People sometimes get in their own way of life’s good things and adventures. For example, we procrastinate, we drink or eat to excess, or we say or do something to ruin or adversely affect a business or romantic relationship.
Have you been there, done that?
This behavior is otherwise known as self-sabotage. Self-sabotage is generally seen in individuals who have experienced some form of emotionally traumatic experience early in life. Unfortunately, this experience (or experiences) instills a “sense of vulnerability, fear and hyper vigilance around any event or situation that resembles it in some way,” says relationship and spiritual coach and author, Nick Arrizza, M.D.
Engaging in self-sabotage typically begins as subconscious behavior. It is a set of thoughts, feelings and actions that create a roadblock to a person’s success - - be it professionally in business relationships or personally in romantic relationships. It can (and does) dramatically undermine a person’s self-esteem. Once sabotaged, it is often assured that the self-saboteurs will not achieve a goal or enter into productive, positive business or personal relationships.
In personal relationships, self-saboteurs often say something or act a certain way that will scare away the potential mate. They also frequently choose unhealthy relationships with emotionally unavailable or untrustworthy people. When self-saboteurs run into obstacles or conflicts, they frequently give up, turn away or shut down emotionally (think: raising a wall of silence). They may then seek safe, familiar or comfortable situations instead of finding a way around the obstacle or conflict - - and moving on in a positive manner. They may even half-heartedly attempt to fix the obstacle or conflict, but often hold back instead of fully engaging to successfully solve it.
For example, suppose a person was rejected in some way in a past relationship. The rejection may have been significant enough to create emotional pain, which in turn created a negative memory. The emotional pain and negative memory are then generally stored deep in a person’s subconscious. If experienced repeatedly over time (be it the memory recall or another similar experience), the emotional pain and negative memory(ies) reinforce additional negative thoughts (such as a person thinking and feeling unlovable or unattractive, inadequate or unworthy, a failure, etc.). These thoughts then erupt when a person attempts to form or have a close emotional or physical connection with another person. The person - - now a self-saboteur - - will then do or say something that allows backing out of the new relationship in some way.
So what to do?
There are many actions that a self-saboteur can undertake to overcome negative behavior. But, according to Sheri Zampelli in her book, From Sabotage to Success, “a person must first recognize and understand the self-sabotaging behavior, its triggers and reasons for the triggers, in order to overcome it.” She also states that once recognized, a self-saboteur must challenge the sabotaging behavior and take emotional risks in order to move out of his or her comfort zone. If the self-saboteur does not, he or she will likely keep repeating the same negative, destructive behavior. Zampelli also recommends creating ways to quickly recognize the triggers that recall painful memories, which then creates the downward spiral of negative thinking and behavior. “Clear your life of these triggers,” she says.
For example, if you typically are attracted to a certain “type” of man (e.g., think: charming, attractive Italian man), avoid dating your “type” if you have previously experienced heartbreak that involved your "type." Instead, focus on positive triggers that remind you of happy relationships or look for positive qualities in other men that are not your "type." “The next time you may be tempted to settle for a pattern of pain,” says Zampelli, “think positive thoughts and develop a self-worth mantra - - I am not my past behavior or failures - - and repeat it often to yourself as you move away from 'type' and out of your comfort zone.”
People seldom mean to sabotage themselves. Common sense dictates that it is not a conscious decision to spoil life’s good things and adventures. Right?
So, do not be afraid of life’s good things and adventures. Explore your life. Take a chance and find out where certain experiences will take you. Accept the good as well as the bad - - and remember that neither has to define you. It is okay if something is not working for you. But, think how much better you could be if you let it work for you.
You will never know unless you find out.
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