17 Self-Sabotage Traits That Keep You Stuck and Ruin Your Life


Are you feeling stuck? Can’t get motivated? Or can’t stay focused on your goals? These are all things that patients at Amen Clinics have been saying in the wake of the lingering pandemic. How can you tell if it’s the current circumstances that are to blame, or if you’re actually sabotaging your own life? Here are 17 traits associated with self-sabotage. See how many you have, then turn them around so you can get out of your own way and start moving in the right direction again.


Are you feeling stuck? Can’t get motivated? Or can’t stay focused on your goals? It could be self-sabotage that’s holding you back. Click To Tweet

Here are 17 traits associated with self-sabotage.

1. You blame others.

When you blame others, it makes you powerless to change your situation.

Get out of your own way: Taking personal responsibility—think of the word “responsibility” as the ability to respond—is the key to making the changes necessary to be happier and more successful.

2. You have no plans.

One of the greatest de-motivators is a lack of goals and planning. Without a roadmap for what you want out of your life, you’ll never get far.

Get out of your own way: Come up with a set of focused goals for your life and a plan to achieve them. Before you say or do anything, ask yourself “Does it fit?” Will it help you reach your goals?

3. You expect to fail.

If you allow your mind to tell you that you’ll never achieve what you want, your brain will find ways to prevent you from succeeding.

Get out of your own way: Change your mindset to expect to succeed. Your brain will help make it happen.

4. You repeat mistakes.

Making the same mistakes over and over again, which is often seen in people with ADD/ADHD or low activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex (PFC), makes it harder to progress in life.

Get out of your own way: Enhancing activity in the PFC and learning from mistakes can help you grow and become a better person.

5. You’re rigid or inflexible.

If you’re one of those “It’s my way or the highway” type of people, you can get caught in rigid thinking patterns or behaviors that keep you stuck. This is often seen in people with overactivity in the anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG) region of the brain.

Get out of your own way: Try to be more creative and adaptable and be more open to new ways of thinking or doing things. Calming the ACG by boosting serotonin naturally can help.

6. You’re unprepared or disorganized.

Nothing is more frustrating to a boss, co-worker, or customer than to be associated with someone who is poorly organized or unprepared for their daily tasks.

Get out of your own way: Create systems and alerts to help you stay on task and ask the most organized person you know to help you get organized. 

7. You have trouble making decisions.

Do you worry excessively when making decisions? Indecisiveness, which can be a sign of anxiety, is associated with inaction as it leaves you paralyzed by fear of making the wrong decision.

Get out of your own way: Being able to make decisions in a timely manner keeps you action-oriented.

8. You’re impulsive.

If you have trouble waiting for the right moment to say or do something, it can backfire. This trait is commonly seen in people with ADD/ADHD.

Get out of your own way: Becoming more disciplined is the key to overcoming impulsivity.

9. You’re overly cautious.

Being unwilling to take reasonable risks may lead to a safe, predictable, and comfortable life, but also to one that may not be very satisfying or very successful. Fear of failure is often to blame.

Get out of your own way: Focus on taking “measured” risks.

10. You have trouble communicating.

Poor communication skills are at the root of most relationship problems at work or at home.

Get out of your own way: Develop healthier communication skills to elevate your relationships.

11. You’re surrounded by negative people.

Negativity is contagious, so if your social circle includes people who don’t believe in you, put you down, or discourage you, you’re likely to believe them.

Get out of your own way: Surround yourself with positive people who support and encourage you.

12. You’re dependent on others.

Insecurity or low self-esteem may cause you to encourage others to direct your life even though it can make you feel stuck and resentful. In addition, mindlessly following trends can have devastating consequences.

Get out of your own way: Shifting away from needing the approval of others to relying on your own opinion of yourself is key.

13. You have “stinking thinking.”

Negative thought patterns, which are typical in people with anxiety or depression, keep you stuck by making situations seem worse than they really are.

Get out of your own way: Challenging your automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) by asking if they are true can help you develop more accurate thinking patterns.

14. You fear success.

Do you feel like you don’t deserve success, or that people will be envious of you if you succeed? If so, when your goal is within reach, you may find ways to sabotage it.

Get out of your own way: Overcoming the guilt and fear associated with success can help motivate you.

15. You lack energy.

If you wake up feeling tired, you won’t have the get-up-and-go you need to power through your day. Often seen in people with depression and certain hormonal imbalances, fatigue keeps you down.

Get out of your own way: Getting quality sleep, engaging in physical activity, eating a healthy diet, and treating depression and hormonal issues can increase your energy.

16. You give up easily.

When things get hard, do you simply give up? Without follow-through and determination, you’ll keep coming up short. People who give up may lack focus or may be perfectionists who feel like they can’t live up to their own expectations.

Get out of your own way: Persistence is a trait that you must develop to get what you want out of life.

17. You have mental health (or brain health) problems.

Having depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, substance abuse; or suffering from the effects of a past concussion; or struggling with other issues that can get in the way of your ability to stay focused, motivated, and goal-oriented.

Get out of your own way: A healthy brain and mental wellness are the foundations for success in all areas of life. If you’re stuck, optimize your brain and mental health.

ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. I have been assisting sabotager and it is a hard job

    Comment by Katherine hulbert — April 16, 2023 @ 12:10 PM

  2. It is all well and good to say things like "get disciplined," but if you really want to help people,you need to tell them HOW to do these things. They probably already know what they need, but do not how to to achieve it.

    Comment by Patty — May 22, 2023 @ 7:53 AM

  3. I know I sabotage don't feel in control but out of control in myself. Feel lacking unqualified, numb sometimes, stuck, stressed, anyway . What is amen clinic?? Is it a counseling center or doctors office?? Thanks for your time.

    Comment by Debra — October 3, 2023 @ 10:45 PM

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