13 Thoughts on Self-Sabotage (and How to Defeat the Beast)

“There is nothing holding you back in life more than yourself.”

Brock Swinson
3 min readJan 8, 2024


Photo Courtesy of Gregory Books

In The Mountain is You — Transforming Self-Sabotage Into Self-Mastery, author Brianna Wiest tells us everything we need to know about self-sabotage.

Why we do it. When we do it. How we do it. And, most importantly, how to stop it.

Here are some of my notes on this fantastic book.


Mourn who you were. “You must mourn the loss of your younger self, the person who has gotten you this far but who is no longer equipped to carry you onward.” She adds, “Healing your mind is completely different, because you aren’t returning to what you were before. You are gutting yourself and becoming someone entirely new.”


You are your own derailment. “There is nothing holding you back in life more than yourself.”


You must put in the deeper work to find resolve. “Sometimes, our most sabotaging behaviors are really the result of long-held and unexamined fears we have about the world and ourselves.” She adds, “Self-sabotage is simply the presence of an unconscious need that is being fulfilled by the self-sabotaging behavior.”


Our inner narrative is build by imperfect people in our lives. “Self-sabotage is also one of the first signs that your inner narrative is outdated, limiting, or simply incorrect.”


Comfort overrides happiness in our subconscious. “Even though we think we’re after happiness, we’re actually trying to find whatever we’re most used to…”


Know what it means to actually show up. “When we leave our spaces messy, we are always a few tasks or priorities away from stepping out and showing up.”


Action comes before motivation, not after. “It is essential that you learn to take action before you feel like doing it. Taking action builds momentum and creates motivation.”


Like writer’s block, self-sabotage not real. “There’s no such thing as self-sabotage because the behaviors that you think are holding you back are really just meeting your needs.” (Meaning, we must replace is with better tasks).


Your feelings shouldn’t dictate your actions. “Though your emotions are always valid and need to be validated, they are hardly ever an accurate measure of what you are capable of in life.”


Self-sabotage comes when you’re getting closer to your goals. “While we’re on the way [to achieving our goals], a toxic cocktail of neurological biases start piling up on one another, and we start to resent, judge, and even vilify the object of our greatest desire.”


Know what you actually want, not just the surface level goal. “It might seem totally counterintuitive, but we are not really wired to be happy; we are wired to be comfortable, and anything that is outside of that realm of comfort feels threatening or scary until we are familiar with it.”


Understand the true beast. “Most of the time, you’re so busy worrying about monsters in the closet, you forget to address the actual things that will erode you over time: your health, your relationships, your long-term vision, your finances, your thoughts.”


Let’s repeat, you must do the deep work to find the source of the problem. “In the end, self-sabotage is very often just a maladaptive coping mechanism, a way we give ourselves what we need without having to actually address what that need is.”




If you’re struggling to tackle your writing goals, steal my first book Ink by the Barrel for more insight on self-sabotage and annihilating writer’s block. You can listen or read right here for free.