“Self-Sabotage is a sweet romance” like a relationship you know is bad for you but just can’t seem to shake – and don’t know why?
It can be little things like always seem to be running late, you’re the ultimate procrastinator, being best mates with the fridge and eating your feelings away, fear of committing to that long-term safe relationship, you have every excuse under the sun why you can’t attend your friends dinner party- here’s a really common one… you’ve paid for that gym membership but there is always a reason why you can’t go? So busy. Some people can get a little ‘thrill’ from the adrenaline & anxiety of being put under the pump, makes me feel naughty – like completing that work assignment only hours before it is due. But why do I do that? Why can’t I just get it together? These are examples of self-sabotage; when you consciously (or unconsciously) make decisions that ruin your attempts at your success, it essentially destroys the ability – for you – to complete tasks to the best of your capacity, or can even damage your personal/professional goals.
For these smaller examples, like procrastination, You may think this sounds innocent enough. And even if you are not doing some of these tactics, I am sure listening to this and it reminds you of someone that drives you crazy – and yes, sometimes we just think of them as ‘lazy’ or not motivated. To be honest it is really common, there are just different extremes. Realising when it becomes destructive is the key. And more importantly, why. What is your underlying motivation?
Some more common examples are overlooked – such as innocent sleep in or just those extra couple of drinks in the afternoon, just cant stop at one… until you realise you are ‘tipsy’ you are now avoiding family time with the kids. You know that one more drink will tip you over, but for some reason the urge to have it is stronger than the urge to stay no and stop. It can become established patterns of procrastination. There are 4 main types of procrastination, think about which one are you… do you procrastinate because you anxious and overwhelmed, fun procrastinator – you would literally prefer to do anything than what the task it, the perfectionist who can’t complete the task because it is not perfect, getting OCD about it & the “plenty of time” procrastinator – I have heaps of time, why worry, I don’t need to do it now.. ),
Other forms of self-sabotage are substance abuse, avoiding social connections, notoriously late, intimacy issues and fear of commitment. Typically, though, these examples of self-sabotage have trauma undertones, with underlying wounds such as I’m not good enough, I’m a burden, I don’t deserve happiness, fear of rejection. So, they need to be understood as to where the trauma lays and why your wounds are still here. It’s essentially your unconscious is a covert spy – secretly destroying or undermining your own goals and values. You know you don’t want to do it, you know you deserve better, but you feel powerless in the moment. So then, when you sabotage yourself again, you will talk trash about yourself because you can’t get it together! You’re so disappointed with yourself, can be frustrated or then even shut down and become numb. Who cares? If this habit goes on for a while, people who self-sabotage can sometimes act passive-aggressively, defensive, deflect or withdraw. They feel bad and insecure, so they then project onto you when you ask questions, as they see it as a criticism. Then you will get defensive. This is called the cycle of stuck.
If this is common for you, then think of it this way. Self-sabotage can be a little monster because it typically is motivated by lack of self-esteem or those trauma wounds that I mentioned. That little monster on your shoulder whispering “you are not good enough, what’s the point, I don’t care anyways they don’t even like me”. And then when you lose motivation & not achieve those goals, it reinforces that negative self-talk, increases the feelings of worthlessness & beliefs that you don’t deserve happiness or success.
Also, Self-sabotage can also be learned coping mechanisms from the past to cope or survive. I am here to let you know that that little monster on your shoulder – talking in your ear – doesn’t have to be there. If the nasty little voice is speaking up more often and more frequently, than we have to figure out a way how make you strong again, and the little monster weak.
Firstly, understand if you are consciously choosing these decisions or if it has now become an unconscious habit? If it is conscious then that is fabulous, this is an easier path to follow. Otherwise, it could be unconscious which may need some more work since you haven’t realised you are purposefully attacking yourself – until now. Unconscious is trauma wounds or a survival mechanism.
So, if this all sounds too familiar, and you realise you are sabotaging your success & future happiness, ask yourself honestly, do I feel I deserve success and happiness. If the answer is no, then these are trauma wounds. Because the answer should always be yes I do deserve success and happiness. I have done nothing wrong, humans are built for pleasure, so why do I keep sabotaging my happiness.
the next step is to recognise your ‘patterns’. When you can understand a pattern, you are more likely to have success at making positive change: this can make you feel like you are taking control back, when you feel out of control. for example, procrastination = how often does it happen, what context does it occur – like at work, friendships or romantic relationships, or your personal goals. So what happens before the avoidance that makes you sabotage yourself, what is going on internally – do you feel a sick tummy or sweaty hands, and what words are you saying to yourself. Are they your core beliefs? This is essentially the process of emotional intelligence. Understanding where in your body you are feeling sensations, what do they mean, and importantly – what do you need to make yourself feel safe and secure? With these patters, how do you feel when you know you have ‘done it again’? What do you say to yourself, or how do you speak to yourself?
