Self Sabotage is the act of killing one’s momentum in life before it bears fruit. It is the act of sabotaging one’s self to hinder your own success.
While online a friend of mine brought up an interesting question. Why do we self sabotage? I was like, “I don’t know why people do that?”. I was so judgemental in my mental response. After a weekend of mulling it over I realize I do it too. I sabotage friendships, opportunities, and probably other things I don’t even think about. I use to tell my behavior students that is was ok to succeed and do good. But then I realized, recently, I should be taking my own advice. SO here are my reasons why we (mainly I) self sabotage and ways to counteract the sabotage.
Fear is easier to mange
I live in a bubble of constant existential crisis. I feel like if somebody says “can I talk to you” I did something wrong (I know, I go right to the negative). I got called down to the office, at work. I looked like one of the students walking to her office. My mind was racing. “Awe, man I did come in late. Welp bout to get in trouble. ” “Am in trouble for missing that meeting. I thought it was a Teacher only meeting”. After all the mental exhaustion, it was about after school activities. All that extra thought for nothing.
My church had a conference over the weekend and my fear of crowds and my superpower to find every excuse not to go to anything, made me miss so much I could have gained. I also let my leader and friend down.
Fear was my drive in all of this the simple way to combat this is to not think, do. See we think the only way to deal with our fear is to avoid everything and everybody. Do the total opposite and run toward that fear (and if you believe in a God, call on him or her). Don’t plan, the minute you start planning, you will find a way to to talk yourself out of something that could really help you. Stop caring about what people will think and start thinking about what you could gain.
The past is in the past
I know we all have not had the best childhoods. I thought my dad didn’t like me growing up. I thought I was this scrawny kid who couldn’t protect myself or anybody else. Then my brother was born. I gained responsibility over night. I realized at the age of 11, my little brother needed me and I was going to be there for him in spite of my size. After years of being such a good big brother (for 2 kids, my other brother was born 5 years later), I had so much confidence that I was borderline narcissistic.
It was not until my marriage when I realized how my scars from my youth never healed. I just covered them in a mask of vanity and a rather unique (but good) fashion sense. The bullying, the rejection, the heart breaks, the ignorance, all hit me and my wife had to deal with it.
I had to come to terms with my past and realize it didn’t have to be my present. I don’t have to relive it or live my parents life. I can be me. Sometimes we are so stuck in the past that we sabotage any good future we could have.
Easy way to handle this, let the past die, but remember the lessons you learn. It’s hard to break from the programing of our youth. But this is where my prior solution and this solution collide. Again go into the unknown with confidence.
Get out your comfort zone
Some of us rather mess up a new good thing because it was a little uncomfortable. I like to run down a mental checklist my mom taught me as a boy.
- Will it hurt you?
- Did it last forever?
- Are you still breathing?
She asked me this when I complained about a teacher I had in elementary school. I wanted the young, cute, nice, teacher and got the older vet. I was having trouble in class and my mom said, “Do what you need to do. (she then ask the 3 aforementioned questions). I answered no, no, yes). Boy, it’s only 9 months of your life. She has knowledge you need. Learn, do your work and after that you won’t have to see her again”. So what did I do? I sabotage myself and stayed back. Why? Because I was uncomfortable.
A little discomfort is ok. I did a couple sports and martial arts and anyone else who has done the same will agree, sometimes it’s not the greatest feeling. Running until you puke or pass out, getting kicked or punched in the right spot, landing wrong after a move, all not the most comfortable but you keep doing it, because you know it will make you better.
Get control of yourself
Some of you are reading this like “I’m an adult, of course I can control myself”. Well I’m not sure about that. Do you do what you want? Or what you have to do? Do you find your words in a heated discussion? Or do you go right for the other persons trigger? Control is hard and people who sabotage themselves sometimes can’t control themselves. Why? They just want to be safe. They (myself included) have taught themselves this is the only way. It’s almost like the brain and body are on autopilot. Which leads to my last reason…
Some don’t even know they are sabotaging themselves. My wife and my friends have shown me in my last 15 years of life more than I had seen and learned from my parents. No offense to my mom and dad, they are great but all my big trips and lessons were with my wife and friends. My wife and I went to Vegas together. Me and my friends have been up and down the east coast, the south, Chicago and new places in states I already visited. Remember when I said that armor of Vanity I used to wear. Well, it’s what helped me to sabotage my relationships. I was so wrapped up in me that I never noticed how I was hurting myself and those around me.
This, I found out, can not be fought alone. I constantly look over myself and ask “what did I do to you?” In my mind I was/am a good husband, brother, and friend. For me this took prayer, friends and seeking knowledge to understand how I was sabotaging my relationships. My wife and friends pointed out this critical flaw in my connection with people by just being honest with me. Now, I know I have to be proactive when it comes to the ones close to me. I tell myself for weeks now “you are going to that event”. I eliminate all excuses like putting a full tank of gas in my car (can’t say I dont have gas to go somewhere), just a little example.
I am currently still working on this in my own life. As much as I think I have it all figured out, I am learning everyday that I still have so much to learn. I pray my screw ups will help you avoid any that would have come up in your lives. I am not a Psychiatrist just a man airing his flaws in hopes that it will help somebody learn or get past theirs.