Self-Handicapping: My thoughts, Journey and Advice

We’ve all been there… it’s 1am and you have somewhere important to be the next day, work, class, your nephews birthday party. All of these important things are ya know important but you really don’t feel like going. So you don’t set your alarm “on accident” and you tell yourself “if I get up, I get up. If I don’t I’ll just tell everyone I’ve overslept… everyone will forgive me.” The important thing is while everyone will forgive you, you’re opening up a hole that is really hard to get out of.

In one of my classes this past week the topic up for discussion was self-handicapping. This is something everyone has done at one point or another, but others make a chronic habit of it, myself included. Some examples of self-handicapping are: exaggerating illnesses, drinking or substance abuse, staying out to late before a big day at work or school, underachievement and procrastination. Self-handicapping is something that plagues those with low self-esteem and in some cases can make it worse. It’s a vicious cycle that can weigh on a persons happiness, limit success and cause poor achievement over time.

I have a had a personal struggle with self-handicapping and let me be the first one to say that it’s not something that you notice is happening. I always knew that I was a terrible procrastinator but it wasn’t until I reached college that noticed how big of a problem it truly was. I saw people around me succeeding even though I knew deep down that I had the potential to succeed as well. That is an incredibly hard pill to swallow because there is nothing worse than being the person to get in the way of your own success.

If you feel like you’re not living up to your potential my main word of advice is to first pinpoint the problem. Acknowledge your behaviors that drag you down. If you’ve been repeatedly procrastinating with work or school, let yourself know and hold yourself accountable.  This is not an easy task. I personally like to avoid this acknowledgment and shift the blame to someone else (which is destructive to interpersonal relationships, another post for another day).

Once you acknowledge these behaviors, pick one to change and motivate yourself. I personally have found that incentives work the best for me (especially food ♥). While I was pregnant with Reynold I had a particularly had time with going to work. I drove 30-40 minutes to work everyday and stood on my feet anywhere from four to eight hours at a time. That is incredibly hard on a woman carrying a baby… anyway I would exaggerate my morning sickness to get out of working. I started to notice  it becoming a problem when I was in my third trimester and morning sickness was a thing in the past. SO to help remedy the problem I gave myself an incentive. I told myself that if I went to work everyday during a work week I could stop and get Fusian on the way home (if you’re concerned, my sushi never had fish on it while I was pregnant). After that I started showing up for all my scheduled shifts up until Reynold was born.

My last piece of advice is to find someone to help you hold yourself accountable. This person needs to be helpful and understanding of your situation and knows when to push you when you need it. This person can be a significant other, a parent, sibling or best friend. The bottom line is sometimes all we need is a little help and support, don’t be afraid to reach out for it. This person will understand that you are trying to better yourself for the long run. Brian is someone that has never been afraid to push me towards success. He is my person that I rely on to hold me accountable when I can’t do so myself. Any achievement that I have obtained over the last three years has been because I have someone pushing me away from my self-handicapping behaviors and towards success.

Self-handicapping is something that can definitely be managed over time and even eliminated with the proper care. I hope you can use this to your advice to your advantage to jump start your self improvement journey. Do not be afraid to reach out to a local licensed counselor for further assistance! Also, please note that this is my advice on this topic and it comes from a place of personal experience. I really hope this advice helps you and don’t hesitate to reach out.