Are you sabotaging yourself? (Hint: probably!)

mindset Mar 05, 2024

Whenever I hear someone talk about "self-sabotage," I think to myself, "At least I don't do that." However, upon just a smidge of reflection, I realize how wrong I am. Sigh.


Self-sabotage happens in lots of tiny ways. Sometimes, I frame it as "cutting corners" because the ways we sabotage ourselves aren't always so obvious. In other words, it's sneaky!


Here are some common ways in which we may sabotage ourselves:

  1. Negative self-talk: We underestimate the power of our own words! Constant self-criticism or doubting our abilities can erode confidence and hinder our performance in the ring.
  2. Comparison: Comparing ourselves to others can be detrimental (obviously!). Each dog-handler team is unique, and focusing too much on others' successes can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
  3. Overtraining: I'll bet you expected me to say we are undertraining. Yet, overtraining can lead to burnout for both you and your dog. Pushing too hard without adequate rest can result in fatigue and diminished performance when it matters most.
  4. Fear of failure: Fear can paralyze us and prevent us from taking risks or trying new approaches. This fear of failure can limit our potential and hinder our growth as handlers and trainers.


Why do we do it?

Self-sabotage supports our mind's desire to be right and predict the outcome. When we self-sabotage and fail, our brains get to be right - "I knew I couldn't do it," etc. It's the same when we cheat on our diet or not push as hard when we workout - if we don't try, we can't fail - or at least we will have an excuse!


So, how do we get past this behavior and into our "just right" zone when pursuing our goals? Here are just a few ideas.


  1. Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with the kindness and understanding you would offer a friend. Replace negative self-talk with affirmations and focus on your strengths rather than dwelling on perceived weaknesses.
  2. Set realistic goals: Instead of fixating on outcome goals and results, set achievable process goals focused on growth and progress. Celebrate small victories along the way.
  3. Embrace failure as feedback: Failure/mistakes/setbacks are not the end but rather a stepping stone to ultimate success. Learn from your mistakes, and use that knowledge to improve in the future.
  4. Find balance: Balance is critical in dog handling. Prioritize breaks for you and your dog to prevent burnout and maintain enthusiasm for training and competing.
  5. Stay present: Focus on the present moment rather than spinning about past failures or future outcomes. By staying mindful and focusing on the run at hand, you can perform at your best without the weight of self-doubt holding you back.


We're not going to avoid self-sabotage - it's a common challenge we all face - but it's not insurmountable. By attuning our radar to these behaviors, we can catch them before they affect our performance and our mindset!

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