How We Create Patterns Of Self-Sabotage

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How to recognize and overcome your self-sabotage patterns.

How many times in your life have you asked yourself:

“Why do I keep doing this?”

“How does this keep happening to me?”

“Why did I say that?”

Have you ever really wanted something in your life? Maybe you started working towards achieving this goal. Spend your time, haven’t slept many nights, invest your money and then sadly at one point you said…naaahhhhh…that’s not for me.

But not truly believing that it’s not for you. Deep down, you felt disappointed. Start to feel anxious and maybe even depressed that you are not who you want to be, that you do not have enough strength and perseverance to achieve your goals.

Then you get confused about what you really want out of life and fall into the state of your mind: “It’s okay, I don’t need it

Have you ever started to do something and said … yeah this time I’m gone manage, this is gone work! You took 10, 300, 2000 steps, and then you started feeling a knot in your stomach or crushing pain in your chest or a mess and overwhelming in your head. And that’s it, you couldn’t take the next step.

Have you ever felt that everyone around you seems to know who they are, what they want from life and how to achieve it? They are already or becoming successful. But you’ve been in the same place for several years and you don’t feel like your life is improving, that you’re moving forward.

In the end, you concluded that maybe success is not for you. Maybe success is for others and you just don’t have that “something” in you to achieve it.

Self-Sabotage Without Knowing

I spent most of my life stopping and starting things. I’ve always felt that I could live better. I can achieve something bigger than I am. But every time I told myself now is my time, now I will. Every time I started something new and said this is what I want. I ended up the same way and at the same time in my life, or even a few steps down.

I’ve always worked very hard. Starting early in the morning, usually around 5 o’clock, and working all day until late evening. Six or even seven days a week, sometimes sleeping only 3-4 hours and returning to work.

My businesses grew quickly but steadily for the first few years, regardless of what I started. But when I get to a certain point of success, and in any case, it was at a similar point. I stopped strangely. Then, in the next 5-6 months, I lost all the effort and work that I had done over the past few years.

At one point in my life, I realized this was some pattern that I was repeating, but I had no idea what it was.

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Self-Sabotage Patterns

We want something, but somehow we never get it. Why? Because somewhere deep in our subconscious we’re fighting against that goal. You may ask how this is possible.

This is the question I asked when I discovered that I was self-sabotaging my success, that I was the one who caused my failures every time. That I had worked hard for many years and then subconsciously worked hard to shoot down all my effort.

It was shocking and it took me a while to accept it, forgive myself and come to terms with it.

So if you are still here it means that you can relate to many, if not all, of the issues I am talking about.

The truth is, if we repeat same negative thoughts or behaviours several times, we unconsciously create destructive patterns in our lives that we carry from one aspect of our lives to another. These patterns can stick to us forever or until we recognize them and act to change them.

I didn’t learn to knock off my success when I was in business. I learned this when I was a little kid. Then I subconsciously transferred this behaviour to almost everything I did in my life. Now everything is clear. School, college, studying, first business, finances, my relationships – the same pattern had been repeated since I was seven years old.

Let me give you an example of a very simple self-destructive behaviour and how it can be turned into a pattern.

John, at the age of eight, performed in front of his class. Made a great presentation, but on a topic, that wasn’t popular with the other kids in the class. A few jealous or angry kids started laughing at John, and at the end of the day, many kids at school pointed to him and commented on his presentation and the topic he had chosen.

Concerned about social acceptance, John makes a presentation next time that fits a topic that is popular with students and classmates. He did this for the rest of elementary school. The same way of creating a habit and a pattern of not showing his true values and beliefs.

Let’s look at another scenario.

John performed in front of the class and he did it poorly. The children laughed with him, and John went through a painful experience. He finally forgot about it, but the feeling lingered in his subconscious. Now, whenever John has a chance to present his ideas and speak in front of an audience or work colleagues, his subconscious pushes him away, preventing the pain he experienced during his childhood.

RELATED: Toxic Friends That Hold You Back

One of the most important factors is the realization that there is nothing wrong with John. We all experience this at some point in our lives. Subconscious sabotage often makes sense because it helps us get through certain situations, painful experiences, or trauma in our lives.

But as we repeat it several times, it becomes our habit. We’ve made a pattern, and we don’t even know we’re repeating this pattern over and over.

So how is it that we create something that we don’t want and don’t know about it? The explanation of this process is simple. It’s like driving home from work for the first time.

In the beginning, we look at the road and signs to turn to the road we want to go to reach the destination. Sometimes we turn into a road we don’t want to go and get stuck in a traffic jam. Other times, we remember it and follow the right path. But sometimes we don’t pay attention to it and we keep going on the same road with traffic jams.

With time, we just drive, we don’t think about the road. Sometimes when we come home we don’t even remember which way we were going and what we were doing at that time.

This is how we create patterns in life. When we repeat a certain situation several times, we start driving on autopilot.

Self-Sabotage Can Be Scary

I got scared when I found out that I was self-sabotaging my life because I didn’t know when I was doing it. If it happened in the past, it could happen today and in the future.

But I was relieved to learn that at the end of the day, these are just our unhealthy habits and patterns. That there is nothing wrong with me.

We create those patterns and we learn to repeat them. So, we can unlearn it, change it and learn something new. Create a new habit consciously and transform it into a new pattern. This doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it can be done.

We can all make a choice now to discover what stands in our way and allow ourselves to make more choices in the future, and overcome those obstacles. Delve into our feelings, identify and break down the barriers we impose.


We can certainly discover and touch on some painful and traumatic experiences from our past. Find out about long-term unwanted habits and behaviours. We may feel resistance and an unpleasant feeling as we go through these experiences to understand the roots of our behaviour. Our subconscious mind may want to push us away from it, as some feelings maybe not healed yet.

This Is The Same As Training In The Gym

This is the same as that gym workout or running challenge that you don’t feel like doing today. But when you do it, you feel great. Remember that if you feel resistance to something, it is more likely to have something to discover. Because it will likely set you free from some of your fears and behaviours that you don’t want in your life.

The first step I recommend is to realize if you are self-sabotaging your success in life. To do this, you can use a quiz prepared by The Ford Institute to help you find out if you have subconscious self-sabotaging behaviour.

If so, don’t worry. It can be scary, but you can change it. Same as I did. So take a deep breath, relax and dig deeper into yourself to find out why you are hiding your beautiful soul deeply.

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About Post Author

Tomasz Drybala

Tomasz Drybala is an ultra-endurance athlete and explorer, keynote and motivational speaker, writer and ambassador. Tom has over 23 years of professional experience as an entrepreneur and in senior management positions. His most significant ultra-running challenges are making five million steps in 101 days and running unsupported 7,000 miles through Asia.  Tom's corporate and university coaching programmes and workshops have attracted over 2,000 students and business leaders; gaining excellent feedback from professors, university presidents and students, employees and leadership team.
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