In psychology, self-sabotage is described as a passive type of aggression toward the Self or, in other words, a mental/emotional masochist (Seltzer, 2011). Each and every one of us experience self-sabotage in different ways at one or more points in our lives.
Some examples of self-sabotaging behaviour include procrastination, denial, blame, binging, addiction, self-medication through drugs/alcohol, comfort eating, self-harm such as cutting, or causing problems in our life/interfering with long-standing goals.
Self-sabotage may be a conscious or unconscious choice which affects our inner-worlds and our outer-worlds, and both short-term and long-term. For some, it may look like co-dependency, indecision, stagnation or feeling stuck, and perhaps overweight, obesity, ill health (physically or mentally) and more…
Where does sabotaging the self, start from? Self Sabotage begins inside of us. The inner saboteur is one that started when we were very, very young. It doesn’t just go away all by itself. It gets resurfaced when we have traumatic experiences or heavy events that occur throughout our lives. Some people have taken awareness, courage and self-discipline to control their saboteur, others continue to fight this battle, yet some even fall victim to ongoing distress and even early death because of it.
Psychotherapist Mark Dunn denotes that it is possible to free ourselves from deeply ingrained patterns of self-sabotaging behaviour, but only if we recognise that we are doing it. More often than not, we cannot identify exactly how self-sabotage may play out in our lives, due to the fact that the root cause is unknown. It could be, for example, because of a feeling, pattern or narrative that we repeat to ourselves that stems from childhood, which we tend to experience and recycle as adults if we are not aware of its depth and toxicity.
“If someone expects rejection but gets joy and happiness, it conflicts with their repressed expectation,” she said. “Becoming a saboteur is a way of dealing with that, creating an outcome that doesn’t conflict with their beliefs.”
~ Martha Baldwin Beveridge
Another way self-sabotage creeps into our lives, is when we are not living in – and fully embracing – the present moment. Many people are afraid of many different things, as they have not had the opportunity to discover new and different perspectives about their current state or condition. We all experience moments when we find our minds drifting off into either the past or the future, or somewhere else entirely, and then we get caught up in a moment of impulsivity.
For example – a man who has just visited a dietician. The dietician advises him that if he does not change his diet, he may fall prey to lifestyle conditions such as obesity, Type 2 Diabetes or Heart Disease. The man has been following a strict diet, and the holiday season is coming up… without thinking twice, the man succumbs to his temptations and eats all the foods that have a horrible effect on him. He may have been ‘living in the moment’, however the root cause of his saboteur is a very young boy who was mistreated by his parents, where food provided comfort where his parents could not, and he carries on the behaviours of his childhood into adulthood.
Another example of this is saying something to your boss or partner that was probably better left unsaid, but when self-sabotage becomes a pattern in your life, it can not only interfere in your ability to perform at your best, but also in your ability to live a happy, fulfilling, and productive life (Sherrie Bourg Carter, 2011).
These people, and most other people are not alone in the struggle with self-sabotage. We all do it, and we all have done it. Once you know better, it is not always easier to do better, especially if one lacks the proper support systems or inner awareness, willpower and commitment to live in discomfort with one’s self-sabotaging beliefs (which often are a comfort zone for us). Success to break away from the inner-saboteur is really about finding a profound sense of awareness, silencing and challenging the inner-sceptic with positive regard and affirmations, and recreating new, positive and useful beliefs – so that you set up a solid cheer squad, starting with yourself.
Reflecting on the environments we are in, and the people whom we are surrounded by, all of these factors impact on the choices we make for ourselves. We must also take note as to where these choices come from. Do our choices come from the inner critic, who sees only failure in fighting for change? Or do our choices come from freedom and being in flow with our highest vibration?
When you consciously want something but subconsciously make sure you don’t get it, your inner saboteur is at work. The behaviours are subtle, but by learning to recognise them, you can begin to overcome them (Nowosad, 2018).
“You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take.”
~ Wayne Gretzky
One of the biggest tell-tale signs of self-sabotage sneaking its way in, is in the form of procrastination. What causes procrastination is mainly fear of change, or stepping into uncertainty. Change can be scary. It means leaving your comfort zone, letting go of old routines, beliefs and processes and venturing into the unknown. Simply just the idea of undertaking a new challenge can bring up uncomfortable feelings.
In your moments of silence and stillness, take some time to ask yourself if your inner saboteur is taking too much space in your mind, and in your life. If you are experiencing patterns of holding back, because of things you feel are out of your control, it’s a great idea to challenge these beliefs, seek some help and support to address these maladaptive behaviours, beliefs and values, and regain momentum in your life. It’s important we really find out what our own self-sabotage is all about.
For more information on how to address self-sabotaging behaviours, come along to Robert Kirby’s workshop and explore ways you can work through your self-sabotaging behaviours and breakthrough to your inner greatness, without the limitations of your inner critic and inner-saboteur. You deserve love, success, happiness and good health as we all do!
Let’s get rid of self-sabotage today!
You can register for upcoming events (including Core Purpose – our event that deals with self-sabotage) by clicking on the link below: