How many times a week do you press the self-sabotage button? Be honest. When you declared Monday morning that this was going to be a great week eating-wise, and then you get home from work and order a takeout? Or when you didn’t believe in yourself enough to ask for a promotion at work even though deep down you know you’ve got what it takes? Perhaps you’ve pressed the destruct button on a relationship first before you could get potentially get hurt? Any of this sounding familiar?
I’m Vickie and I’m the queen of self-sabotage.
If I’m trying to stick to a healthier eating plan, I’ll sabotage a great day with a big fat doughnut. I’ll also pick fights and argue when things are going really well in life. I’ll start to overthink things and question relationships when there’s absolutely zero to worry about. Do you know why we flick the self-sabotage switch? It’s a defence mechanism based on fear of the unknown. We get scared of stepping too far out of our comfort zones so we do what we need to do to revert back to what we’ve always known.
It could be a case of wanting to achieve something in life, but not having the guts to stand up and say you want whatever it is you’re chasing. So you’ll sit back and let someone else run with the idea, all the time punishing yourself for being so lame for not going for that dream.
How do you stop self-sabotage? It’s taken years for me to work this one out, trust me.
First, you need to realise when it’s happening. You need to throw a metaphorical glass of iced water over yourself and wake up to how you’re treating yourself. We can be our own worst frenemy, and the sad thing is, the only person affected by this sabotage is you. It’s your life that won’t have the chance to grow and progress. Once you realise the triggers for negative thinking – which can breed at an incredible rate – and self-sabotage, it allows you breathing space to recognise when, why and how you can stop any further damage.
For me, my weak spot is usually on a Monday evening, driving home from work when sabotaging thoughts start creeping into my brain. “I’ve had such a busy day today, I deserve to go home, eat something really tasty and not have to worry about cooking. I’ll call into McDonald’s on the way back. Afterall, McNugget’s are a fail-safe way to make any day 100 times better. I’ll start again tomorrow. Promise.”
But by doing that I’m kick-starting the downward spiral of feeling like crap afterwards because I’m not feeding my body with the best nutrients it needs, and also climbing on the healthier eating train and falling off repetitively is a vicious circle. Eating chicken nuggets isn’t self-sabotage. The feelings of guilt and annoyance afterwards are.
So now when I feel those thoughts enter my head, I stop focusing on any negatives and think of the goodness I’ll be putting into my body with a nice home cooked meal and how I’ll feel when I wake up with energy the next day, and not struggling to pull myself out of bed. Turning those negative, self-destructive thoughts into a positive means you’re taking back control of the situation. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t always happen, sometimes the nuggets and doughnuts win, but it’s about being able to silence the negative committee in your head and know you can get straight back on it again.
Likewise, if you find yourself standing still with a goal because you don’t have the belief in yourself, and you’re preempting all the things that could possibly go wrong – you’ll fail, you’ll embarrass yourself, you won’t make enough money – you have to stop.
When you put negative thoughts out into the universe, you’re blocking space for seeds of inspiration and creativity to grow.
I used to have the worst inner critic. No beating around the bush, she was a BITCH. But after years of telling her to go away, and building confidence within myself, I’m so much more comfortable going after the goals I want to achieve and knowing that even if things don’t always work out the way I wanted them to (which happens frequently) and I embarrass myself (again, happens on a regular basis), no one is going to die.
You need to find your own way to bring calmness and confidence to your situation. This could be anything from yoga to running, to meditation or keeping a journal. I’ve said this before but I’m a huge fan of listening to guided visualisation before going to sleep on a night, which makes you picture positive things happening – for example, picturing myself at my happy weight and the confidence I’ll regain – whilst in a deeply relaxed state. I swear by it and would definitely recommend giving it a try.
But to be honest, the answer I’ve found to stop self-sabotaging is simple. I allow myself time to stop and think. Having space to sit and assess why I’m not treating myself in the best possible way means I’m able to make a choice. A choice to do something positive and feel good in the long run. It’s not easy but it’s a start.
I think everyone has an element of self-sabotage – even the most confident of people let the critical voices win from time to time, but it’s how you deal with those that make all the difference. Maybe this post has helped you to realise you’re not alone.