Overcome Self Sabotage: Become the Person You’ve Always Wanted To Be & Get Back to What Really Matters in Life

Have you at some point felt (even for a little while) like you were...

  • being pulled in different directions?
  • that there's just no point in continuing your online business?
  • that there's way too much noise, fog, and confusion, so you don't know what to do next?
  • that if you only had a better outlook about your daily life, things would be better?
  • taking SOME action (like buying a new product, or writing half a blog post) but as soon as you didn't "something" ... you slowed down?
  • losing all momentum after hitting just one simple roadblock such as what price to charge, what to name your product or what time of the day to mail?
  • making too many mistakes to continue on this course?

You're in luck, because if you've ever felt like you were in any one of these situations, if you've given up all hope and you needed a little bit of a boost, I think this will help you.

The reason why most of us internet marketers fail, and keep having to get back on course, is this thing called self-sabotage. If you found it easy to make $500 per month online, but $1000 seems like a lot of work, that's self-sabotage and you don't even know it. If you get more uncomfortable the more money you make, that's self-sabotage!

To fix it, I'm not going to give you some cheesy motivational quotes like...

"I haven't failed.
I've just found 10,000 ways to make a light bulb that don't work."
-- Thomas Edison

Or tell you silly story after story about how most things were discovered accidentally... (microwave ovens, velcro, corn flakes, penicillin, all on accident).

I'm also not going to blame you or try to tell you it's all your fault and you "should just snap out of it" because that's not the advice you need to get you to where you need to go. What will get you past it? Breaking down the problem so you can identify what "type" of self-sabotage you are experiencing and fix it.

Chances are you experience more than one of these types, but for now let's fix JUST ONE! It's not your fault. You just need to discover which of your sabotaging activities need a little ADJUSTING.

Self-Sabotage Explained

Here's the thing. Your ancestors were trained to live life carefully. Think about it. If a caveman 100,000 years ago had a fear of heights, he probably stayed away from cliffs and lived to procreate.


Fear of snakes, fear of dogs, wolves, bears, fear of enclosed spaces, fear of the dark... all PROTECTION mechanisms. Back in Neanderthal Times, if you found a tribe, made friends, blended in, and didn't cause too much trouble, you were far safer than trying to survive on your own.

If things in life weren't quite right, it was "better" to try to adjust to a life of unhappiness, rather than changing your situation... that might get you killed.

Fast forward to the present day where over 99% of the population made up of clock-punching, cubicle-dwelling zombies, which is a "safe" place to be, until you're trying to make a living online, and then it's time to fight those survival instincts and take a little bit of a risk.

It's easier to focus on negative things as a way of NOT taking action and playing it safe, but with these new rules, you're trying to solve your existing problems and in turn you're CAUSING new problems. You're trying to motivate yourself, start a business, make new contacts, create products, and build a list... all which goes AGAINST your "playing it safe" instincts!

Here are the four forms of self-sabotage that keep you poor. Remember, these aren't just four scenarios I made up... I've compiled the responses from surveys I've run over the past several years and from other surveys and I've grouped them together into parts that make sense...

  • Type #1: Priorities (procrastination, reacting, delusions)
  • Type #2: Habits (drama, slippery slope thinking, debbie downer attitude, cognitive dissonance)
  • Type #3: Emotions (stress, overwhelm, boredom)
  • Type #4: Meaning (victim thinking, embarrassment, living vicariously)

You'll understand this setup in a minute. Basically, your priorities and your systems are what LEAD you into self-sabotage, your habits cause you to REPEAT that self-sabotage, your negative emotions are the BI-PRODUCT of this sabotage, and the meaning is what you use to JUSTIFY your behavior over and over again.

Change just one of these factors... you change your thinking and your actions. Identify which of these is your WORST problem and now you're moving towards a positive change.


Delusion: You have skewed views of the world, end goals, and you're clinging to unrealistic expectations and lies. You either exaggerate or downplay problems with your business, money, self, relationships, or your health.

Procrastination: You let "little everyday tasks" get in the way of what really matters. Maybe you said, I can't do "this" until I have "that" and "that." You waited until the last minute (or even worse, too late) to start, to make any decision, and you didn't think long term.

