Have you ever felt that you’re doing something against yourself? That you could achieve so much more if you weren’t so lazy or so angry or so focused on unimportant things? Have you ever felt so powerless and stuck that you couldn’t even get out of the bed and have breakfast? Ever felt that whatever you do, you can’t get anywhere? Chances are, my friend, that you just assessed a self sabotage situation. In today’s post I’m going to talk about self sabotage, and describe my own experience with this type of attitude.
What Is Self Sabotage?
Self sabotage is a way to reject everything you created so far, choosing another path, one that could allegedly be easier or safer. You turn your back to everything you’ve done, deny it, and chose to do exactly the opposite. You take down all your hopes, dreams and goals and settle for whatever the environment is offering you at the moment. You surrender.
Most of the time, you do this unconsciously, and most of the time you don’t even realize that you’re sabotaging yourself. You just have a lot of excuses for not being who you want to be, feel a little numb and relaxed at the same time and your self-esteem is slowly going down. You go for comfort and security. You favor manipulation instead of direct action. You take the easier path. Of course, in the end, that easier path is far more difficult than the first one.
Self Sabotage Triggers
Self sabotage triggers are extremely divers. You may start to sabotage yourself because of a broken relationship. Or because you’re burned out by too much work. Or because you’re afraid of success. I think everybody has his own self-sabotage triggers and there aren’t two identical persons in the world. This is why writing a tutorial for avoiding self-sabotage would seem futile for me. What works for me couldn’t possibly work for you. The causes, reasons and triggers are different for each individual. All I can do is share my experience with self-sabotage, describe how I felt it and hope somebody else could find some inspiration in it.
I don’t think it can be prevented also. You can’t really prevent self-sabotage. I think it’s somehow part of the way we grow. It’s a necessary period in which we face our darkest sides, in which we favor destruction over creation, a period in which our higher self surrendered and let us drift in an unknown and uncontrollable ocean. Those periods are what I called “death” periods, chunks of time in which we don’t exert our full control and consciousness.
We’re dying and we’re born again each second, and most of the time we’re born in the same reality as we died in. Those death intervals are really short and the life intervals are lighter, bigger and stronger. There’s a balance, a prevalence of life. But sometimes, during your death intervals, when you’re not supervised by your higher self, you do something to change your environment, creating self-sabotage. You start to constantly alter what’s around you, in a desperate attempt to construct a somehow easier or comfortable reality. You change rules, let go of your goals, align with lower vibrations in order to avoid pain. You create a comfort zone. Only to realize, when you’re born again, that you are in fact breaking the other reality.
A Personal Story
My first self-sabotage period lasted for about 3 years. Well, I think there were other self sabotage periods before that, but this is the longest I remember.
I was working in an FM radio, as an anchor man and I was doing extremely well. I was 22 and already a little star on my field (and even now, 15 years later, I can meet persons who are remembering my voice). Things were evolving really fast and soon I had on my plate much more than I could handle. In about a year I was overwhelmed and I simply cracked. Overheated by work and unguided by some personal goals, I just quit. I had excuses, of course, I was only 23 year oldÂ it was too much for me.
I stopped going to work, and spend time getting drunk and hunting one night stands in my student hostel. It was much easier than going to work.
Traditional media is a rat race, is a very hostile working environment, full of gossip, shallowness and a hidden but very powerful vibration of violence.Â My radio was no exception, although it was in its very first years. Every day I had to face pressure, stress and to fight for my position in the company. I wish I could say that my failure was in fact a stand up for better values. I wish I could say that I quit because I wasn’t willing to face gossip, shallowness and violence all day but it wasn’t like that. There was even a time in which I was lying to myself: “I’m out of here because I can do better than that” . Of course I could, but I just didn’t. Will see later on that I didn’t get out of that world, I was only miserably failing in taking commitments.
Our colleagues were visiting me, trying to make me return to my job,. Most of the time I was drunk, happy to sleep for 14 hours without interruptions, and only sensitive to hormone signals from available females in my close vicinity. I wanted to start writing a novel and told all my colleagues about that. In a few weeks, my colleagues stopped visiting me, assured that I was leaving that job because of my higher principles, waiting to read my soon to be published novel. I was believing that too, but it was a lie. I was leaving it because I couldn’t respect – or even negotiate – my own commitments, because I was burned out by too much work.
I started to write the novel I was planing for long time. Now that I was free for that evil corporate media structure I could finally start working on that. I wrote for 12 days several hours each day and I was soon at the half of it. I could see the end of it. But suddenly, I stopped. I continued to get drunk, involved in shallow relationships and think about myself as a victim. In a few months I realized I had to work again otherwise I will really face starvation.
And so I got a job on a very high position in a new radio that was opening at that time, based on my initial success. I was still a star, my voice was worth a lot. And from that moment, I got drunk every evening for 3 years, evening after evening. I had some small initiatives, professionally speaking, some of them even successes. I was doing a fairly good show, day by day, but it wasn’t me anymore. The new radio, although with very good initial funding, soon become a ruin because of bad management. Paycheck started to delay more and more, and I remember there were times in which I got payment delayed by 3 months. I should have left but I didn’t. I was enjoying my self-sabotage.
Around age of 27, I met a women who violently changed my life. I wont’ go into details because they are not relevant to this story, I will just mention that the whole relationship was very violent, filled with lies and terror, with an atmosphere of insanity. During that time I was still thinking that I was a victim, that I’m experiencing something I was not really deserving, but in fact I did. It was a very serious shook up from the destiny who was telling me: time to wake up, boy! Do something with your life. If easy going is what you enjoy, well, I’m not going to be easy on you. I’m going to be extremely hard. And it was.
After a year of turmoil in that relationship, and another one of confusion in my personal life, I started my company. That was a relief, because I was doing something new, challenging and which helped build my self-esteem again. My personal life was still a mess, and it was only years after when it gradually started to shift in the right direction.
That was a very long time of self-sabotage.
The Morning After
I had a lot of self sabotage intervals, but as I consciously started to assess them, I realized that they are getting shorter and shorter. The longest one was the one described above, around 3 years. After that I had self sabotage intervals of several months, and then several weeks, and lately, those self-sabotage intervals are no longer than a few days. But there still are self sabotage intervals in my life and this is something that I have to live with.
Failure is part of our life, it’s an experience as valuable as success. Self sabotage, as a variety of failure, is just another way to experience reality. I’m not rejecting it anymore, I’m not fighting it. I don’t feel guilt or shame after I realize I just got out of a self sabotage period. I’m trying to focus on what I call “the morning after”, the period in which I’m waking up and start evaluating the effects.
And the damage I do seems to be shrinking more and more, the same way as the intervals are getting shorter and shorter. After each night ofÂ obscured consciousness I can breath out and start walking again, with more and more energy. Each time I learn something out of it. Each trigger of self sabotage is in fact a lesson that I have to assess. Each unsolved problem surface sooner or later and I have to face it. Running away and hiding it under the carpet is not an option anymore.
It’s in our human nature to fail, as it is to win. It’s a way of growing and getting stronger. We have to experience it fully, we can’t pretend we’re failing and learn something from it, it just doesn’t work this way. We have to drink it up and see the effects. It would be so much easier to realize: hey I’m in a self-sabotage period, I’m doing something completely wrong. But we can’t: we truly believe that we’re doing the right things by smashing things around us, hurting the loved ones and hurting ourselves.
I also realized that we cannot prevent nor predict a self-sabotage period, we cannot predict our failures, all we can do is to live them. All we can do is assess our failures, and get back on our feet again.