Ready for a super quotable burst of inspiration to help you beat self-sabotage? Looking for a little push in the right direction?

Let us know if any of this sounds familiar:

  • You’ve been pursuing the same goals for a while, only to find yourself tripping before you reach the finish line,
  • You know what you want and really want it, but first you have to do the laundry (those sheets aren’t going to wash themselves!),
  • You finished your novel or memoir or some other creative project (congrats!), only to decide “it’s not ready,” so you put it back in your desk drawer and busy yourself with something new and/or shinier, or 
  • You shared it with the wrong person knowing they would most likely rip it to shreds (because that’s what they do), but you shared it with them anyway and now you have proof that your book is no good, just like you thought.

If any of this sounds familiar, welcome to the miserable, not-so-fun, world of self-sabotage. 🥷🏼

The Cost of Self-Sabotage

Writers and artists have been getting in their own way for centuries. If you let this behavior win out, there’s rarely a happy ending. The only ending to this scenario is you not getting your work in the world, or you not feeling good about your creative life, or you not feeling good, period.

Well, enough of that. It’s time to dig yourself out of whatever hold you’ve dug, and walk (run!) towards what you DO want.

What is Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage is allowing your fears to get in the way of doing what you know is right for you. The fear kicks off a series of self-defeating thoughts, behavior and beliefs that result in the exact outcome you are trying to avoid.

There are lots of reasons for this. Maybe you do the opposite of what you really want because you think you don’t deserve it. Maybe you let doubt and fear win instead of trusting in yourself and following through with what needs to be done. Maybe you let distractions and other people’s priorities trump your own (because you have to do all that laundry for your spouse and/or kids and/or parents now). Self-sabotage manifests in a number of ways, such as missing out on important opportunities, attracting a string of bad luck, or harming your emotional well-being. 

Here’s the bottom line: Self-sabotaging behavior turns you into your own worst enemy.

Identifying Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage doesn’t always look like what you think it will. Sometimes it looks like procrastination or distraction, sometimes it looks like doing something that seems productive but is actually counterproductive to your goals and desires. Sometimes it’s arguing for your limitations, finding excuse after excuse for why you can’t do the very thing you want to do.

What makes it confusing is that the excuses are often legitimate (the dog does need to be walked, the groceries won’t buy themselves, taxes are real). But accepting that you need to prioritize yourself and your goals over tasks that can be tackled later in the day or week is one of the tools you’ll need in your toolbox if you want to beat this self-sabotage thing.

Here’s the bottom line: Self-sabotage is at work anytime you see yourself struggling with your own success and happiness.

Why am I Self-Sabotaging My Own Success?

You’re not self-sabotaging on purpose, you’re doing it subconsciously. Plenty of people grapple with a fear that they’re not good enough, which undermines their confidence and ability to succeed. In some cases it’s not a fear of failure, but a fear of success. No matter which one it is, however, it’s still fear.

The problem with self-sabotage is that it’s easy to fall into the habit of doing it over and over again. It usually leads with an excuse (“I was going to write today but I really need to sort through this box of hand-me-downs”) or debilitating habit (you set up your desk in front of the TV, which you leave on to “inspire you”) or even an untrue thought that feels real (“It’s too hard to be a new novelist at my age,” or “I don’t have enough proper training to be a good writer,” or “Everyone says Amy is better at it that me so why should I even bother.”). 

If you want to create lasting change in your life—to finally reach for the things that will help you grow as an individual—you need to break free from these patterns of behavior so they can’t hold you back anymore. 

How is a Quote Going to Change Anything?

At Writer-ish.com, we’re fans of inspirational quotes and brain science, and how the two intersect and help us get more of what we want. The right quote will ping your body, spirit and mind in a way that can actually turn you towards more of the behavior you want (and away from the behavior you don’t want). 

Inspirational quotes serve as motivators, affirming that we are moving in the direction we want. They can get us excited to do the hard work that accompanies the task ahead (because there is work to be done). Check out this article at Fast Company about how the language of inspirational quotes work and why it matters.

Here’s a collection of quotes you can use as inspiration for positive change and kick that self-sabotaging behavior to the curb.

