You know that nagging feeling in your gut that something just isn’t right about a new relationship or job opportunity? That instinctive voice telling you to run the other way as fast as you can? Sometimes that’s your intuition trying to protect you from a bad situation. Other times, it’s just your self-doubt and insecurity rearing their ugly heads again to sabotage your success and happiness.

Learning to tell the difference between self-sabotage and your gut instinct could change your life. It’s not always easy in the moment, but with practice, you can strengthen your ability to listen to your inner wisdom instead of the self-defeating tape on repeat in your head.

What Is Self-Sabotage?

What Is Self-Sabotage
What Is Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage is when you unconsciously undermine your own success or happiness. We all do it from time to time, but learning to recognize the signs can help you avoid sabotaging yourself.

Practice self-care, be kind to yourself, set small, achievable goals, ask others for input, and avoid harsh self-judgment. You already have everything within you to thrive. Now believe in yourself and get out of your own way!

Common forms of self-sabotaging behavior

Self-sabotage comes in many forms. Some of the most common ways people undermine their own success or happiness include:

  • Negative self-talk: saying mean things to yourself like “I’m so stupid” or “I’ll never be good enough.” This damaging inner dialog erodes your self-esteem and confidence.
  • Procrastination: putting off important tasks or responsibilities until the last minute. This often leads to doing work in a rushed, haphazard way or missing deadlines altogether.
  • Making excuses: blaming outside factors for your lack of progress instead of taking responsibility. Excuses prevent you from making positive changes.
  • Not setting boundaries: saying “yes” to everyone else’s needs while ignoring your own. This leads to feeling overwhelmed, resentful, and burned out. Learn to say “no” in a kind way.
  • Sabotaging relationships: picking fights, being passively aggressive, or withdrawing from people who care about you. Healthy relationships are vital to wellbeing and success.
  • Perfectionism: Nothing is ever good enough, so you don’t even start or finish tasks. Perfectionism is unrealistic and counterproductive. Aim for progress, not perfection.
  • Risk avoidance: staying in your comfort zone and not taking chances that could lead to opportunity. Growth requires courage and a willingness to fail. Face your fears instead of running from them. Recognizing these harmful patterns is the first step to overcoming them. With conscious effort and the practice of self-compassion, you can reframe negative thoughts, set better boundaries, and take the risks that will allow you to thrive. You deserve to achieve your full potential without standing in your own way.

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Signs You May Be Self-Sabotaging

Self-sabotage involves behaviors that undermine your own happiness and success. But sometimes what feels like self-sabotage is actually your intuition telling you something isn’t right. How can you tell the difference? Here are some signs you may be self-sabotaging:

  1. You doubt yourself constantly. Do you frequently second-guess yourself and lack confidence in your abilities? Self-sabotage often stems from negative self-beliefs. Challenge negative thoughts about yourself and focus on your strengths and accomplishments.
  2. You make excuses to avoid opportunities.Do you turn down chances to advance your goals for reasons that don’t quite add up? Self-sabotage involves avoiding risks and making excuses to stay in your comfort zone. Take a chance on new opportunities; you have more to gain than lose.
  3. You engage in negative self-talk. The way you speak to yourself has power. Do you frequently criticize yourself or say you “can’t do things? Replace negative self-talk with more constructive ways of speaking to yourself. You can absolutely achieve your goals.
  4. You don’t celebrate wins.Do you achieve milestones but then quickly shift focus to the next goal without appreciating your progress? Take time to recognize and celebrate your wins, big and small. Success builds upon itself, so savor the journey.
  5. You don’t learn from your mistakes.Do you beat yourself up over failures and missteps instead of using them as opportunities to grow? Self-sabotage is often linked to an unhealthy relationship with mistakes. Learn from your errors and be kind to yourself. No one is perfect.
  6. Your intuition, on the other hand, usually comes through as a nagging feeling that something is off. It’s a message to pause and reevaluate. Listen for that inner wisdom—it’s there to guide you towards the right path. With practice, you’ll get better at spotting the difference.

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Why Do People Self-Sabotage?

People self-sabotage for many reasons, often subconsciously. It’s a way to protect yourself from potential failure or rejection, even if it’s not the healthiest coping mechanism.

Low self-esteem

If you don’t believe in yourself or your abilities, you may sabotage your efforts to avoid proving your negative self-perceptions right. You feel you’re not good enough, so why even try? Building self-confidence and surrounding yourself with a strong support system can help overcome this.

