How to Stop Self-Sabotaging

Life can be full of enchantment, entertainment, and excitement, but at times you can also find yourself in a rut and you don’t know why. You were doing great, but something along the way changed. Your entire mood shifted and it affected your attitude the rest of the day. The most frustrating part is not knowing how you got here.

Chances are… you’re mentally drained. To make matters even worse, you’re mentally draining yourself.

Don’t be disheartened because it’s exceedingly common and now isn’t the time for blame. Rather, it’s simply time to understand what’s happening and to increase your awareness of the subject.

Here are examples of some mentally draining activities:

  • sleeping in past your alarm
  • not dressing in a way you feel energized and respected
  • always checking your phone
  • doubting yourself, negative self-talk
  • taking things personally
  • taking offense, giving offense
  • holding onto the past
  • over stressing
  • letting yourself get talked into things
  • cutting corners
  • telling yourself you’ll do it later—procrastinating
  • having a poor diet
  • gossiping & fueling drama
  • not living in the moment
  • trying to please others
  • complaining all the time
  • exaggerating the truth
  • lying to yourself or others
  • worrying about what others are doing
  • not following through with what you told yourself
  • letting others influence your actions

All of these behaviors significantly hinder your ability to maintain emotional equanimity and happiness within. They’re mentally, emotionally, and physically depleting you.

It’s easy to become caught up in our lives; after all, we are all the main character in the personal Hollywood cinema of our lifetime. However, it’s important to take everything with a grain of salt and tune into perspective. ‘Woe is me’ won’t take you anywhere.

“If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”

Regina Brett

The good news—you can fix this. You can hoist yourself out of a rut, even a trench, and get back on track. The truth of the matter remains that there’s no “magic trick” to fix your inner harmony. But you can learn to re-train your thoughts which will regulate your inner peace over time. And this can start today. Start by taking bite size pieces. Start by eliminating 2-3 mentally draining activities from your daily life. It won’t be easy and it will take a while. There will be speed bumps and times where the journey seems fruitless. But I can also promise you that you’ll see and feel improvement by the end of your first day.

This topic is close to me because I realized I had an off week and I couldn’t figure out why, until I added up all of the mentally draining actions I was doing. The first step is to become aware, and the second is to act on it. We’ll ascend on this journey together… Here’s to letting our minds become fountains instead of drains!

Are there any mentally draining activities you’d add to the list? How do you mitigate self-draining thoughts and actions? How do you strive to maintain emotional harmony and balance? Let the comment section below act as an uplifting space to share our tips, tricks, and testimonials among one another.

For a similar article on How to Love the Repetition of Life, visit

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45 thoughts on “How to Stop Self-Sabotaging

    1. Introspection is a great way to reflect and increase awareness. Something I can definitely work on. Thanks for reading and for your comment! ~Ellen

  1. I think this one hits home for me. I can do better.
    * Not finishing something I know must be done
    * Caving on good food choices and sleep choices (written after 1:00am)
    It’s important to live in – and enjoy – the moment. Each moment is precious. Life is too sweet to become full of chores, but tackling the challenges head on can bring joy. Even/especially the challenges of our weak points.
    Trying again tomorrow!

    1. Charles— I completely relate to those areas of self-improvement which I could use too. It’s tough to balance “I can do better” with “I can be content right now.” It’s a delicate balance. I tend to sacrifice sleeping hours and good food choices with self-indulgence. For example—staying up late to watch a tv show or yoga practice when sleep is one of the most crucial aspects, and enjoy too much dessert.

      And yet another well made point—life is too sweet to get caught up in chores, but rather opportunities to tackle weak points and even fears. And my favorite part of your comment— to try again tomorrow! No matter how many failures we endure, there’s always tomorrow to try again and it give it your best shot.

      Love your insights as always and thank you for sharing!! Best, Ellen

  2. Lots of these points make sense, but its always easier said then done. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’ve tried and failed.

    1. I completely agree and and relate with failing more times than I can count. That’s why I’m still here and still working on it. But above all, even through the hard times it does get better. Believing in myself more and truly accepting the journey has helped me through the tough times, but then again it’s a constant battle. Thanks for reading and being open & honest.

