Cosmopolitan Mag Column on How to Stop Self-Sabotaging your Success


Hi Athena,

I want to start off by saying that I love your column!I’m struggling at the moment because I find myself self-sabotaging. I often read articles about how people are afraid of failure. Well … I think I’m afraid of success. This probably sounds crazy but I’m really stuck and don’t know what to do. I constantly sabotage myself in some way. For example, I’ve been applying for jobs but I find I only do it at the last minute, and I can’t do my best – because I haven’t given myself enough time. This frustrates me so much but I can’t seem to change my behavior. What can I do to stop self-sabotaging? Athena Laz's Tweet That

Hi Buhle,

Your question does not sound crazy.

In fact, I’ve worked with many people who have felt similarly to you.

The fear of succeeding can come up for many reasons, yet the core feeling is often tied to some form of judgment that you’ve made about yourself.

That said, there is no blanket cure for self-sabotaging; rather, it’s a process that you can embark on to help you gain better insight into your inner motivators, which ultimately influence your actions and behavior.

If you were to shine brightly and reach amazing levels of success, how would your life be different? Which relationships would change or alter because of your new-found success?

Would you become too visible?

Do you think your friends and family would be happy for you – or jealous of you?

If we do not become aware of our inner programming and alter it, we run the risk of repeating the same old patterns – which for you is to self-sabotage your own success.



Five steps to becoming aware of your own inner beliefs, and changing your behavior


  1. Imagine that I’m sitting opposite you and I ask you to tell me a bit about yourself. Pay attention to the story you would tell me. (It may be helpful to write this down so you can see what labels and titles about yourself you have been maintaining.)

  2. Reflect on the narrative that you assumed growing up. Were you the black sheep of the family? Were you ignored? Were you the star of the family? On some level, you may be forcing yourself to fail so that you maintain the labels you were given (or assumed) when you were younger. As an adult, it no longer serves you to maintain these labels – but there is an emotional payoff for you replaying them, so you self-sabotage.  You can sign up to my signature 12 week program, Own Your Inner Power which deals with this directly – support is everything!

  3. You may also be playing out this pattern to maintain the status quo in a relationship or a family dynamic – so become aware of your role in your relationships, and what it would mean if you had more financial power and success in your core relationships.

  4. In the moment of avoidance and procrastination, decide to act differently. I know this sounds obvious and unhelpful but you have the power to change anything that is not working for you, especially if you are conscious of your inner beliefs. You can even say it out loud when you’re procrastinating: ‘This is an old pattern for me, I am no longer afraid of success.’ This is not a blind affirmation but rather a declaration of power.

  5. Know that it is safe for you to let your patterns go and take active steps towards success.

Athena Laz is the founder of, where she uses her skill as a licensed psychologist, self-help author & columnist to help others find their inner power.







P.S. Got a question that needs an answer? Email me here.


Own Your Inner Power Signature Program by Athena Laz



  1. natasha 3 years ago

    I’ve been working on this!!

  2. sarah 3 years ago

    I really think this is one of the hardest things (besides loss) to go through. I hate the fact that I self-sabotage. I do it in my relationships and I just am so tired. I really, fully want to feel loved!

  3. Dave 3 years ago

    hey athena, I know your site is mainly orientated to women but I don’t care. I’m glad i found your site. include us more!

  4. Thandi 3 years ago

    so my story is complicated – how can I discover what my underlying beliefs are? I’m done self-sabotaging my relationship with money. I make it but I don’t know how to keep it 🙁

  5. Niyah 3 years ago

    I am the proverbial black sheep of the family. I hate the narrative that it holds. I am so ready to let it go and just do so f*####ing well.

  6. Katherine aka Kat 3 years ago

    Athena it is so refreshing having someone skilled actually talk about healing. Thank you x

  7. tiffany 3 years ago

    Hi everyone, for me I learnt how to heal self-sabotage when I stopped lying about who I was. I’m gay and I used to think I needed to punish my self for it (I grew up in a super strict home). When I liberated myself , my self sabotage went away. I just want to let you all know you can do it and Athena thank-u. x

  8. Rachel Grant 3 years ago

    Self-sabotaging for me comes up in my sex life. I feel like I chose men who treat me badly although at the time I can’t see it. I am so unsure of what to do. My narrative ? how much time do you have? !!

  9. Isabella 3 years ago

    Athena, I am loving your inner critic training- thank you . Self sabotage and my self-criticism are ruining my life. I’m ready to feel good. I really want to believe that I deserve good and that I am worthy.

  10. Tamara 3 years ago

    I am so happy I found your site Athena – pls do some posts on managing anxiety. <3

  11. Author
    Athena Laz 3 years ago

    Tamara, so happy you found this community too.
    I’m planning some anxiety videos for mid year! Sign up to the newsletter so you can find out when they go live.

  12. Author
    Athena Laz 3 years ago

    My pleasure Isabella,I know first hand how tough it can be to be locked in self-sabotage and feeling shitty. So just know you can get through this and change things. You can also check out my course Own Your Inner Power – if you are ready- to actually work on it and get past it. Either way I’m glad you found your way to this community.

  13. Author
    Athena 3 years ago

    Hey Rachel – your relationships can change if you find the underlying trigger for why you are repeating unhelpful patterns. What types of intimate relationships were mirrored to you when you were growing up?

  14. Author
    Athena 3 years ago

    Amazing Tifanny!

  15. Author
    Athena 3 years ago

    Niyah you can change this story! When you change your narrative , it often makes other people uncomfortable so if you are the black sheep and you decide ‘nope, not for me’ – then you may get some push back from your family but stick at it. If you need more support – check out my course x

  16. Author
    Athena 3 years ago

    Thandi – one on one therapy can be so helpful in discovering your underlying beliefs – or you can see my course. We do it in module 2 but in a group setting. Just know that you have options one way or another.

  17. Author
    Athena 3 years ago

    Dave!! So amazing to have you here and I will def make this an incorporative place for men too. 🙂

  18. Author
    Athena 3 years ago

    Sarah – you can have loving relationships. Check out my other post with Terri Cole on how to develop real love in your life and check out my signature program own your power too . It’s starting at the end of April.

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