December 5


Success Blueprint: How to Get Out of Your Own Way

By Staff Writer

eliminate self-sabotage, personal growth, self sabotage

(This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Series, “Success Blueprint.” )

Are you happy?

Not over-the-moon every minute of every day happy, but feeling good about who you are, about your life in general happy?

Few people seem to feel that way.

Years ago, we (the crazy editors at set out to find what stands in the way, at least for most people, of feeling good about life and about the amount of success they experience.

Was it be lack of opportunity, the environment they grew up in, education, intelligence? Although those conditions often played a reinforcing role, we discovered it really wasn’t any of those.

Enter Self-sabotage…

Self-sabotage (also referred to in some circles as “shooting yourself in the foot”) is another term for getting in the way of your own success. Some sabotaging behaviors are obvious but most are so subtle that one rarely notices they are doing them.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho

Here are a few examples of some of the many ways we can sabotage ourselves:

  • drinking too much,
  • eating too much,
  • inappropriate or destructive relationships
  • Over-spending
  • procrastination,
  • being too modest,
  • being closed off to change because it is uncomfortable,
  • not even trying for fear of failure.
  • THIS IS THE WORST…  Installing phony, limiting beliefs about one’s self-worth


And of course, the list goes on…

Take for instance the “options person” who bounces around on so many different possibilities that they don’t make a decision. In this example the fear of missing an opportunity can keep you from taking advantage of ANY opportunity!

So, where does this behavior come from – what makes us act in ways that keep us from having the kind of life we dream about?

Our research pointed us to two factors; the influence of limiting beliefs and having “restricted identities.”

Everyone has SOME number of limiting beliefs.

Many of our beliefs are formed early in life, based on experiences that we have first hand, or that we observe or hear about from others. Some of these limiting beliefs are good – they protect us from putting our hand on a hot stove or running out in traffic.

These beliefs form a framework for our existence and help us to make sense out of our environment.  They can help make us feel secure and help determine our expectations.

But when these beliefs result in emotional pain and low self-esteem, they often result in self-sabotaging behavior. When this happens, you may find yourself making excuses about why you cannot do something or worrying about failure or about what people are thinking of you.

While we aren’t going to spend a lot of time examining identities within this series, in a nutshell it is how you define yourself. In most cases when you ask someone to tell you about themselves, they will respond with an “I am a…” statement about the roles that they play.

For instance, do you define yourself by your job (I am an accountant)? By your position in the family (I am a wife/husband/mother/father, etc.)? A particular member of the community (I am a volunteer for ______, or I am a city council member)? In relation to hobbies (I am a fisherman/hunter/quilter)?

We noticed that the fewer “identities” or roles you have, the more likely you are to engage in self-sabotage.

Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs often result in low self-esteem, relationships that are not fulfilling, and job dissatisfaction.

“We learn our belief systems as very little children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs. Look back in your own life and notice how often you have gone through the same experience.” -Louise L. Hay

Here is a short video from Jack Canfield, talking about fears, which are often limiting beliefs:

We broke down some of the most common limiting beliefs into 2 categories – general beliefs and those surrounding what it means to be highly intelligent and/or successful.

Below is just a sample (taken from the workbook included with our Eliminate Self-Sabotage program). Read through these statements and rate your reaction to each one as being strong, medium, mild, or no reaction.

You may be surprised to be asked to rate these statements in this way – in most quizzes you are asked if you strongly agree or disagree.  Agreement is more of a mental construct and people often respond to whether they think they “should” agree or not.  Rating a reaction as being strong or mild is an emotional feeling, and self-sabotage is driven by feelings far more than thought (although negative thinking can certainly generate strong feelings).

The more strongly you react to these statements, the more likely it is that you are practicing some level of self-sabotage.

General limiting beliefs . . . STRONG MEDIUM MILD NONE
I do not like myself.
My parents did not really like me.
You have to be vulnerable to have a relationship.
There is no such thing as a really happy relationship.  That’s for movies.
I always make bad choices.
If I trust others, they are going to take advantage of me.
My success would deny others theirs.
I don’t have time.


Creates jealousy.
Others will always expect success.
More opportunities to fail.
Creates extreme stress.
Frightens me.
Money creates greed.


How did you respond to these statements? If you had a medium to strong reaction to several statements, congratulations! You have just identified some limiting beliefs! The good news is that all beliefs can be shifted, expanded, and/or dropped altogether.

Another indication that you have limiting beliefs is noticing how often you say “I can’t.” Believing that you are just not capable of something often cuts you off from ever trying.

Coming up in Part 2 of this series, we will have a look at the flip side of limiting beliefs and examine the types of beliefs and behaviors that successful people have.

Then in Part 3 we’ll have some simple suggestions that can help you begin to shift your limiting beliefs into those that help you create a life that feels more happy, fun, and fulfilling.

“It’s not who you are that holds you back.  It’s who you think you’re not. ~Anonymous

Editor’s Note: If you would like some assistance in getting out of your own way, you may be interested in our Eliminate Self-Sabotage program. It can help you get rid of self-defeating habits and limiting beliefs fast!

About the author

Our staff writers come from various backgrounds in the neuroscience, personal development, brain science and psychology fields. Many started out as with us as contributors!

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