Updated: Nov 29, 2021
Are you doing it? Are you self-sabotaging?
Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems in daily life and interferes with long-standing goals.
We self-sabotage in a variety of ways:
We ignore important tasks and responsibilities
We fill our time with empty or mindless endeavours
We don't assert or enforce healthy boundaries
We tromp over other people's boundaries
We indulge impulses at the expense of longer term and more important goals
We break commitments to ourselves and others
We allow people to care-take us
We say yes when we mean no
We spend time with people who don't ask that we be our best selves
We medicate with food, alcohol or substances
We engage in self-destructive coping behaviors and habits
We fail to ask for what we want
We avoid speaking our truth
We avoid healthy confrontation/communication
We choose the easy path
We lie to ourselves and others
We live in perpetual crisis or on the brink of eminent doom
We ignore or fail to nurture important relationships
We ignore our instincts
We don't fight for what we believe in
We make choices we know will offend/injure others
We seek vengeance to feel better
We become untrustworthy (because we don't trust ourselves)
We project our own faults, insecurities, and lack of trustworthiness onto others
Self-sabotage is typically unconscious as well as unintentional. It is driven by that critical inner voice that tells us we're not good enough, not worthy, and not lovable.
Whatever form it takes, self-sabotage is at its core a manifestation of a deep lack of self-respect, self-esteem, self-trust, and self-love. A critical inner voice typically emerges as a coping skill to navigate messages we received from our parents or primary caregivers that we were either "the golden child" who was better-than than everyone else (whoa - an impossible expectation and standard to live up to!), or the scapegoat who never quite measured up and somehow rated as less-than other family members or peers. As years go by and we synthesize these messages and the resulting critical inner voices often lead us to recreate dynamics from our early life in our adult life. We create a vicious cycle of situations or "tests" where these self-sabotaging behaviors confirm our own worst fears about ourselves.
If somehow you feel on a deep, subconscious level that you don’t deserve happiness/love/success and you engage in a pattern of self-sabotaging to keep yourself below your real potential, you will settle for a life that confirms the way you see yourself: unworthy and not good enough. Self-sabotaging is, in effect, giving up: in a really twisted way, giving up feels somehow feels easier than facing failure (and even, sometimes success!).
Our self-sabotaging loops are designed so we will fail and then we can maintain these beliefs and continue to play small.
Here's an interesting TedX talk about self-sabotage:
If you're willing to identify and explore your patterns and take an honest look at your critical inner voices, there is hope you can break the cycle of self-sabotage.