In one of our podcasts we talked about self-sabotage as a manifestation of not truly trusting yourself. Over the years we have so often disappointed ourselves, and we have made ‘bad choices’. So how can we truly believe that we will not do that again? Self-sabotage comes up in a number of different ways, though. It is not only about succeeding or failing at a specific task or goal. Self-sabotage also comes into play when we worry about enjoying the good things that are happening because we are already expecting bad things to take their place.
Engaging in self-sabotage behaviors or patterns of thought is a way that we act out passive aggressively toward the self (from An honest look at SELF-SABOTAGE, by Robyn Mourning).
Healing and Self-Empowerment
Where abuse is all about stripping us of our power, and making us feel powerless, healing is the exact opposite. Once we start our healing journey (and this often is even before we leave the abusive situation), we begin to empower ourselves. Self-empowerment can be a tough nut to crack, though. Especially when the messages of failure and weakness have taken such firm hold in our minds. Sometimes the mental battle that follows is of such intesity that our minds shy away from challenging the false belief. It may feel easier, more familiar, to continue living our life on the premise that we are fat, or lazy, or stupid, or doomed, or whatever else our abuser made us believe about ourselves.
“We reach for self sabotage when we fear our own empowerment” explains Dr Danielle Dowling in Self Sabotage Is A Bitch.
Seriously, I get it. It can be hard to let it go of these false beliefs. There is no quick fix, either, because it goes into rewriting your idea of who you are; what kind of life you want and deserve, facing your fear of failure, and learning how to approach yourself (and your life) in a healthier way.
Some Strategies to Conquer Self-Sabotage
Just because this is a difficult process does not mean that it is hopeless. Far from it, in fact. Since we are all different there is not one ultimate solution. Here are a few suggestions on how to beat self-sabotage.
Everything that really matters in life takes time and effort,
but if you do achieve it, it’s worth it.
(from: Your Own Worst Enemy: 10 Ways To Avoid Self-Sabotage by Maru Ramirez)
The internet is truly littered with free courses, learning challenges, and tutorials. So get learning! Learning can be anything. It can be a writing course, a new recipe, or a doodle challenge! Find something you are interested in, and start building your skills (and having fun). Picking up new skills is a wonderful way of engaging your mind, and learning to trust yourself. Learning something new and successfully applying it in your life makes you feel proud and accomplished. Building your self-esteem and self-confidence is an important part of self-empowerment.
Stop Listening to That Negative Self-Talk
Okay, easier said than done. But trying to live up to the standard and expectations of our abuser is where a lot of self-doubt comes from. Abusers are always making their targets feel responsible for the abuse, and it is the biggest lie they tell you. Even after we leave the abusive environment, we still feel we need to live up to this impossible standard in order to deserve a good life. Dealing with that inner-monologue can be a challenge, but it is well worth the effort. Once you can stop that, you stop re-victimizing yourself over and over again.
Reconnect With Your True Self
Getting to know your true self is so important. Maybe even the most important aspect of self-empowerment. Our very own Aubrey Cole put it like this on her Twitter page
Please “date” yourself first when in abuse recovery. Re-learn who you are and what you love before sharing with another. @SwanSisters
— Aubrey Cole (@AubreyCole2014) November 6, 2015
Figuring out who you really are, and engaging in activities that you enjoy (and are good at) is the point of escaping and healing from abuse. In order to find the life that you can live without fear, panic, or guilt you need to figure out what you are looking for. This is not an intellectual process. It is not something you necessarily contemplate. You need to learn it experientially. It really is like dating yourself. Go see places, do things, talk to yourself, or at least write to yourself. Give yourself that same attention you would someone you have just started going out with. Have fun and fall in love with the true you.
When you have a loving connection to yourself, you will feel that you deserve happiness and good fortune in your life. Just like you wish the same for your nearest and dearest.