Do You Handicap Yourself? You Probably Do If You Are A Male!

Do You Handicap Yourself? You Probably Do If You Are A Male! Beware of Self-Sabotage.

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the ways that people engage in self-handicapping and the solution to end that behavior.

First a quick update:

The Breakup Test
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Are You A Victim of The Three Thieves of Happiness?
There are 3 bad habits that rob you of happiness – and they all start with the letter C – and we all do them. Watch my video

Now, let’s talk about the ways that people engage in self-handicapping and the solution to end that behavior.

Do you set yourself up for failure?
And then do you offer an excuse so that you can save face?

Self-handicapping is a term in psychology that refers to specific self-sabotaging behavior designed to strategically protect your self-esteem, self-image, ego or perceived competence and image by others. Surprisingly men do it much more than women. And the higher status that someone has, the greater the probability that he will self-handicap.

John had important midterm exams coming up. Instead of studying he went on a vacation to Florida. He knew the outcome; should he fail, he can blame the external factors – ‘I couldn’t study’; should he perform well, he could attribute it to his high intelligence and natural competence. This is called internalizing success and externalizing failure.

And yet, the truth is, all outcomes are internally driven. John made the choice to set himself up for failure. He was avoiding taking responsibility for his outcomes or failures!

Examples of self-handicapping include procrastination, lack of effort/practice, drug or alcohol use, lack of sleep or even simply ‘hoping’ for a positive outcome while failing to plan to take action to ensure success.

Do you “self-handicap”?

A basketball player says he “doesn’t have time” to increase practice in the week prior to an important game; a business executive says he isn’t feeling well before making a presentation; a job candidate misses out when he arrives late for a job interview because ‘traffic was awful’; a soccer player complains of a sore ankle prior to a game; an investor says he didn’t spend as much time researching a stock as he normally had done in the past; a student gets drunk the night before a major exam; a woman gets drunk at a party so she can explain why she can’t dance well; a man married to a much younger woman gets drunk and high often so he can avoid the sexual demands of his wife and his lowered libido & waning sexual prowess.

The high cost of self-handicapping
The benefits of self-handicapping are obvious: ‘It’s not my fault; I was drunk’, so therefore your image and reputation stays the same in the eyes of others and your ego isn’t shattered because in their eyes, you didn’t really fail – it was all due to circumstances and obstacles beyond your control. ‘I had to go out and celebrate; it was her birthday, and we were all drinking.’ Phew! You’ve just avoided taking personal responsibility for your outcomes!

However, the negative consequences are very high:
1. If you are a student, you tend to have lower grades overall
2. If you are a businessman, you tend to have lower success and less chances of promotion; people trust you less
3. You are more likely to fail, even though you placed obstacles to success as an excuse for failure
4. Your relationships suffer; people see you as a ‘whiner’
5. Your motivation drops and you become a pessimist and depressed
6. You hinder your chances of real success
7. You take less risks and so you have less success
8. You lower your expectations for yourself both now and in the future
9. You fail to be authentic and vulnerable; people don’t trust you or draw close to you
10. You never awaken to who you really are or what you are capable of achieving
11. You waste your talent and you never truly tap into all of your abilities and potential

From what are you running?
You are running away from yourself and from the truth; you are not perfect, you will make mistakes, you will experience failure, setbacks, disapproval and rejection – just like everyone else. You are running away from discomfort of taking personal responsibility for who you are and what you have achieved in life.

Research reveals that there are “positive relationships between self-handicapping and the facets of neuroticism, such as depression, self-consciousness and anxiety. They conclude that those who self-handicap are more sensitive to evaluation by others.” (Indako Clarke, School of Psychology, Sydney University)

The Solution
You are deceiving yourself into thinking life is better this way because you can avoid threats and discomfort; ‘I will continue to place obstacles, excuses, poor or limited effort so that I can maintain the illusion that I would otherwise perform well.’

The answer is simple – be willing to accept the challenge that life offers; be willing to accept responsibility for your outcome; view everything as a challenge rather than a threat; be willing to feel uncomfortable or even experience pain so you can grow and fully realize your potential. Embrace your strengths and weaknesses, your gifts, talents, and abilities; work on overcoming your weaknesses. Increase your effort, get additional training; set attainable goals to get you back on track; focus on and increase your effort; be willing to learn from mistakes; stop seeking other people’s approval; stop becoming attached and addicted to social status.

Finally, you have read about the “Law of Deservedness” – a term I coined to explain subconscious motivations for self-sabotage (if you don’t subconsciously feel and believe you deserve good things, you will sabotage your life or fail to enjoy it.) If you need help to overcome subconscious self-sabotaging beliefs, book a one-on-one session with me. 

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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