Reacting: You act impulsively. One crisis starts up and you quickly change your entire business, without thinking about the real consequences.


Cognitive Dissonance: Have you ever thought one thing, but said another? This is called lying, acting, and uncertainty. If you've started on a path that you now regret, and you want to change but can't, you might have thought it was easier to "pretend" or continue doing what you're doing... until you've decided... I've had enough, I'm not doing, thinking, or saying what I want to do and say!

Debbie Downer: Misery loves company! If your current life situation sucks, it is easier to do the right thing and correct it? Or... is it more tempting to do the "lazy" thing and focus on everything negative? To tear others down and pull them down to YOUR level, instead of helping?


To criticize, judge, and even become jealous of everything "good" in the world. In a way, you're training yourself to become "happy" when everyone (including you) is angry and sad!

Drama: You're addicted to the "struggle" and feel the need to be in constant chaos in order to be alive, awake, and have something to do. Either you're the person who starts up drama, or instigate it from others, this is your form of sabotage!

Your need to create drama leads to you going down one "slippery slope" after another. If one little thing doesn't go your way, then everything is in shambles. Let's say you were on a very careful diet, and on top of that you woke up early and made sure to visit the gym one hour every day. But wait! One day, you simply don't have time to go to the gym. Now, what's the point of anything? You cancel your gym membership, eat a gallon of ice cream and throw away your alarm clock.


Stress: You worry too much, and in fact, you've created problems out of events that haven't happened yet. You overestimated the risk of something simple like sending an email, or making a forum or blog post. Did you waste an entire week "mulling over" a purchase or waste a month "thinking about" taking that trip? Even after you made that decision, you kept obsessing over it... not just wasting your own time but getting yourself worked up in the process.

Overwhelm: Isn't it possible that you've let stress get in your way (under-confidence), but in yet other situations, the LACK of stress (over-confidence) has hurt you? You started too many projects, didn't keep deadlines, had no consistent routine, and you might have let others distract you from your target goal. Which THEN led to stress, procrastination, and bad habits in the future.

Boredom: Also tying back in with cognitive dissonance AND building on procrastination, let's say you started a project 6 months ago and you weren't able to finish what you started. All that time wasted! Plus, it's easier for you to give up on your next project. And the next, and the next! Then it becomes easier to give up, lose focus, and get distracted by other bright shiny objects.


Victim Thinking: Here's a weird one. You were taught even as a little kid to be selfless and put others before you, right? But what if took it to the extreme and put EVERYONE before you, even when it hurt you and your business? You always put yourself last, which conveniently meant you didn't have to take any action for yourself. Think about it... it's "easier" to spend all day helping others for free, or being a busybody on a public forum, than taking of your OWN action, right? That's scary!

Unfortunately, that's not sustainable. You've always put yourself last so NOW it feels like you're always last, everyone is better than you, you've given yourself an inferiority complex.

Embarrassment: You didn't ask for help along the way. You'd "heard" of that before. How hard could it be? You didn't assert yourself, you didn't admit you needed help, and you didn't assert your needs and desires!

Living Vicariously: This is dangerous! Isn't it true that you can watch a TV show or a movie, or even hear about stories from a friend, and feel almost as if you've experienced those things? It's dangerous because it allows others to live your life for you. You don't have to take risks, you don't have to take action, just hear stories and your thirst is quenched, right?

Until... you start comparing yourself to others. You think, that person just turned 21 years of age. What was I doing when I was 21? They're finishing college, what was I doing then? They just hit the 100k per year mark, they just had their first kid, where was I at that point?

I know I promised no cheesy quotes, but this one applies perfectly:

"Don't compare yourself to anyone in this world.
If you do so, you are insulting yourself."
-- Bill Gates

Here is self-sabotage explained in a table:

PRIORITIES Delusion Procrastination Reacting
HABITS Cognitive Dissonance Debbie Downer Drama
EMOTIONS Stress Overwhelm Boredom
MEANING Victim Thinking Embarrassment Living Vicariously

Laying it out on this table helps ME just as much as it helps YOU. Why? Because when it comes to self-improvement, there is no such thing as "permanently" fixing any of your problems. It's far too easy to regress back into old habits and forget what tools you used to use to make you into a successful person. You'd be surprised at how many successful people, including me, including Lance, still need to listen to tapes or still need to talk to people when we're having a down day or a down week.

