- Perfectionist have chronic feelings of disappointment. They also tend to focus on the negatives and ignore the positive.
- These self-saboteurs truly identify with their labels and feelings of failure. They play the “I am not as ___ as ____.”
- These fearful self-saboteurs are incredibly fearful of what “might” happen if they fail and this might make them even more of a loser. Therefore they become paralyzed in progress or destroy the success they have already had.
- Self-saboteurs who are driven by fear are also plagued with procrastination because they fear change. This often can halt or destroy success.
- Help them learn to cultivate mistakes and failure.
- Gently help them learn to focus on the positive. It is important for both perfectionists and fearful self-saboteurs to learn to focus on the positive more than the negative. Researchers from Oxford University in the United Kingdom found that training youth to be more positive can actually help with their anxiety. In the study, researchers attempted to train 36 teens to boost their thinking — in either a positive or negative direction — through a computer program. Those who got the positive training became more positive themselves in regard to their interpretations of the situations; the reverse was true for those who received the negative training (Child Psychiatry and Human Development.).
- Never compare them to others. Many self-saboteurs have parents, teachers or siblings who have compared them in the past. Get real and make sure you never accidentally make them feel less than.
- Focus on what they do not self-sabotage. There is always something that self-saboteurs keep sacred–even beating video games counts! Focus on these activities and help your teen see how fulfilling it is when they finish something successfully.
This is part of our Science of Family series. If you would like to read more articles on the scientific research and studies behind relationships, families and teens, please visit our Science of Families page for tips and updated research.