Do you ever feel like your life is just this endless cycle of seeing good things start to happen for you then out of now where you find a way to screw things all up?
You might finally be in a healthy relationship. And things may be going well, but then, because of the trauma you may have experienced from past toxic relationships, (consciously or unconsciously) you find yourself doing things that push your partner away (being distant, picking fights/arguments).
You start some new healthy thing for yourself (gym, therapy/coaching, new business) because you’re ready for change and to heal…but then, just as you start to see success, something comes up, (relationship/fam issues, work, etc) & you allow it to get in the way of you continuing….so you stop.
Maybe you found new friends/people you vibe with? Radically different people than who you usually chill with, too. People who would actually benefit you and who you desire to be more like. But then a falling out happens or you start to distance yourself, maybe for fear of being too much or thinking you don’t deserve good things…
Yeah this is what self sabotage looks like.
Of course, there are many more examples of self-sabotage, but these are some of the most common.
So… why would we want to screw something up that could be so good for us? Why do we put ourselves in these type of situations, especially when we know we want better for ourselves?
Am I broken?
If you find that you’re self sabotaging yourself, understand that it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong with you or that there’s a big issue at play. We all experience this type of behavior from time to time. It’s normal. Take procrastination as an example….we alll do it. And to procrastinate, is when we put something off that’s important to us, for last minute— which is a form of self sabotage.
It’s when you find yourself consistently behaving in these destructive ways, that it could pose as problematic for your wellbeing & it may be worth looking at more carefully then.
Self Sabotage: A Simple Definition
A simple definition of self-sabotage is when you undermine your own goals and values.
In other words, you’re aware that there’s something out there you genuinely want and believe is good for you, but then you do things that directly conflict with that goal.
This behavior can be conscious (of which you’re fully aware it’s happening) —> [example: remembering you need to work on that project that’s due soon, but end up binge watching squid games on Netflix instead]
But you can also be self sabotaging yourself unconsciously (which is also far more common)—> [example: you withdraw from your relationship as soon as minor problems arise — even though you want a deeper connection with that person]
To stop this behavior, it would be important to then understand where it stems from…
Blast To The Past
Do you understand why you’re sabotaging yourself?
As mentioned above, most self sabotage comes from having (unconscious) beliefs that we’re not good enough, don’t deserve success/happiness, or when we get something good it will be taken away. And we form most of these ideas or beliefs as early as childhood.
These are patterns that we developed from our past, as coping mechanisms to help us get through adversity, or traumatic/painful situations. And while they may have served a purpose for us at one time, they no longer help us today.
For example— if you didn’t have your emotional needs met as a child, you may have formed (not so healthy) ways to comfort yourself, that may have also carried into adulthood (i.e escaping into a fantasy world, suppressing your feelings, substance abuse, bullying others).
If you understand why you’re self-sabotaging, you can then start working towards creating a new path for yourself. And so recognizing that self sabotaging behavior comes from your false beliefs about who you think you are, you can begin to reframe those negatively held beliefs that are holding you back into more positive truthful beliefs instead.
You won’t necessarily believe it at first but you can shift those thoughts in time. Try using the mantra — “fake it til you make it,” to help empower you in those moments where you need a little reminder or push.
Habits are formed through consistent action.
This is why it can be so hard breaking out of self-sabotaging behavior. Until we learn new, healthier ways of thinking and behaving, and allow ourselves to practice them over and over again, we’ll find ourselves easily reverting back to coping in the way we know best – even if it comes at the cost of our self.
And so it’s important that we understand, we need to take active steps to work against our self-sabotaging behaviors. We must be able to first identify what they are, and then work to replace them with healthier ways of relating and behaving.
Be Gentle With Yourself
If you’re just beginning this process of reprogramming your thoughts/beliefs, start small and slow, & above all, be gentle with yourself.
An all-or-nothing mentality will just hold you back.
We have to remember that we’re like this because we’re quite literally wired to be like this. Our brains want to keep us safe, and so will do whatever it can to ensure “safety” or familiarity, even if what it thinks is safe, is actually causing us pain & suffering. Tread lightly.
Recognize too, that it is you who defines your reality. Your conditions don’t define you. You may have experienced some shit in your life but none of it defines you. You get to define yourself every moment of every day of your life. You create the rules. And so if things aren’t going well in your life, assess how you’re playing a role in it. Consider what rule you are living by that’s causing you pain…so that you can challenge yourself to change that rule (or false idea).