How to Overcome Your Problems!

The first thing you need to do is realize where you need the most help. If you try to go out and "stop self-sabotage" ... you aren't going to get anywhere. It's like fighting the "war on drugs" ... impossible on its own but it is possible to attack one person or attack one area.

Let's say you take one look at that table and you think, my problem is that I'm being a Debbie Downer. That's a habit that affects others so how about, just for today only, I make it a point to not say anything negative? Or if you're constantly overwhelmed, you need to realize why that is and change the actions that lead to that point, such as over-commitment.

If you need to solve one of your bad habits:

  1. Take a vacation. Take weekends off, go somewhere out of the house, out of town, outside your usual environment, to clear your head
  2. Attend an event or a seminar. This also gets you out of your usual space, allows you to think and see things differently, and get you around better role models
  3. Replace new habits with the ones you're deleting
  4. Fix just one thing in your life for now, don't try to drastically change everything, because that won't stick!

To fix your priorities:

  1. Get a better support system. Trusted people like your friends, family, mentor and mastermind
  2. Get out more. Find a better mentor if your current one isn't suiting you, listen to self-improvement or training audios every now and then, and buy an hour of coaching if you are stuck and need help
  3. Break your problems apart into manageable pieces
  4. Make decisions quickly but change decisions slowly

To take better care of your emotions:

  1. Limit the amount of "toxic thoughts" you have including being jealous of people or "trash talking" others
  2. Leave your comfort zone whenever you want to make a real change and reach the next milestone in your business and your life
  3. Remove anything in your life that you feel is dragging you down or holding you back
  4. Push yourself to get outside your "money zone" ... the point where you earn more money than you normally would and your subconscious tries to put the brakes on your effort and your income

To change the meaning of your life:

  1. Find a great Reason-Why. I've had plenty of mentors who went from being lazy, to taking real action once they finally had a great reason to build a real business and take life seriously. Events like divorce, children, financial hardship, age... sprung these people into action. When it hurts enough, you'll make a change!
  2. Consider the bigger picture, pick your battles and think about the point of view of others
  3. Combine pleasurable and non-pleasurable activities (I like do the dishes while playing music)
  4. Clean out the clutter

I hope that helps you to get out of your own way and get everything you've ever wanted.

Where are you experiencing self-sabotage with yourself and with your own business? You don't have to be too specific if you don't want to, but this is your chance to complain... as long as you tell me what you're going to do to fix it! Please comment below.

Filed in: Archive 1: 2012-2016Mindset

Comments (27)

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  1. These are the types of posts that make me applaud! You and Lance are single-handedly reviving the stigma of “internet marketers”!

    You just made a lifetime subscriber out of me.

    Adding this to the “Best of the Web” section on my blog ASAP!

    Thank you Robert.

  2. David Gruder says:

    As a psychologist whose expertise includes integrity, meaning-creation and overcoming self-sabotage patterns, I say to you, “Well done, Robert!” I will be sending links to this post of yours to my social networks.

  3. enrico says:

    This post just woke me up today and I realize that the your greatest enemy is yourSELF. I will change my thoughts and actions from this day forward and finally take that leap of faith and action toward my life.

    Thank You Robert

  4. What a great summation of self-sabotage. I talk to people about this subject all the time, and it seems like even when I can give them specific types and examples, they still don’t get it.

    The worst part is that everyone experiences it – at some point or other. For some, it’s like this little portion of their lives where they just screw themselves over almost consistently and then get out of that state. For others it’s a constant – I know way too many people who do nothing but hurt themselves and others who DARE to better themselves – they always have and they always will.

    And then there are people who seem to slide in and out of it. Unfortunately I’ve dealt with this myself. Everything is fine, then you make one mistake or encounter one holdup, and you start down this road of self-sabotage that you have to get yourself off of as quickly as possible.

    Recognizing that you do it, and your self-sabotage type, will get you on the fast track to remedying it.

    I’ll also point out that this post will help you recognize OTHERS who are sabotaging themselves and you – so you can steer clear of their negativity.

  5. Victor says:

    good article, really lets you assess your self in a clear picture,
    Thanks Robert you just opened a can of worms (lol)
    all kidding aside great article, you should be proud of this one!


