54 Quotes About Self-Sabotaging (With Unexpected Insights)

A lot of us have a habit of unconsciously — or consciously — sabotaging our chances of being happy. This self-destructive behavior often comes from fear of failure. It can keep a lot of us from living up to our full potential.


  1. Self-sabotaging
  2. Self-sabotaging in relationships
  3. Quotes on how to stop it
  4. Common questions

Quotes about self-sabotaging

These quotes show both how self-sabotage can affect us and how many famous people experienced it.

1. “I am the greatest obstacle to my dreams.” —Craig D. Lounsbrough
2. “Darling, the world’s not really against you. The only thing that’s against you is yourself.” —Unknown 
3. “A common type of self-saboteur is one who finds the price of hope too high to pay for.” —The School of Life

4. “Sometimes we self-sabotage just when things seem to be going smoothly. Perhaps this is a way to express our fear about whether it is okay for us to have a better life.” —Maureen Brady
5. “Self-sabotage is when we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.” —Alyce Cornyn-Selby
6. “Destruction can be beautiful to some people. Don’t ask me why. It just is. And if they can’t find anything to destroy, they destroy themselves.” —John Knowles

7. “A deep association has been forged between hope and danger – along with a corresponding preference to live quietly with disappointment, rather than more freely with hope.” —The School of Life
8. “Our biggest enemy is our own self-doubt. We really can achieve extraordinary things in our lives. But we sabotage our greatness because of our fear.” —Robin Sharma
9. “I decry the injustice of my wounds, only to look down and see that I am holding a smoking gun in one hand and a fistful of ammunition in the other.” —Craig D. Lounsbrough

10. “People with low self-esteem are more likely to sabotage themselves when something good happens to them because they don’t feel deserving.” —Unknown 
11. “What is required for many of us, paradoxical though it may sound, is the courage to tolerate happiness without self-sabotage.” —Nathaniel Branden
12. “We may destroy success from touching modesty: from the sense that we surely cannot really deserve the bounty we have received.” —The School of Life

13. “If your parents told you growing up that you’ll never amount to much, maybe you handicap yourself so that you do fall short.” —Barbara Field
14. “Self-sabotage is often driven by negative self-talk, where you tell yourself that you’re inadequate, or unworthy of success.” —MindTools
15. “Many of us act as if we were deliberately out to ruin our chances of getting what we’re on the surface convinced we’re after.” —The School of Life

16. “All self-sabotage, lack of belief in ourselves, low self-esteem, judgments, criticism, and demands for perfection are forms of self-abuse in which we destroy the very essence of our vitality.” —Deborah Adele
17. “Succeeding doesn’t match our limiting beliefs about ourselves.” —Jennifer A. Williams
18. “We make tactless remarks because we wish to hurt, break our legs because we do not wish to walk, marry the wrong man because we cannot let ourselves be happy, board the wrong train because we would prefer not to reach the destination.” —Fay Weldon

19. “People with a negative self-image and low self-esteem are especially vulnerable to self-sabotaging. They behave in ways that confirm negative beliefs about themselves. So, if they are close to succeeding, they become uncomfortable.” —Barbara Field
20. “Rather than do what it takes to propel yourself forward, you hold back because you don’t feel worthy.” —Barbara Field
21. “We are familiar enough with the fear of failure, but it appears that success can sometimes bring about as many anxieties.” —The School of Life

22. “Everybody engages in self-sabotage from time to time.” —Nick Wignall
23. “Alcohol and drug abuse is a common form of self-sabotage because, despite the short-term benefits, consistent abuse of drugs and alcohol almost always interferes with our long-term goals and values.” —Nick Wignall
24. “People who chronically self-sabotage learned at some point that it ‘works’ very well.” —Nick Wignall

You might also like this list of quotes on self-confidence to inspire yourself.

Quotes about self-sabotaging in relationships

Self-sabotage can occur both in healthy and dysfunctional relationships. The distorted belief that you’re not deserving of love can be a reason for self-sabotaging your relationships. Hopefully, these self-sabotage quotes can make you realize the real reason why you hide from love. These quotes can give you new insights to hopefully help you keep the love of your life.

1. “We sabotage great things in our lives because deep down we don’t feel worthy of great things.” —Taressa Riazzi
2. “If you sabotage a healthy relationship when you finally receive one, it may be because peace was never granted to you without a catch. Peace looks threatening when all you’ve ever known was chaos.” —MindfullMusings
3. “By sabotaging the relationship, we are unconsciously building a wall around ourselves to ‘protect’ us from fears of being left behind.” —Annie Tanasugarn

4. “Many romantic saboteurs mention the dispiriting sensation they have when they’re in a relationship knowing it’s just a matter of time before it will end.” —Daniella Balarezo
5. “Love will never be easy, but without self-sabotage, it is a lot more reachable.” —Raquel Peel
6. “Self-sabotaging relationships can be an effective coping strategy. If you never get too close in a relationship, you will never get hurt.” —Jennifer Chain

