How to Stop the Cycle of Self Sabotage
This morning we have an amazing interview on our blog with Amy-Lynn Vautour. We have been working together on her mental health blog for nearly six months now. I’m so honored to know this awesome, strong woman! Today she has answered some of the questions I have been having about breaking the self sabotage cycle. I think it’s safe to say that most of us know what the self sabotage cycle is.
It’s when we hit the panic button and run away from something that was the real deal. This can be said about relationships, work, making a lifestyle change, etc. Something inside us decides to turn tail and run. We are almost always oblivious to what we are doing until it’s too late.
Today, Amy has some great tips on how to stop the self sabotage cycle. Without any further ado, here we go!
Good morning Amy! I know you pretty well from our work together on the Informed and Empowered site but to my readers you’re a mystery. What would you like them to know about you?
That’s a very good point, lol. I’m about 30 years old, from Ontario, Canada. I have experience working as a group facilitator and peer counselor. I have my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I’m currently make my living as a freelance writer but have never lost my passion for helping others achieve positive mental health. That’s why I started Informed and Empowered – to keep giving back. Outside of work, I enjoy hanging out with my family, going for relaxing walks in nature, geeking out with a good board game and, of course, reading.
What does ‘self sabotage’ mean to you?
That’s a tough one. To me, it can have multiple meanings. To boil it all down, though, I’d say it is anything you do that ruins your best case scenario. Usually, this is because someone doesn’t think they deserve something good or because they are trying to punish themselves. Sometimes, though, people sabotage their lives because they like to have something to complain about – they need to be a victim. This is all putting it rather plainly, though. It’s important to know that there are usually things happening before the person’s conscious level of thought which means he or she is probably not thinking clearly about the intended outcome. It is rare that a person will sit down and just say to him or herself, “I don’t think I deserve this good job/spouse/whatever, I think I’m going to ruin everything.”. Even those people who have a ‘need’ to play the victim don’t do it consciously.
Does the way we think, create self sabotage?
The way we think has a huge impact on this. It’s more the way we think about ourselves and our lives in general, though, that impacts self sabotage than just the things we think in a particular situation. The things we tell ourselves about the patterns in our lives is what makes us learn toward or away from self sabotage.
Think about three people in the same situation. Each person just found the (nearly) perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. They are all immediately excited and happy. One of these people has a relatively good history of interaction with others – supportive parents, some good friends throughout so years, etc. This person live a rather average life. The second person experienced a lot of interpersonal problems and only ever got attention from her parents when she had problems. She never felt accepted by the people in her school and has a pattern of things just not working out well. The third person has done a lot of things in life that have hurt others. He knows he shouldn’t have done the things and feels great remorse for them. What’s more, he still thinks about doing these things (cheating, gambling, whatever) and feels bad just for having those thoughts.
The way each of these people reacts to a marriage proposal from this “perfect” spouse is very different. Person one has no problems with the natural life transition. Person two expects to get hurt and almost feels strange inside, a little empty, if the but doesn’t come. Person three holds but inside which makes him feel like he doesn’t deserve his spouse. Just thinking the way person two and three think can lead them to do things that sabotage the relationship from moving forward – accusing, reading too far into innocent things, always looking for the bad in the good, acting it to prove they are unworthy of love, etc.
In really life, it’s a lot more complicated than this and there’s a lot more to it. But overall, it’s our thoughts and expectations based on how we see or lives in general which is most tired to self sabotage.
How influential are our thoughts?
Our thoughts can be hugely influential – especially if we believe our thoughts. We have to remember that our thoughts are just thoughts. Of course they come from somewhere – they are often the conditions we draw based on our past experiences and current circumstances, but we need to remember that our conclusions aren’t always correct and we only have our own little piece of the puzzle. We don’t know everything and we never really, truly experience reality, because we are always experiencing things through the special lens of our lives.
The power of our thoughts depends on how much power we choose to give our thoughts.
Can one positive thought overcome one negative thought?
This is where things get difficult to navigate. The short answer is no. I hate to say that, though, because it sounds so negative, lol. People often look at thoughts like they are weights on a balance scale – like they can just like up more happy thoughts on the good side and things get better. It doesn’t work like that. Just thinking something doesn’t make it true for you. You have to believe what you say.
**It’s important to note here that “you have to believe what you say”. One positive thought doesn’t outweigh one negative thought. But the same is true for one negative thought. Change the thoughts you believe in to make the greatest impact on preventing self sabotage.**
Is it possible to change the way that we think about ourselves?
Of course it is. I think it often takes a lot of work, though. Sometimes, changing our lives can help, but we often need to do a lot of work on our minds. We see that a lot with people who life weight, as an example. They can lose weight and still feel “fat” inside. Whether you delve deepe inside with counseling or self help, heal yourself with meditation, or change your life and wait for new patterns to create a new outlook, the key is understanding that this will take time. Essentially, to change the way you think about yourself deep down at your core, you must change the way you see the patterns in you life – the way you tell your life story.
Do you think positive notes (like post-its) or affirmations work?
Yes and no. I think they have their place but that they aren’t, in and of themselves, necessary or able to change your thoughts. These strategies are most useful when you’re in the process of changing your outlook on life. You’ll go through a period when you go back and forth between your new, positive outlook and your old, negative outlook. Positive notes and affirmations help to remind us of our new beliefs when those old ones try to creep up and knock us down.
What do you think is the best way to break the cycle of self sabotage?
Do the necessary work to change the way you see the world, your place in it and the patterns in your life. Learn a new way to tell your life story that focuses on more positive or neutral patterns. Acknowledge the negative in your life story, but make room for the positive as well. Accept that you cannot control everything, but your future is not determined completely by your past. You have the power to make decisions that lead to positive outcomes.
Breaking the self sabotage cycle boils down to changing the way that you think about yourself. Never forget that you are worthy! What is stopping you from breaking the self sabotage cycle?