100+ Inspirational Quotes to Beat Self-Sabotage 

  1. “Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom.” —Lao Tzu
  2. “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” —Buddha
  3. “The barrier to our future is often the very plans that we’ve created to get there.” —Craig D. Lounsbrough
  4. “Focus on rewarding and praising yourself instead of degrading and punishing yourself. You’ll get far better results!” —Akiroq Brost
  5. “You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.” —Emma Kate Dawson
  6. “Resistance by definition is self-sabotage.” —Steven Pressfield 
  7.  “You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” —Louise L. Hay
  8. “The only reason I can’t jump in and engage life is that I’ve told myself I can’t. Yet I can’t help wondering what would happen if I told myself I could?”  —Craig D. Lounsbrough
  9. “The closest enemy ship might be your own.” —Craig D. Lounsbrough
  10. “Self-doubt does more to sabotage individual potential than all external limitations put together.” —Brian Tracy
  11. “I struggle with expressing myself, because it does sometimes feel easier or safer not to.” —Jeff Jarvis
  12. “Nothing will sabotage our happiness and success more thoroughly than the fear that we are not enough.” —Bill Crawford
  13. “The biggest thing holding you back is almost always… you. Start there.” —Hunter Post
  14. “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” —Joseph Campbell
  15. “Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.” —Alyce Cornyn-Selby
  16. “If you don’t believe in yourself, somewhere or another, you sabotage yourself.” —Jason Day
  17. “Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage.” —Alyce Cornyn-Selby
  18. “Self-sabotaging behavior turns you into your own worst enemy.” —Darien Gee
  19. “Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.” —Kristin Neff
  20. “Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.” —Christopher Germer
  21. “Talk to yourself as you would someone you love.” —Brené Brown
  22. “How am I getting in my own way?” —Gay Hendricks
  23. “Withholding love is a form of self-sabotage, as what we withhold from others we are withholding from ourselves.” —Marianne Williamson
  24. “With the same habits, you’ll end with up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible.” James Clear
  25. “It makes you wonder. All the brilliant things we might have done with our lives if only we suspected we knew how.” Ann Patchett
  26. “Just imagine how much you’d get done if you stopped sabotaging your own work.” —Seth Godin
  27. “The challenge is not to be fearless, but to develop strategies of acknowledging our fears and finding out how we can allay them.” —Maureen Brady
  28. “Be on your own side.” —Rasheed Ogunlaru
  29. “Stop standing in your own way. Stop making excuses. Stop talking about why you can’t. Stop sabotaging yourself.”—Akiroq Brost 
  30. “Decide which direction you are going in and take action. One decision at a time, one moment at a time.” —Akiroq Brost
  31. “I am the greatest obstacle to my greatest dreams.” —Craig D. Lounsbrough
  32. “The biggest disabilities are when you sabotage yourself mentally, those personal demons that get on your shoulder and you can’t shake ’em.” —Zach Anner 
  33.  “The question “Is this an act of self-love or is it an act of self-sabotage?” is one you must consistently ask yourself if you are committed to having all that you want and all that you deserve. Self-love is the main ingredient in a successful, fulfilled life.” —Debbie Ford
  34.  “I craft most of my own tragedies without ever having even the remotest understanding that it is I myself who have done the crafting.” —Craig D. Lounsbrough
  35.  “It was very humbling to realize that my worries were there just to make me miserable. It was even more humbling to realize that I was the guy who had his finger firmly pressed on the misery button. It was wonderful, though, to discover that I also had the power to quit pressing the button.” —Gay Hendricks
  36.  “Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.” —Gay Hendricks
  37. “Feeling unmotivated is a normal and natural part of your growth. It’s okay to have days where you’re feeling less than thrilled, so don’t beat yourself up.” ―Dee Waldeck
  38. “You can’t imagine just how much believing in negative thoughts is affecting your life…until you stop.” ―Charles F. Glassman
  39. “My children do not need me to save them. My children need to watch me save myself.” Glennon Doyle
  40. “You are not a mess. You are a deeply feeling person in a messy world.” ―Glennon Doyle
  41. “Don’t sabotage your own greatness by succumbing to failure.” ―Terry McMillan
  42. “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” —Jack Kornfield
  43. “Unless we learn to know ourselves, we run the danger of destroying ourselves.” —Ja A. Jahannes
