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Self-handicapping: How to Stop the Habit of Limiting Yourself

by Roveen Anyango
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We have all heard of self-sabotaging but have you heard of self-handicapping? If not, then worry no more because you have come to the right place.

Many times, our minds often like to keep things just as they are and this can often come at the expense of doing something great. When you then act in a manner that diminishes your chances of succeeding, then you are engaging in self-handicapping.

Self-handicapping is a strategy that a person takes which limits their ability to perform a major task with the aim of protecting the ego. It is the act of deliberately sabotaging yourself so that you do not get to do something challenging that could diminish your feelings of self-worth.

For example, an athlete could deliberately put on weight before a race so that if they fail to win the race, they can blame it on the excess weight. Or a student could deliberately choose not to study for a test and go to party with friends, then blame the partying for the failure to pass the test.

It operates like self-sabotage, but while self-sabotage is more behavioral, self-handicap can be more of a strategy that then leads to self-sabotage. Both go hand in hand however, and one feeds into the other like two diabolical twins.

How then, do you stop self-handicapping?

Self-handicapping happens due to several reasons, from low confidence in your abilities, past defeats or trauma.

So, the first step is to try and understand why do self-handicap happens. Do you feel like you don’t have the ability? Do you feel like you will fail like you did previously?

Recognizing why you self-handicap is the first way to then knowing how to deal with it. And dealing with it involves getting rid of the victim-mentality. Rather than look at yourself as a failure, ask yourself – what would you learn when you try? What would happen if you succeed? How best can you use the past failures or traumas to make yourself more resilient?

Defeating self-handicapping is among the best ways to achieving your goals.

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