Self sabatoge is a behavior or pattern of behaviors that has the potential of leading to self-harm, broken relationships and/ or unhealthy relationships, and goals that are not achieved. Self sabatoge may include a variety of harmful behaviors, including any type of addiction or risky behavior, procrastination, or leaving healthy relationships. There also tends to be a tendency to gravitate away from healthy behavior that improve overall health, mental health or social and emotional well-being. Examples would be exercise, attending necessary health appointments, or having healthy friendships or and/ or romantic relationships.
Finding the Root
Self-sabatoge often results from trauma and chaos. It is difficult to allow your self to be content, happy or at peace after experiencing trauma and developing a negative view of yourself. Negative self-talk and negative beliefs are often involved in self-sabatoge, as well as not valuing yourself or seeing your worth. If you notice yourself procrastinating often, quitting things that are good for your, continuing harmful behaviors, staying in unhealthy relationships, or ending or avoiding healthy relationships ask yourself what the root of the behavior is. For example, if you break off healthy romantic relationships and continuously find yourself back in abusive relationships or alone you may have some underlying shame issues, or a fear of rejection that causes you to end or avoid healthy relationships. If you stop showing up at work, procrastinate on assignments or fail to complete job duties, underlying causes could be a fear of failure, believing you are an “imposter” or fear of being successful. The root of this may be low self esteem, difficulty dealing with pressure, or a fear of being controlled by your job or schooling. It may also be a fear of responsibility. Both of the examples I gave have multiple possibilities of why self- sabatoge could be occuring. This is why finding the root is key, which can often be difficult on your own. Talking with a therapist would be a great way to process this issue and determine a course of action to prevent continued self- sabatoge in the future.
Behavior changes are very important once you determine the cause of self-sabatoge. Making small changes daily is key. Making a choice to consistently continue to move forward and not quit is huge. It is best to avoid making impulsive decisions or decisions based on emotion. Slowing down is so important to prevent impulsive decisions from being made. There is a skill I like to use with others (and myself) from Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is a specific type of therapy that focuses on being more mindful of thoughts and behaviors, and acting on rational thought not emotions. The skill is called STOP (Stop, Take a Step Back, Observe, Proceed Mindfully). This process is focused on stopping in the moment to think about the situation and focus on what you’re feeling, and choosing to stay in the moment and refrain from immediate decisions based on emotion. Try writing out pros and cons before making decisions, especially when you have the desire to make decisions based on emotions rather than facts. Weighing your options on paper can help you to avoid self- sabatoging. The more you do these steps the better you will feel about yourself as you see growth and improvement in your life, which in turn will help you to see yourself as having value.
I often struggled with self sabatoge with addiction and in relationships. I often tried to get sober but sabatoged myself each time. I also found myself in bad relationships, including friendships. Once I was really ready to be sober, I tried very hard to completely change my life and not sabatoge. I stayed away from hurtful relationships and friendships. I met my husband after 4 years of being sober. Within a couple months of meeting him, I remember thinking that a relationship would never work. Why? Because he noticed my favorite color was purple. Strange, right? But it’s actually not as strange as it sounds. I thought he was so together and I was so…not together. I took him noticing my favorite color as a sign to me that he was getting too close and that I needed to get away before he realized how “bad” I was and rejected me. Luckily I had a mentor that was someone I respected and listened to and when she pointed this out it made so much sense to me. I realized that I was fearful and about to make an irrational decision, and that I really wanted to continue forward even though I was afraid. I saw no value in myself and thought no one good would want to be around me. There were many similar moments that followed when I had to let my guard down, be vulnerable and be open. Each situation became a learning opportunity where I had to STOP and then proceed mindfully so I did not sabatoge. I learned that I do have value, and other people see value in me. Every person has value, including you!
Learning Your Value
We often self-sabatoge a relationship with God, because we think we aren’t good enough, pure enough or don’t have it together. This could not be further from the truth. God hates all sin but loves every single sinner, no matter what they’ve done. By sinner I mean me, you, and every person on this earth, Christian or not. It took awhile but I realized that God is always faithful. He will continuously help you to change your thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and your entire life. It is hard to self-sabatoge with a God who loves you unceasingly and knows you better than you know yourself. God sees value in you even when you don’t see the value in yourself; you are made in God’s image.
I’d love to hear from you on this topic. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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