How to Deal with Self-Sabotage

I’m a self-confessed, self-help junkie.

I love listening to motivational tapes all the time. Lately, I’ve been listening to Tony Robbins’ “Personal Power II.”

It’s a great program. And today, I’d like to share with you a neat little exercise I learned from it that helps you banish self-sabotage for good.

It’s not that we don’t want to succeed. We all do. And it’s not that our desire isn’t there. I’m sure you’ll agree that you have a pretty strong desire to succeed and live the “Writer’s Life.”

So if you aren’t there, what gives?!

Self-sabotage. Here’s an example of what I mean …

Let’s say you want to lose weight. So you get on a diet and exercise plan and you’ve been doing a great job of following it for the past 8 days. On day 9, you’re out with friends and you’re faced with temptation – chocolate cake.

Now, do you eat it? Or do you pass it up?

If you end up eating it, you’re self-sabotaging yourself. You know you should be eating healthy instead of indulging in something that could derail your efforts.

Usually, self-sabotage is the result of a hidden payoff. In the case of chocolate cake, it could be that your payoff is instant pleasure … and the feeling that you’re no longer missing out on “having a good time” with your friends.

Another payoff could be that you’re avoiding the pain of having to say “no” and avoiding the peer pressure that your friends are sure to put on you.

Another example closer to home: Maybe you’ve been seriously thinking about becoming a copywriter full-time. But for one reason or another, you keep putting it off.

What hidden payoff could there be here?

Lots of different things like:

  • Avoiding the pain of putting in effort and then failing.
  • Avoiding the pain of getting your work critiqued.
  • Avoiding the pain of having to call clients and potentially face rejection.
  • Avoiding the pain of having to sacrifice watching television or sleep in order to study and practice your craft.
  • Etcetera, etcetera.

See where I’m going with this?

There could be TONS of hidden payoffs that you’re getting by NOT taking action to succeed.

That said, here is the exercise that will help you eliminate self-sabotage for good:

  • Write all the reasons why you’re NOT doing what you know you should be doing. This will give you a key level of awareness that identifies WHERE you’re sabotaging yourself and, more importantly, why.
  • Write down all the things you stand to GAIN by taking action. This is where you start to give yourself a heavy dose of motivation from the “inside.” Make a list of all the things you stand to gain. You can think of this as using copywriting to persuade yourself (i.e. all the benefits you’ll gain). So if you’re trying to lose weight, your list may include things like: you’ll look great in a bathing suit, people will compliment you, you’ll be taking care of your health, you’ll feel more energy, you’ll have more confidence, etc.
  • Now write all the things that will happen as a result of NOT taking action. This is using what Tony Robbins calls the carrot and the stick. The carrot is all the stuff you’ll gain by taking action. The stick is what will happen if you don’t. So continuing with our weight loss example, if you don’t eat healthy and work out, you’ll be going down the path of illness and disease … you’ll feel less than stellar about yourself … you’ll grow into larger pant or dress sizes … you won’t have much energy … you’ll continue wishing you were fit … you’ll lead a less than optimal life than you know you have the potential to live.
  • Read your list every day. Write what you’ll gain if you take action, and what will happen if you don’t, on a 3x5 index card. Then read this card every day, three times a day. You’ll find that you’re feeling VERY motivated to take action once you read that card.

One more thing – I’ve mentioned before that Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of the best-seller, Psycho- Cybernetics, stated that it takes 21 days to form a habit.

So why not make it a habit to motivate yourself from the inside and eliminate self-sabotage altogether?

Read your card for the next three weeks, three times a day. It WILL help. And when it does, make sure to share your success story in the comments below!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

Click to Rate:
Average: 4.3
Published: March 8, 2011

4 Responses to “How to Deal with Self-Sabotage”

  1. There's a great book out there that few people know about. The title speaks for itself - and to the author's dismay - I'd say the title is all you really need to read if you take it to heart. So what's the title?

    I'll tell you in just a minute.

    But first...

    Just kidding. The title is: Motion Before Motivation and it's by Michael Dolpies

    Sean McCool

  2. Thanks "G". Seems like the path to The Writer's Life goes right through self-sabotage...been there, doing that! Guess I know I'm on the "right" path. Love Tony Robbins stuff, it's time to apply it... thanks for sharing!

    Jerry Bures

  3. Sean, thanks for the new read!

    Jerry Bures

  4. Thanks this helped a lot as I struggle with this immensely as a musician.

    Guest (Fahid)

Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)

This name will appear next to your comment.

Your email is required but will not be displayed.

Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters

Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)