Is your child their own worst enemy? Do they practice in self-destructive behavior and self-sabotage themselves, against there better judgment and self-interest? Many of us have a critical voice; this voice does not help us create positive self-worth or a positive sense of self. This critical voice turns against us, it feels like its anti-us, it makes us doubt and question our capabilities. This ultimately makes us avoid our goals and keeps us from working towards what we really dream of and desire.
Many people ask me why they self-sabotage or why their children developed this behavior? For starters, we tend to fear the unfamiliar, “better the devil we know than the devil we don’t” comes to mind. We sometimes become more comfortable with situations not working in our favor, or being with the wrong people. We feel like we wouldn’t know how to handle the right people or things working out for us if they did. Controlis another reason we do this to ourselves. Being able to say we caused the failure makes us feel like we are in control of our life. Many people fear giving up that control, giving it their all and then having it fail may seem unbearable or scary to face. Low self-esteem also affects self-sabotaging behavior in many cases, the amount of people who do not feel they are worthy, capable or deserving of such goals and dreams are extremely high. Toxic behaviours and habits also play a part, many people let their drinking or drug use do the self-sabotaging. They turn to these vices usually in a way of coping with circumstances in their lives, or as methods of avoidance. These habits and behaviors tend to have negative affects and push us along the road of self-sabotage. One thing is for sure, not many people want to self-sabotage they seem to just have it happen, and they don’t know why they do it. We need to focus on our unconscious and why we might be doing this, as well as unlearning these behaviours. Exploring why you are fearful, learning to let go of control, working on self-esteem and eliminating toxic behaviours and habits can be worked on with your therapist. In addition, by practicing the below you can help yourself or teach your children the process of unlearning behaviors, learning why they do so and how NOT to self-sabotage:
1. Observation of the Self
Simply put, just watch yourself, and be self-aware. Attempt to watch yourself from someone else shoes and ask questions, like what am I doing here? Why am I really doing this? What is the driving factor here? Forcing yourself to watch yourself and strengthening your ability to be self-aware will force you to ask questions and question yourself, your behaviours and motives. This will force you to take accountability for your actions and answer some of these deep rooted and crucial questions as to why you do what you do.
2. Imagine and Feel Success
Stop avoiding success, start off by forcing yourself to imagine and really feel success. Think of what it would look like for you, what it would feel like and how you’d have to approach it. It’s extremely important to also acknowledge success will not always feel great, or solve all your problems. Success comes with its ups and downs and is not simply black or white, just like other parts of life it will not always feel great and work out how you’d imagine it.
3. Success isn’t Perfect
No one has had a smooth journey to his or her dreams, goals or success’. You are going to do things and it wont always work out perfectly, this doesn’t mean you have ruined your chances. The only thing that will ruin your chances is you giving up because you are hung up on the idea that success equates perfection. The sooner you understand that and accept that, the sooner you can stop ruining things for yourself and instead just enjoy the process.
4. Stop being Selfish
Once you start looking beyond yourself, it will become more difficult to sabotage situations. Think about the other people depending on you in your group project, or your loved ones who don’t deserve to be pulled into your toxic behaviours and patterns. Think about the people who could benefit from you actually following that dream and providing them with an amazing service or product! Think beyond yourself and self-sabotaging may start to feel a little more difficult.
5. Live Life
Force yourself to feel and explore life whole-heartily, by doing this you will force yourself to feel the good and the bad. This will also force you to accept the good and the bad of life and its different situations. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and live life, this will help you learn what you like and what you don’t like, it will help you figure out what areas you might need to put some more work into.
6. Self Discovery
Like I mentioned before, discovering why you are sabotaging yourself can be done with your therapist. We are self-sabotaging for some internal reason, due to some inner struggle. It’s important to identify the areas you are practicing self-sabotaging behavior. Once you have identified these areas you can dig deeper and discover why you are doing this to yourself. You will eventually discover why you are doing this, the fear of rejection, low self-esteem and so forth. You can then target the root cause and learn to cope and move past these fears, or improve yourself esteem, therefore eliminating the self-sabotaging behavior in the process.
Journaling is extremely therapeutic, safe and raw. There are no rules, grammar doesn’t matter, you can write whatever you want and no one ever needs to see it. I like to encourage clients to try to journal their thoughts without letting themselves stop to think. Give yourself one minute to just write none stop; you will be surprised about what your subconscious brings up onto the page. You can also use the journal to write about your fears, goals, dreams, self-affirmations, questions, quotes etc. This is your safe space to be as real and raw as you’d like, you can bring this to session if you feel comfortable as well to share with your therapist, as some of your most vulnerable thoughts may be in this journal.
8. Positive Self-Talk
Self-talk could be negative and we don’t usually notice that it’s happening. Positive self-talk seems extremely easy, but it’s actually quiet difficult in the beginning. The first step is to observe yourself, be self-aware; you will start noticing all the negative thoughts and words you say to yourself. You will start noticing how negatively you speak to yourself; it will probably shock you at first. We don’t even notice how this critical voice destroys our self-esteem and self-worth. The harder part is changing this to a more positive talk, start cutting those negative thoughts short and replacing them with a positive thought. You may not believe it at first but with enough time and practice you will eventually start thinking about yourself differently and your self-esteem and worth with begin to become more positive.
9. Comparisons are useless
Stop comparing yourself to others; this will only make you feel like you are not good enough. An important thing to remember is that everyone’s journey is different, you don’t know what they have experienced or gone through to get where they are. We are all so different none of our journeys will be the same, so just focus on your own. If you are looking at other peoples successes, instead use it as motivation to achieve your own - if they can do it so can you. Ask questions if you’re interested in how they achieved what they have achieved, maybe have them become a mentor to you. Try and turn the comparison into a positive driving factor instead of letting it get you down.
10. Love Yourself!
Practice self-love and stop running away from yourself. Instead make time to do things you love, do thinks that will nourish your mind, body and soul. You should be your biggest fan and your own best friend. While practicing self-awareness you will notice how hard you are on yourself in comparison to how you are with others you love. Make sure you start treating yourself like someone you love. Reward your progress, congratulate yourself and always remind yourself how amazing you truly are and how much you are really capable of achieving.
Using these tips on your own, teaching them to your children or in combination with the work you/they are doing in therapy is sure to help ease the affects of self-sabotaging behavior. They can also help you or your child move towards a more fulfilling and happy life. Make sure to practice these on a daily basis to feel the full affects of their therapeutic value.