  3. I love this. I’ll be tweeting this. But my mentally draining issue that I’m aware and won’t stop is living in the past. I can’t leave alone what use to be because I still want what use to be. 🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️

    1. Hi Sandra, I can totally relate to you, sometimes it is hard to leave the past in the past, but that is where it belongs. I’ll share a quote with you that resonates with me, “Suffering is wishing things were other than they are.” I think the key here is acceptance… Once we can accept that we’re meant to be where we are in life right now for a reason, we can accept the past for being the past and move onward towards the future. It’s not an easy task but I think it’s a key principle in life to accept where you are and make new goals and look toward the future not the past. Everything happens for a reason, even if that reason isn’t apparent to you yet. Hopefully this helps, and I look forward to hearing improvements on your side 🙂 <3Ellen

  4. Great blog. I’m finding that the current political climate is doing a number on my psyche. When I speak about what I perceive to be injustice, I am chastised for it. When I stay silent, I don’t like myself very much. I know that staying true to oneself is essential, however, at what cost? At the end of the day, you have to do what’s right for yourself. Getting to a place where my heart and mind are so strong that what others think doesn’t matter, is my ultimate goal.

    1. Hi CP, thanks for your insightful comment. I think a lot of people can relate to this battle they too experience in their minds, I know I definitely can. It’s an ongoing battle to understand the balancing act between speaking up for what you believe in with letting things be as they are (wu wei mentality). But I also think you stated the end goal at the end of your comment. Being unwavered by outside opinion is a great goal, yet also complete opposite of how humans were programmed, which takes a lot of work to undo. What are some ways you work to achieve this “mind of steel”?… I’d love to know! Thanks for reading and I loved your comment! Best, Ellen

      1. I appreciate your reply. Two things that I do immediately come to mind:
        1) I walk away from toxic people. There is no room for them in my very full life.
        2) I find that meditation is very useful. Clear the mind and free the soul.

  5. Best advice clearly presented. Who hasn’t done some or even all of those things you list. I made a start on myself yesterday by having a fairly radical hair cut! Feel so much better for it and I love it. Thanks for this article

    1. Hi Belles, thanks so much for reading and for your support. I agree it’s almost a “mental epidemic,” if you will. Especially with all the media nowadays it’s almost impossible not to have some of these mentally draining activities knocking on your door at all times. I am glad you love your haircut and kudos to you for trying something new! Best, Ellen

  6. Thanks for this list. I find that complaining, obsessive phone checking and poor eating are Symptoms of my malaise. (although I’m sure they also perpetuate it) In order to change those unhelpful habits I focus on activities that nourish my soul; walking in nature, reading uplifting memoirs, hugs, and laughing with friends.

    1. I love the activities you listed that nourish your soul—I can definitely relate to all of them as well. And thanks for noting the actions that mentally drain you, as well as the ones that “fill your cup” too. It’s important to be aware of our downfalls, yet focus on the good behind it all. Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts! Best, Ellen

  7. So relevant for me. And recognizing self sabotage can then be followed by self-fixing.
    No one els is going to do it for you.

    1. I think that’s the beauty of it… yes, unfortunately we can mentally drain ourselves, but once we realize it we’re that much closer to fixing it. What’s done to us by ourselves can be fixed by ourselves. Thanks for reading <3

  8. The quote you included was perfect. Once I hear about everyone else’s problems, my own issues always seem less significant, and I’m thankful for it.

    1. I really love that quote too. It’s crazy to realize how much time we spend worrying and agonizing over our problems, when if we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, our problems would seem insignificant. It’s a great way to gain perspective. Thanks for reading! Best, Ellen

  9. Thank you for sharing!!.. well, often times I follow the advice of Roy Bennett; “Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” (Roy T. Bennett)… sooooooooooooooo, every morning that I wake up on the green side of the grass, I aim my compass to the horizon, set the sails full, leave safe harbor and follow my heart and I generally eliminate most, if not all, of the issues you listed… 🙂

    “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming; “Wow! What a ride!” (Hunter S. Thompson)… 🙂

  10. Def one of my greatest weak points. I just re launched a lot of these ideas I want to begin sharing again on my blog. Learned a lot this year about self worth through heartbreaks and unexpected events. This was a nice read. Thanks

    1. Hi Fatimah, thanks for sharing and I can totally relate to you. This past year brought a lot of new experiences with extremely positive highs and terrible low points. But living and learning is the greatest gift of them all, and to share them with others in an effort to spread love and knowledge is yet another true gift. Thanks for reading and I am excited to read your posts!

