Overcome self-sabotage with self-awareness.
Story: Bridget Webber
Do you sabotage your relationships? Not knowingly, of course, but unconsciously. Maybe you harm your well-being in other areas like destroying your chances of financial success or a successful career. You might ruin your health and happiness in many ways that can be avoided. The good news is, you can alter the way you act.
Why self-sabotage occurs
All behavior happens for a good reason—it’s designed to aid survival. You might not imagine self-sabotage stems from a helpful aim, but it’s created to fulfill that basic requirement of avoiding suffering.
For instance, relationship sabotage is often an avoidance behavior. If you fear rejection, you might end a promising relationship before it goes sour to avoid potential abandonment. You fulfill the need to stop pain, but don’t create a lasting attachment.
People often learn self-sabotaging behaviors during childhood. Kids adapt to their environment to get needs met. They may steer clear of close relationships if their parents weren’t there for them. The pain caused by a parent’s lack of presence is severe, so they adapt by ensuring they don’t face similar circumstances.
Or, if parents aren’t loving, children might behave in ways to gain attention. Their actions aid connection with Mom and Dad even if it is negative. As adults, they continue to create drama.
Also, beliefs might lead to self-sabotage. For instance, if you think you shouldn’t earn more than your parents, you might unconsciously stop short of doing so. You might imagine you aren’t bright or educated enough to become wealthy. Feelings of unworthiness due to low self-esteem and bad habits could result in self-sabotage.
To gain self-awareness, examine the root of sabotage, and then change it. Recognize whether it arises from attempts to meet needs or habits or beliefs.
How self-awareness helps you change
Self-awareness gives you the power to analyze and alter behavior. Once you understand why you sabotage success, you can find healthy ways to behave. Being aware of your motivation to sabotage helps you choose how to act, instead of conforming to old patterns.
Contemplate what you desire and how to meet your needs. For instance, spoiling a relationship won’t help you forge a close bond. Realizing why your urge is to ruin the relationship can assist in effective decision-making. Likewise, if there’s a chance of promotion at work, but you want to bow out, let feelings of discomfort about advancement exist. Accept anyway.
You’ll learn to override the compulsion to spoil your success on other occasions. The same process can be used to combat any self-sabotaging behavior.
Are unhelpful beliefs to blame? Change them with affirmations. Repeat statements opposite of your beliefs until they override old views. Saying affirmations at any time is useful, but most effective when spoken during significant moments.
For instance, to improve your self-image, tell yourself you are attractive when you look in the mirror. Also, do the same when comparing yourself to someone.
Self-sabotage comes from a genuine need expressed in an unhealthy way. There was a time when it served you. Perhaps, as a child, it helped you gain much-needed attention or avoid something you found frightening.
Though such behavior is damaging, it can be changed with self-awareness. Examine the ways you sabotage your happiness and success and consider why you adopted them. Next, be aware of your behavior—notice when you are compelled to spoil your joy. Pause and choose a better way to act to achieve what you want.
About the writer
Bridget Webber is a freelance writer with mental health, counseling, hypnotherapy, and neuro-linguistic programming experience and qualifications.