Stop Sabotaging Yourself And Achieve Success | Dr. Isaiah Hankel | Focus, Create and Grow Your Way To Intelligent Achievement Stop Sabotaging Yourself And Achieve Success | Dr. Isaiah Hankel | Focus, Create and Grow Your Way To Intelligent Achievement

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Stop Sabotaging Yourself And Achieve Success

“I have a tendency to sabotage relationships; I have a tendency to sabotage everything. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of being afraid. Useless, good-for-nothing thoughts.”

Michael Bublé (Canadian Singer/Actor)

“Leaders who are kind of insecure or egocentric, they basically sabotage themselves.”

John C. Maxwell (American Author, The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership)

“Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Poet)

No matter who you are or what goals you have, your biggest obstacle in life is you.

You are your own worst enemy.

You are your biggest critic.

Part of this is because our brains are wired to value negative information twelve times more than positive information.

That’s right, negative information is stored in your long-term memory bank almost immediately, while positive information has to be held in your awareness for up to twelve seconds to be remembered long-term.

This is called negativity bias, and it affects all us.

It causes us to hold on to, ruminate on, and recall negative experiences more quickly.

It’s a self-loathing maneuver that only serves to undermine our progress and keep us stuck in bad habits.

This keeps us held back, timid, and destroys our self-confidence.

It is an insidious pattern that, when left unchecked, will be an unconscious set-up for failure.

Making familiar choices can lead to more stress

You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

Psychological Science research showed that when placed under pressure, people will default to what is familiar… “the devil they know”.

Participants chose safe, familiar options even if the outcome was negative rather than solutions that might have had more positive outcomes.

Researchers summarized that in an attempt to ameliorate stress, participants would actually make familiar choices that would exacerbate stress.

The devil you know, meet your own worst enemy.

The Association for Psychological Science commented on studies on self-sabotage, noting that the familiar is something people choose automatically.

They then explain this automatic choice as being an instinct, or “gut response”, even though these choices were part of a self-sabotage mission.

“Not only is familiarity a maladaptive guide to what’s beneficial, it can lead to choices that actually exacerbate stress — increasing the likelihood of more poor judgments, and then more, in a destructive cycle of self-defeating actions.”

Not just the familiar or habitual, but self-perception plays a role in whether we sabotage our own success or not.

Research in Science Daily discusses how self-perception around flexibility of abilities plays a key role in determining who would embrace success and who would retreat into self-sabotage.

In this research, it was determined that those that felt as though their abilities in the workplace were fixed or unchangeable would become anxious in the face of impending success and retreat from opportunity, with a decrease in their overall work performance.

Those who believed they could adapt, and that their ability could change, were less prone to self-defeatism and moved forward to success more easily.

How To Exchange Self-Sabotage For Success

Success is a mental game.

You have to believe that you’re worthy of it and capable.

You have to recognize your own patterns, and what has become familiar to you, and assess whether it’s serving your success or your own sabotage.

You have to ditch counterproductive self-critical patterns that strengthen your negativity bias and undermine your success.

You have to actively reject the familiarity of comfort and objectively choose what is unfamiliar and uncomfortable to build your confidence and self-perception, and conquer negativity bias.

Here are three ways to defeat self-sabotage.

Believe in yourself to prevent self-sabotaging decisions

1. Be your biggest fan.

The good news is you can learn to overcome this bias and start being your own best friend.

You can start being your own biggest fan.

Stop looking for other people to reflect who you are and what you’re capable of.

No one else’s opinion or perception of you matters.

Your belief in yourself is the only thing you can rely on.

Everyone else has an agenda.

Everyone else’s impression of you is temporary.

Sometimes it’s not even remotely accurate.

It’s no one else’s job to “get you” and build you up.

This isn’t preschool with cookies for doing a good job cleaning up your toys.

Don’t like yourself?


Don’t believe in yourself?


You get to choose who and how to be at any moment.

You can change anything about yourself that is holding you back and transform your weaknesses into strengths.

Do the work to be the person you can get behind.

Don’t expect others to validate you and be your cheerleaders.

People have their own lives and their own goals.

Go get yours and stop waiting for someone else to believe in you enough to take action.

The alternative is to continue to feel sorry for yourself while you wallow in the self-pity of never reaching your potential.

Look at where past decisions have caused more stress

2. Get real with your past.

The key is to take a hard look at the bad habits and self-sabotaging tendencies that have been keeping you from your goals.

Do an honest inventory.

Look at your past successes and failures.

Are there any patterns?

What was your mindset right before succeeding or failing?

What were your beliefs?

What were your habits?

Notice in particular any repetitive themes — like the BS story you told yourself to convince yourself to hold back instead of lunging forward?

Or the automatic choice that was a knee-jerk impulse that you said was a gut instinct when really you were just too afraid to choose differently.

Look at where your decisions caused more stress or created more drama rather than easing it.

Your biggest advantage will come from knowing yourself and why you do what you do.

Once you’re aware of your patterns, you can actively change them.

You can start having control over your life and your impulses.

You can start learning how to actually discern between a reactive fear based response, and a true gut instinct.

Until then, you’re running on autopilot.

Probably in circles, like a kid on a sugar high.

Get control of your life by doing some hard checks and balances into your history.

Particularly your defeats.

But also your victories.

When have you made the right choices?

When have you faced fear, been bold, and won?

Keep your victories and the mindset you used to achieve them front and center.

Remind yourself of them often.

Especially when you have a choice to make.

Especially when you feel fear.

This is something you have to own in your life if you want to reach any level of success.

It’s work that’s well worth it.