Fear of success

Success means change and new responsibilities. For some, this is scarier than staying in their comfort zone. If you’re afraid of how people may view you after achieving your goals or feel unprepared for what comes next, you may subconsciously sabotage yourself. Recognizing this tendency and making a plan for how you’ll handle success can help.


Some people won’t start or finish tasks because their standards are impossibly high. They’re afraid of not achieving the perfect result, so they stall or make excuses to avoid even trying. Learning to accept imperfections and focus on progress over perfection is key. Done is better than perfect.

The reasons we self-sabotage are complex and personal. But with self-awareness, a willingness to change unhealthy patterns, and a strong support system, you can overcome tendencies towards self-sabotage. Be gentle with yourself, focus on small wins, and celebrate your efforts and milestones along the way. You’ve got this, even if that inner critic says otherwise. With time and practice, you can turn down its volume and choose to believe in yourself.

Tips for Overcoming Self-Sabotage

To overcome self-sabotage, try these tips:

Recognize the signs. The first step is identifying behaviors that sabotage your progress or success. Things like procrastination, negative self-talk, fear of failure or success, perfectionism, etc. Ask yourself if these behaviors are holding you back from achieving your goals or dreams.

Address the root cause.Self-sabotage often stems from underlying issues like low self-esteem, lack of confidence, fear of change, unhealthy beliefs you developed as a child, traumatic experiences, etc. Try to determine the root cause of your self-sabotaging behaviors. Speaking to a therapist or counselor can help gain insight into these deeper issues.

Challenge negative thoughts. Notice negative thoughts about yourself and try to challenge them with more balanced and encouraging thoughts. For example, replace “I’ll never finish this project” with “If I make a schedule and stick to it, I can achieve this goal step by step. Combating negative thoughts with positive ones can help build motivation and confidence.

Start small and build up gradually. Don’t aim for major life changes right away. Take small steps towards your goal and build up your confidence along the way. Celebrate small wins to stay motivated. As your success builds up gradually, self-sabotage will decrease.

Ask for support. Tell close ones about your goal and self-sabotage struggle. Let them encourage your efforts and check in on your progress. Consider joining an online community or forum for accountability and support. Having a strong support system will help overcome self-sabotage.

Be kind to yourself. Learn self-compassion. Do not be too harsh on yourself if you slip into old patterns. Forgive yourself and get back on track right away. You deserve to achieve your goals and dreams. Believe in yourself, and keep practicing self-care. You’ve got this! With patience and persistence, you can overcome self-sabotage.

What Is Gut Feeling?

What Is Gut Feeling
What Is Gut Feeling

Your gut feeling is that nagging sense that something just isn’t right. It’s different from self-sabotage, where you make excuses to avoid challenging or uncomfortable situations. Learning to tell the difference can help you gain confidence in your decision-making.

What is your gut really telling you? Your intuition develops from your life experiences, environment, and innate instincts. It sends signals when:

  1. Something feels off or inconsistent. If things don’t seem to add up or match what you expected, your gut alerts you.
  2. You sense deceit or manipulation. Your gut instinctively picks up on body language, tone of voice, and other cues that don’t match someone’s words.
  3. There’s impending danger. Your gut reaction causes a surge of adrenaline that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. This instinct protects you from harm.
  4. An opportunity feels right. When something resonates with your values, priorities, and desires, your gut fills you with a sense of excitement, passion, and motivation.

Should you trust your gut? While gut feelings aren’t always rational or logical, that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Your intuition is a powerful tool when used properly. The key is determining when your gut reaction is a helpful warning sign or an unhelpful product of anxiety, fear, or self-doubt. With practice, you can get better at understanding the difference.

Understanding Your Gut Instincts and Intuition

Your gut instinct is that inner voice that provides guidance when you have to make important decisions. It’s a sense of intuition that comes from deep within, shaped by your experiences, values, and observations over time. Learning to understand and trust your gut instincts can help provide clarity in difficult situations.

  • Pay attention to your body’s physical reactions. Things like tension, nausea, or a racing pulse could be your gut instinct signaling that something is off. Our bodies are finely tuned to perceive threats, even if we can’t articulate why we feel uneasy about a choice or path.
  • Look for patterns in your thinking and reactions. If you find yourself frequently second-guessing or doubling down on a decision, that may be your intuition trying to tell you something. Our guts can detect subtle signs that our conscious minds miss.
  • Don’t ignore your instincts in favor of logic or reason alone. While facts and evidence are important, intuition arises from a place of wisdom within us that should not be discounted. If something feels off, pause and reevaluate before proceeding.
  • Get input from others you trust. Discussing the situation with people who know you well can help provide perspective. They may be able to see signs you’re missing or validate concerns you already have.
  • Look for compromise and balance. Rather than an either-or choice between your head and your gut, find options that honor both. Your intuition and reasoning skills are designed to work together, not compete.

