How To Stop The Sabotage Cycle

mental game mental toughness sabotage
Stop sabotaging yourself


You’ve done it again.

The same mistake that defeats you every time.

Why do you keep doing it? You know better.

You practice hard, you do the work.

But when you are right on the edge of a breakthrough you sabotage yourself every time.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

It’s like being in a glass cage that you bang your head against. Trapped with a monkey that keeps harassing you.

Would you like to finally get that monkey off your back and break out?

You can, you know.

Come on, make a break for freedom.


You Believe a Lie

Why the heck do you sabotage yourself anyway?

It’s so stupid, isn’t it?

Sabotage is your safety net. It’s your mechanism to stay safe and comfortable.

You have a set of beliefs about the world around you and where you belong in it.

You believe those beliefs protect you. You believe a lie.

When you step out of your comfort zone, the little “sabotage” monkey hops up on your shoulder. He whispers that you don’t belong out there. Stay where it’s safe and warm.

You kinda agree with him. You feel uncomfortable in your own skin in this new place.

And BOOM! Some random thing happens to knock you back to “where you belong”.

Except what if that “random thing” isn’t as random as you think?

What if you’re causing it?

What if you revert back to behaviours that are comfortable. Behaviours keep you where you are.

(Did you get your free Sabotage Trigger Test? Check the bottom of the article.)

Ready to break the cycle?

Don’t Kid Yourself

The first key to breaking the sabotage cycle is… don’t kid yourself.

If you aren’t getting the results you want you are lacking a key skill.

BUT…consider whether you have identified the skill that is causing you the problem. 

For example, let’s say you are a dog agility competitor and you tend to “choke” in a big event. Or you’re a writer and you have trouble putting your work out in front of people.

You might think to perform better, you need more confidence. It might be true, but it’s useless as a plan. How do you train confidence?

The problem is you haven’t trained THE SKILL of dealing with pressure or rejection.

So why haven’t you done it?

There are three main reasons.

  1. You’re a novice and you don’t know you should.
    • Agility: You don’t know that putting pressure on yourself while practicing will help you to run better in trials.
    • Writing: You haven’t identified your lack of progress as an avoidance issue and don’t realize it’s a skill you can work on.
  2. You’re at an intermediate level and you don’t know what steps to take to fix it.
    • Agility: You know you should put pressure on yourself in training but don’t know how to. You could get friends try to distract you or have a consequence for faults.
    • Writing: You’re scared of criticism but don’t know how ease into it. Work with a great, kind teacher. (I highly recommend Henneke Duistermaat for the bloggers out there). Or post to some random blogging site, and do it under an assumed name .
  3. You’re at an advanced level and you haven’t prioritized it for some reason. End of story.

The first two reasons probably indicate you either need to do more research or go get a coach. You need to find out what to do and how to do it.

If you know what you should be doing and you just aren’t doing it, skills might not be the problem. Have you lost your motivation because the goal too big and you’ve looked up too soon? Do you have ineffective habits? Are other things more important right now?

Okay…sure you’ve covered all your bases in the skills department?

The monkey’s losing his grip.

What’s next?

Karma’s a…

The next way to sabotage yourself is by engaging in wrong thoughts and wrong actions.

What are those?

Fighting with others. Doing drugs. Being financially irresponsible.


Most people think of them as black and white, but they’re not.

Small choices add up.

Such as….

“Oh, one more small purchase on the credit card.” “Just this one cookie.” If you’re an agility person going into the ring, “This one little piece of food in my pocket isn’t really cheating”. Or as a writer, “It can’t hurt to copy this one sentence.”

You see, these little choices we make every day affect our beliefs about ourselves.

When you slip in small areas, somewhere inside it leaves a small doubt — the kind of doubt that trips you up when it matters the most.

“Do I give it everything I’ve got? Do I show up every day? Do I act with integrity?”

In your heart, you know the answer.

The right choice is often hard in the moment, but you are glad of it later. It builds confidence.

The wrong choice is often satisfying in the moment, but usually leads to more chaos. More doubt. More sabotage.

Now, I’m not saying it’s a perfect world. External things happen you have no control over.

But there is an element of cause and effect.

And the one thing you can control is you.

Don’t give the monkey anything to grab onto.

There Is No Monkey

The most frustrating form of sabotage is when you focus on wrong things.

You have the skills but aren’t executing because you focus on your doubts. On how nervous you feel. Or on what others think of you.

All those monkeys clamouring for your attention.

Have you ever been so focused while training your dog or writing that you didn’t hear someone speak to you? As if they weren’t there? Or hours slipped by without you noticing?

You didn’t worry about what you were thinking, or what you were feeling.

Immerse yourself in the next step.

Nothing else.

There is no monkey.

It’s that simple.

And that hard.

The Self-Sabotage Ends Now

Do you hear the sound of glass shattering?

That’s you charging through the glass cage. You’ve escaped.

But then you realize…the door was wide open all along. That nagging monkey was trying to tell you where it was and how to open it.

Next time you feel the monkey on your back, don’t fight.

Listen to him.

Challenge your beliefs.

Fix the problematic skill. Start with small choices you can control. Immerse yourself in the process.

Let the monkey lead you to an exciting new adventure.


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