  44. “Our biggest enemy is our own self-doubt. We sabotage our greatness because of our fear.” ―Robin Sharma
  45. “Every moment is enormous and it is all we have.” —Natalie Goldberg
  46. “I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner.” ―John  Donne
  47. “Stand up and be strong! No fear. No superstition. Face the truth as it is!” — Swami Vivekananda
  48. “Watch yourself. Every minute we change. It is a great opportunity. At any point, we can step out of our frozen selves and our ideas and begin fresh.” Natalie Goldberg
  49. “Life is so much easier when you stop getting in your way.” ―Kristin Barrow
  50. “Having a low opinion of yourself is not ‘modesty’. It’s self-destruction. Holding your uniqueness in high regard is not ‘egotism’. It’s a necessary precondition to happiness and success.” ―Bobbe Sommer
  51. “Much of your self-esteem doesn’t come from what happens to you on a given day or what somebody says, but what you know about yourself on the inside.” ―Dr. Judy Ho
  52. “Your capacity expands in small increments each time you consciously let yourself enjoy the money you have, the love you feel, and the creativity you are expressing in the world. As that capacity for enjoyment expands, so does your financial abundance, the love you feel, and the creativity you express.” ―Gay Hendricks 
  53. “Knowing you have failed to live up to your own standards is the ultimate pain, knowing that you have fulfilled your highest vision is the ultimate pleasure.” ―Tony Robbins
  54. “One simple thing to do and destroy the spirit of self-sabotage is to admire the beauty hidden in ugly circumstances.” ―Israelmore Ayivor
  55. “We need to ascend beyond our own petty Resistance, our own negative self-judgment and self-sabotage, our own “I’m not worthy” mindset.” —Steven Pressfield
  56. “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson
  57. “Rise in your mind and you can rise in your world.” ―Matshona Dhliwayo
  58. “What important feelings am I not letting into my awareness?” ―Gay Hendricks
  59. “Art is a warbetween ourselves and the forces of self-sabotage that would stop us from doing our work.” ―Steven Pressfield
  60. “Fear can sabotage your everything…Quiet this voice now and live.” ―Christine E. Szymanski
  61. “Negative thinking is contagious. Do your best not to dwell on negativity, it will consume you and prevent you from becoming your best self.” ―Germany Kent
  62.  “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” ―Steve Jobs
  63. “All of our actions can signify self-love or self-sabotage.” ―Sharon Salzberg
  64. “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ―Viktor Frankl
  65. “It is not uncommon for someone to be a self-saboteur and compound that by also having a victim mentality. It is as though they are holding their own breath and then blaming others for their inability to breathe. If they can break free from this cycle, everything in their life changes for the better.” ―Steve Maraboli
  66. “Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence.” ―Dalai Lama
  67.  “A well-defined backup plan is sabotage waiting to happen. Why push through the dip, why take the risk, why blow it all when there’s the comfortable alternative instead? The people who break through usually have nothing to lose, and they almost never have a backup plan.” Seth Godin
  68. “Self-sabotage is the proverbial hammer over the head that finally wakes us up, demanding that we pay attention. For most of us, it takes something devastating to crack us open, to get us out of our minds and into our hearts.”  ―Debbie Ford
  69. “Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.” ―Siddhārtha Gautama
  70. “I sabotage myself for fear of what my bigness could do.” —Alanis Morissette
  71. “Why is it that we don’t worry about a compass until we’re lost in a wilderness of our own making?” —Craig D. Lounsbrough
  72. “I know that I’m holding myself back. I know that something needs to change and that I need to be the one to change it. And I know—I know—that if you’re patient with me, what I find on the other end of it, once the towers have burned down, will be you.” —Nina LaCour
  73. “This is how women self-sabotage and self-destruct. Unless we have constant witnesses to our hard work, we are convinced we pull off every day of our lives through smoke and mirrors.” —Sarah Ban Breathnach
  74. “We sabotage the great things in our lives because deep down we don’t feel worthy of having the great things.” —Taressa Riazzi
  75. “All self-sabotage, lack of belief in ourselves, low self-esteem, judgements, criticisms, and demands for perfection are forms of self-abuse in which we destroy the very essence of our vitality.” —Deborah Adele
  76. “Self-esteem is perhaps the greatest emotional sickness known to humans.” —Albert Ellis
