How To Tell If Self-Kindness Actually Self-Sabotage?

Any life-altering changes in your everyday routine create an inner conflict. During the time of introducing new habits to your life, you will be swimming against the current. Any self-help book you read or podcast you listen to tells you to practice patience and forgive yourself for the fallbacks you have. In short – being kind and gentle by treating yourself with compassion and understanding. It means acknowledging your flaws and imperfections while also recognizing your strengths and accomplishments.

How Self-Kindness Can Become Self-Sabotage

It’s important to practice self-care and prioritize your well-being by taking breaks and setting boundaries. Self-kindness can also mean engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. However, it’s possible to take self-kindness too far and use it as an excuse to avoid responsibility and accountability. This allows you to ignore the underlying issues. Eventually, this will slow down your progress or stall it completely.

Here are some ways practicing self-care and self-kindness is actually a form of self-sabotage:


When you constantly tell yourself that you deserve a break or that you can do something later, you may be using self-kindness as an excuse to procrastinate. This can lead to missed opportunities and increased stress in the long run.

Shifting the work you promised yourself to do today to the next day will make you feel less confident about yourself. By this act, you have actually betrayed yourself by breaking a promise you made to yourself. Your subconscious mind can see you as a weak and untrustworthy person. This can be very damaging to your mental health in the long run

Unfit Reward System

It’s important to be aware of the ways you reward yourself for a job well done. This is the moment our old habits tend to sneak in. Imagine yourself trying to become more fit and healthier. You’ve been sticking to your workout and diet regime for the whole week. You decide to reward yourself with a huge pizza and chocolate cake on the weekend. The rewards you use should align with the big picture. Not clash with it.

Additionally, you may ask yourself is the behavior I want to reward myself for something that I would also see fit for a reward one year from now? If the answer is no, you’d be rewarding yourself for a behavior that you want to become the new norm in your life

Avoiding Challenges

If you avoid challenging situations or opportunities for growth because you want to stay in your comfort zone, you may be using self-kindness as a way to avoid the discomfort that comes with facing new challenges. Telling yourself you’re good enough already, contributes to creating a fixed mindset.

Instead of avoiding challenges, seek them to test where you stand right now and get feedback on what you should be focusing on to improve further

Justifying Negative Behaviors

When you use self-kindness to justify negative behaviors such as overeating, overspending, or substance abuse, you are not truly being kind to yourself. These behaviors can lead to negative consequences and impact your overall well-being. The justifications you’re using can have little to no relation to the actual reasons behind those behaviors.

Let’s imagine you’re trying to save money for a trip, but you go shopping with a friend and see a pair of shoes you really like. You know you don’t really need them and that buying the shoes would mean going over your budget. Seeing your friend enjoying shopping and encouraging you that these shoes look good on you, makes you give in to peer pressure and convince yourself that you’ll make it up by saving more next week.

In this situation, you would be using self-kindness to justify overspending on a luxury item. In reality, you would be undermining the bigger goal. This type of thinking can become a pattern, leading to repeated instances of certain behavior that can have negative consequences on your progress and overall well-being.

Victim Mentality

If you have a victim mentality, you may use self-kindness to justify feeling sorry for yourself and blaming others for your problems. This can prevent you from taking responsibility for your actions and making positive changes in your life. In addition, you are rendering yourself powerless and giving up the control to change something on your own.

Hoping and waiting for someone else to make the change will only lead to more time wasted. While external help can get things going in the right direction, it doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive about finding the solution yourself.

How to recognize when self-kindness is actually an excuse

It can be challenging to recognize when self-kindness is being used as an excuse for negative behaviors, but here are some signs to look out for:

  1. You feel guilty or ashamed after engaging in the behavior: If you find yourself feeling guilty or ashamed after engaging in a behavior that you justified as self-kindness, it may be a sign that you were using it as an excuse. You may have a habit of lying to yourself about the motives behind your acts of self-kindness. In your heart, you know they’re not true. Become mindful of the emotions that arise when you engage in these activities and see if regret, shame, and guilt are one of them.
  2. The behavior conflicts with your long-term goals: Sometimes the behavior you justify conflicts with your long-term goals or values. You may want to have a balance between behaviors that take you closer to your goals and behaviors that don’t support them. This, however, needs to be a conscious choice in moderation, not just an old habit that is done mindlessly. Alternatively, you could seek ways to achieve the same effect without undermining your progress.
  3. You’re avoiding discomfort or pain: If the behavior you’re justifying is a way to avoid discomfort or pain, it may be a sign that you’re using self-kindness as an excuse to avoid confronting the underlying issue. Being afraid of a challenge will eventually stagnate your progress.
  4. You’re not making progress: If you’re not making progress toward your goals, despite following a plan, you may be engaging in behaviors that you justify as self-kindness. This may be a sign that you’re using them as an excuse to avoid taking more difficult steps toward change. Or the balance between activities taking you closer to the goal and all other activities are biased to the latter.
  5. You’re using the same justification repeatedly: If you find yourself using the same justification repeatedly, it may be a sign that you’re using self-kindness as an excuse to avoid making real change. Take time to figure out the real reason behind this as it may just be an easier way out not the whole truth.

