growth · healing


“Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals.”
Psychology Today

Self-sabotaging behavior is not only problematic, it also seems to be widespread. In my line of work, I see it often. As I mentor who works with women and teens who have been abused, or have experienced some harsh emotional trauma in their life, I see this issue come up again and again.

What is most interesting, however, is that they often do not see it themselves. There are prevalent patterns that show up over and over again, and I am often reminded that I was once stuck in the same recurring cycle. What’s worse is that there are still times that I am. The difference, I believe, is that I now recognize the sabotage for what it is, and that allows me the chance to right the situation before it gets out of control.

As I hear other’s stories of survival and hope, I am often reminded that even when we feel we have healed, there can be undercurrents that run so deep even we do not notice them. There are hurts, words, and actions that have scarred us to the core. There are beliefs that once were not there, but are now such a part of us that we do not think differently. We do not recognize the hurt that was done because we are focusing on the gains and healing that has occurred.

Now, do not misunderstand me. I am not dismissing the amazing journey to healing that many have experienced. However, I do want to point out that as we focus on the positive points of our journey, other dark and damaging memories and planted thoughts are being harbored without our knowledge. Or, perhaps, we hope to will them away. We strive for a new life, free of pain, so dealing with unwanted emotions that rise to the surface is easier left undone. We often push them aside for the happier thoughts and feelings that are allowing us to thrive.

The problem is, when we do not address them, they burrow in deeper and contaminate an otherwise successful journey with their negativity. And, because we have chosen to ignore them, we don’t see them interfering with our happiness. That is, we don’t notice them until they are fully enveloping us and ruining all that we have worked for.

Often these negative thoughts and beliefs show themselves in the form of self-sabotage. Jealousy, anger, bitterness, neediness, and fear of failure are just a few. You see, if we believe we are unlovable, we will push others away. If we fear being cheated on, we will accuse our potential partner without cause (it is better to “catch them” than to be caught off guard). If we have been told we will not amount to anything, we will quit before we have the opportunity to fail. If we fear having our heart broken, we will not allow anyone in close enough to do that kind of damage, therefore ruining any chance of a happy and healthy relationship.

There are more scenarios than I can discuss here today, but no matter what they are, they are a detriment to our well-being and personal growth. They hold us back because we cling to the past (even though often unwillingly or without knowledge).

I encourage you to take a long, hard look at your life and identify areas in which you are self-sabotaging. They are sometimes hard to spot, but identifying them is the first step to stomping them out. Don’t let the pain of your past destroy the happiness of your future.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is it that you fear?
  • How do you cope with that fear?
  • Is that coping mechanism helping you or hurting you in the long run?

Once you know, you can work on addressing the issue one step at a time. Give yourself the love you deserve.

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