I’ve been hearing a lot of talk of self-sabotage and while this is a a real and true problem that applies to most of us (addiction, by nature, is self-sabotage), I feel as though it is being misused in many ways.
Self-sabotage, according to Psychology Today is, “behavior that results from a misguided attempt to rescue ourselves from our own negative feelings.” In other words, self-sabotage is self-destructive behavior that keeps us from living and growing up to become healthy adults. Addiction is self-sabotage. Addiction is a behavior or defense mechanism that we believe is soothing us and helping us to avert pain and suffering, whereas in reality, it is blocking us from living a healthier, happier life.
But many here are using the term self-sabotage to explain how they are finally finding truly healthy mates, but instead of giving into them and accepting their goodness, they are running away.
This is where I tend to believe the idea of self-sabotage is misused. I believe, as humans, we have a gut instinct about people. We know what we like. And I think that most of us, if given the opportunity, would not turn down a good, healthy relationship. Heck, love addicts will settle for a bad relationship because they want one so badly, so why wouldn’t they adapt to and accept a good relationship?!
I too used to believe I was sabotaging myself by running away from some men. In retrospect, I ran away from those men for a reason: I simply didn’t like them. Whether they were healthy or not, wasn’t the point. The point was, we had no chemistry, no attraction, and little in common. But in my mind, at the time, I thought I was a fool for turning down someone who was seemingly healthy. I must be sabotaging myself, I thought. And yet, what I was really doing, was not recognizing the nature of attraction. You can have two completely normal, healthy, good looking, smart loving, ready individuals and NOTHING will come of them. Why? They’re not attracted to each other. Period.
Because we come from the love addict perspective, it is often skewed. We tend to think in black and white.If someone is healthy and I turn them down, that makes me unhealthy. But that’s entirely NOT true. We cannot blame some of our choices on self-sabotage, but must instead, hold accountable, our ability to recognize someone we like and can ultimately love. We have far more strength in this department than we give ourselves credit for. And if you don’t believe me, here’s a little test: look back at all the men and/or women you’ve dated. How many times can you recall, upon first meeting them, that despite a sense of chemistry and attraction, you detected RED FLAGS? That tells me, that most of us have it in us to sense danger and sense attraction. WHere we go wrong is not in the sensing part, but in the taking action part. We recognize the red flags, but we choose to ignore them.
The same can be said for situations where you meet someone with no red flags but also, little to no chemistry. You sense the no red flags, and you sense the no chemistry, but you ignore the lack of chemistry and date anyway. After getting sexually involved, you wonder why you are not attracted to someone who has no red flags. You blame yourself. You think it’s self-sabotage.
I don’t think it is. I think our instinct for attraction is far more powerful than we give it credit for. And think we can be attracted to good people and bad. It is in the logical choices we make or don’t make (to choose someone good or settle for someone bad) that creates in us the “addict’s brain.”
OUr true self-sabotage comes not from giving up good relationships, but from remaining in bad ones. When we finally have the recognition that we should seek a healthy person, that does not mean that EVERY healthy person will be right for us.
Lastly, I think that many people get involved too quickly after recovery (myself included). When we don’t have a strong sense of self and knowing who we are, we have trouble recognizing someone who might be right for us. So, it makes dating harder. And it makes it seem like we are throwing away something that could be good for us. You don’t know what’s good for you until you really take the time to get know someone. And that takes years.
Eight months into my new relationship with D, I was on the brink of throwing it away. I had a very silly (immature) notion that I should be dating a scraggly, dark-haired, wild musician-type. That’s who I was physically attracted to. And I felt that if I dated D, who was blond, German, all-AMerican, clean-cut family man, I would be giving up that fantasy forever. This made me heartbroken. It hurt to have to say goodbye to a long held fantasy. But I realized that in order to grow up, I had to start valuing other things more than my fantasies and my childish notion of beauty. I had to really THINK about what I had with D and if it was worth throwing away. D was generous, kind, attentive to me, caring, he made me laugh, he was intelligent, he was good looking, we had chemistry, he was mature, and he had no red flags.
Growing up and making the right choices is what life is all about. I had to give up thinking with my EMOTIONS and I had to think with my HEAD. When I did that, everything fell into alignment.
I do believe, as my own personal story shows, that wecansabotage ourselves by giving up something good. But it takes A LONG time to realize you have something good. And it takes a lot more than throwing away healthy to sabotage yourself. To this day, I can still fall into a pattern of being ungrateful for what I have. So, I have to bring myself back, constantly, to a remembrance of my VALUES.
Does anyone else have any thoughts on self-sabotage? Share ’em!
- Learning to let go (thelovelyaddict.com)
- Decisions are a girls best friend (thelovelyaddict.com)
- Do Not Ignore Red Flags When Dating (happilyblended.com)
- Red flags for online dating (digitallife.today.msnbc.msn.com)
4 thoughts on “Self-sabotage”
well said Ms Amazing…I have been in recovery since April because of your amazing site. I was enjoying life because of the recovery but had a blip. for about a week. Its funny (or not) how we can manipulate ourselves into ignoring red flags. ( I definitely was not attracted to him, it was a case of pity) I am trying to be kind to myself as I have had this ability to fool myself for 51 years. I’m back on the wagon now. It has shown me that we cant get too comfortable in our recovery so early. I will have to be as ever vigilant for the foreseen future, with your great support, insight and so intelligent feedback, I can. best wishes, love from Riot Girl…x
Yes, we can get so easily distracted from our recovery and led away from it rather than to it. Remember to use your brain. That may sound like an insult, but trust me, it’s not! Love addicts tend to forget to use their brain (that can detect those nasty red flags and use sharp judgment) and instead we make decisions with our emotions (ooh, ahhh, this feels good!)
How do shut off the emotions and turn on the brain power? Easier said than done. But here are a few ways: allow your brain to really explore and detect any red flags to a situation. Right down what your brain thinks about a certain person. The emotions will try to pop in, but don’t let them. Any time thoughts like, “But I don’t care if it hurts,” or “I want it because it feels good,” or “I need this” (self-centered needy thoughts) pop up, shut them out, just for now. Then you’re able to “hear” what your brain has to say. Hope that makes sense!
My dad used to always say that “biology is destiny”. What I’ve always believed this to mean is that what many believe is personal choice is anything but. Gut instinct has as much to do with what the human race expects of you as it does with what people perceive as personal preferences. The fact that a perfectly healthy person is seen as undesirable by one yet attractive to another includes many socioeconomic and cultural underpinnings but genetic diversity plays a large role, unbeknownst to those involved. Attraction is incredibly fickle. I’m not sure it’s really worth much in the grand scheme of things but the fact that we are all biologically driven to reproduce makes it an overwhelming driver in our lives.
In the light of this, it takes real maturity and an almost zen like quality to make choices with your head. What’s good for the race isn’t always what’s best for the individual. Yet and still, what may be the most logical, “best” choice for someone, may not be the “right” choice if one cannot reconcile it with the power of your own biology…..