  11. For me it’s overthinking, but without bringing a downer to the post, I have a terminally ill close family member which if I don’t hear from after an hour of ringing or texting, my mind goes into self explosion, when I should remain calm and piece it all together, I struggle with it massively and I am actually quite scared to write a post about it. But, I need to eliminate creating scenarios in my mind.
    Amazing post Ellie, thank you for sharing it!

    1. Hi David, thank you for sharing what’s on your mind. I am sure your family member wouldn’t want you to worry sick about them, hopefully that will bring some peace to you. Thank you for sharing your heart and best wishes to you and your family member! Ellen

  12. So true! We all have lists of things we did not complete from yesterday or last week. Taking small bites and finishing one or two tasks will make you feel like you accomplished something and that overwhelming feeling (we often get) will begin to subside and you may just decided to tackle that big project at home or work.

    1. One step at a time is the only way to climb the mountain! Every goal can be broken down into small steps, which makes you ponder the false sense of any “limits”…

  13. Another great piece! This helps in all aspects of life no matter how hard it gets there is always something you can take and learn from it.
    Brings a big smile to my face to see you being so successful.

  14. Very good reminders on self care. I always feel mentally drained by the end of the work week on Friday. It is easy to follow good self care at home, but I often get caught up in the day to day work and relationships of my job. I plan on taking a couple of these ideas and focusing on them for this coming week. Hopefully I will feel a little better next Friday. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your honest comment and I can totally relate. At the end of the week I can feel drained at times if I don’t take the minimum time to provide self-care (even relaxation at times) for myself throughout the week. It’s something I know I can work on as well. I’m excited to hear how your week ended up so far, let me know! ~Ellen

  15. I know I do plenty of things in that list of mentally draining activities. It’s taken well placed effort to realise and work on doing them less often, and especially to realise when I need to rest. By no means am I finished – it will be a lifelong project of helping myself and others when I can – but I take as many steps as I am able to each day.

    I appreciate your words and your commitment to encouraging lasting chance within ourselves. Kia kaha (stay strong), and as you say, let’s do this together. 🙂

    1. I completely agree, Hamish. I wrote this article back in February and since then I’ve had waves of good times and bad times. After consciously trying to decrease my self-draining habits I saw a lot of improvement, I felt great. Then after co-vid hit, I found myself back in the same rut that sparked me to write this article. I was depressed, anxious, tempermental, and frustrated. After several weeks I realized where I had wound up again, but it still took a couple more months to finally find my motivation again and stop self-sandbagging. I can’t control the world’s events so why should I get so upset about it? All in all, it’s a cycle, and it’s constantly evolving. Life will throw new things at you and the lessons you learned to reel yourself out of your last rut may not help you this time around. The important thing is keeping an open mind and always be willing to learn more about yourself. Hope this wasn’t too long but it reignited some thoughts I’ve been having lately 🙂 Kia kaha my friend! <3 E

      1. Thank you sharing more of your experiences. One of my good friends consistently reminds me that communicating healthily with each our friends is one of the best ways we learn, especially when it comes to tripping up and making mistakes. We can support each other to be strong through good times and tough times.

        Something I struggle to remember at times is to be kind to myself. This doesn’t mean letting myself off the hook when I’m lazy or make the poor choice. It means accepting I will make mistakes, I will need to rest, I will need to work hard to pick myself up when I fall. As you say, there’s no point getting spending all our energy on feeling upset for more time than we need to.

        Thank you again for taking the time to cultivate your thoughtful response. 🙂

      2. Being vulnerable to my peers has helped me learn so much about myself! It’s not easy admitting your flaws and putting yourself out there for advice but I welcome the opportunity to friends, family, and people I cross paths with. It’s uncomfortable when I overthink it beforehand too much but in the moments I’m always so grateful I took the risk. Your friend sounds like a great influence, I’m sure you guys both are to each other. Like you wrote in your last post, letting go of the ‘entitlement’ of the false pretense of being perfect for me has really changed my mindset and helped me grow so much. Thank you for sharing friend 🙂

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