If you notice any of these signs, it may be a good idea to take a step back and examine your behavior more critically. Try to determine if you are using self-kindness as an excuse. See the patterns in your behavior and focus on finding ways to break those habit

How self-sabotage can hold you back from achieving your goals

Self-sabotage can hold you back from achieving your goals in many ways. When you engage in self-sabotage, you may:

Undermining your progress

If a behavior you’re engaging in as a form of self-care or kindness doesn’t align with your main goal, you’re sabotaging your progress by working against it. Think of your choices of action as +1 or -1 – one increasing your progress score, one reducing it. It’s hard to find valid reasons for choosing an activity that’s a -1.

Aim for activities that are either neutral to your goal or contribute to them. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight but tend to binge eat, focus on finding out the reason you feel the need to binge. If it’s a way to comfort yourself after a hard day, try something that could have a similar effect on your emotional state. Reading, journaling, and meditating can be considered neutral activities. A walk in the forest or playing with your pet would take you closer to your goal.

Procrastinate or avoid taking action

When you procrastinate or avoid taking action toward your goals, you’re sabotaging your ability to make progress. Time spent postponing an action or procrastinating is time lost forever. Promises such as catching up the next day will only lead to feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work you need to do. This increases the chance of wanting to postpone it further

Focus on short-term pleasure over long-term goals

Self-sabotage often involves choosing short-term pleasure over long-term goals. For example, if you choose to binge-watch Netflix instead of studying for an exam, you’re sabotaging your ability to achieve your long-term academic goals.

All of these behaviors can hold you back from achieving your goals and living the life you want to live. It’s important to recognize when you’re engaging in self-sabotage. Take time to work towards building healthy habits and thought patterns that support your success. This may involve seeking professional help, building a support system, setting realistic goals, and practicing self-compassion.

The impact of self-sabotage on self-esteem and confidence

  1. Have a negative self-image: When you have a negative self-image, you may sabotage your own success by believing you’re not capable of achieving your goals. This will teach your brain to be fixed in its current state and not be open to growth. A fixed mindset is something that is an additional challenge to break.
  2. Engage in self-doubt and self-criticism: When you engage in self-doubt and self-criticism, you undermine your confidence and motivation to work towards your goals. Not taking accountability and finding excuses teaches you that you are weak and lack control. This is quite the opposite you actually want to believe about yourself
  3. Betraying yourself: When you find yourself constantly failing the goals you have set for yourself because you didn’t put in the effort you promised yourself, you’re betraying yourself. Many people have the knowledge in the back of their heads that at the end of the day if they want something done, they must do it themselves. If you don’t see yourself as a reliable person who can finish what you planned to do, it can cause damage to your mental health.

How taking responsibility can lead to growth and progress

Taking responsibility is one key factor in personal growth and progress. When you take responsibility for your actions, choices, and circumstances, you empower yourself to make positive changes. This allows you to move forward toward your goals. You will feel like it’s you who’s in control, whether your actions are followed by success or failure.

Here are some ways taking responsibility can lead to growth and progress:

  1. Builds self-awareness: Taking responsibility involves acknowledging your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth. By taking responsibility, you become more self-aware and gain insight into your behavior and thought patterns.
  2. Empowers you to make changes: When you take responsibility, you acknowledge that you have the power to make changes in your life. This empowers you to take action toward your goals and make positive changes.
  3. Increases accountability: Taking responsibility increases accountability, both to yourself and to others. This can motivate you to stay focused on your goals and work towards them consistently.
  4. Reduces blame and victim mentality: Taking responsibility helps you to move away from blame and victim mentality. When you take responsibility, you focus on what you can control and take action to create positive change. Rather than blaming others or external circumstances for your problems.
  5. Builds resilience: Taking responsibility requires courage and vulnerability, which helps to build resilience. By taking responsibility for your actions and choices, you become better equipped to handle challenges and setbacks.

