What is Self-Sabotaging?
Self-sabotaging happens when a person undermines their own happiness and well-being—intentionally or not. This covert problem can arise in many different ways during early recovery. Worst of all, sufferers may not even realize that it’s occurring.
Common examples of self-sabotage include:
- Showing up late to work every day
- Failing to prepare for an important presentation
- Procrastinating instead of making amends
- Starting new, ambitious projects without finishing others
- Feeling stuck for no real reason
- Putting oneself in difficult or triggering situations
- Doubting one’s ability to stay sober
- “Forgetting” to attend weekly 12-Step meetings
What causes self-sabotage, and how can you prevent it? Read on to learn more.
“Why Do I Do This to Myself?”
Self-sabotaging behavior is usually tied to a lack of self-esteem. Addiction often makes people feel hopeless or worthless. Even after months of treatment and sobriety, they may still hold these damaging beliefs about themselves. Such belief systems contribute to negative self-talk—harmful, recurring thought patterns which further reinforce a poor self-image.
Negative self-talk may sound like:
- “If I admit I need help to keep from relapsing, my family won’t trust me.”
- “I can’t ever forgive myself for what happened. I’ll never move past it.”
- “Look at everyone here having wine with dinner. I wish I could be like that.”
These sample thoughts clearly showcase the problem with negative self-talk: it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The longer someone thinks this way, the more likely it is that their fears will become reality.
In the three bulleted examples above, the risks of isolation, self-loathing and having “just one drink” are apparent. Those behaviors could be considered acts of self-sabotage in recovery.
How to Stop Self-Sabotaging
Fortunately, self-sabotaging behavior is within each person’s control. By taking just a few steps, people in all stages of recovery can get back on track and pass new milestones along the way.
Recognize Self-Sabotaging Behaviors
First, it’s crucial to identify self-sabotage in the moment. Talking to friends, family members and addiction treatment professionals can provide insight into which behaviors are holding you back. Once you know how you’re self-sabotaging, you can start making a change.
Explore Your Emotions
Next, you have to figure out why this happens. Ask yourself: “What am I afraid of?” For example, self-sabotage frequently occurs when we’re frightened of failing or, though it may seem paradoxical, scared of succeeding. Talking to a therapist and managing your emotions will help you to unpack the issues fueling your self-sabotaging behavior.
Change for the Better
Finally, you can begin to challenge negative thoughts, overcome painful emotions and choose to build your self-esteem. This can only occur once you’ve noticed and learned from past self-sabotage. By empowering yourself and taking control of your life, you’ll be able to take advantage of healthy behaviors that improve your opinion of yourself.
Try self-supportive coping skills like:
- Thinking outside of the box for other possible solutions,
- Encouraging yourself instead of thinking something negative and
- Moving in a positive direction whenever possible.
Help for Those in All Phases of Recovery
Self-sabotaging behavior jeopardizes long-term recovery. However, with just a bit of support and guidance, it is possible to develop a healthier mindset. At Still Waters, we offer a transformative treatment experience. With long-term programming rooted in the 12 Steps, our facility provides a positive experience for those seeking lifelong sobriety.
To learn more about our approach, contact Still Waters today.