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February 1, 2023

Time Out! - Take a Break

How I Sabotage Myself and My Relationship

We play self-destructive games and then complain about or blame others for our circumstances. Self-sabotage always works.    ~ Jeani Poe, Love Recon

Any behavior you engage in that sabotages you and prevents you from experiencing your best life and/or best relationship is a self-defeating behavior. Self-defeating behaviors are obstacles and barriers to reaching your goals. They can be distractions that get you off track. Often, they drain your energy and creativity and exhaust you so you don’t have the power to create the life and relationship you want with your partner. Until you acknowledge them and dare to overcome them, you will live in a cycle of making attempts and being defeated. You will merely survive. Once you and your spouse each become aware of your self-defeating behaviors, you can deal with them and reach a whole new level in your individual lives and in your relationship.

Some common self-defeating behavior patterns are:Love Recon DOING A RELATIONSHIP RESET – HOW TO START OVER gero

  • Procrastination
  • Stubborn pride – always have to be “right”
  • Unwillingness to ask for help
  • Being a “people pleaser”
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Feeling undeserving of good things
  • Perfectionism
  • Fear of taking a risk
  • Negative self-talk (echoes in your mind)
  • Negative Guilt and Shame (I should…I’m horrible)
  • Being easily distracted (phone calls, social media, “squirrel!”)
  • Focusing on the past

Overcoming Self-Defeating Behaviors

The first step in overcoming these self-sabotaging behaviors is to identify them. This could be a relationship-building experience if you and your spouse work through the exercise together, identifying your self-defeating behaviors and how they affect you as a couple. If you do this together, each of you grab a notebook or a sheet of paper to use as a worksheet as you follow the following instructions:

Read through the list above again and this time, pick out your top three. If you have another predominant self-defeating behavior that’s not on the list, include that in your top three.

Use a notebook, a pad of paper, a laptop, or whatever works best for you and work through the following bullet points:

  • I think that my top three self-defeating behaviors are… (List them.)


Be vulnerable and ask your spouse to look at the list and choose what they would say your top three self-defeating behaviors are. They may be able to see in you what you cannot see within yourself.

Now consider how your self-defeating behaviors have affected you and your relationship. You don’t live in a vacuum. These self-defeating behaviors have impacted your life. Not only that but your relationship has been damaged or diminished by them as well. Be honest and complete this statement for each of the behaviors:

  • I believe this behavior has affected my life and our relationship by…


Consider now what drives the non-productive or damaging behaviors. Is it fear – fear of failure, fear of success, or fear of intimacy? Is it a negative belief that keeps you stuck – I’m not good enough, smart enough, worthy enough, etc.? Complete the following statement for each of your top three self-defeating behaviors:

  • The underlying fear or belief that has kept me trapped in this behavior is…


The final step is identifying a belief or fundamental truth that will enable you to defeat the self-defeating behavior itself. Formulate a positive affirmation statement that you can repeat when tempted to engage in the behavior you seek to eradicate from your life. It could be a statement such as, “I am worthy and capable of success!” Typically, the statement is simply the opposite of the fear or negative belief that has trapped you. Write a statement for each of the negative, self-defeating behaviors.

  • The belief or truth that I will use to conquer this behavior is…


Then, as an extra measure of accountability, tell your spouse, “I give you my permission to lovingly point out to me when I am engaging in any self-defeating behavior.”  With the support and help of a loving spouse, you can each be better than you were before, and your relationship will become even richer and more satisfying to you both!


If you want to discuss how we can help you and your relationship, please contact me at Cliff@LoveRecon.org or call 866-218-1716. You may also visit our website, www.LoveRecon.org, for testimonials and information.

About the author 

Cliff Poe

Cliff Poe is Founder and Lead Coach for Recon Coaching. He and his wife, Jeani, are Master Coaches and their passion is to help individuals and couples form healthy, lasting and satisfying relationships. Cliff has a M.Div. in pastoral counseling and ministry. He enjoys writing and coaching as well as his family which includes 2 adult kids and their spouses, 6 grandchildren and a fur family composed of a Golden Retriever and a Mackerel Tabby.

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