  77. “New Year’s resolutions often fail because toxic emotions and experiences from our past can sabotage us or keep us stuck with the same old thoughts, patterns and regrets.” —Debbie Ford
  78. “Continually feeling our need for positive self-evaluation is a bit like stuffing ourselves with candy. We get a bit sugar high, then a crash.” —Kristin Neff
  79. “Chicken exits are self-sabotage. They give you a false explanation for why you don’t have something you want.” —Ali Vincent
  80. “The tragedy of too many people is that they cannot allow happiness just to be there; they cannot leave it alone. Their sense of who they are and of what their destiny is cannot accommodate happiness. So they are driven to find ways to sabotage it.” — Nathaniel Branden
  81. “Self-sabotage is like a game of mental tug-of-war. It is the conscious mind versus the subconscious mind where the subconscious mind always eventually wins.” —Bo Bennett
  82. “More than anything else, I wanted not to be alone — yet all my actions guaranteed I’d be lonely. Like wearing a vest of explosives when you’re coming in for a hug, insatiable need is a form of sabotage.” Gina Barreca
  83. “Make sure your thoughts are moving you towards the life you want to live.” —Dr. Judy Ho
  84. “The most dangerous way we sabotage ourselves is by waiting for the perfect moment to begin. Nothing works perfectly the first time, or the first fifty times. Everything has a learning curve. The beginning is just that – a beginning. Surrender your desire to do it flawlessly on the first try. It’s not possible. Learn to learn. Learn to fail. Learn to learn from failing.” —Vironika Tugaleva
  85. “Self-destruction and self-sabotage are often just the start of the self-resurrection process.” —Oli Anderson
  86. “The inner struggle you feel should not be viewed as conflict but as creative tension to help move you forward.” —Jennifer A. Williams
  87. “Be kind to yourself.” —Daniella Balarezo
  88. “Turning pro is a mindset…he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.” —Steven Pressfield
  89. “One of the first steps in addressing self-sabotaging behaviors is identifying them.” —Jennifer Chain
  90. “When people are determined, they can overcome anything.” —Nelson Mandela
  91. “Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.” —Lisa M. Hayes
  92. “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” —J.K. Rowling
  93. “Lack of forgiveness causes almost all of our self-sabotaging behavior.” —Mark Victor Hansen
  94. “There’s something very romantic about self-destruction and sabotaging your life, and taking a hammer to it.” —Gerard Way
  95. “Make sure you’re not sabotaging something that has the potential to be fruitful and great.” —Alex Elle
  96. “The ability to overcome resistance, self-sabotage, and self-doubt is way more important than talent.” Steven Pressfield
  97. “Negative thinking is contagious. Do your best not to dwell on negativity, it will consume you and prevent you from becoming your best self.” ―Germany Kent
  98. “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” ―Mark Twain
  99. “You have power over your mind―not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”  ―Marcus Aurelius
  100. “I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.” ―Anna Freud 
  101.  “Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.” ―Dalai Lama
  102. “An excuse is nothing more than a self-imposed roadblock.” ―CC Chapman
  103. “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” ―Franklin D. Roosevelt

Getting Out of Your Own Way

You have a choice about your feelings, thoughts, and actions. You have the power to change these crippling behaviors that hold you back from being the person you want to be and achieving the things that are most important to you. I know it’s not easy–I’m not trying to say that it is. But it can be done, and we all need to remember that.

The smartest thing to do when you spot the first hint of self-sabotaging behavior, is to pivot sooner rather than later. Nip those negative thoughts in the bud before they really start to take root and, well, wreck everything. Make better choices about what you choose to believe about yourself and your abilities, which might include ditching the old and dated stories you tell yourself (or other people tell you) about what you are able to achieve. Understand where those stories come from, and explore why you still believe them. Don’t be afraid of doing the necessary work to let. those. stories. go.

Taking Back Your Life

The old stuff may have served a purpose in the past, but now they’re holding you back–you know if this is true for you. If it is, thank it and let it go, and get on the path to achieving your true potential.

You got this. Now get out there and create something great!