3. Embrace uncertainty to reduce stress.

Most often, people sabotage themselves, not because they’re afraid of failing, but because they’re afraid of succeeding.

They’re afraid of losing their current identity.

They’ve become attached to who they are, whether it’s working for them or not, and refuse to change.

These people will make great progress toward a goal and then, suddenly, right before achieving it, they’ll pull back.


The reason these people pull back is because they’re more comfortable with their past selves than their future selves.

They’re uncertain of who they will become (and uncertain if they live up to who they will become) so they fail on purpose.

They fail in favor of staying comfortable with who they are.

They fail because it’s easier for them to be unhappy than uncertain.

That’s right — people choose to stay unhappy.

They choose to be unhappy and to stay unhappy — because it’s cozy for them.

And not in a satisfying and peaceful cozy, but in a tolerable, static state of moderate misery.

Sustainable unhappiness.

By choice.

Because staying the same is comfortable.

It requires no effort.

And it keeps you in the known.

It also keeps you from success forever.

If you can’t tolerate uncertainty, wave goodbye to success and happiness forever — it’s never going to happen.

This mindset will keep you in a loop of self-sabotage — indefinitely.

The only way to prevent self-sabotage is to practice choosing uncertainty over unhappiness, over and over again until it’s a habit.

The only way to do this is to repeatedly put yourself in challenging situations.

Challenging situations that you choose and that have a positive outcome on the other end of them.

This will help you get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

This will help you start choosing uncertainty over unhappiness, which will lead to bigger and bigger successes in your life.

People are hardwired with a negativity bias. But your wiring doesn’t stay the same forever, unless you let it. In fact, you can actively change your brain to adopt a mindset for success. This means choosing to believe in yourself and being your biggest fan. It means assessing your history of failures and your successes and taking a hard look at your patterns of behavior that block your success. It means seeking out challenges that stretch you out of your comfort zone and force you into uncertainty, where all you have to rely on is your own belief in yourself.

To learn more about how to stop sabotaging yourself and achieve success, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.


You Comment, Isaiah Responds

  • Francie Eschenower

    I think I was hardwired with a possibility bias, but I sure look around and notice the vast majority who are choosing to be stuck and unhappy. It’s like I’m walking at a normal pace, and everyone around me is moving in slow motion. I’m no better than anyone else, but I can’t hold myself back if I feel like moving. Thanks for explaining why!

  • Andrea Robinson

    I know exactly what you mean. I find myself holding back a lot of times, although I’m much better at catching myself in the act these days. I’ve really gotten it gut level that I can’t wait for my friends to approve and join in with me when I really want to go somewhere. 🙂

  • Julian Holst

    I couldn’t agree more, Isaiah. We all have this self-sabotaging technique built in. I think it’s because, at the dawn of mankind, all we wanted to know was which animal was getting ready to pounce and eat us! Unfortunately, we still have such overactive fear instincts that we sometimes miss great opportunities when they present themselves.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Great insight, Julian. Thanks for sharing here. Standing out can definitely feel terrifying, but if you look at it analytically, why would you want to be just like everyone else?

  • Theo

    Never rely on someone else to determine your worth. Never wait for someone else to say it’s okay. Never give up on your dreams. Don’t waste your life.

  • Harvey Delano

    Great points, Isaiah. I think we’ve all had the problem of standing in our own way at times. Funny how it always seems like the problem is coming from someone else, and for sure, they can contribute to the problem. Using self-control and brain power helps solve any problem over time, though.

  • Charisse Cappello

    It’s a great idea to take inventory of the past. A five-year plan is only good if you follow it and take note of both your successes and failures. I think that most of us spend too much time beating up on ourselves, and it’s a waste of time. I like to look at my past mistakes and turn them into challenges for myself.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Excellent perspective, Charisse. Failure is nothing to be embarrassed about. Failure is only failure if you don’t take the lesson you learned from it. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work” – Thomas Edison

  • Sonja Luther

    It’s funny how the quotes say that both the insecure person and the egotistical person tend to sabotage themselves. I guess that a healthy balance is called for when you’re shooting for success, and I think keeping your eyes on the prize is also essential.

  • Madeline Rosemary

    People are almost always going to go with habit. If they’re failing, they’re going to default to more behaviors that they’re comfortable with. If you’ve ever known someone who puts up with constant put-downs from a mate, complains about it, but never does anything about it, that person is not able to identify and execute a behavior that gets them free, and that’s a shame.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      So true, Madeline. Fear of the unknown will cause people to relapse and turn to what is familiar, even if it destructive, just because it is comfortable. Progress feels uncomfortable – many do not get this.

  • Kathy Azalea

    I think it’s fascinating that we tend to store negative information in our brains longer than positive, and that’s probably why people ruminate and dwell on past failures or injustices. I’ve heard a lot of people complain that other people dwell on stuff like that, but now I can see there’s a biological reason. It’s good to know that we can take action that carves new neuronal pathways to a better future, as long as we’re aware of what’s going on. 🙂

  • Marvin D’Esprit

    I love the idea of embracing uncertainty. You can’t take risks without uncertainty. And, if you don’t take risks, you can’t step out of the comfort zone and make any real change or major contribution. None of my role models, like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, knew for sure that their risks would pay off. Even in sport, you do all the diligence in terms of safety, but you’re still gonna have butterflies on that first skydive or hang glide.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I will succeed, thank you for that advice, because being taught that I could not do anything by my own family, just because the doctor said it, when I was a kid. They act like miracles does not happen! I am going to beat this negativity! God is the One can make me successful.