    Victor Davanzo

  6. Carl Picot says:

    Hey Robert

    Im getting to really love your stuff. I am certainly guilty of a ton of these things…

    Theres more info here than in many courses 🙂

    Im really getting in to the mindset stuff as it is so important in this game 🙂

    Great stuff thanks


  7. Garin Bader says:

    Great insight and writing Robert. Thank you. Again, you’ve cut right to the chase with great and succinct information that so many miss. I recommend anyone reading this to check out Robert’s copywriting and time management course http://www.timemanagementoncrack.com – no, I don’t get paid for this, it’s just great stuff!

  8. George says:

    Gosh, Robert, I see myself in so many of these things I’m overwhelmed. I guess I’ll take a walk and think about something else.

  9. Hey Robert..this is a very helpful post… This kind of clarity lets me see where I need to focus.

    I particularly like the point about getting out of my money zone. I have never thought about the money issue in quite that context but can see where that idea has a lot of wisdom. It’s hard to wrap my mind around it…and yet it seems so valid.

    Thanks so much for sharing your insights…they were very helpful..

  10. Philip says:

    Interesting insights…so now I know what I did that was not effective. I like that I now have good habits in place to keep my focus and manageable tasks each day. Thanks for all you do for us Robert!

  11. Curtis says:

    Hey we’re you talking about me in this article?

    Your diagnosis and prescription of my online
    business attempt(s) describe me perfectly.
    Are you peeking over my shoulder?

    I am going to take this information and use it
    is everyone else?

    Thanks for the kick in the butt

  12. Shelley says:

    Wow thanks so much for this it really breaks self sabotage down into identifiable chunks with solutions. I’ve just made a huge change in my working life and am actually attending a blockage buster day on Friday to work on these sorts of issues so this is very timely and great preparation so I can make the best of the day thank you so much and ill be recommending the post to my clients and friends too.

  13. Douglas` says:

    G’Day Robert,

    You call this a “Post” – I call it an EPIC!
    This style of authoritative material is of the highest order (rare in the I M field) – worthy of being displayed on the wall in large font!
    There will be not one of us readers to whom many of these factors do not apply … . the only variable being the degree to which they are appropriate!
    I’m a (retired) successful professional marketer who applied self help resources throughout his entire life – read and studied many many books to access what you have succinctly produced in this post!
    I applaud and encourage your effort – with Best Wishes from Aus. …Doug …

  14. Hil says:

    RIGHT ON! BINGO! I am Debbie Drama! Every time the bills / rent are due, I blow off my businesses, freak out, victim out, run to the temp agency to work my *** off for 8 hours / $50 (after gas / taxes) … I am pushing myself WAY out of my comfort zone to do EVTHING I CAN to get ONE gig, this week, that will pay a week’s worth of min wage in a FEW HOURS OF WORK, doing my REAL stuff!

    THANK YOU A TON! – Hil

  15. Gren Bingham says:

    An excellent and thoughtful post. All we have to do now is act on some of the points you name. And there lies a problem for many of us … translating “know-how” into “do-how”.

    Some of your readers might find further, helpful insights in Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit”, and from the more difficult to absorb insights in “Relational Framing Theory” which, essentially, links words and habits.

  16. Matt Cavolo says:

    I like the article a lot, and no you are not crazy 🙂

  17. Graeme Austin says:

    Hey Rob,

    You know you’ve really got into the psyche of most of us on your list here and probably most wannabe’s that are attempting to ‘make it’ online, [like me] but the reality is [as you would know] only about 3% of us that journey into this online business actually are successful, so I guess what I’m hinting at here is: HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THAT MINDSET in a blog forum like this!!! [Is it software or is it psychology] – the bottom line for me is that we ALL HAVE A STORY to tell and we all have various elements in our lives that prohibit us from achieving a successful outcomes in what ever we do in life

    Yes, we will all identify or tick a box as to where we may sit within the structure of your notations/research, but the reality is that we all have different ways of dealing/coping/doing things – so I’m very interested in how you may introduce us into a different way of thinking or simply manifesting a change in our behaviour.

