Self sabotage: why do you choose the hard road?

Self sabotage is a very real struggle

Someone once asked me “Why do you always insist on taking the hard road.” I replied, “Why do you assume I see 2 roads?” As a coach, I can easily relate to this mindset and I know it is a very real struggle for many people. Of course, I’m talking about self sabotage.

This probably speaks to you if you’re someone who finds it impossible to break out of bad habits or destructive behaviour. You know you’re doing things you shouldn’t but you can’t seem to make better choices.

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Why do you do that?

I’m absolutely sure you don’t wake up every morning and say to yourself “how can I make my life as hard as possible today?” Nobody does that. Yet for some reason, you continue to do things you know you shouldn’t and you continue to not do the things that you know you should.

Am I speaking to you right now? If so, know this: you’re completely normal, you’re not alone, you’re not weak, stupid or crazy and you can change.

Why do you self sabotage?

Human beings are complex characters. It’s our nature to find a state of equilibrium. That means we seek out the familiar and we avoid change wherever possible. Most of all we usually try and find the path of least resistance. A bit like a lightning bolt.

In your mind, the hard road is actually not the hard road, it’s the familiar road. The easiest road. Maybe the only road. You don’t see options. You continue to choose the hard road for any number of reasons.

Here’s 8 reasons which might explain why you do this:

  1. You prefer to stick with what you know – Familiarity is safe. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, feeling safe is one of the 5 basic human needs. You choose familiarity, even when you know it’s not the best choice.
  2. You lack a bit of self-belief – You’re not really sure you can do it or you don’t believe there is a better way.
  3. You’re unsure of the purpose – You can change, as long as there’s a good reason. But you’re not really clear yet on what that reason is.
  4. You’re uncomfortable with change – It’s uncomfortable changing because it’s scary, difficult and full of the unknown.
  5. You’re stuck in your comfort zone – It’s in the name! There’s comfort in your comfort zone, but not much growth happens there.
  6. Fear of failure – You don’t like failing and most other people are the same. What if the other road is not all it’s cracked up to be?
  7. Fear of success – This is one of the most complex fears. Success has all kinds of consequences such as more responsibility, more commitment or the inability to be able to handle the workload. Previously I have written about how to Harness Your Fear. Fear of success can actually bring up the same kind of anxieties as fear of failure.
  8. Fear of the unknown – When you don’t know what’s around the corner, you tend to avoid it rather than risk the consequences. Self-preservation is a strong motivator to resisting change.

Knowledge is power

Knowledge can be power because when you can recognise why you self-sabotage, you can start to take action to change your behaviour. If you really want to make better decisions, start to acknowledge, understand and then take responsibility. You can do it!


self sabotage why do you choose the hard road
Why do you always choose the hard road? Why do you assume I see two roads?

35 Replies to “Self sabotage: why do you choose the hard road?”

  1. I definitely like to stick to things that are familiar. I’m always afraid to step outside my boundaries and always stop myself doing things I know I want to to. I’m going to work on trying not to do this more.

    1. Good on you Sarah! It’s hard to do but I’m sure you will take an amazing leap forward when you give this a go 🙂

    1. You know Kristin, the funny thing is, familiarity is relative. I’m guessing the life you’re living today is very different to the life you had 10 years ago? Yet somehow you’ve grown, adapted and found a new familiar. Just because you have new challenges ahead doesn’t mean you can’t adapt (and maybe thirve!) in a new familiar!

  2. Very great motivational and self-reflective post. I have been self sabotaging my whole life and once I realized it, I was able to keep that in my fore mind while trying to grow as a person.

  3. What a great article. Knowledge IS power, and the knowledge you shared in this article was amazing. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Thank you Sylvia! Knowledge is power however knowledge without action is actually meaningless. There are many very knowledgeable and talented people who have achieved nothing due to lack of action. All the best 🙂

    1. I’m so pleased you’ve acknowledged this Kim. Can you identify why you lack self-belief? Why do you believe you can’t do it? Think about the last time you hesitated because of this reason. Do you know anyone else who has achieved what you thought you couldn’t? If so, what makes them so special? Realistically, what is stopping you from achieving the same thing? If they can do it, why can’t you? Belief is everything! Try and work hard to realise how capable you are. 🙂

    1. Hmmm interesting Brittany. You are definitely part of the majority. This is very common. Perhaps just one time stepping outside your comfort zone could be the start of amazing things!

  4. Great post Lisa. OMG, I face this all the time – need to make big changes but all the 8 reasons ticks the boxes of why I don’t. This post encourages one to take action.

    1. I’m so excited to hear this Tee! I hope you will come back and share the changes you’ve made. You can do it!

  5. I read something about this last year and really recognised it in myself.
    I think the big thing for me is fear – fear of failure (stuffing it up), fear of success (actually pulling it off and getting more responsibility), and fear of unknown ( what will happen if I do this).

    I love reading about this kind of stuff!

    Xx Angela

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Angela. Here’s a good way to think about your future opportunities – What is the worst that can happen? What is the best thing that can happen? What is the likely outcome? Sometimes these 3 questions can help you see that the benefit actually outweighs the fear. Give it a go next time!

  6. Fortunately I can say that I do not fit into any of these characteristics listed in your article. However, I know so many people who sudden with these and they are okay with living life this way.

    1. Everyone has different goals, that’s true Delvecchio. Each to their own. If they are comfortable, all power to them!

    1. That’s fantastic Brittany! Please come back and share with me the changes you have made. You can do it!

  7. Oh yes, I’m 100% about comfort and convenience. My life is so busy, sometimes it’s just easier to continue doing something than taking the time to change it up.
    But you’ve inspired me to take another look! Thank you!

    1. I’m so excited by this Chris! I really hope you give it a try. Maybe start small, just one small thing. You can do it!

    1. Thankyou Qudsiyah! Yes we can be our own worst enemy at times. We are the problem but we are also he solution!

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