What if I told you that self sabotage is actually a way you take care of yourself? Maybe not the best way you can take care of yourself, but certainly one way you can. Let’s take a deeper look.
What is Self Sabotage?
- a choice that appears to be self-defeating, damaging or detrimental
- a purposeful way our self-preservation instinct overrides our conscious preferences (autopilot takes over without our permission)
- Ex: I always choose people who are mean to me.
- I subconsciously need connection more than I need approval so I will hang out with people who put me down because I hate being alone)
- self sabotage is taking care of one acute need at the cost of our well-being as a whole
- Ex: Ibinged when I got home after a stressful day.
- acute need: emotional comfort
- self sabotaging behavior: eating food that is bad for me but that makes me feel better
- result: I feel better emotionally, but physically I pay the price for the bad food
- Ex: Ibinged when I got home after a stressful day.
- the highest need always takes priority for fulfillment. If your highest need is unconscious or neglected it will be fulfilled by the primitive unconscious.
- Ex: I slept through my alarm.Conscious Need: I need to get to work in timePossible Unconscious Need: I need to rest/ I need a new job
- it is more common than you realize: everyone does it
- you will always do it to some degree (as long as you’re human)
- the most damaging aspect of self sabotage is how much you use it as a reason for self punishment. Self punishment is a way we feed and enable our self sabotage.
The Light Side (or positive aspects) of Self Sabotage:
– self sabotage always points to something we need more than what we think we need.
– it can serve as a powerful guiding system towards emotional health.
– it invites us to be more self-aware and self inquiring about what we truly need.
– it invites us to find more holistic and overall supportive ways to take care of ourselves.
How to minimize self sabotage:
- use each self sabotage instance to become aware of your unconscious need that is being taken care of in that situation.
- ask yourself often: why am I doing this? Is this what I want?
- take a personal inventory of your most acute needs daily. Try to be more aware of your needs generally speaking instead of denying them.
- take an inventory of harmful ways you take of your needs in the present. Do you veg out on the couch to relieve stress? do you food binge when you feel emotional?
- take a moment to analyze the most beneficial ways you could fulfill that same need in a conscious and proactive way
- anticipate the times it is most likely for you to self sabotage and set yourself up for an easy better choice.
- replace all self shaming and self punishing behaviors with self nurturing and supporting behaviors.
- the more you respect and honor yourself the less likely it is you will choose a self sabotaging behavior. You wouldn’t wear your nicest shoes while walking through the forest. In the same way, the more your increase the quality of care and attention you give to your needs, the less you will be willing to sabotage yourself.
Fool Proof Self Sabotage Double Checker Test:
Use this test to discover whether something you are about to do is self sabotage or not.
- Ask yourself the following questions:
- is what I’m about to do going to hurt any part of me?
- would I be ashamed or embarrassed of this choice if it was broadcast to the world?
- is this a good choice long-term? how will I feel about it immediately after I do it?
- am I compromising on any of my personal values when choosing this?
- what need am I fulfilling?
- is there something else I need more than this?
- is there a better way I can fulfill this need that serves me as a whole?
- how is this going to affect how I show up in my relationships?
- keep in mind that the most common way self sabotage passes by our awareness filter is the spontaneity excuse.
- “You only live once”- Well then live well not miserable. Self sabotage can create suffering that is not a necessary part of good living.
- “I’m in the moment”. Just because you are in the moment doesn’t mean you have to react to it.
After Self Sabotage Emotional First Aid:
Use these steps to take care of yourself immediately after you’ve become aware that you’ve self sabotaged.
- know that you will be tempted to beat yourself up for what may look like a mistake.
- Consider asking for forgiveness from the part of you that was harmed in the choice you made. Write an apology letter to yourself .
- Consider offering compassion to yourself for being human.
- Keep in mind that we are not our behaviors, we can always choose differently next time.
- Allow yourself to grieve and feel your disappointment
- if you cannot relieve yourself of self blame and self punishment then call a friend who loves you and is accepting of you and ask them to hear you and to remind you that you have other positive qualities as well. Sharing our shame with someone who can hear us and not shame us will tremendously reduce our self punishing tendencies.
- instead of punishing yourself take immediate action to repair and salvage whatever is possible.
- If you’ve compromised your physical well-being and you have a hangover or indigestion from overeating then do something helpful and soothing for your body.
- If you’ve hurt someone then own your behavior to them and apologize.
- set yourself up to choose differently next time:
- bring awareness to the need that was actually being taken care of
- make a plan and take steps towards fulfilling the same need consciously next time.
- create a support system for yourself that you can rely on to help maintain your new way of taking care of yourself
- educate yourself more on the topic
Ex: Self sabotage behavior: after a hard day of work I crave pizza and wine and when I indulge I feel terrible the day after.
The need: comfort after a stressful day
The price: my health gets compromised
The correction plan: In order to support myself in making a better choice I will stock up my fridge with food I like that is healthy for me when I anticipate a hard day at work. I will also buy sparking water that I serve in a wine glass with lemon to give me the same feeling of having something special at the end of the day. That way I reward myself with something that is good for me and not harmful to my health.