There are things many of us want and need. Many of us just want to change ourselves in a better way, one we believe will make us happier with ourselves. We often believe we have the power to make these changes, to make ourselves happy. But sometimes we subtly help ourselves to fail, by refusing to accept help and support, by listening to our doubts, by overcommitting, by our fear of other people’s opinions, by not being willing to take action, by not being willing to live with the pain of transition, or by being afraid to succeed. Sometimes our fears are hidden from our conscious mind, and we get in our own way. This expresses a conflict between your desires and your feelings of worth and competence.
Self-sabotaging behaviors can affect your commitment, your motivation, and your feelings of self-worth. You may drown your feelings in food, or in video games, or shopping or television. You may find yourself avoiding or retreating inward, cutting yourself off from others who can help. Accepting challenges, changing your value system, making tough decisions, or changing your behavior can feel really frightening.
It is easier to just keep doing what you have always done. The cycle of diet, deprivation, relapse, binge, and back to diet can be comfortable in its predictability and regularity. But the more you turn away from the means to create and achieve your life’s dreams, the more badly you feel about yourself, the more your self-esteem and confidence are damaged.
This can become a painful cycle. You fear you cannot get what you really want, you feel you are unable to have what you really want, or do not deserve it; you go back into the food, feel desperate and unfulfilled, try again, and the cycle can repeat itself endlessly. You may feel depressed, frightened, anxious, discouraged, and angry.
When you believe you are sabotaging yourself, get out your journal. Write down what happened. See the steps of transition into the food. Write them down. Make a list, so you will be able to see it next time and stop it.
Sabotage comes in a wide array of forms and shapes. In whatever way it comes, it is important to confront and manage it quickly, to protect your abstinence. There are three general types of sabotage:
Mindless: you don’t deserve, don’t understand, or don’t think about what you are saying or doing. This is simple habit for you. Other people have no idea of your struggle and do not understand the effect of the behavior.
Deliberate: done to serve your own needs,(or by others to protect their position), for power, control or self-protection.
Self-provoked: in response to your own behavior (i.e. – you are trying to buy milk at the hardware store.)
Whether the sabotage is you or someone else, the solution involves these three steps:
Self-Acceptance: the ability to be honest and peaceful with yourself about your eating issues, and the determination to pursue the solution.
Self-Advocacy: the ability to explain your eating issues and your needs to others, and to request behavior changes from them.
Self-Protection: the ability and determination to draw boundaries with others about their behavior that is harmful to you.
You have the right to protect yourself and to pursue the kind of recovery and lifestyle that you desire. All worthwhile goals will take patience, organization, hard work, and a growing measure of confidence. If you stay focused on “I can’t do this” you will draw that failure into your life. Your feelings of inadequacy, undeservedness, or inability can be diverted or overcome by giving yourself an extra portion of love and support, from yourself and from others you trust.
In formulating a long-term plan, consider what you really value. Your desires are special and valuable, and learning to overcome sabotage from yourself and others is critical to your meeting your goals and finding freedom from the obsession with food.
Please comment. Tell me about your struggles with self-sabotage and we can discuss solutions in this space.
Blessings to you,