With practice, you can get better at understanding the signals your intuition sends. Learn to differentiate self-sabotage from your gut instincts, so you can pursue the choices that will lead to your highest good. Your inner compass is there to guide you; make sure you take the time to follow where it points.

Key Differences in Self-Sabotage vs Gut Feeling

Key Differences in Self-Sabotage vs Gut Feeling
Key Differences in Self-Sabotage vs Gut Feeling

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between self-sabotage and following your gut instinct. Both can make you second-guess yourself, but for very different reasons. Here are some key ways to determine whether that nagging feeling is a warning sign or just fear holding you back.

  • Self-sabotage comes from a place of doubt and insecurity. Your gut instinct arises from intuition and wisdom. If the voice is harsh and critical and focuses on your perceived faults or shortcomings, it’s probably self-sabotage. Your intuition will feel neutral and matter-of-fact.
  • Self-sabotage keeps you stuck, while your gut guides you forward. If the feeling is keeping you paralyzed in place or repeating unhealthy patterns, it’s self-sabotage. Your intuition will spur you to constructive action and positive change.
  • Self-sabotage isolates you; gut instinct connects you. Sabotaging thoughts make you feel separate from others or unworthy. Intuition helps you feel more connected to yourself and those around you.
  • Self-sabotage is exaggerated and irrational; intuition is balanced and wise. Sabotaging beliefs will be extreme, unreasonable, and not based in fact. Your intuition will guide you to a balanced, moderate, and pragmatic course of action.
  • Self-sabotage feels anxious and agitated; intuition feels calm and reassuring. If the feeling makes you increasingly distressed, frantic, or chaotic, it’s probably self-sabotage. Your intuition will give you an underlying sense of peace and certainty.

Learning to distinguish the two can be challenging, but with practice, you’ll get better at spotting the difference. The next time you have a strong gut reaction, examine it objectively. If it’s self-sabotage, release those negative beliefs and choose to move forward in a way that honors your true intuition. You’ve got this! Trust yourself.

Trusting your gut Instinct vs. Ignoring Self-Doubt

Trusting your gut Instinct vs. Ignoring Self-Doubt
Trusting your gut Instinct vs. Ignoring Self-Doubt

Gut instinct, intuition, that little voice in your head—whatever you call it—learning to trust your own innate wisdom can be challenging. At times, it can be difficult to distinguish between self-doubt and a genuine gut feeling. But ignoring your intuition altogether can lead to poor decision-making and regret. Here are a few tips to help determine if that nagging feeling is self-sabotage or your gut instinct trying to guide you.

  • Examine the thought. Consider if the thought is constructive or if it makes you feel anxious or unworthy. Self-doubting thoughts typically criticize you, while intuition encourages or warns you in a helpful way.
  • Check for evidence. See if there are any facts that support or contradict your feelings. Intuition is often based on life experiences, while self-doubt stems from fear and worry. If the thought isn’t grounded in reality, it’s more likely self-doubt.
  • Consider the timing. Doubtful thoughts tend to arise when you’re feeling vulnerable or insecure. Gut instinct emerges when you have all the information needed and are in a calm state of mind.
  • Sit with the feeling. Spend some time reflecting on the thought to determine if it persists or fades. Self-doubt will often dissolve, while a gut instinct will remain steady.
  • Talk to others. Get input from people you trust to gain an outside perspective. Explain the situation and your concerns to determine if their intuition aligns with your own. The more aligned you are, the more likely it’s your gut instinct.

Learning to trust in yourself and your innate wisdom is a journey. With practice, self-awareness, and patience, you’ll get better at spotting the difference between gut instinct and self-sabotage. When in doubt, it’s always a good rule of thumb to follow your intuition—your inner guide is rarely wrong.

Learning to Trust Yourself and Your Intuition

Learning to trust yourself and your intuition is key to avoiding self-sabotage. Your “gut feeling” is your subconscious trying to tell you something important. But how do you know if it’s intuition or fear masquerading as intuition? Here are a few tips to help determine the difference:

  • Examine the feeling. Does it feel like an “aha!” moment of clarity or an anxious, worrying feeling in your stomach? Clarity and calmness often signal intuition. Anxiety and fear usually mean it’s self-doubt, not intuition.
  • Look for evidence. Intuition is often backed by clues or experiences you’ve noticed but not fully processed. See if you can find concrete reasons why this decision feels right or wrong. If there are no logical reasons, it may be anxiety and not intuition.
  • Check your attachment to the outcome. Intuition feels like guidance, not an emotional need for a particular result. If you’re very attached to one choice over another for emotional reasons, it’s likely not intuition. It also feels open to various possibilities, not rigid.
  • Sit with the feeling. Don’t act immediately. Give yourself time to determine the source. Self-sabotage feelings tend to intensify when you contemplate the choice, while intuitive feelings remain steady or feel calming.

