The title says it all; my self-sabotage is just like yours. I’m only sharing my experience so you hear that we are all working through our own struggles and how cool to come out of it on top. If I can change from my mess (both externally and internally induced) than you WILL be successful. We make that decision every day, and the effort is a life filled with more joy and less sabotage.
I’ve spoken to thousands of people, and we are more alike than we are different. It’s rough to deal with life feeling like you are so broken and your problems are so unique to you. Know that you are most definitely not alone! This is step one.
What does self-sabotage look like?
You know exactly what self-sabotage means. Most of my youth was spent busily building walls to keep danger out. Unfortunately, it just kept me a prisoner in my own lonely cell. It can be both passively and actively using food to escape the discomfort, using alcohol, avoiding self-care, procrastinating, not reaching for your passion, being noncommittal in intimate relationships, or being a terrible friend when that connection is the very thing you need (and probably want).
Self-compassion alleviates self-sabotage
First, we are never alone in how we feel. Second, let’s infuse some self love. I spent decades working through my “I’m not lovable” mantra, beating myself black and blue, until one day I realized that life gives you what you believe.
Just because I talk about this does not mean I still don’t have the same triggers. Have some compassion and even expectation that “falling” will happen, because you are human and trying to be perfect or resolving all your self-sabotage does not exist. You can, however, have shorter episodes, less detrimental ones and less frequent.
So if you’re emotionally eating again, take a deep breath, slow it down, and who wouldn’t want to escape this horrible feeling at the moment? Validate how you feel. All feelings are valid. I have alcoholism in my family so that’s my instinctual battle. Breathe! (Tell yourself) I am loved! I am safe! Calm that fight-or-flight brain that takes over your logical cortex brain.
So why do we self-sabotage anyways?
If we know the results of self-sabotage is so harmful to us, why do we keep doing it?
- Lack of self-worth. I’m not good enough, thin enough, qualified enough, etc. I get stuck here too. See, you’re not alone. It really is a daily practice to change these messages. I am worthy!
- Control. If we accept a negative outcome, we are in control although it’s not the result we actually want. If I accept that I can’t lose weight, I was in control of my destiny. This ties in to the next point too.
- Fear of Failure. What if I give this 100% and I still fail? That’s worse than doing poorly and not achieving my goals. I work so hard to rise above my childhood trauma but I kept failing, always so easily triggered by certain people or emotions, until I realized that I only fail when I stop trying. That helped me tons.
- Escape goat. We blame other things so we can justify why we eat, drink, procrastinate, and self-sabotage in general. I’m too busy; the weather makes it hard to exercise, COVID, etc.
- Impostor Syndrome. So many successful women fall into this category. They feel like they are fake. I’m guilty. What do I know about this subject? Oh, maybe 12 years of being in business and a ton of life experiences, but I too sometimes feel like “can I really support people?” You’re not alone. It’s a common theme so embrace it and change the belief.
First, be aware and find patterns such as what you do, when, how, why? Is it a true story?
Second, disrupt the cycle. Learn to sit with what feels uncomfortable. “Growth is at the end of our comfort zone.” Acknowledge that you are breaking the cycle. You are your own super hero. Start small. While waiting in line, instead of distracting by pulling out your phone, sit with the discomfort. Start that small and bigger things in life becomes easier with practice.
Third, change your beliefs. “I am worthy of love. I am worthy of success. I am safe.” Delete… delete those beliefs that keep you stuck.
Fourth, this is a daily practice. It gets easier and easier, but put post-its/reminders everywhere in the beginning. Even now, certain things can trigger me as if I’m starting from square one. The difference is I’m not as self-destructive, it doesn’t last as long, and I bounce back faster. I check in, breath, sit with the discomfort, change my beliefs, infuse empathy (to self and others), and be sure to get support both personally and professionally. We are hardwired to be social creatures. We cannot do anything alone. The body keeps score. We get sick, become insomniacs, get depressed, etc. when we don’t feel heard, seen, or a sense of belonging.
That’s what we all want – to be good enough so let’s start telling ourselves “I am enough.”
Support is the key to success.
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~ Samantha Hua, Online Nutrition Coach & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA