Do you ever feel like the world is against you? That no matter how hard to try, nothing pans out the way you want? We all go through struggles in life, and for some of us these are more dramatic than others. Issues like trauma, mental illness, divorce, poverty, abuse or crises can set the tone for our lives, and we have to push through in order to survive.
Irrespective of what we have all gone through, there is another kind of conflict that can also permeate our lives: Self Sabotage.
What is self sabotage?
Self sabotage happens when we choose to work against positive progress in our lives.
This can happen consciously (or knowingly), when a person chooses to prevent something good from happening in their life. For instance, if you have a friend express a desire to be in a relationship, but they actively choose not to commit to a partner for fear of future pain, they are knowingly self sabotaging to protect themselves.
On the other hand, self sabotage can happen unconsciously. This is often modelled to a person through their parents or mentor figures, and happens when the fear and trauma is so embedded in the brain that someone unhinges their life when they’re on the cusp of greatness. It might look like someone returning to an abusive relationship, relapsing and getting high, re-establishing contact with a negative influence, or causing chaos online, at school, or in the home to disrupt everything.
Do any of these behaviours sound familiar? Chances are you have seen a family member or friend self-sabotage before, and have felt helpless to change the situation. It can feel almost hopeless, because in a moment all their progress seems to be undone, and they are back in a dangerous, unhealthy or toxic situation. In these moments, the best thing we can do if speak truth with compassion, and remind our loved one that we are available to help them when they’re ready.
It’s easy to spot self-sabotage in other people. It’s harder to recognise it in your own life. Everyone has the capacity to self sabotage— yes, even you. When we are in an unhealthy mindset, it’s easy to trip ourselves up in fear. Sometimes, we may even halt our own progress because we don’t know how to navigate a healthier, more positive life.
Are you currently self sabotaging? Take a deep breath, and consider these five signs. If you are displaying any of these in your life, you could be preventing your own growth and happiness. This is not about shame (isn’t that why we self-sabotage in the first place?!), it’s about choosing to become the best version of ourselves. So let’s be brave, and read on.
- You speak negatively about yourself
Do you actively put yourself down? Downplay your wins, highlight your ‘failures’ and punish yourself for being you? This may be a result of words a parent or partner has spoken over you.
If you say, or even think, “I am ugly,” “I am worthless,” “I am stupid,” “I am useless,” “I will never succeed,” or “I don’t deserve happiness,” then you are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for yourself. By believing these things— no matter how untrue they are — you enable this narrative to continue in your life. You set yourself up for failure before you even begin, because you don’t believe you are worthy of health.
This is not an easy habit to break, and in some capacity everyone experiences it. But by combatting your negative self talk with positive statements like “I am enough,” “I am worthy of love,” and “I deserve to be healthy,” you will eventually believe what you are saying and can change the trajectory of your life.
- You won’t make plans for the future
Life is filled with unknowns, and a sign of health is our ability to make goals and plans. When we are self sabotaging, we refuse to commit to things to protect ourselves from disappointment or betrayal. This may be a relationship (romantic or otherwise), study, a career path, our health, or a dream we hope for.
The best way to combat this type of self sabotage is to start small. Choose one goal and work towards it. This may be as simple as choosing to take your medication everyday, purchasing a diary and setting deadlines, or reading a new book. Once you’ve achieved this, you can set bigger goals for yourself until you feel resilient enough to weather the ups and downs of having long-term dreams.
- You complain. A lot.
Sometimes life sucks, and the world does seem like it’s against you. I hear you, and your pain is valid. But when we allow it to consume us to the point of toxicity, we make things worse. This often looks like endless complaining. You know the type of people I’m talking about— the ones who always find something to negative to talk about, whether it’s the news, their health, the weather or (God forbid) you.
Sometimes we can be those people. And there comes a point for each of us where we must decide if we want to be defined by our pain or our resilience. If we choose to be defined by our pain, we glorify it, making our life full of sadness and pouring this on everyone else. But if confront our pain, work through it and choose hope, we can become inspirations to other people. This choice opens you up to healing, wholeness, and new possibilities.
- You blame everyone else
Pain isn’t something we choose, and is placed on us against our will. When this occurs due to the actions of someone else (eg. in cases of abuse, oppression etc.) it’s essential you know you did not cause this. Even in moments were pain is self-inflicted, it is often due to illness or circumstances a person never should have been exposed to. A person should never be shamed for their pain.
However, there comes a point in recovery where we must choose to take responsibility for our actions. This is not about blaming ourselves for what happened, but choosing to pursue wholeness in our future.
Sometimes our pain manifests where we live with a perpetual victim mentality, and the wrongs of the past make us blame everyone else for the negative things happening in our life right now. We hold on to grudges and refuse to forgive at the expense of our own health. This is a common characteristic of self sabotage.
When we move from the mindset of victim to overcomer, we take back power over our lives and choose healing. This allows us to own our strengths and weaknesses, be vulnerable, and to command our own destiny.
If this is you, next time something goes wrong, ask yourself, “What can I do to take control of this situation for my good?” This is a challenging process and takes courage, but you deserve it.
- You cut off relationships. A lot.
Sometimes we need to make a clean break from relationships. In situations of abuse, manipulation and lack of safety, we may need to stop all communication with a person. This is a courageous and vital choice when we are recovering from the past.
However, this act can become unhealthy when we use it as an excuse to avoid conflict and growth in a relationship. If you are self sabotaging in relationships, you may cut off someone when they stop meeting your needs due to their own circumstances. Perhaps they challenged you on something that you don’t want to change, or didn’t turn out to be the friend you expected them to be.
Cutting off a relationship can be subtle and quick. But in an age of social media, it can often look like unfriending people for (seemingly) no reason, leaving hurtful or passive aggressive comments, or speaking about people behind their backs.
The best way to figure out if a relationship is worth your time is to ask these questions:
- Does this person know what I expect of them?
- Is it fair to expect this person to fulfil this need?
- Have I acted as a friend to this person?
- Have I spoken to them about this issue and tried to resolve it with them?
If you have tried to salvage a relationship with no success, then part ways without fan fare. There’s no need for cruel Facebook posts or rumours. Instead focus your energy on the relationships that do bring you life, and leave the other person in peace.
Do you self sabotage? Would you like to find healing and wholeness? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online .