The "Love Hate Relationship" of Self Sabotage
SELF SABOTAGE! When recognized, people hate it! But for the most part, people just don’t seem to realize when they act in self sabotaging ways. Why is that? Because many times when we self sabotage it isn't 100% purely negative. If it was, then the choice would be obvious and we would just stop doing it. For example, let's say you are trying to diet. You've had some success and lost a few pounds, but you still have a way to go to reach your ideal weight. Then, you lose control and spend the night eating a bunch of fattening foods. Well, that’s not going to help you achieve your weight loss goals! So what's the problem here, are you just weak? Do you lack self-control? Most of the time, we rationalize within our own minds a number of positive factors that play a role in our self sabotaging choices such as, "I'll have those chips, pizza or burgers tonight...it's just one night....I can start eating healthy again tomorrow." OR "I lost a few pounds so I can afford to eat those fries." It's excuses like this that are masked as positives that keep you from achieving your weight loss goals.
Take smoking for example. Most people are aware that smoking is very bad for your health and it can kill you. It can also be socially stigmatizing with people often being told that it's "gross" or "smelly." With these negatives it seems obvious that we shouldn't smoke, but still people do it. This is because smoking also feels really good. Each time someone smokes, he or she gets a nice little "buzz" that can melt away the stress of daily life. Smoking can also be a good time to talk with friends and meet others with a common interest (smoking!). It can provide a nice break from work and a chance to be outside. When you think about the positive aspects of smoking, it doesn't seem so crazy for people to keep smoking, despite the negative effects.
So back to my original point… If you're having difficulty with self sabotage and want to overcome that behavior, figure out what you are telling yourself about the positive effects of that behavior. Fully understanding the reasons for your behavior is the best way to overcome it.
Here is a simple exercise that can be done to help you understand the positives vs. the negatives of your self-sabotaging behavior. Get a clean piece of paper and draw a line dividing the paper in half; label one side “Con’s of the behavior” and the other half “What I tell myself are Pro’s of the Behavior.” Really reflect and be truthful, list everything you can think of. This exercise may seem simplistic, but I promise that if you take the time you will have a much better understanding of your behaviors and why you continue to ride this merry go round of self sabotage.
Once you discover and truly understand the “positive aspects” that you are telling yourself, you will realize that in these "positive qualities" lies the self-sabotage, a "false friend." We've all had friends that were bad for us. Even though we valued their friendship at times, they betrayed us in some way. Self-sabotage is the same thing, even though these behaviors have positive qualities, they are just a mask, and it's only a matter of time till they betray you and interfere with your life.