In fact, self-sabotage might be the most self-sabotaging term of all.
No one, particularly your unconscious, is out to get you. In fact, your core self has nothing but your own best interests at heart. Through understanding this you can learn what stands between you and your genuine and successful self-care.
October is Self-Care Month in our Eat Move Live 365 Community
As we’ve been discussing and engaging with the practices, one burning question emerged: what’s in the way of establishing a fluid, organic, yet effective self-care routine? How can we act in ways that reflect our deepest longing for health and well-being?
If we really want something, and we pay a price for not having it, then what gives?
Are we lacking discipline, willpower, desire, are we just that weak or uncommitted to ourselves? You know the answer is no. Most of us dearly care that we thrive and feel good in our bodies. We’ll do what we can to support ourselves and live healthy, connected and meaningful lives.
Yet, more often than not, you start establishing a self-care routine with the best of intentions, and just when you start to see progress, something happens, and you can’t, don’t or won’t keep the momentum going.
You slide back, give up, feel bad, and give in to old habits and routines. Pretty soon, you only remember what the excitement of starting felt like, and you are more present to the feelings of defeat – defeat and disappointment that somehow seem to come from the inside.
Self-Sabotage. An often misused word
In daily conversations people refer to this as self-sabotage, not doing what would be supportive for you, and instead ending up acting in ways that don’t make much sense on the surface. I often have these conversations with students who will say:
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I know what I should be doing and I just don’t do it.”
“I do it for a little and then stop. Why am I self-sabotaging myself?”
Self-sabotage is an unfortunate term
You can probably already tell that I am not very fond of the term self-sabotage.
While it may be a convenient term to describe behaviors, thoughts, and patterns that may not be in your best interest, there is really no ministry of misery orchestrating this act.
No one is out to get you.
Your body and your psyche are not colluding against you, plotting the next perfect opportunity to trip you up and have a good laugh.
“screwed ourselves up today, what a good day!”
…I don’t think so.
It’s not self-sabotage to not understand what’s happening
In most cases when students speak of self-sabotage I see two clear patterns,.
I would like to invite you to stay curious and see if you have observed one or both of these patterns in yourself, whether relating to self-care, new projects and aspirations, or even relationships.
1. Not all of you is on board
While one part of you would like to practice self-care and relate to you in a kind, caring way, staying aware of your needs and meeting them moment-to-moment, another part is not on board.
You can probably relate to an inner conflict like that even in this simple example:
“I’d like to go out with my friends, but I also want to cozy up and stay on the couch by myself.”
One part of you wants one thing and another doesn’t.
This internal resistance may show up often when you are trying to change habits and actions, especially when it comes to self-care, because we are talking about a radical shift in how you relate to yourself.
When you choose to take care of YOU that means you must
- stop ignoring and neglecting your own needs, or
- stop pretending that you are ok and can keep going because you don’t have needs
Acknowledging that as a human being you need to pause, rest, nurture, connect, take pleasure, and savor – not just push, produce, achieve, compare and win – is a challenge to most of us.
It challenges our beliefs and how we organize our view of who we are, who we take ourselves to be, and who others take us to be.
The next time you feel the inner resistance show up, and you find that one part of you wants to move one way, and another doesn’t, become aware; pause and explore the conflict, and be honest with yourself.
This is what life looks like sometimes – sometimes you are conflicted and need to negotiate with yourself. A whole new perception of you is about to emerge, a whole new relationship with self is being born.
Self-sabotage, then, is dissolved by this inner friendly and compassionate attitude, by patience and nurture. That in itself is self-care and a shift in how you relate to yourself. Win-win.
2. Your inner motivator works for the dark side
Your self-care desires and efforts seems genuine. You are excited about the changes in health you will be making, yet you are unaware that part of that motivation is coupled with a lack of self-acceptance.
Often, we relate to ourselves harshly – we are unhappy with how we look or feel, tell ourselves that we need to change to feel better. In the process we reject ourselves and take on a controlling role, telling the body how we “should” be, instead of creating space and accepting how we really are.
In practice, when motivation is coupled with self-rejection, shame, or guilt, it’s difficult to find lasting change.
Even though one part of us is leading the charge, another is injured by this poor self-relationship.
Self-objectification hurts, no matter how we hold it all together on the outside.
Of course, this inner separation – this inbuilt desire to fix yourself – cannot be sustained long-term, because just like any relationship, the part that is being hurt and shamed is in pain.
And how do we soothe pain? Oftentimes through the same behaviors we are trying to change.
Think of the diet that ends on Monday night with a whole tub of ice cream. The same behaviors you were trying to shift while dieting are now helping you cope with the pain of not being able to stick to that same diet.
The patterns that lead to talk of self-sabotage
I find at least one of these patterns present, if not both, in most of my students who feel like they sabotage themselves.
As you read above, what got your attention?
And what do you feel could shift inside of you so you can have a different relationship with yourself until all of you is supporting the desires of your heart?
If you’re not already part of our Better in a Week Group, I invite you to join me there, today.
We’ve been discussing self-sabotage and its influence on our self-care, and I’d love you to join us!
See you in the group!