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Self-Sabotage and what we can do about it.
There are many ways that we humans self-sabotage in response to a myriad of factors. Often these are rooted in coping behaviours due to events, upbringing, or past traumas. These coping strategies have many different faces. Some of these might look like this:
- Perfectionism, which can lead to feelings of failure and inadequacy when we can’t meet our unrealistic expectations,
- Avoiding risks causing opportunities to be missed or too much risk-taking and impulsive behaviour, such as abusing substances or overspending,
- Under or overeating, making food the focus to avoid dealing with emotions, stress, or boredom,
- Staying in unhealthy situations like a toxic relationship, workplace, or lifestyle,
- Being highly self-critical, engaging in negative self-talk, or doubting your abilities,
- Procrastinating on our responsibilities or personal goals,
- Having poor time management, which might look like over-committing to tasks, being late frequently, or not prioritizing responsibilities, or
- Overthinking everything, obsessing over things that happened in the past.
What Can we Do About it?
Thankfully, there are just as many ways to reduce or overcome these negative thoughts and behaviours regardless of where or how they began. All will require patience with yourself and commitment, but, like most things, this can be accomplished through small steps. You may want to start with something like practicing self-awareness. Pausing after a self-sabotaging thought or behaviour and critically examining what caused that reaction. Was it a gut feeling like fear or an automatic thought you don’t know how to control? Knowing what your physical and mental reactions are can help control them in the future. Once you are aware of your thoughts and feelings, you can challenge them.
You can also practice self-compassion, in which you learn to recognize that your thoughts and behaviours are not in control but that you are. By treating yourself with the same kindness, care, and understanding, you would give a friend, you may be able to make some progress. Some ways you can do this are by tracking your progress and setting achievable goals, managing stress through meditation, journaling, exercising and looking at sleep and nutrition habits
Identifying your support systems and relying on your friends, family, community, or therapist to provide encouragement and accountability is another good way to help reduce self-sabotaging behaviours. Ultimately developing a plan and staying committed to your goals is key, and that includes understanding setbacks are normal and especially celebrating your progress!
Kristen Neff: https://self-compassion.org/
Written by: Olivia Donaher, MACP
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