    Fascinating stuff this…

    Regards, Graeme

  18. Guilty as charged! Yes Robert, you hit the nail squarely on the head! It seems, for most of us, we get caught in a downward spiral and can’t find the way out. We end up with excuses, a million reasons why we can’t (when there are actually many why we CAN), as well as over-obsessing on the little things. I can relate to everything you write about. It definitely isn’t easy to overcome this but the quote that really hit home with me was:

    “Don’t compare yourself to anyone in this world.
    If you do so, you are insulting yourself.”
    — Bill Gates

    I realize I have been comparing myself to others and their success when I should be concentrating on my own. When you feel like a failure… you are! When you change your persception of yourself, so will everyone else and that can have a huge effect on how you stop self-sabotage from swallowing you up.

    Thanks Robert for this clear, concise and meaningful post. It’s something I really needed to hear.


  19. Tamara says:

    I have found a way to dissolve the survival brain patterns with energy work very quickly and completely. If you have already found all the patterns that stop and sabotage, I want to know about it. Who knows, maybe in the future we’ll create a program together. Thanks for your work!

  20. I would say hasty decisions is my Achilles Heel.

    A year ago I had 24K page monthly views on my blog. Now, about 600 blog posts later, it’s about 4K.

    It all began with one plugin that sounded good: don’t let Google show the pictures of my site…

    I am in the process of finding, undoing, reversing the tiny, about 15, bad and hasty reactive decisions, and returning to a wholesome abundant view of my business: let them steal my pictures, as long as they want, the more they steal the more they’ll buy.

    I started this process about 10 days ago, and my numbers are slowly creeping up.

    I’ll let you know if I ever hit my income limit… I have never been close to it, but that will be, probably, the next self-sabotage to tackle.

  21. Lynn True says:

    I see myself in Overwhelm and Embarrassment … and am already in process to catch and release the thought patterns and habits that are so familiar. Thanks for your perspective, it is definitely on point.

  22. Love how you broke down self-sabotage into pieces we can address. Mine uses are overwhelm and a bit of boredom. I was working on a website I’ve been trying to help a client finish for 6 months and really struggling with it mentally. I realized I was simply bored with the monotony of it. Good news is that I can outsource that part instead and move on to the more exciting parts of my business. Thanks for the confirmation that boredom isn’t necessary.

    Theresa 😎

  23. Great post.
    For me, writing down everything on paper works like crazy. I start the day dumping all the nagging thoughts on to paper. I do or delegate or schedule what needs to be done. I delete what is not necessary. I do this simple thing both for business and personal matters.

    The thought of writing can feel and seem boring, but this ONE simple act, if done every day, can create more peace, clarity and help you stay calm and centered. You can accomplish a lot in least amount of time.

  24. Mollie says:

    Robert, Thanks for a great post.

    I hesitated to write WHY I ‘stopped’. Over a year and a half ago, my brother died of Pancreatic Cancer. I was immersed in a grief so overwhelming that each day was a struggle to just survive. I finally worked my way to the ‘other side’ and started a blog. It was gaining in visits…but no one bought anything. Then finances struck and I lost some of my over 50 domain names with accompanying plans to develop them. I can buy more domain names and still develop those ideas. THAT is not the point of my comment.

    You hit on many of the reasons of WHY people don’t just ‘do it’. I am commenting to give those who are going through MY experience, the encouragement that there is still HOPE…even when it doesn’t seem like it. Sometimes, just the very act of creating and working towards your dreams/goals will carry you through those times when Life kicks you and knocks you down!! If you believe in yourself and your ideas, nothing can deter you. If you have a passion inside you that will not give up, ALL things are possible. If I have to start over from square one…I will do it. Never loose faith in YOURSELF!!

  25. Sarah Ferman says:

    I love when you write about Mindset. It always inspires, refocuses me and gets me back on track.

  26. Ah…..I am very good at self-sabotage….I know that I am my own worst emeny. I would like to see “a day in the life of a successful online marketer” How to be focused. What to do in what order. I think I have too many projects on the go actually, too much to focus on.
    P.S Great blog 🙂

  27. K Harmon says:

    This is an awesome blog post, and something every single person who ever wanted to get anything done in their life should read. I don’t think I know one person who doesn’t suffer from one of these self-sabotage points. I like the practical advice to get over it already and get on.

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