“Sometimes we self-sabotage just when things seem to be going smoothly. Perhaps this is a way to express our fear about whether it is okay for us to have a better life. We are bound to feel anxious as we leave behind old notions of our unworthiness. The challenge is not to be fearless, but to develop strategies of acknowledging our fears and finding out how we can allay them.” – Maureen Brady
You’re doing really well. Everything is happening exactly as you’ve wanted. Some things that you didn’t even realize you wanted are happening, too. Things are so, so good. You feel strong, capable, empowered.
Then, it all goes to hell. Your fabulous momentum has halted.
You don’t know how to get back into your groove. You don’t know how the hell to motivate yourself to make things better. And you don’t know how it happened.
Welcome to the land of self-sabotage.
A few months after I divorced the toxic ex, things were going well for me. I was working on my master’s degree in psychology, beginning to plan the coaching practice I wanted to have, and my kids were fantastic.
Seemingly out of nowhere, I started to have anxiety again. I hadn’t felt that anxious since before the divorce and moving into my own place with the kids.
Worse, I felt like I couldn’t handle the anxiety without my ex. I would text him or call him, asking for his advice and guidance.
He would oblige, and of course, the cycle of me staying hooked into him continued.
What the hell was going on?
I finally realized what was causing all of this.
I was still on the fence. I knew I wanted to stay out, but was still missing that connection – that addictive connection.
I was moving forward in a strong, empowered manner, for the most part, and when I started to question my strength, my wounds decided to protect themselves and create sabotage: leaning on the toxic ex.
I had seemingly lost my independent groove and didn’t know how the hell to get it back.
What does self-sabotage look like? And what can you do about it?
Self-sabotage can come in many forms, and the four main types of self-sabotage are hiding from emotions, refusing help, self-pity, and refusing to take action. Most of the self-sabotaging behaviors will fall into one of these categories.
1. Hiding from emotions.
What you resist, persists. No emotion is bad – it’s what we do with them that counts. When we repress them, they fester. Better to acknowledge them and address them right away.
2. Refusing help (from the right people).
Remember: no man is an island. Welcome help from people who support your independence and the path you are on.
That’s a fun one, isn’t it? We all have pity parties now and again, but don’t stay stuck there. Start to focus on how far you’ve come and what’s going well. Often times when it feels like we’ve reverted back to a state we want to leave behind, we lost sight of all the progress we’ve made. Get that sight back.
4. Refusing to take action.
There is a fear paralysis that can occur during an episode of self-sabotage. You feel stuck, and want to be free, but every contemplated move makes you feel even more stuck. Your best bet? Take action on any area of your life that doesn’t feel as stuck. Keep taking action in that area, and others like it. Once you’ve oiled the wheels again, taking action where you do feel stuck will seem much easier.
You’ll get your groove back. Don’t give into self-sabotage.
I started to feel like I’d let myself down, getting emotionally involved with and being somewhat dependent on my toxic ex again.
Thankfully I recognized that change is a process, stopped feeling guilty and weak, and got my power back.
I decided to sit with the experience of anxiety, and of feeling as though I needed him.
I sat with the fear that without reaching out to him, I wouldn’t be able to get through the anxiety.
I recalled times in the past that I had done that very thing without him.
I refused to give in, and focused on what action I could take on my own to practice my strength.
I refused to let the fear win, and I found the strategy that best worked for me.
When we feel as though the change we’re making is really difficult, it’s easy to engage in self-sabotaging behaviors.
Those behaviors can seem safe.
Remind yourself that:
You’re stronger than the challenge, than the change ahead. Push through it. @mommelissax2 (Click to Tweet!)
Melissa Harrison holds a B.A. in English and Sociology and an M.S. in Psychology with a specialty in Leadership Development and Coaching. She is a life coach working with strong, independent women who seek to escape toxic relationships and the toxic relationship pattern. Melissa is a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible. Visit her website at www.melissacatherineharrison.com and follow her on Twitter & IG.
Image courtesy of Joshua Ness.