Fighting Self-Sabotage

Ever wonder why, when you want to complete a short story for submission, you find yourself re-watching the last season of Doctor Who instead? (Or whatever your favorite show is. My geekiness is showing. ;)

Or why, when you want to start writing early in the mornings before you have to leave for work or make your family’s breakfasts, you stay up late the night before? (Probably watching the same favorite show…)

You know that nasty little voice in your head? The one that tells you that you’re wasting your time trying to be a writer. Or that you’re wasting your time trying to be a better writer. Or maybe it just tells you that you suck. Why do we have a voice that says such crappy things to us?

And why do we do these things to ourselves? Either in words or more indirectly, by avoiding what we truly want and need to work on…

Well wonder no more! This is called…


Okay perhaps the title gave that one away…

But really, how much do you do this? How much are you aware that you do this? More importantly, why do you do it?

Well the short answer is FEAR. Fear that we really do suck and will fail at whatever we’re trying to do that means so much to us.

Uncommon Help’s article has a longer list: “The familiarity of ‘failure’ … An unconscious need to be in control … Feeling unworthy … Bad habits … Need for excitement.” (Read the article for a description of each.) It goes on to give some really great ideas to stop doing this to yourself:

1. Observe yourself
2. Remember that success isn’t black or white
3. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
4. Think beyond yourself
5. Explore life

Check it out to see how each of those steps plays out.

I really liked this list though; it tackles it from a slightly different angle, particularly numbers four and five:

1. Identify your behaviors and habits
2. Identify the repercussions of your behavior
3. Understand why you developed these habits
4. Create “house rules”
5. Hone your self-parenting skills

Because does this sound familiar:

“I was permitting myself to do things no sane parent would allow their child to do while simultaneously yelling at myself for “being bad,” which any parent or child knows is the most ineffective form of motivation or cause for behavior change.”

When we self-sabotage ourselves and tell ourselves we suck or we screwed up again or when we just don’t let ourselves do what we know is what we truly need or want to do (like write!), we’re treating ourselves in a way that we wouldn’t tolerate anyone else to treat us and in a way that we definitely wouldn’t treat our children. So stop it!

For a quick in-the-moment fix, especially for that nasty little voice, I recommend Marie Forleo’s suggestion in this article: treat the voice like a screensaver and hit a “reset” button in your mind to reengage in whatever you’re working on.

For instance, in writing this blog, I often think, oh no one will want to read this; other people have better things to say; etc., etc., etc. So when I start hearing those thoughts, I just have to set up a trigger and get back to writing. Marie’s right: you don’t have to face your fear; we all have it and it’s not likely to ever go away. Write in spite of it.

In other words:


About thewritingblues

I'm a writer working on a YA dystopian novel and blogging on my progress - or lack thereof - and other cool writing stuff.
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2 Responses to Fighting Self-Sabotage

  1. Wow…it is like you got right inside my head and had a good talking to “the voice”. _Thank you_ for not listening to your voice and writing this article anyway!

  2. thewritingblues says:

    Hi Deb — thank YOU for reading! I’ve been really struggling with this myself lately and finally decided to do what I do best: research! Lol. There’s a lot of good stuff out there but I think Dory said it best — or would have if she’d been in a movie about writers. ;) Cheers!

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