1. a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one's own self.
sab·o·tage [sab-uh-tahzh, sab-uh-tahzh]
1. the act of destroying or damaging something deliberately so that it does not work correctly.
One of the most difficult themes to tackle in my recovery has been this idea of self-sabotage. On a daily basis, and sometimes multiple times throughout the day, I find myself stuck in patterns and behaviors that are not beneficial to my overall well-being. Most of the time I am not even conscious of what I am doing. Some of the more obvious self-sabotaging behaviors I act on include restricting calories and drinking; however, there is an endless list of not-so-obvious behaviors I will be working on for most of my life.
About two months ago I wrote this as a part of an e-journal to my therapist:
"My list of self-sabotaging behaviors include -
Social media distractions
Picking out the differences rather than the similarities
Not reaching out when I need help
Changing up my meal plan
Trying on clothing that no longer fits
Setting super high expectations for myself
Comparing myself to others
Reliance on external items for self-worth
Minimization, denial, justification
Wearing a mask
Poor sleep habits - NAPS
Not making friends
Dwelling on the past and things I can't change
Attempting to control the future
Playing the victim
Relying on my parents for money
Making assumptions and not looking at the facts
What do I do in my life that isn't self sabotaging? I'm all about instant gratification and distractions. This list makes me feel overwhelmed. Some things have gotten better. It's definitely a start. Self-sabotage is a defense mechanism for me. It keeps me sick and I'm afraid of what it means for me to be healthy. Yuck. And it's scary that there are so many different ways for me to get away with it. Basically if I'm not being 100% transparent then I'm engaging in self sabotaging behaviors."
That's some deep stuff for a week night e-journal entry.
I continue to engage in these behaviors because they act as a distraction from my reality. In a moment of discomfort, taking a good look at myself and becoming vulnerable is much less appealing than avoidance, people pleasing, and engaging in my old, sneaky, and comfortable nature. I am a huge fan of instant gratification; therefore, self-sabotage usually feels right and holds a significant purpose in my daily life, making it feel impossible to completely remove it forever.
I like to think of self-sabotage as the conflict between my healthy mind and my addictive/sick/disordered mind. Most of the time I like to think of myself as an intelligent young woman, even though I participate in these not-so-helpful behaviors. For me recovery is much deeper than following my meal plan and remaining sober. Recovery is about doing something that makes me incredibly uncomfortable on a daily basis because self-sabotage begs me to remain stuck, but comfortable.
Addicts, myself included, are people who, at some point, lost a part of themselves, and now have a hole they have to fill with anything that eases the constant feeling of emptiness.
This is where self-sabotage swoops in to save the day.
Learning to step outside of my comfort zone and act against destructive patterns can feel overwhelming at times. However, I like to think of it as a new beginning; a new shot at finding joy. Letting go of self-sabotage means not being afraid to embrace new surroundings, new energy, new people, new opportunities. It means accepting my body the way it is and being gentle with myself during this process. It means filling that void with self-compassion, rather than self-sabotage.