Self-sabotaging is when we get in our own way, perform self-defeating acts, or in today’s lingo, shoot ourselves in the foot. Self-sabotaging prevents us from achieving a goal we’ve set. It’s about setting ourselves up for failure. Although there are millions of ways to do it, the most common self-sabotaging behaviors are: procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort food consumption, and forms of self-injury such as cutting. So why do we try to sidewind our goals?
For one, some part of us doesn’t feel like we deserve to be successful. We can work exceptionally hard to achieve a goal and to make up for an inadequacy we perceive exists within us. When our work begins to show signs of paying off, like material, monetary, emotional rewards and gains—this is when we are prime for self sabotaging.
In general, we have consistent feelings, standards and ingrained belief systems about ourselves. These are hard to break, especially if we’ve been carrying them around for a long time, like since childhood. Getting close to success causes us discomfort, because the feelings are antithetical to how we perceive ourselves. We experience something called cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when we simultaneously hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values about ourselves. Self-sabotaging occurs because the part of ourselves that feels truly inadequate wins out.
Another reason for self-sabotaging has to do with control. If we have any inkling that we may not meet our goal, we take ourselves down, so others can’t. It hurts to do this, but not as much, we think, as if or when someone else takes the reins. In conjunction with control, there’s fear of being found. As our success mounts, so does our internal pressure system. Fear of failure takes hold as does feeling fraudulent, or like a phony. We just can’t stand the thought of being found out, so we quit, or opt out. Sadly, we cheat ourselves out of many situations and opportunities for joy, happiness and feeling accomplished.
Basically, we self-sabotage due to lack of or low self-esteem. It’s important for us to discover the roots of our low self-esteem. After doing that, hopefully with a therapist, we can begin rebuilding our self perceptions. We can begin to see ourselves for who we really are. We can start stacking up all the truths we know about ourselves, and head with alacrity towards our goals.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
― Sharon Salzberg
Serenity Oaks provides an intensive 5 week program to support your sobriety and recovery from addiction. We aim to provide a space where you can find out how and why you have struggled with addiction. Our therapeutic and medical support are just one of the tools we provide to help set you up for success in recovery. Call us to find out how we can help you get started: 844-396-8526.