The role of accountability in preventing self-sabotage

Accountability can play a crucial role in preventing self-sabotage. It’s one thing to take responsibility for your own actions and hold yourself accountable for the results. A powerful technique to prevent self-sabotage is to be accountable to someone else. This will give you an external source of motivation and support to help you stay on track toward your goals. Here are some ways accountability can help prevent self-sabotage:

  1. Increases motivation: When you know someone else is counting on you to follow through on your commitments, it can increase your motivation to stick to your goals and avoid self-sabotage. Paradoxically, it’s often less painful to fail yourself than it is to fail someone else.
  2. Provides support: Being accountable to someone else can provide a source of support and encouragement when you face challenges or setbacks.
  3. Increases self-awareness: When you are accountable to someone else, you may be more aware of your behavior and thought patterns. This increased self-awareness can help you identify and prevent self-sabotage.
  4. Helps identify patterns: Over time, being accountable to someone else can help you identify patterns of behavior that may lead to self-sabotage. This can help you develop strategies to avoid these patterns in the future.
  5. Increases sense of responsibility: Being accountable to someone else can increase your sense of responsibility to yourself and your goals. This can help you take ownership of your actions and avoid self-sabotage.

While accountability can be a powerful tool in preventing self-sabotage, you should be careful about not abusing it. It’s easier to slip into the victim mentality and start blaming others for your progress or the lack of it.

You may want to complain that they didn’t provide enough support. Or didn’t care enough, didn’t do what you planned them to do Maybe they were too soft, or too harsh with you. When it happens, go back to the concept of taking responsibility for your own results, no matter how big a team you have behind your back.

Ways to promote self-kindness in a healthy and productive way

There are many ways you can use self-kindness and self-care as a form of sneaky self-sabotage. That being said, it doesn’t mean a journey toward a goal has to be strict as the military. Kindness and compassion for yourself will help you stay motivated and balanced.

  1. Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support that you would offer to a good friend who is struggling. You would speak to them with kindness, avoiding harsh criticism while remaining honest. Instead of beating yourself up emotionally for a setback, approach it constructively and analytically. The goal should be to come up with good advice on how to avoid the same pitfall in the future.
  2. Take care of your physical health: Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are all important aspects of self-care. Taking care of your physical health can help you feel better both physically and mentally. No work is so important that it requires you to sacrifice any of the above. Similarly, no goal is so urgent to reach that you should go to the other extreme. Never risk getting injured from overdoing something.
  3. Don’t sacrifice your social life: It may be tempting to skip social activities to focus on things that are directly related to your goals. Choose a Friday night at the gym over a pizza night with friends. Going off the grid for half a year to work on your next book instead. Reducing distractions is a good idea, but as introverted as some people are, they’re still social creatures. Skipping all social interactions can cause damage to your psychology. Additionally, it makes returning back to society a painful experience. Focus on finding a balance between social life and undisturbed alone time.
  4. Make time for activities you enjoy: Whether it’s reading, listening to music, or spending time outdoors. These activities can help you recharge and reduce stress. Encourage yourself to think outside the box and try new things. This is especially important if the activities that used to bring you joy, don’t align with your goals today.
  5. Set realistic goals: Setting goals that are realistic and achievable can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and promote self-kindness. A goal should be challenging enough to make you put in actual effort to reach it. But it shouldn’t be so challenging that it would overwhelm you. Or require you to make unhealthy and unsustainable changes to reach it. Start with small goals and work your way up to bigger ones.
  6. Practice self-reflection: Take time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and actions. This can help you identify areas where you may be too hard on yourself. From there you can work on developing more self-kindness. Being aware of your thoughts and emotions will help you catch on to the weak link before it starts affecting your progress.
  7. Seek support: Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family, or a professional if you need support. Talking to someone else can help you gain a fresh perspective and develop more self-compassion.
  8. Find a healthy balance: You may find yourself thinking constantly of the things your old you used to enjoy. Making them a forbidden fruit can lead to a situation where the urge overtakes self-control. The damage caused by this event would be much bigger than indulging in these things in moderation. Make an effort to consciously make space for those things in the amount that satisfies the urge but doesn’t sabotage your progress. If you love chocolate, calculate a small bar of chocolate into your daily calorie budget. If you love watching TV, choose one show to watch instead of watching the whole program for hours.

In summary, there are many ways to practice self-care and compassion in a way that doesn’t harm your progress but supports it instead. Get creative about the ways you can integrate it into your own plans. At the same time become aware of the lazy comfort-seeking you trying to trick you into not taking responsibility for your actions and giving up control to make any noticeable changes