4 Effective Ways to Stop Sabotaging Yourself

by | Jul 5, 2023 | Church Health, Church Leadership, Pastoral Burnout

Have you ever uttered any of these sentences?


  • “I can’t do it!”
  • “That’s way out of my league. I can’t possibly succeed at that.”
  • “I tried that once upon a time, but it didn’t work.”
  • “I always fail at this. Why even bother?”

If those voices have rumbled around your head, you’re not alone.

Unfortunately, many of us sound like this at one time or another. “Negative self-talk” can do you great harm. After all, what can be worse than an enemy that lives inside your head?

If these thoughts and sentences start to come on a regular basis or more often than in the past, realize that your mental saboteur is hard at work. This destructive force can stop you from achieving your goals and deter you from being successful.

Suddenly you’re so worried and fearful about all the things that can go wrong that you don’t even give yourself a chance to succeed. You may be overthinking, pausing and unable to move forward in the least. Have you had those feelings?  Your saboteur is hard at work.

This tends to appear when you stretch outside your comfort zone. It’s drawn by fear, and the longer you let fear remain unresolved, the longer the saboteur will stick around.

Fear tries to tell you it is doing you a favor by holding you back where it’s safe. It will tell you that you are more likely to succeed if you “think through” properly. Most of the time, those two words are code for “I am feeding the fears inside of me.”


You can’t linger in the territory of fear if you want to move forward.


Instead, you need to learn how to move around and through the saboteur to find ways to achieve success. Here are three basic points that will draw you out of the grasp of your inner saboteur.


1. Start with awareness


The first and most important key is recognizing your self-sabotaging behavior. Awareness is like the sun — when it shines on things, they cannot avoid being transformed. Awareness will allow you to get outside of yourself and observe how the saboteur keeps you stuck. We tend to see things as a reflection of our own state of mind, not as they are, so observation and awareness are the critical first steps toward overcoming.


2. Get your mojo back. 


The second key is to get back your mojo — regain your confidence – the confidence where you believe in yourself, the self-esteem that will strengthen you to try new things and take bold risks.

It was your mojo that got you started in what you are doing now. You didn’t “Sign up” without your mojo. To get to where we need to be, we need to give up on moping!

If you want to try great new things, start by thinking of all the positive outcomes that are possible. You can rightly assume that God wants you to live a life of success and momentum in what he has called you to. Create a series of small steps, each of which will give you a small step of progress.

With each one, you’ll regain a little of your mojo. Don’t think of the things that can go wrong, but instead visualize all the exciting ways everything can go right.


3. Let Go of Perfection


The third key, and in some ways the most important, is to give up the belief that you have to be perfect. It’s this mindset that invites fear to creep in — thoughts like:

  • What if I don’t do it right?”
  • What if I fail – again?!”
  • “There’s no way I can succeed at that.”
  • It seems like I fail all the time. Why can’t I be better?”

GK Chesterton captured it well: “Anything worth doing is worth doing wrong.”

The negativity of perfection is the perfect environment to kill our success in any area of life.

Switch off your images of what it’ll take for life to be perfect.

Instead, align yourself with positive beliefs about what you can accomplish and you will live in the right mental, emotional, and physical states that will allow you to do whatever you set your mind to.

Learn to notice when the voice of the saboteur kicks in. When you hear it, know you have more control over it than it has over you. Never let it keep you from the things you want to do.


4. Lighten up


What is it that brings you enjoyment and relaxation? Do that. Do that as often as you need to refill your passion tank. Sometimes by the time you begin to feel the need to refill your tank, you have been waiting too long. You may need to schedule fun. That may sound odd, but for many who are overly driven and scheduled, this is what you might well need.

Do you like TV? Watch it within reason (Paul wrote, “All things in moderation.”)

I like to watch movies and tv (I’ve seen most of the episodes of The Simpsons!).  The problem I’ve had to deal with has been that around the models of the Christian life, I’ve been influenced by things that are seen differently. I have learned that I can’t allow someone else’s convictions to fill in the blanks for my ways to relax.


The point here isn’t to discuss the pros and cons of TV watching.


It’s all about finding your unique ways to relax. Just be aware of your wiring, tempo, and level of enjoyment, then do that – with gusto!

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