Self Sabotaging Behavior: How to Expose Your Inner Obstacles and Embrace Change

Written by Tom Marino

August 3, 2021

What are your patterns of self sabotaging behavior?

We face many obstacles on our path to change. These obstacles include our fears, doubts, insecurities, etc. We need to identify those obstacles that hold us back from pursuing our dreams.

The truth is, these obstacles attempt to “protect” us from the pain or discomfort of growth. We actively resist change because we’re comfortable as we are.

Inner vs. outer blocks

“Outer” blocks are those external obstacles that we cannot control. Illness or accidents, for example. A difficult boss. Unexpectedly losing your job. Other people’s actions.

And while we face plenty of external challenges, it’s our “inner” blocks – i.e. what goes on inside our own heads – that paralyze us and prevent progress and change.

Fear, shame, regret. Insecurity. Comparison. Jealousy. Anxiety. Self doubt. It’s the internal dialogue that convinces us we’re not “good” enough, “strong” enough, “intelligent” enough… you get the idea. Sound familiar?

If we don’t expose these thoughts for what they are – lies – we will begin to accept them as truth. Awareness, then, is the first step in working through our internal obstacles.

We need to be aware of our self sabotaging behavior

What are the biggest inner blocks that hold you back? Cultivating an awareness of self sabotaging behavior is key to growth.

One of my favorite books is Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine. The book outlines 9 mental “saboteurs,” which are our negative patterns of thinking, feeling, and reacting in the face of obstacles.

I use Shirzad’s saboteur quiz as a regular assessment with my coaching clients to help them gain self-awareness about their self sabotaging tendencies.

You can take the saboteur assessment for free on Shirzad’s site.


We face obstacles especially when we try new things. If you’re facing obstacles on your journey to change, you should feel proud that you’re pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone in pursuit of your goals. Understand that self sabotaging behavior is to be expected.

But when you’re aware of those patterns, you have more control over your response. You can hit the brakes before your “saboteurs” steer you off track.

Need help identifying your inner blocks or saboteurs? As a Certified Life Coach, I’m here to help you (1) identify your biggest obstacles, and (2) take action to overcome them. Learn more about CHOICE coaching and schedule your complimentary session today.


Photo by Jakob Owens | Unsplash