7. “I think that sometimes love gets in the way of itself – you know, love interrupts itself… we want things so much that we sabotage them.” —Jack White
8. “Self-sabotage is psychological self-harm. When you believe you’re undeserving of love, you subconsciously make sure you don’t get it; you push people away to hurt yourself. But when you remember you are worthy of love, you gain the courage to give your whole heart and love them generously.” —Unknown 
9. “A fear of abandonment is really a fear of intimacy and connection.” —Annie Tanasugarn

10. “A long-standing history of ghosting partners and discarding relationships out of self-preservation… often backfires in a cycle of more self-sabotage.” —Annie Tanasugarn
11. “People seem to pull the plug on a relationship too quickly.” —Raquel Peel
12. “Stop entering relationships that you know are doomed.” —Raquel Peel

13. “I assumed that people in my relationships would eventually leave me; I also assumed that all my relationships would fail.” —Raquel Peel
14. “I have a tendency to sabotage relationships; I have a tendency to sabotage everything. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of being afraid. Useless, good for nothing thoughts.” —Michael Buble
15. “People sabotage their romantic relationships mainly to protect themselves.” —Arash Emamzadeh

16. “When we are in a relationship with someone we love, we may drive them to distraction through repeated unwarranted accusations and angry explosions” —The School of Life
17. “Super ironic that I write and talk about intimacy all day long; it’s something I’ve always dreamed of and never had much luck achieving. After all, it’s hard to have love when you absolutely refuse to show yourself, when you’re locked behind a mask.” —Junot Diaz
18. “Many people find themselves in the habit of intentionally abandoning or ruining otherwise healthy friendships and romantic partnerships.” —Nick Wignall

If you struggle with trust issues, you might like to know more about how to build trust in relationships.

Quotes about how to stop self-sabotaging

Is one of your goals to quit self-sabotaging? If so, these motivational quotes can inspire you to see that change is possible. Doing the difficult work of changing this self-destructive habit can change your life for the better.

1. “Self-destruction and self-sabotage are often just the start of the self-resurrection process.” —Oli Anderson
2. “Just for today, I will not sabotage anything. Not my relationships, not my self-esteem, not my plans, not my goals, not my hopes, not my dreams.” —Unknown 
3. “The inner struggle you feel should not be viewed as conflict but as creative tension to help move you forward.” —Jennifer A. Williams

4. “Be kind to yourself.” —Daniella Balarezo
5. “One of the first steps in addressing self-sabotaging behaviors is identifying them.” —Jennifer Chain
6. “Just imagine how much you would get done if you stopped sabotaging your own work.” —Seth Godin

7. “No more excuses. No more sabotage. No more self-pity. No more comparing yourself to others. Time to step up. Take action right now and start living your life with purpose.” —Anthon St. Maarten
8. “Be mindful of finding holes in joyful moments/experiences. Your self-sabotage ways are stealing your joy. You deserve to experience the wholeness of good moments and finally give yourself a break from your negative self-talk.” —Ash Alves
9. “Once you understand what is behind self-sabotage, you can develop positive, self-supporting behaviors to keep you on the right track.” —MindTools

10. “Challenge negative thinking with logical, positive affirmations.” —MindTools
11. “Before you can undo an unhealthy behavior, you have to understand the function it serves.” —Nick Wignall
12. “If you want to stop self-sabotaging, the key is to understand why you’re doing it—what need it’s filling. Then get creative about identifying healthier, less destructive ways to get that need met.” —MindTools

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Common questions:

What is self-sabotaging behavior?

Self-sabotaging behavior is anything that is done either intentionally or unintentionally to remove the possibility of succeeding at accomplishing our goals or maintaining our values.

What causes self-sabotaging behavior?

A reason why people self-sabotage is due to poor self-esteem. A person who does not believe in themselves and their abilities will — consciously or unconsciously — undermine themselves in order to prevent possible failure.

You might find it helpful to read this article on how to improve your self-esteem in adulthood.

How do I fix self-sabotaging behavior?

In order to fix self-sabotaging behavior, you must first become aware of the ways in which you self-sabotage and why this behavior benefits you. After doing so, it will be easier for you to show up with compassion for yourself and begin to make shifts in your thinking.

You might like to read this article on how to become more self-aware. In addition, a good therapist can help you identify and work on your self-sabotaging behaviors.

We recommend BetterHelp for online therapy, since they offer unlimited messaging and a weekly session, and are cheaper than going to a therapist's office.

Their plans start at $64 per week. If you use this link, you get 20% off your first month at BetterHelp + a $50 coupon valid for any SocialSelf course: Click here to learn more about BetterHelp.

(To receive your $50 SocialSelf coupon, sign up with our link. Then, email BetterHelp’s order confirmation to us to receive your personal code. You can use this code for any of our courses.)

What are examples of self-sabotaging behavior?

An example of self-sabotaging behavior would be consistently showing up late for work or doing a poor job of your assignments, preventing you from receiving a promotion.

Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages SocialSelf’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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