Addiction is a disease in which a person loses control of their life, but that doesn’t mean that they are a lost cause beyond all hope. They may lack stability and feel discontent with anxiety and urgency to get that next high to numb their pain with substances, and lean on drugs or alcohol to cope with overwhelming feelings, however temporarily. Many people with substance abuse disorder stand in their own way and begin to self-sabotage while trying to maintain sobriety. But why?
What Is Self-Sabotage?
The act of sabotaging something is to destroy or undermine it, often in a secretive or covert way, but with direct and deliberate involvement. The term self-sabotage means the destructive behavior is directed inwards, at yourself. Most people who self-sabotage are unaware of their self-destructive, self-defeating behaviors that are a form of psychological self-harm.
If you find yourself acting in one or more of the following ways, you may be self-sabotaging:
- Expecting significant life changes without putting in the effort to achieve them, such as expecting to get a good job because you feel you’re smart enough and you deserve it, but not putting in the work to write a good resume or do mock interviews to sharpen your skills
- Ignoring obvious signs you are struggling and preferring to live in denial, like not noticing that you’re slipping back into old habits of leaning on drugs and alcohol to escape negative emotions
- Thinking poorly of yourself and engaging in negative self-talk, such as “if you try to do that, you’ll just fail anyway, so don’t even start XYZ task”
- Overcomplicating solutions to your problems, such as telling yourself you’re a perfectionist, so you keep making changes to a project and never submitting it because “it isn’t good enough”
- Complaining about the behavior of those around you without thinking critically about your own, even projecting your own negative feelings onto others because you feel poorly about yourself
So, why do addicts self-sabotage? The reasons are varied, and you probably don’t even realize you’re doing it or know how to stop.
How Self-Sabotage Damages Your Life
By engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors, you set yourself up to fail in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. By giving in to these negative self-beliefs, you reinforce negative behaviors like procrastination, jealousy, envy, and self-hatred, and limit your chances of meeting your goals. Not to mention, you may damage your reputation if others begin to see you as unreliable, lazy, or lacking ambition. Those around you may also begin to perceive you as passive-aggressive and pull back from your company because of your negativity. With all of these problems compounding, your self-sabotaging behaviors are likely only to increase and manifest even more and create further feelings of frustration and inadequacy and lower self-esteem.
What You Can Do to Overcome Self-Defeating Behavior
Luckily, you can overcome self-sabotaging behavior with effort and practice so you can flip the script and become self-confident. You are more than your inner saboteur says you are. By recognizing your self-sabotaging behaviors, you’ve made the first step to overcoming those behaviors that make you stand in your own way. It may be painful for you to look at yourself and ask why you’re suffering from a lack of inspiration, or motivation, or why you put off making important decisions, but it’s very important to do this to recognize your self-defeating behaviors.
Next, you’ll have to understand the emotions that lead to your self-sabotaging behaviors, as they often stem from negative feelings such as anxiety and self-hatred. For instance, you may fall behind on deadlines because an event you perceived as negative trigged an emotion of worthlessness in you, which led to the self-defeating action. Your perceptions could have been completely irrational and it’s likely your emotional response might not be in line with the reality of the situation. Always aim to check and manage your emotions in a healthy way so you don’t commit self-sabotaging behaviors that could have negative consequences.
Once you’ve identified the false rationale that led to your self-sabotaging behaviors, you can begin to correct course and rebuild your self-esteem. Consider asking yourself what you can say to yourself that is positive, encouraging, and uplifting. Ask yourself what options you have to achieve your goals. Look deeper into the question of whether you can build your self-confidence by setting and achieving attainable goals on your way to achieving a bigger goal so you’re less likely to overwhelm yourself and give into old habits like self-defeat and giving up on your goals altogether.
Contact Mount Sinai Wellness Center for Help with Self-Sabotaging Behaviors
Do you have substance abuse disorder and suffer from self-defeating behaviors? Are you looking for help reestablishing your confidence as you get sober and maintain your sobriety? Our team at Mount Sinai Wellness Center is standing by to help. Throughout the years, we have helped countless individuals get control of their lives after they’ve seemingly lost it to drug and alcohol abuse and thrown their self-worth away to self-sabotaging behaviors. Help is just a phone call away.
To get in touch with Mount Sinai Wellness Center, contact us today at (800) 353-4673.