When my last business had ended, I knew sabotage was at work.
In a moment of woundedness, I blamed external forces outside of my control. The economy, the attention span of people, and advertising platforms all had my finger pointing at them.
But after a few weeks of self-reflection, when I wasn’t as wounded as I was before, I saw that the sabotage was not due to an external force. It was self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage is the most common form of sabotage. It’s also the sneakiest. Oftentimes, we don’t notice it until it’s too late.
If you want to notice self-sabotage before it wreaks its havoc on your life, look at your thoughts. Your thoughts is where self-sabotage begins.
The 7 Sabotaging Mindsets
After I ended my business, I dove deep into my passion for positive psychology. I wanted to help people avoid the self-sabotage from a negative mindset before it ends their businesses, their marriages, their relationships, their finances, etc.
In that time, I discovered seven patterns of thinking that—if we follow them all the way through to their conclusion—will lead us to self-sabotage our results in life. These mindsets keep us in a negative and unproductive space.
If you want joy, look out for these mindsets when they pop up in your thinking:
1. The Approval Mindset
Whenever you feel the need to prove your worth to others, you have an Approval Mindset. It’s a mindset that’s largely driven by shame and thoughts of not enough.
When we follow this desire to prove ourselves all the way through, it leads to actions like perfectionism and overwork. We feel we must prove ourselves by working hard or getting it all right.
If you want to stop this mindset from leading you to overworking, look out for these thoughts:
- “Why can’t I get this right?”
- “I don’t want to be seen as (lazy/unproductive/not helpful).”
- “I feel like I don’t matter.”
- “I’m not enough. I have to hustle and do more.”
2. The Comparison Mindset
To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” With a Comparison Mindset, you are driven by emotions of sadness and remorse. This is because you are deriving your worth by comparing how well or how bad you’re doing against something else. This most often works against us because there’s always someone out there doing better than us.
When followed all the way through, the Comparison Mindset leads to depression and numbing behaviors. These are forms of inaction. We are too busy looking around at others to do actions for what we want.
If you want to stop this mindset from leading you to inaction, look out for these thoughts:
- “I wish I had her life.”
- “The good days are behind us. We had everything back then.”
- “They look like they’re having so much fun.”
- “I’m so jealous of him. He’s gotten every good thing come his way.”
3. The Distrust Mindset
The Distrust Mindset assumes the worst in people. This lack of trust is often caused by some trauma or betrayal of trust in the past. It’s driven by emotions of anger and fear.
When followed through, the Distrust Mindset leads to loneliness and isolation. We fear betrayal so much, we hoard vulnerability and keep our relationships surface-level. Social media makes us think we have social connections, but really, it’s just a great place for us to hide.
If you want to stop this mindset from leading you to loneliness, look out for these thoughts:
- “They’re out to get me.”
- “The idea that person had is horrible.”
- “It’s me against them.”
- “My spouse wants our marriage to end. Why else would she do that?”
4. The Fixed Mindset
Popularized by researcher, Carol Dweck, a Fixed Mindset is when you believe your abilities, intelligence, and talents are fixed traits. People with a Fixed Mindset engage in black-and-white thinking, which leads to disastrous beliefs about their abilities and what they’re capable of. This mindset is driven by shame.
When the Fixed Mindset is followed through, it leads to behaviors like defensiveness, avoiding anything that has the potential for failure, and praise-seeking. These are forms of self-protection, because you don’t want to face the truth of what you believe to be inherently true of yourself.
If you want to stop this mindset from leading you to defensiveness and self-protection, look out for these thoughts:
- “I can’t do that.”
- “I’m just always the bad guy.”
- “I was born this way. I can’t change.”
- “I’m not good at sports.”
5. The Overwhelmed Mindset
If you believe something is too hard or too much, you have an Overwhelmed Mindset. An Overwhelmed Mindset views their stressors as greater than their ability to handle them. It’s driven by the emotion of fear.
When followed through, the Overwhelmed Mindset leads to avoidance behaviors. If you feel overwhelmed, you might procrastinate on work or shut down. But this only causes the work to pile up, which leads to more overwhelm.
If you want to stop this mindset from leading you to avoidance, look out for these thoughts:
- “This is too hard.”
- “There’s too much to do.”
- “Where do I even begin?”
- “I can’t look at this right now.”
6. The Scarcity Mindset
A Scarcity Mindset is the belief that there’s not enough. There’s not enough resources to provide for you and your needs, so you approach the world from a place of lack. It’s driven by the emotion of fear.
When followed all the way through, the Scarcity Mindset leads to hoarding and protecting resources. But it’s not just hoarding of resources. It’s also hoarding emotional resources and time resources. Because you want to protect as much as you can, you avoid any form of generosity.
If you want to stop this mindset from leading you to hoarding, look out for these thoughts:
- “I don’t have enough.”
- “I wish we could afford that.”
- “Where will we find the time to do that?”
- “I need to look out for myself and our family.”
7. The Victim Mindset
Finally, the Victim Mindset is when you always give your power to the person or thing that has hurt you, placing you in the victim role. This mindset is driven by emotions of anger and sadness.
When people have this mindset, they engage in blaming and sympathy-seeking behaviors. They don’t want to take ownership for healing or getting through something because it’s better to feel justified for how they’ve been wronged. But because they stay in the victim place, they never heal.
If you want to stop this mindset from leading you to blaming, look out for these thoughts:
- “It’s all his fault.”
- “I shouldn’t have to apologize.”
- “I can’t do this because of what she did.”
- “I’ll feel happy once he confesses to how he cheated me.”
Stop Sabotage at the Start
When you train yourself to notice these thoughts, and learn to label them as the mindsets at work, then you can be equipped to stop them before they lead to disastrous conclusions.
Whenever we choose to remain in a negative space, we engage in self-sabotage. These thoughts occur and cause us to stay in a place that’s unproductive.
But the good news is, you are not chained to following these mindsets all the way through. Every person has a choice over their emotions and their actions. You don’t have to engage in these mindsets.
Instead, you can make the choice for positivity, hope, and optimism. It starts by stopping these mindsets before they attempt to sabotage your results.