• KeepEarth Team

What students do to self-sabotage



You have a plan for your life, and it is a vision you want to make true. This is an important goal that requires all your strength, perseverance and passion. You know that the process of getting there is not going to be easy. Challenges will come and you will surmount the obstacles. Failures and mistakes will occur, but you can learn from them. However, you must first overcome a brutal enemy of your life — yourself.


The expression “you are your own worst enemy” is true for most of us. Self-sabotaging behaviours and thoughts exemplify a judgemental “anti-self” that always turns against us. The inner judge doubts our abilities and makes us feel uncertain about our actions. Psychologist Robert Firestone, calls it the “critical inner voice”. The critic brings up thoughts that hold people back from reaching their goals. In this case, students sabotage themselves through procrastination, perfectionism and maintaining pessimistic behaviours.


Firstly, students demonstrate signs of self-sabotage through procrastination. Some find a lack of motivation to work on their project unless there is time pressure. They often leave assignments until the night before the due date and stay up late to complete the work. Students gain a sense of accomplishment when they succeed under high pressure. Therefore, starting or completing the assignment at an earlier day may seem like a waste of time in comparison. A survey conducted by Study Mode in over 113 colleges in the US shows that 45 percent of the students report that procrastination has negatively impacted their grades on a fairly regular basis. Students sabotage themselves by rushing through the assignment and hoping that every step in the process runs smoothly. They put their hard work at risk and leave no backup plans for potential problems such as technical difficulties with the printer or the loss of wifi connection. Despite the fact that the time limit prevents the students from reaching their full potential, procrastination is still commonly used.


Some students self-sabotage because of their urge to attain perfection. It is not because those students feel exceptionally good about their performance, quite the opposite. They simply feel that they are not good enough. Those students usually have strong feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Those feelings push students to follow through on every task, even the ones that are not important. As a result, students often find themselves going on a detour from where they intended to be. This is because many of them fail to categorize their priorities and end up spending a lot of time and effort on unnecessary work. For some students, before they even get to the assignment due the next day, they need to first organize a detailed planner of their schedule. Often, those students feel overwhelmed by the amount of work because they focus more on superfluous tasks. In addition, perfectionism can turn into compulsive thoughts and behaviours that deprive students of a lasting sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It is simply because people don’t reach perfection.


Moreover, some students develop pessimistic behaviours and lower their expectations to prepare themselves for the worst. Some self-sabotage as a way to escape from life's dilemmas. They hold themselves back from taking risks, academically and in extracurricular activities. Those students would rather remain passive in negative situations so that they feel a sense of control over their life. They let the destructive voices ring through their minds, crushing their confidence and self-esteem. This method of self-sabotage is easy to blame for failures. Students can resort to excuses along the lines that they didn’t care or that they didn't try. According to Karin Lawson, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and an author in Miami, states that people continually put themselves in negative situations because recreating what has previously occurred gives people some predictability. This allows people to develop a sense of safety and security. It also explains why some students would hold themselves back rather than just giving the new opportunities a try.


Self-sabotage manifests itself into procrastination, perfectionism and pessimistic behaviours in students' lives. These habits are embedded in students’ actions and thoughts. Not only do they create massive obstacles when students are trying to achieve their goals, but it also heightens the stress and anxiety levels. Henceforth, I think that it is important for students to recognize their self-sabotaging behaviours and to bring themselves out of the self-vandalizing roundabout. After all, it is true that you are your worst enemy, but likewise, you are the only one that can conquer Everest in your journey to reaching your true goal. And that is progress indeed.