The expression “you are your own worst enemy” rings true for most of us.
How many times have we acted against our self-interest, then asked ourselves why we self-destruct? Why did we say that to a loved one? Why did we have that drink or take that drug? Why did we procrastinate on seeing a therapist? Why have we stopped doing that one thing that makes us feel great?
Self -sabotaging thoughts and behaviors are instigated by an inner critic we all possess. What’s worse is that we usually don’t recognize that it’s even happening. Instead, we attribute our lack of success to inadequacy. This, in turn, strengthens the negative messages we feed ourselves, and we get caught in a self-sabotaging cycle that can be very difficult to break.
Our critical inner voice is influenced by our early life experiences. Without realizing it, we tend to internalize attitudes that were directed toward us by parents or caretakers throughout our growth and maturation. For example, if our parent saw us as lazy, we may grow up feeling useless or ineffective. If our parents or caretakers used drugs and/or alcohol to deal with life’s issues, we may turn towards drugs and alcohol for the same kind of escape. We may then engage in a self-sabotaging thoughts that tell us not to try, i.e.“Why bother? You’ll never succeed anyway. You just don’t have the energy to get anything done.”
Children can also internalize negative thoughts that their parents or early caretakers have toward themselves. If we grew up with a self-hating parent, who often viewed themselves as weak or a failure, we may grow up with similar self-sabotaging attitudes toward ourselves.
Here are some common themes in self-sabotaging behavior:
– Unfulfilled dreams
– Feelings of worthlessness
Here is how to break the cycle of self-sabotage behavior:
- Recognize Your Self-Sabotaging Behavior
In order to stop self-sabotage, you first need to recognize your own self-sabotaging behavior. Ask yourself:
– Do you find yourself unreasonably angry or frustrated, and is it affecting your relationships?
– What goals have you had for yourself for a long time and never been able to accomplish?
– What do you consistently fail at, for no obvious reason?
– Are there particular areas where you find yourself procrastinating or putting off making a decision?
– Is there something in your life that nags at you and causes you dissatisfaction because you know you could do it, or do it better?
Ask yourself questions like these, and tune in to the situations where you may be sabotaging yourself.
- Monitor Your Negative Thinking
Think about what you say to yourself when you engage in this behavior. Write down all your negative thoughts, however silly or unrealistic they may seem.
The ideal time to do this is when you’re engaged in the behavior. As you do, monitor your “stream of consciousness” and write down all the negative self-talk.
- Challenge Your Self-Sabotaging Thinking
When you know what your negative self-talk is, or you find yourself behaving in some way that is preventing you from achieving what you need or want to do or preventing you from getting sober, ask yourself:
– What deeper thoughts lie behind this self-sabotaging thinking?
– Are these thoughts rational, and based on any clear facts?
– Are the people you surround yourself with influencing your self-sabotaging behavior?
- 4. Develop Self-Supporting Behaviors
Having identified and defeated the false rationale for your self-sabotaging behaviors, you are now free to start rebuilding your self-confidence. Ask yourself:
– What can you say to yourself that is positive or encouraging?
– What options do you have? Is there more than one way to achieve your goal?
– Is this an issue you need to talk out with a professional?
– Do you need to make a bigger change in your life than you thought?
– Who will support you in developing self-supporting behavior techniques?
– Can you build self-confidence by setting and achieving much smaller goals, on your way to achieving the big ones you’ve not achieved in the past?
Harmony Heals and HARMONY HEALS center understands the dynamic conversation that happens between you and yourself and we want to help you break it your self-sabotaging habits.
Turn your assumptions around and put them in the correct perspective. Align them with positive beliefs about what you can accomplish. When your skills, beliefs, and behaviors are aligned, you will have the right mental, emotional, and physical states to do whatever you set your mind to and we have all the tools and people to help you in your success.