How can I stop self sabotaging my life goals and relationships with others?

Romantic relationships are hard for me and I usually end up pushing them away before it gets too serious. I usually end up hurting the other person and myself. I also find myself behind in a lot of life goals that I planned. Whether it's creatively, educational or whatever it is. I always seem to struggle to complete them or work toward them even though it's something I truly want to do with my life.
Asked by Su

Hi Su, 

Thank you so much for reaching out and asking this important question. Recognizing that you may be sabotaging yourself is an important first step in making changes to help you move forward in achieving your goals and interrupting negative behaviors. The initial aspect of yourself to identify is the motivation that is driving your behavior. Every person’s behavior is supported by motivation even if that behavior is self-sabotage. This may seem counterproductive because, like you say, you have life goals that you truly want to achieve. Keep in mind that our motives are driven by our subconscious. This creates a difficult challenge because our subconscious is not readily retrievable; we do not have a way to directly know what's in the subconscious area of our mind. There are, however, tools you can implement in order to bring your motives to your conscious mind. Once you become conscious of your motives you will be able to change the sabotaging behavior. 

One of the goals of our subconscious system is to try to keep us alive. To keep us alive the subconscious will ignite the fear center to direct us away from actual or perceived danger in our environment. What danger does a romantic relationship create for you; what danger do you feel is present if you were to achieve your goals? Another way to ask those questions: what causes you fear about being in a committed relationship; what causes you fear about achieving your goals? I recommend taking some time to journal about the fears you identify, the origin of those fears, and detaching from any self-judgment about those fears. Sit down and journal from your head to your heart to your hand. 

Once you have identified your fears, you can begin addressing those fears and increasing motivation to achieve your goals. Of course, engaging in therapy will help you identify and address your fears. The aid of a therapist will help you dig into your subconscious drives and develop skills to address your fears. You can also engage in mindfulness techniques on your own or in a group setting that help you maintain a physiological balance and reduce the possibility of reacting to situations in an unhealthy sabotaging manner. There are a number of mindfulness techniques you can practice: meditation, balanced breathing, focus in the moment using your senses.  Mindfulness techniques can also teach you to identify problems as either “in your face problems” or “time to think problems”. Unless you are actually in life-threatening situations, every problem is a “time to think problem”. Lastly, creating a vision board to illustrate your goals will enhance your visualization of the desired outcome of your life. Studies have shown that visualization increases our motivation, performance and confidence. This website is an excellent resource in describing how to create and utilize your own vision board:

Whichever technique or techniques you implement to reduce any sabotaging behaviors it is helpful to choose the one or ones that feel authentic to you. Be true to yourself, give yourself the gift of learning how your subconscious is driving your behavior, and allow yourself to create the life that brings you the most joy.