23 Self Defeating Games That You Might Not Know You Are Playing

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
-Walter D. Winchell
This poem clearly defines the power of mindset and a positive mental attitude, our thoughts inevitably become our reality. Why is it then that we sometimes come up short in the good attitude department? Why do some people always win and other, seemingly as-well equipped, people struggle for results?
Self defeating games play a huge role in undermining our mindset. I came across this list in my notes from a course I attended a few years back. As I read it, it became obvious there were some unconscious games at play in my world that were knocking me off track.
As you read through this list, ask yourself this series of questions to hook the thinking part of your brain.
  • What game did I play?
  • What did I want? (Big Picture)
  • What could I have done different? (Be accountable)
  • Was it win-win or lose-lose?
  • What did I lose?
 1. Don’t Participate:  We might do this for a number of reasons, but the result is always the same. We rob ourselves of rich experiences. A few of my most rewarding memories came out of activities, events or places that I didn’t want to go or participate in.
 2. I’ll Show Them:  Spiteful behavior is always lose-lose. It is impossible to get ahead when you are hurting other people.
3. Criticizing:  Try to go for one week, one day or even one hour without criticizing and you will likely realize how big of a role this self defeating game is playing in your life.
4. Broken Agreements: Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On the left, write Broken Agreements and on the right side, write Kept Agreements. Under each write down as many words as you can that describe your feelings towards each statement. The Beginning of my list looked like this:
Broken Agreements
Kept    Agreements
let down
 5. Controlling and Manipulative:  Sometimes we might operate in this manner under the disguise of a supervisory role or position, but don’t kid yourself, it is a game. If your influence over another only contributes to your betterment it is wrong. Remember there can’t be a win-lose.
6. Get Them Before They Get Me:  This is the same as #2, I’ll show them. “If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be in the shape of a boomerang.” -Charley Reese
7. Condemning:  Asking questions and gaining knowledge is a far more constructive activity. We seldom have all of the information required to pass judgement, doing so in my opinion becomes about the highest form of ignorance.
8. Arrogant:  When you start to see yourself as superior to others and act in that way, you should question the basis of every thought before putting it into word or action because you have become delusional.
9. Drugs & Alcohol:  The best advice that I have ever heard on the topic of addiction is this; If you are unsure if you have a problem, you probably have a problem and should seek help.
10. See if I care:  As childish as it sounds, we can engage in this activity as adults. Take action against this immediately with this perspective. No one may care how much I know but everyone will notice how much I care.
11. Hide Behind Confusion:  My wife is constantly refereeing this game with my son. He pretends not to understand his homework with the hopes he will get out of having to do it. I guess I have done it too, but really we only hurt ourselves in the long run.
12. Act Angry – Start a Fight:  When I think of a fighting, I think of UFC or boxing. Clear win-lose right? That’s a wrong, this is lose-lose. Anger quickly becomes emotion and adrenalin will always side with emotion. If you are successful engaging another person in your drama, the battle instantly becomes dumb vs. dumber.
13. I’m Right:  If you have ever had a relationship with a person that always has to be right, you understand. These people are extremely difficult to deal with. When you catch yourself acting in this manner, take a step back and try to inspect the situation from the other persons point of view. Saying, “I can understand how you see it that way” can go a long way.
 14. Overworking:  Despite the slew of health problems that come as a result of being overworked. It can also become a SDG when you start to use it as an excuse to miss other things in your life. I almost did myself yesterday. I am developing a new habit of walking at lunch time, I had myself persuaded that I needed to continue working and sacrifice my walk. I caught myself and decided against it, got the walk in and continued building a better habit.
15. Being Perfect:  Setting unattainable goals or too high of standards can easily undermine our self confidence. It is important to remain happy in your efforts even if they don’t meet expectations.
16. Be A Problem:  Just look up the word problem in the dictionary. Would you ever want to be described as “difficult to train or guide; unruly: a problem child?”
17. Hide Behind Judgements:  Has this ever happened to you? I decided I didn’t want to participate in a certain event because it was being organized by someone I had already decided I didn’t like. Turned out, the judgements I had made about the person were incorrect, the event was amazing and I was the only one that lost out.
18. I’m Not Good Enough:  This tape often starts playing in my head when I venture out of my comfort zone. I repeat this mantra to overcome it, “I have enough, I do enough, I am enough.”
19. Procrastination:  Wait for perfect timing and you will miss every opportunity in life. Instead listen to Arthur Ashe – “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” The hardest part of anything is the beginning, get over it.
20. Worrying:  I have spent the better part of the last year overcoming health challenges, the first month I worried. These were the results, stress, anxiety, insomnia, headache and stomach ache and several other less positive side affects. Worrying only puts your focus in the wrong direction.
21. Gossip:  Everyone knows what it means. I heard a rumor about someone the other day, my mind started to consider the implications of its truth and how it might affect me. I immediately put a stop to it by picking up the phone and calling him. Don’t talk about people, talk to people.
22. Blaming:  There is an old saying that goes something like this; When you point your finger at someone else there are always three fingers pointing back at you.
23. Tell Lies:  I can only say one thing about lying. For me, the truth is always good enough.
Are self defeating games sabotaging your mindset and placing limits on the true and abundant potential of your life?
I am a family man living in Cochrane, AB Canada. I am a networker, small business owner and creator of GetBetterHQ.com – Do Something With LIfe Before Life Does Something With You. Please connect with me on Facebook at www.GetBetterHQ.com/facebook or Twitter @GetBetterHQ or email: teammartens@gmail.com.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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