4 Types Of Self-sabotage And Their Causes


The hitchhiker mainly plays on the register of doubts, fears, and guilt related to the impostor syndrome.

John has a date with a girl he loves very much, but he feels uncomfortable, and finally doesn’t take care to dress properly. (He sabotages his date thinking he is not good enough for her).

Maria has started a promising new project for her professional career, but she goes out a lot with her friends, which seriously hinders the progress of her project. (she sabotages her potential success thinking she doesn’t deserve it).

Very often we get carried away by this kind of unconscious mechanism of self-sabotage. Sometimes the circumstances are unfavorable. However, in most cases, the main obstacle is the person themselves who, for fear of future change, fall prey to self-sabotage.

What is self-sabotage?

On the threshold of reaching the realization of their project, these people will fail themselves through behaviors or actions of which they are not aware.

Self-sabotage and all related behaviors are unconscious acts that occur of great change in people’s lives, regardless of their nature. These behaviors interfere with the achievement of objectives or goals through unconscious self-handling.

Where does self-sabotage come from?

  • There are many possible causes, which must be known in order to avoid them and thus eliminate this behavior. These causes can be:
  • Limiting beliefs with an impostor syndrome that make the person think that he or she does not deserve success, love;
  • Low self-esteem;
  • Goals imposed by third parties;
  • Fear of failure, of change, of getting out of one’s comfort zone;
  • Internal conflicts;
  • Fear of not living up to the expectations of others.

All these limiting beliefs that automatically appear take control of the person and his behaviors, interfering in his actions and possibilities of evolution and/or success.

Self-sabotage is a manifestation of all these beliefs based on fears that have set in in their lives and that have led to failures that, over time, have gained weight and power within them.

These manifestations are symptoms of deeper wounds from the past, often from childhood. It is important to be aware of them in order to work on them and regain self-confidence and not be afraid to make mistakes in order to face what needs to be faced.

Characteristics of self-sabotage

There are many characteristics that define self-sabotage and will promote its occurrence at some times rather than others. A person who unconsciously sabotages himself/herself when confronting certain aspects or circumstances of his/her life will not do so in other situations.

These self-sabotaging behaviors often occur in situations that involve a great deal of responsibility or commitment, or when the person has to make an important decision that will represent a personal issue for him or her.

The negative beliefs associated with self-sabotage are:

  • Intense fear of being wrong;
  • Fear of failure;
  • Not feeling up to it;
  • Feeling like a usurper, an impostor;
  • The excessive expectation of something so as not to confront it.

It is of course completely normal that we feel all these sensations when we are about to live big changes or experiences in our lives, and we all experience it in a more or less intense way.

The main difference between people who sabotage themselves and those who don’t is that the former are overwhelmed by their negative beliefs and the fear that they will not make it, while the latter can put these fears aside and overcome them.

But what characterizes self-sabotage is having this negative belief “that I don’t deserve to succeed or to be loved. It is often very strongly ingrained and unconscious, and the person often defends himself or herself against it by blaming external circumstances. This often reinforces the negative belief that is constantly self-feeding.

What are the types of self-sabotage?

There are 4 types of tampering, which are classified according to individual behavior.

Don’t finish things

Here the person starts many projects, sets himself many challenges, which he finishes halfway or to give up. Usually, she puts in a lot of hours of work and puts in a lot of effort only to give up when she’s about to get there.

The explanation for this phenomenon is that, by not completing a project, the person does not face the possibility of failing or not being up to the future demands that one might have on them after this success.

However, in doing so, the person will never really know their potential and will perceive themselves as mediocre and incompetent.


Procrastination is the habit of postponing or delaying absolutely must-do activities, replacing them with less meaningful, simpler, or more attractive ones.

This habit is one of the most common among the population, and its reasons for being are varied. So, one reason may be that the person does not really like the task, or – and this is the most common reason in the circle of personal and professional projects – that they are afraid of the result.

Thus, by postponing a task and by not putting all of your efforts and resources necessary to achieve it, you will have a justification if everything is not as you wish. In other words, if despite the time and commitment, we do not achieve the desired result, we will highlight our incompetence. If we do not make the effort, it will serve as an excuse for failure.


Perfectionism, or the perfect excuse to never finish. Under the shield of perfectionism, the person looks for the perfect excuse not to move forward, without showing the fact that they do not really know if they want to achieve what they are working for.

There are two possibilities under the excuse of perfectionism. Either the person thinks that because they can’t directly do things right, they don’t, or else they avoid completing the project through constant reviews and changes.


Besides the reasons given above, the person can find many excuses that justify not facing possible changes and risks. These excuses can range from lack of time to economic resources, to age, or more.

Being aware of the mechanisms of self-sabotage can help us better understand why we are doing this and get to the root of the evil. A follow-up with a professional psychologist can also help to clarify the situations that block us and to get rid of self-sabotage while encouraging us to flourish.

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