The Tripping Foot of Self-Sabotage

self-sabotage in recovery

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No-one said that recovery was going to be easy. Whenever we set goals for ourselves, even if there is no one present for the announcement, we might throw ourselves a ticker-tape parade in the heat of the moment. A small one, at least. “This time,” we say, “we are going to do it!” Nothing can stop us now. Perhaps something happened to inspire us or motivate us to transform from where we are now to who we want to become. Then the party in our head stops, the deejay packs up, and we are left with a deep sense of, what now?

In the case of addiction recovery, perhaps the initial surge of drama has subsided a little. The intervention that said all the right words, followed by the detox trip, has now morphed into a long-term lifestyle. And it feels like work. Hard. Work. Doubt sets in. The resolve to continue making healthy changes today can be picked up again tomorrow. Procrastination is born.

What is Self-Sabotage?

We have all been there. We promise to do something we know is essential and possibly life-changing, but we just can’t get off the blocks despite the desire. Or, if we do, we stall at the first fence.

Self-sabotage is not about goal setting. We have goals. There they are in front of us, beautifully preserved in that lovely notebook with inspiring quotes on every page. You might even have gone one step further and sprung for a special pen because, after all, you’re staking your future on every word written.

So, what’s the problem? Why do so many of us end up getting stuck, disappointing ourselves and those closest to us? Why do we plan so carefully, setting beautiful goals that remain unchecked off?

Or perhaps we do the opposite of what we know needs to get done. We might agree to a special nutrient-dense diet following detox but spend the next week devouring pizza and pot pies. We may understand the importance of taking daily mindfulness walks for our mental health but instead choose to flop on the sofa for a Netflix binge. We decide to miss our virtual support group because we missed our mindfulness walk, and we fell asleep during season five of our must-see series, waking up wearing pizza on our t-shirt.

You have nothing positive or inspiring to offer anyone. You feel ashamed. You hate yourself. You can’t do this. Might as well grab your return ticket to the way you used to be; at least there were no expectations. Cue self-sabotage. Cue relapse.

Get Out of Your Own Way

Imagine if every time you went for a walk, got out of bed, or up off the sofa, you purposefully stuck your left foot out in front of your right with the sole intention of sending you flying onto your face—total face plant. You wouldn’t, would you? The idea is completely insane! Yet, for every deliberate decision or distraction that takes us away from who we want to become or what we want to do, that is what we do to ourselves. Sticking one foot right into the path of the other is what self-sabotage looks like.

To take action consistently over time and make lasting changes, we need to get out of our own way.  We can be good at basking in the warm glow of praise when things go right, but how many of us take responsibility for our inaction? Instead of crying, “I’ll never change,” or making excuses for our weaknesses, acknowledge that change can be challenging.  Empowering your thoughts and words can stop one foot from tripping the other. It gets you out of your way.

Stopping The Foot

While taking an honest inventory of our actions or inactions is a crucial first step, we need to recognize the signs in the hopes of predicting when or why we might cause ourselves to fall on the ground. You may recognize the following:

  • I have a perfectionist mindset. If I can’t do something correctly, no one will think I am good enough/think I am stupid/a failure, etc.; therefore, I won’t try.
  • I am a procrastinator. The idea of everything I have to do seems impossible and difficult. Even though I recognize its importance, it just seems like more than I am capable of doing.
  • It will never be me. Success always comes to others. Regardless of how much I try, nothing ever comes to me.
  • I am not good enough. I will never be good at anything. Believing I am capable of anything more than where I am today is impossible to visualize
  • I don’t know what success looks like. Success was not something I witnessed as a child. My home was dysfunctional with a lot of disruption. When I begin taking steps for change, falling back is easy because of what I see around me.

Working With Others

If you identified yourself or your situation in any of the above mindsets, discussing them with your support counselor is critical. This provides an opportunity for further discussion, and you may be able to develop strategies to help prevent relapsing or sabotaging your success ahead of time. When we are mindful of our thought process, it opens opportunities to develop self-monitoring skills. In other words, a greater awareness of why we respond in particular ways at any given time.

Until we can eliminate some of the core beliefs attached to self-sabotaging behavior, moving forward and making positive gains in long term wellness will be difficult. We will be rotating through the same subconscious thought patterns.

If trauma has led to your addiction, the way we internalized the trauma when we were young can have lasting effects on brain development and our thought process. Understand that shame affects our self-esteem and self-worth. When we fail to value ourselves, seeing ourselves as capable or deserving of better is compromised.

When we recognize those old behaviors and thought patterns don’t serve us, we can assert ourselves into the subconscious mind.  Abandoning old beliefs makes it possible to replace them with new, healthy thoughts benefitting your future self.

Next time that foot comes out, tell it to get right back alongside the other. You won’t be sabotaged again. Walk forward and tell yourself you can do this—one step at a time.

No-one said that recovery was going to be easy. Perhaps something happened to inspire us, or at least motivate us. