hurt you or leave you, so you become emotionally detached or leave them first. 

In other words, self-sabotage becomes a way to control your life and preserve yourself from pain.

The Fear of Failure

No one likes to fail. On the contrary, we all want to be successful and well-off. However, some people may use self-sabotage to protect themselves from fear of abandonment or failure. 

For example, you may avoid intimacy or sabotage your romantic relationships otherwise because you worry that your partner will leave you when you are most vulnerable. 

Most people are not immune to self-sabotage. Understanding why you do it and how self-sabotage can affect your life can help you stop self-sabotaging your relationships and live a more fulfilling life.

self sabatoge woman sad on her bed
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Signs You are Self-Sabotaging Relationships

When sabotaging a relationship, you are behaving in a way that is deliberately going to ruin that relationship. And you most likely do it unconsciously, using several little actions that could sabotage your relationship. 

Here are some possible signs you are self-sabotaging relationships.

  • You hold grudges
  • You don’t allow your significant other to have any space
  • You have trust issues
  • You use gaslighting to gain control in a relationship
  • You are focusing on your partner’s negatives
  • You are overly critical toward your partner
  • You avoid sex and intimacy
  • You are constantly comparing your partner to others
  • You are not honest about your feelings or your true self
  • You are always looking for a way out
  • You don’t keep small promises
  • You are not open about your feelings
  • You have unrealistic expectations 

4 Tips on How to Stop Self-Sabotaging Relationships

Identifying your deep-seated false beliefs and damaging behaviors can help you learn how to stop self-sabotaging relationships. 

1) Learn to Recognize Your Triggers

Sometimes our fears and self-sabotaging behaviors remain latent until something sets them off. Anything can be a trigger – thoughts, words, situations, people, or behaviors. Ask yourself where your fears and insecurities come from and how they impact your mood, thinking, and actions. 

Journaling can be a helpful way to identify your triggers, understand how they affect you, and learn how to prevent them in the future. 

2) Be Honest with Yourself to Identify why You are Behaving that Way

One of the essential steps in learning to stop self-sabotaging relationships is understanding yourself. You have to know why you are behaving in a way that damages your relationships. 

If you are aware of your self-sabotaging behavior but don’t know why you are doing it, you can seek psychotherapy. A skilled psychotherapist can guide you through deep work on helping your inner child. An inner child work can help you puzzle out how past experiences trigger self-sabotage and what you need to do to start healing

3) Be Open and Honest with Loved Ones

An ideal relationship is based on secure attachment, which involves mutual trust, vulnerability, and individuality within a relationship. If you feel insecure or anxious in the relationship, it is necessary to discuss your fears and doubts openly. 

It can be helpful for your partner to understand what triggers your behavior so they feel motivated to help you and work on your relationship. 

Consider initiating couples therapy to understand self-sabotage and each other better and develop a more secure attachment style.

4) Take Responsibility for Your Actions

To learn how to stop self-sabotaging relationships, you need to accept responsibility for your actions that cause problems in the relationship. Identify your triggers and start working on your self-esteem, abandonment, and disappointment issues.

Learn how to spot negative thoughts that provoke self-sabotage so you can start replacing them with positive ones. 

Ending the Self-Sabotage Begins with You

Ending self-sabotage requires your openness to change, commitment, and effort. Understanding your triggers and taking full responsibility for your actions can help stop self-sabotaging behaviors. 

Mental health counseling or psychotherapy can help identify your self-sabotaging behaviors understand what triggers them and why you behave the way you do. It can help resolve issues from your past, identify your negative beliefs, and help make the first move toward self-compassion and self-growth. 

Once you start changing your thinking, your behavior will change too. So, commit to change. Commit to healing your inner child and investing in personal growth. When you are ready to open up to what is possible for you book a time to speak at www.chatwithkamini.com

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Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood is a Certified Life Coach, and best-selling author. Her mission is to empower high-performing adults and teens to become resilient self-leaders by reducing stress and anxiety, overcoming imposter syndrome, working through trauma, and re-discovering their AuthenticMe®.

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My name is Kamini Wood, and I’m here to accompany you on your journey toward understanding yourself on a deeper level so can create the life you want personally and professionally. It’s time to embrace your AuthenticMe ™