Self-Sabotage: 7 Ways We Ruin Our Own Success

Written by Jen Rao

It’s time to let you in on a little secret, starting a business is easy.

You feel invincible and the buzz of excitement around the dreaming and planning stages is undeniable.

Perhaps you seek location independence, or you want to work from home to spend more time with your kids.

You’re excited, everything is shiny and new. You stand in front of a world of limitless possibilities!

But once you’ve made some progress and that initial buzz wears off, it’s all too easy to come crashing back down to earth. You realize that eventually everything becomes work and where excitement and opportunity once lifted you up, fear now creeps and settles in.

When fear overtakes your thoughts and emotions, suddenly the temporary barrier of excitement you once had is no more. Without that barrier, self-sabotage is bound to happen.

Before we move on, let’s dig in a little bit more to what we mean when I say “self-sabotage”.

Self-sabotage is when our thoughts and actions hold us back from the success we are capable of experiencing.

It’s a beast with many faces but at the heart of it is usually one thing: FEAR.

Here are some common examples of self-sabotage – see if any of these examples sound familiar to you.

1. Imposter Syndrome

(a.k.a. that little voice in your head convinced you that you have no right to do the work you want to do)

Oh my, imposter syndrome is such a formidable foe. Your thoughts become bombarded with mean and antagonizing questions of yourself, like “who am I to be offering this work/building this business/leading these people?”

While on the surface, you’re following your intuition and taking a brave leap into the unknown, on the inside you feel like fake and a fraud. It’s an incredibly crappy way to feel.

2. Procrastination

(a.k.a. when you put off important work by any means necessary)

At the heart of procrastination lies a need for perfection. There’s an expectation that everything must be perfect and crystal clear before you can move forward. There’s a need for every single detail to be ironed out – which is hardly ever the case when you’re building your own business.

This can show up in many different ways. Perhaps you’re a procrasti-learner, insistent that you need another course or certification before you’re good enough to start your business.

Or, if you’re already running your own business, your procrastination may take on a more sly and daily habit of putting off important work out of fear.

This leads directly into the next form of self-sabotage…

3. Busy Work

(a.k.a. when you avoid the scary and necessary work in your business by completing menial tasks instead)

Have you ever caught yourself outlining 100 complicated projects just to avoid the one simple one that will bring the most results? When you self-sabotage in this way, you use busy-ness and accomplishing menial tasks as an excuse to avoid the work that scares you.

At the heart of this is fear and the potential for rejection.

4. Undervaluing Yourself

(a.k.a. not charging what your worth)

Charging what you’re worth is essential if you’re going to work for yourself! But, there’s a lot of mindset and old storylines around money that can get in your way.

Do you find yourself making excuses as to why you can’t charge more for your hard work? Of if you’re just getting started, do you think working for free is the only way to go?

As you build your business it’s incredibly important that you’re clear on how much time and effort you put into your work and what a fair amount of compensation is.

5. Comparing your Inner Self to Another’s Outer Success

(a.k.a. social media self-sabotage)

It’s natural to look at someone else’s highlight reel on Instagram or their perfect website and think that you should be as flawless as that.

On the inside you have ups and downs, you can feel scared, intimidated, burnt out. Then through comparison, you put the false pressure on yourself that you should always be ON and UP.

But no matter what you see, those people have similar ups and downs to you, you’re just not always going to see the truth on social media!

6. Blaming

(a.k.a. avoiding responsibility for your own dang actions)

When you refuse to take responsibility for your actions in your life and your business, you hold yourself back from doing what you actually need to do to succeed.

If something goes wrong, do you think that it can’t possibly be your fault?
When you think this way, you limit your potential for growth. You give yourself permission to stay small and not move forward.

7. Indecision

(a.k.a. decision analysis paralysis)

The life and work of an entrepreneur is full of difficult decisions. When you’re faced with one, do you find yourself paralyzed with fear over making the wrong one? Do you put off making a decision because you worry that if it’s the wrong one, there will be no turning back?

Now the good news – everybody self-sabotages!


There’s a false belief that successful business owners don’t experience any of the above examples of self-sabotage (or the many other versions out there!)

But it’s simply not true.

Want to know the difference between a successful entrepreneur and someone who stalls or quits?

They know how to recognize that they’re self-sabotaging and they do something about it.

So how do you recognize your self-sabotaging ways?

Here are some simple tips:

Look in the Mirror

Self-awareness is key when dealing with the ways you hold yourself back. The more you can connect with yourself and get real on your reactions, the easier it is to actually do something about it.

Create a quiet and reflective practice for yourself – write in a journal (Fizzle has a whole course on Focus and Motivation Journaling!), take up meditation (there are many helpful apps if you’re just getting started)

The key is to create some space when you have a knee-jerk reaction to a challenge. Instead of blindly allowing yourself to repeat the same reactions over and over, you can begin to see your self-sabotage for what it is and eventually move past it. Notice when you react in a way that says “oh, this is just who I am” – this is using a storyline as a crutch or excuse.

Just know, this isn’t an overnight process; you’ll still self-sabotage for a while… but you’ll be acutely aware of it the entire time… which is SUPER uncomfortable.. This discomfort makes breaking the pattern that much easier.

Notice Body Language

Here are two opposite examples of how body language indicates self-sabotage.

1: It could look like cowering, hunching your shoulders, making yourself small and lowering your voice. This is low self-confidence manifesting itself through your physical body.

2: Another example could be ego and anger flaring up, clenching your jaw and your body becoming so stiff and tight you give yourself a headache.

Once you notice your body reacting in either way, the best action is to purposefully get up and change your environment and body shape as much as you can. If you’ve made yourself small and meek, take up more space and puff out your chest. If frustration has made you tense, take some deep breaths to soften your facial muscles.

Do whatever you need to break the same old repetitive body language. Refuse to let it take you over!

Give Yourself A Break

You will always be the hardest on yourself. But if you’ve been banging your head against the wall trying to make something work, chances are one or two more whacks aren’t what you need.

You probably just need a break.

Reassess and get some perspective before you continue on. This is a great example of why having a reliable community to vent to or bounce ideas off of is key.

You’re Not Alone. We’re All Imperfect.

You will make mistakes. But remember those heroes that you look up to? They’ve also all made and will continue to make mistakes. Probably forever.

Perfectionism is not an indicator that you have what it takes to make it in your business. A better predictor of success lies in your ability to give yourself grace, learn and move forward when you inevitably screw something up.

The scariest and most liberating and wonderful part of being an entrepreneur, is that it all comes back to YOU. And we already have the power to change ourselves.

Recognize your own personal forms of self-sabotage and commit to creating new and better thoughts and actions. Your business will grow, and best of all, you’ll grow as a person too.

Earn a living doing something you love.

Grow an audience and get paid for your work as an independent creator. Fizzle is where creators come to learn, share and make progress toward their online dreams.

I’ve taken a lot of courses and been involved in several paid communities since I started my business, but I’ve never ever felt like anyone CARED as much about seeing my reach my goals as the Fizzle Team. They show up for me as much as I show up for myself. Thank you SO much, you guys!

Claire Pelletreau

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