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Self Handicapping: Hiding behind the hurdles

Self Handicapping is like when someone sets themselves up to fail on purpose or makes things difficult for themselves. People might do this to protect how they feel about themselves or to have a reason in case they don’t do well. Scientists have looked into this behavior a lot to figure out why people do things that make success harder for themselves. In this article, we’ll talk about what self-handicapping means, why people do it, what happens when they do it, and how they can stop doing it.

How it happens?

  1. Behavioral Strategies: Self Handicapping is like making success difficult on purpose. This can include avoiding work, using substances, or choosing really tough tasks. People do this so that if they don’t do well, they can blame something else instead of their own abilities.
  2. Tricky Thoughts in Our Minds: The thoughts that lead to Self Handicapping are a bit complicated. People might mess up on purpose because they’re scared of failing, don’t feel good about themselves, or want to protect how they see themselves. They create problems on purpose to avoid criticism because they think others will say bad things about them

Self Handicapping

Main causes

  1. Scared of Doing Bad:  Sometimes, people make success harder because they’re really afraid of doing poorly. It’s like they want to avoid failing, so they make things tough on purpose.
  2. Not Feeling Good Inside When someone doesn’t feel good about themselves, they might make success harder. It’s like they’re trying to protect themselves from feeling even worse.
  3. Wanting to Impress Others: Some people make things harder because they want others to think highly of them. They create problems so that if things go wrong, it’s not seen as their fault.
  4. Expecting Others to Be Critical: People might think others will say bad things about them. So, they make things difficult on purpose to have a reason in case they get criticized. It’s like they’re getting ready for others to be negative.

Consequences of Self Handicapping

  1. Not Giving Your Best:When you make things tough on purpose, you don’t try your hardest. This makes it more likely that you won’t do well in what you’re trying to do.
  2. Feeling Unsure About Yourself: Making success harder can make you feel unsure about yourself. If you keep creating problems, it’s harder to feel sure that you can do things well, and this can lead to losing. When you make things difficult on purpose, you don’t try your very best. This makes it more likely that you won’t do well in what you’re trying to do.
  3. Blaming Others or Situations: When you purposely make success difficult, you create a situation where, if you don’t do well, you blame something else, like other people or the situation. This doesn’t help you learn and improve, and it might mean you miss out on chances to do better.
  • Having Problems in Relationships: Making success harder can create issues with the people around you. They might become unhappy, and this can make your relationships not so good, causing you to lose connections with others.

Related Topic: Cognitive Triad: The Trifecta of Negative Thinking

How to Overcome Self Handicapping

  1. Think You Can Learn and Grow:

Believe that challenges are chances to learn and get better. This way of thinking, called a growth mindset, helps you see that you can improve. When you believe in your ability to learn, you won’t feel the need to make success harder for yourself.

  1. Make Goals That Make Sense:

Instead of setting super hard goals, make ones that are doable. Break big tasks into smaller parts so you can feel good about finishing them. This makes it easier to stop sabotaging yourself.

  1. Talk to Someone You Trust:

Share your worries about failing with people you trust, like friends or family. They can give you support and helpful advice. Talking about your concerns makes it less likely you’ll keep doing things that make success tough.

  1. Find Better Ways to Deal with Stress:

When you feel stressed, do things that help without making success harder. This could be exercising, being mindful, or doing something creative. These activities let you handle stress without messing up your chances to succeed.


Making success harder for yourself, known as self-handicapping, happens because of how you think, feel, and act. It’s important to recognize and understand this to stop it from happening again and again. Using smart strategies can help you break free from this cycle. This way, you can do better, feel good about yourself, and have better relationships. Believing you can learn and grow, setting goals that make sense, talking to people you trust, and finding better ways to handle stress are all important steps on the journey to getting better at things and achieving success.

Related Info: Value Conflicts: Diversity in Perspectives

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