woman staying in bed

The Real Reason Why We Self-Sabotage


Sober Recovery Expert Author

woman staying in bed

We all self-sabotage. Whether it's overeating, staying up late, skipping the gym or avoiding commitment, we’re all guilty of sabotaging our own progress.

When we exert the mind or body to do something different, a defense mechanism diverts us from going that direction. I call it “survival mode.” My survival mode has been to avoid intimacy and confrontation—both of which are essential for development. Now, at 30 years old, I'm retraining my mind and body to respond differently to these things.

By accepting events, feelings, thoughts, and people as they are, we're free from being controlled by them.

Do you always have the same recurring problem with finances or in a relationship? Most likely, you are self-sabotaging. And while it's seemingly unintentional, don’t be fooled—it is very calculated.

The truth is, our feelings are what make us feel home. But just because these feelings are present in your life, or your mind, doesn't mean you're somewhere you belong. We shouldn’t remain emotionally stagnant throughout our lives. Therefore, even if you feel trapped, I can assure you you're not.

What Causes Self-Sabotaging Behavior

Often, past experiences influence our self-sabotaging behavior. My parents' divorce and the subsequent interactions with them created a catalyst for my behaviornot knowing how to trust people. For many years, I honestly thought I was doomed by my own mind and behaviors. I didn't know how to change because I didn't know why I continued acting erratically. And then logic intervened.

How to Stop Self-Sabotage

1. Get a therapist.

I cannot stress this enough. When we self-sabotage, it can take a new set of eyes to help guide us through life events we didn't even know traumatized us. Talking with a therapist once a month helped me usher a whole new conversation with myself about my past. Eventually, I created my own will and reinvented myself apart from family patterns and habitual cycles. Gathering the mental capacity to think your way through things is challenging, but a therapist is invaluable during this process.

2. Know yourself.

There’s no quick-fix to ending the self-sabotage cycle. However, positive results will occur if you’re committed to understanding yourself. It may not happen as fast as you or your loved ones may like, but you can't rush your healing. As long as you're putting in the effort to understand why past thoughts and feelings existed, you're on the right track.

Continue exploring your deepest realms by journaling anxieties and fears you have. The objective here is to become so familiar with yourself that you can anticipate your triggers and behaviors that will result from specific experiences. For example, my triggers are rejection. For a while, when I felt rejected by anything, I would revert back to the time my dad neglected me and would go full-on temper tantrum mode. I realized, I acted this way because I was still expecting someone else to make me feel a certain way.

3. Be who you need to be.

This is one of the most difficult steps when learning how to stop your self-sabotage. Memories will come to you, and when they do, let the feelings come with them. And then relive it all, only this time, imagine what you needed, what you wished would've happened—and be that for yourself at that moment. This is the inner child work that experts talk about.

Speak to your inner child—the one who was neglected, abandoned, or disappointed. Speak as the voice you needed to hear and let the moment go. Accept what happened, not because it was fair, but because it's time to move past this. And as you let the past and all its thoughts and feelings flood your soul, let it wash out like the ocean. But this time, instead of letting the tide come in again, commit to being enough for yourself from now on. You were enough for yourself then, but you didn't know it, so now be enough for yourself from here on out.

You have enough to create the life you want, the finances you want, the relationship you want - everything you want to become depends on you.

Home Sweet Home

By accepting events, feelings, thoughts, and people as they are, we're free from being controlled by them. It's a long journey getting there, but each step is worth the battle. Soon, you'll be welcoming a new you, and what was once uncomfortable will feel just like home.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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