Self-sabotage, a common trait, a painful and frustrating one too. Self-sabotage comes in many forms, negative self-talk, unhealthy eating patterns and habits, gambling, unhealthy drinking, self-harm, the list goes on. These kinds of behaviours can damage not only yourself but also damage your relationships and even your work.
You might recognise within yourself some of the things I’m going to write about, but before I get going, I want you to know that there are ways of overcoming self-sabotaging behaviour in the form of re-training the way the mind works.
So, one day, things are going great, everything seems to be falling into place, you might have got a relationship back on track, you might have not had a drink for a week, you might not have eaten that piece of cake that’s been staring at you for 5 days. You feel your will power growing and you are on fire. Oh, but hang on a moment, self-sabotage is sitting on your shoulder and as your best authentic self has just taken a toilet break, sabotage comes in the ruin the day “go on, have the cake” “I know, let’s remember what happened a week ago that really annoyed you and mess the day up.”
It’s like having Gollum and Smeagol on your shoulders, Gollum: “you don’t have any friends, nobody likes you.” Smeagol “I’m not listening, I’m not listening” Gollum: “Where would you be without me”? Smeagol then gets so fed up, he tells Gollum to go away in a forceful manor to which Gollum actually does go away and Smeagol jumps around saying he’s free. If you’ve not watched The Lord of the Rings you perhaps have no idea what I’m talking about, to which I apologise, but it’s a great film you should give it a whirl.
We live our lives with this negative voice within our minds, we believe it to be ourselves yet it’s not. It’s this pesky inner critic whom we hate, yet once the pesky inner critic might have done something to help you and then it got its foot in the door. You are not born with this negative voice, it’s all learnt behaviour. If you watch a 2 to 3 year old, they have no doubt in their mind they will get what they want, they don’t care if someone doesn’t like them because they’re so wrapped up in their own world and their absolute priority is themselves.
Then what happens? We as their parents say no enough times that they start to listen, we unknowingly allow our own negative thoughts to start’s tainting theirs, we protect them with our own fears for them, they then start realising that things aren’t so peachy after all. They go to school and conform to others chosen behaviours, and nowadays often placed into a system where academia is deemed more important than personal expression and creativeness which then stops their own ability to express and follow their very own path and journey in life.
Supressed children, then become supressed adults, searching for they are, often never feeling that they’re doing what they would have chosen to do. We then see the rise in mental health problems and adults who were those children become self-saboteurs, the silent self-punishment.
Before I ramble on more, here is a task for you to do. Get two pieces of paper and two envelopes. Now this might be challenging, because we aren’t so great at saying nice things to ourselves, however you have to move past that and recognise who you really are.
On the first piece of paper write down what the saboteur says, it could be things like ‘you’re a failure, no one likes you, don’t follow your dreams because they won’t happen, you will never have the things you want, I’m scared, pathetic, alone.’ None of this is not nice, right?
You can give it a name, you can leave it as a nothing, it’s completely up to you. Place this paper within the envelope.
On the other envelope your best authentic self, who you really are without the inner critic, who would you choose to be? This can often be the hardest part because you might not naturally say positive things about yourself but within you are wonderful traits. They might look something like this, oh, and remember this is you without the negative voice and the negative feelings and it’s important to know that you have a choice in your life, we just don’t always realise that we can choose.
I am happy, I love excitement, I love my life, I love being healthy and taking care of my mind, body and soul, I love laughing, I am a great friend etc.
You can add to these whenever you want.
Then separate them, shove the inner critic in a draw and have your best authentic self on show. Each day remind yourself whom you are without the inner critic.
And remember this, you are wanted and needed and you are enough, you always have been and you always will be.
Written by Charlotte Spivey x