Lifting the Lid on Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage often begins subtly, whispering doubt into the ears of even the most accomplished individuals. For me, it manifested as a victim mentality. I found it easier to blame external circumstances than to acknowledge my part in the equation. But with time and internal reflection, and some friends who held me accountable, I began to recognise the patterns that were putting up roadblocks in my life. 

I was showing up to the opportunities I had worked so hard for, not as the champion I aimed to be, but as a mere echo of my potential.

Self-sabotage is a silent killer of dreams, careers, relationships — all the areas of life that we value most. It’s the act of consciously or unconsciously sabotaging ourselves, preventing us from reaching our full potential, achieving success or simply finding joy and happiness in the life we choose to live.

But why do we do this? Why would anyone intentionally sabotage their own goals and aspirations?

“I am not worthy”

During my time as a professional surfer, I lived in a constant state of fear – fear of being inadequate, fear of not being enough, fear of rejection. I’ve spoken about this before, how my fear of rejection stems from my childhood experiences. From being adopted, to feeling like I don’t belong, to feeling like I’m not worthy of love, I was constantly striving to answer the question: How can I prove to the world that I’m worthy?

No matter how many wins or titles I racked up, somehow it was never enough to prove to myself that I am worthy.

See, the problem is that I let my fear go unchecked. My feelings spiralled. And the self-sabotage began to have a field day.

I posted a video recently where I shared an obvious example of this.

I would show up drunk or hung over to heats, I would show up poorly prepared, my board wasn’t clean, my car wasn’t clean – I’d lost the feeling of joy and smile from my face because I’d bought into the victim mentality of: “I’m not worthy. I’m not enough.”

The example I shared was about one of my fiercest competitors on the tour, Lisa Anderson. She was neck and neck with me during my first serious push for a world title.

I had been invited on Channel Nine for the Footy Show and naturally, Fatty asked me: “How do you rate your chances?”

My response? I talked a lot of shit: “She’s crap in big waves, I’m very good in big surf, I feel comfortable there so I’ve got a great chance of beating her.”

I didn’t think much of it, but then my phone rang as soon as I was off air. My long time mentor, Barton Lynch, was on the line ready to give me a spray.

He told me to pull my head in.

“When you drag your competition down, you only do yourself a disservice. You lower yourself and look childish or foolish, especially if Lisa manages to beat you!”

During low points in my life, my actions were driven by fear. When this is left unchecked, it’s catastrophic to our future success. It brings out the inner-saboteur. 

Without confronting our fears, we lose control of the steering wheel, and instead of being in control of our lives, we quickly find our decisions being shaped by this fear. For me, fear left me in default. And my default was to cause myself harm. But let’s shift the focus to you…


Is there a part of you who believes you are inadequate?

Have you ever convinced yourself you are?

Do you convince yourself of other stories that paint you as the villain, the victim, the one undeserving of happiness, success, love, joy?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then know you’re not alone. But it’s time to confront these fears head on. It’s time to take control of the steering wheel and consciously decide where you want your life to go.

Self-sabotage can be triggered by fear, but it can also stem from other deep-rooted issues such as low self-esteem, a need for control, or a fear of success. It’s important to identify the root cause in order to effectively address and overcome it.

Confronting our fears and addressing the underlying issues requires a level of vulnerability and honesty with ourselves that can be uncomfortable at first. But by acknowledging and understanding our fears, we can begin to break free from the cycle of self-sabotage and move towards a more fulfilling and successful life.


Let’s lift the lid on self-sabotage and start taking control of our own narratives. Let’s recognise our worthiness, confront our fears, and choose to make decisions that align with our goals and aspirations. Only then can we truly unlock our full potential and take the driving seat of our lives.

Here are three simple steps to focus on:

1. Focus on the Craft

Shifting the focus from the outcome to the process is paramount. It is within the daily routines and unglamorous work that the real you shines. Understand that the process is not a means to an end but a continuous cycle of growth and refinement. Whether this is in your daily actions at work or around the home, focus on the actions you can take, and the outcome will resolve itself.

2. Cultivate Gratitude

If self sabotage is a wound we inflict on ourselves, then gratitude is the salve. Being thankful for the opportunities, the challenges, and even the failures, propels us forward with an unwavering strength. It allows us to see our competitors not as enemies, but as essential components to our own success. It allows us to raise others up with us.

3. Hone in on Authenticity

Authenticity is the bedrock upon which true success is built. It is the elimination of pretence and the acceptance of self. Tap into your unique set of skills and perspectives—there is no one who can compete with the irreplaceable “you.”

If you want more ways to address self-sabotage, click here.

No matter how low you may feel, no matter the aggressiveness with which you sabotage yourself on a daily basis, have the courage to look in the mirror and ask: “What is stopping me right now? Is it real?”

If you’ve made it this far, I trust you will use this calling as a reminder to ease up on yourself. To pat yourself on the back and give it another go.

Perhaps the butterfly is proof that you can go through a great deal of darkness and still become something beautiful.

The greatest gift you can give the world is to be yourself, so go and become the beautiful you that you were born to be.

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