Start small. If you are still unsure, start with a small step toward the choice. See how that feels. You can always course-correct if needed. Starting small allows your intuition to guide you step by step.

Learning to recognize the quiet voice of your intuition amid the noisy fears and doubts in your mind is a skill that takes practice. But with regular self-reflection and patience, you can get better at distinguishing intuition from self-sabotage. The more you trust and follow your intuition, the stronger it becomes.

When to Listen to Your Intuition

When to Listen to Your Intuition
When to Listen to Your Intuition

Intuition is your inner wisdom, shaped by a lifetime of experiences, observations, and learning. It’s that gut feeling that sparks when something just doesn’t feel right. But how do you know when to trust your intuition and when it’s self-sabotage in disguise?

Pay attention to patterns. If you frequently get a nagging feeling in certain situations or about certain people that leads to poor outcomes, your intuition is probably trying to tell you something. Our intuition develops over time through repetition and familiarity. Look for clues that this may be an intuitive insight rather than self-doubt.

Consider your emotional state. Intuition usually feels neutral or slightly uncomfortable. Self-sabotage often feels highly emotional, panicked, or anxious. Take a few deep breaths to gain perspective. If your concern still feels valid after you’ve calmed down, it’s more likely intuition.

Look for external validation. Do some research or ask a friend for input. See if the facts support your feelings. While intuition is usually correct without evidence, having additional data helps build your confidence in the insight.

Start small by trusting your intuition for low-risk things. Notice the outcomes, and your confidence in your intuitive abilities will grow over time. The more you practice, the easier it will be to differentiate between intuition and self-sabotage.

Don’t ignore your intuition completely. While self-doubt is often unfounded, intuition is there to guide you. If you get an uneasy feeling, pause and evaluate it rationally before proceeding. Even if you decide to move forward, you’ve reinforced your intuitive abilities and can proceed cautiously.

With practice, you’ll get better at spotting the difference. The best approach is to tune in, evaluate the feeling rationally, and determine the right amount of trust and action for the situation. Your intuition is a powerful tool when used wisely. Learn to nurture it and rely on it.

FAQ: Answering Common Questions About Self-Sabotage and Gut Feelings

What’s the difference between self-sabotage and following your gut instinct? Self-sabotage is when you undermine your own success or happiness, often unconsciously. Your gut instinct refers to your intuitive judgment about a situation. The key difference is that self-sabotage works against you, while trusting your gut can guide you in the right direction.

How can I tell the difference?

Self-sabotage usually involves negative feelings like fear, anxiety, or low self-esteem. Your gut instinct feels more neutral and matter-of-fact.

Some signs you’re self-sabotaging:

  • You have persistent negative thoughts about yourself or your abilities.
  • You avoid opportunities or make excuses to not pursue goals.
  • You engage in unhealthy habits as a way to cope with difficult emotions.

Your gut instinct:

  • Feels calm and resolute, not emotionally charged.
  • prompts you to take constructive action.
  • Considers all options objectively before making a choice.

What should I do if I realize I’m self-sabotaging?

The first step is awareness. Notice the thoughts and behaviors that undermine you and work to challenge them. Some strategies:

  • Practice positive self-talk. Speak to yourself with encouragement and compassion.
  • Start small by setting manageable goals and rewarding yourself when you achieve them. Build up your confidence over time.
  • Address the root causes of your self-doubt through journaling, meditation, or talking to a therapist.
  • Surround yourself with a strong support system of people who believe in you. Their positivity can help shift your mindset.

Learning the difference between self-sabotage and gut instinct is key to overcoming obstacles and pursuing opportunities that will lead to your happiness and success. With awareness and practice, you can strengthen your self-confidence from within.


So next time you have that nagging feeling in your gut telling you to steer clear of a decision or opportunity, take a pause. Do some reflection to determine if it’s your intuition sending a warning or if it’s just self-doubt rearing its ugly head again. Your intuition will feel certain and clear, giving you a sense of inner peace about the choice. Self-sabotage will make you feel tense, worried, and confused. Learn to recognize the subtle difference between the two, and you’ll gain the power to pursue your dreams without limits. You’ve got this. Now go make that choice and never look back.


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