Next, think about the emotions that are connected to the avoidance behaviour – so anxiety, anger, worthlessness, is it fear. These emotions are very powerful, and can be clouding your rational thought – making you confused & overwhelmed. This is essentially dysregulating your nervous system and putting you into flight or fight mode. I need to help you get regulated again.
When you start to think this way, challenge your thoughts – don’t believe everything you think – you are in control of your thoughts, so if they are mean, pretend you are talking to your bestie and speak to yourself with compassion. sometimes it can be a learned behaviour to have negative self-talk, that you learnt in childhood or in a toxic relationship. But you are worth it & yes you are important.
Goldilocks principle is a good motivator that trains yourself in success. Goldilocks principle is, well, Goldilocks and the three bears. Not too hard, not too soft. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right! This is also known as finding your ‘flow’. Tasks that are too easy you will get bored and then distracted. Tasks that are too hard are overwhelming with a fear of failure. So finding tasks that are Just Right, so when you achieve them – you instantly get a sense of accomplishment and feeling proud. Well done!!
Habit stacking is another technique that some people find effective. Habit stacking is choosing an existing habit (like eating breakfast) and then add another habit you want to incorporate either side of it. So if you wanted to start yoga daily – try it before or after breakfast. After a minimum of 21 days, it will then become a new habit. But, only do one new habit every month, otherwise you will get too overwhelmed with all the new changes in routine – and break the Goldilocks Principle because it will all get too hard.
Writing a list on a piece of paper of the things you need to do, break them down into achievable chunks, then when you complete them, cross them off with pride. And say out loud “I am a success”.
Also, when you are overwhelmed by the task or event that you are avoiding, sit for a moment and think of in the future when that task is completed. How does that make you feel, is it happiness or relief, or are you proud of yourself. Then let that feeling of pleasure override the feelings of avoidance. To regulate your nervous system and stay regulated, exhale for 7 seconds, then say something positive to yourself to get you in the moment, you can even rub your arms or legs to get back into your body, then do it.
Finally, don’t give up on yourself. When you can understand this cycle, know that it is common, believe you deserve better; you can then practice being kind to yourself, being patient when you feel overwhelmed anxious upset or frustrated. Learn to support yourself with positive self-talk, you are not a bad person, you are trying your best, you are stronger than you give yourself credit for, you am important and deserve better – kick that bloody monster to the kerb!
If you are looking for more information or even to talk to someone about what you are experiencing, please feel free to contact me at www.supportivetherapy.com.au. There are a lot of free resources for you to access, as well as online store so you can view self-guided therapy sessions and eBook’s that may benefit you.
You are not alone. There is always help. Thank you for your time.
All the information contained in this document is general advice only. This is not specific to any situation or person or based of any clients case study. This information is from the main concerns facing the majority of my clients as a collective and has proven to have made a significant positive difference in an individuals or couples experience.. If you are triggered or offended in any way, please contact Supportive Therapy immediately so we can make you feel at ease and explain our perspective. This information is intended for empowerment and knowledge in the best interests of my clients. This is not intended to replace therapy, but to aid in personal growth, personal development and the recommendation that this book is to be reflective within in person therapy. Everything contained in this document is the intellectual property of Elena Bishop, director of Supportive Therapy Arana Hills. You do not have permission to share, reproduce, copy, adapt, display or anything similar that violate copywrite laws. The consequences of ignoring copywrite of the contents within this document will result in legal action. I have worked hard and reserve the right to protect my property without it getting into the wrong hands and being used unethically or fraudulently.
I started my practice to make a positive difference – to have a voice for the voiceless. I am someone who inspires positive change in people’s lives. I support you in exploring your current concerns & investigating your history to uncover patterns that you may not even be aware of. I motivate you to feel strong & confident, to evolve into a better version of yourself and be happy in your relationships.
As well as running my Private Practice, I am the Brisbane Mothers’ Mental Health Network Coordinator, Publishes monthly articles in several outlets, and customises Training & Education for my clients on her YouTube channel. These are examples of a holistic approach to my clients needs for education, empowerment and normalising how we all can struggle at maintaining our unique and healthy relationships.
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