Why do people sabotage others?

People can sabotage us in many different ways, in many different aspects of life; Business, fitness, relationships, etc.

Today, I’m going to talk about why people sabotage us when it comes to weight loss. However, this can be applied to any instance of sabotage, not only weight loss.

Understanding why people sabotage us will make it a lot easier to deal with.

Let’s get to it…

With consistency comes results.

Sadly, this is also when the saboteurs try to work their toxic magic.

It can be very frustrating, even hurtful, when our coworkers, friends and even family members might try to sabotage our efforts.


First, we have to understand human behavior – at its WORST.

A study quoted in the book The Paradox of Choice gave participants hypothetical choices concerning status and asked for their preferences. For example, people were asked to choose between a) earning $50,000 a year with others earning $25,000 or b) earning twice as much, $100,000 a year but being surrounded by people earning $200,000.

Which would you choose?

Sadly (at least to me), more than half the respondents chose the option that gave them the better relative position. That means earning $50,000 to $100,000 because at $50,000 they were earning more than others, while at $100,000 they were earning less than others.

(I think this is crazy! BUT, it doesn’t matter what I think. For many, this is how they feel. For some humans, this IS their nature.)

Although we’re hard wired to compare, it’s who we compare ourselves to that can make or break our happiness. Ideally, we wouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone. Really!

Besides, your status compared to other people isn’t how YOU’RE doing.

Because we now know that many would prefer the better relative position, it’s easy to see why people would sabotage our efforts.


Let’s go even deeper…

Are you familiar with the term cognitive dissonance?

This happens when we have two conflicting desires.

It is well known that smoking cigarettes can cause lung cancer yet every person I’ve ever met wants to live a long, healthy and fit life.

The uncomfortable tension caused by these two opposing ideas — wanting to smoke but also wanting to be healthy and fit — is known as dissonance.

As humans, we look to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling. (This is known as dissonance reduction.)

The only way to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling is by a) quitting smoking b) denying that people actually get sick from smoking or c) justifying and rationalizing.

For example, a smoker could rationalize their behavior by believing that few people get sick from smoking, it only happens to people who smoke more than they do, if smoking doesn’t kill them something else will, they’ll quit next year, it’s too expensive to quit, or they only live once and they deserve to smoke.

In essence, they either need to take action (quit smoking and get whatever help they need <—–this is very hard!) or they need to make themselves feel better by rationalizing their smoking – which is what most people do).


This might cause your friends/family/coworkers to feel an uncomfortable feeling —-> “Ugh, ‘so and so’ looks so good! I wish I could have the “discipline” it takes to look that good too!”

(I quote discipline because it’s not all about discipline. As we know, it’s about having a system in place along with support and accountability to monitor and track our progress to help us sustain the effort necessary to actually change.)

They need to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling somehow though…

Sadly, these people know deep down they’re not going to take any action THEMSELVES, and nothing is going to change on their end.

So, if they can’t change their own body (most people don’t really want to change — they rather TALK about changing), they’ll try to bring down the people around them who are.

This is how they get rid of the dissonance or uncomfortable feeling they’re experiencing.

Again, as sad as it is – it’s human nature. Fighting human nature is silly.


When we understand what’s going on around us, it makes it a lot easier to call it what it is and move on.

WHAT IF: every time someone was trying to sabotage us, we flipped it, and said to ourselves, “Bring it! I must be looking good! Damn. This consistency stuff is working!” while smiling to ourselves?

Sure it can be hurtful that our coworkers and friends are sabotaging us — even our loved ones! But, if we understand human behavior, and accept it, rather than fight it, we can at least understand why they’re doing it.

And maybe, just maybe, look at it in a completely different way.

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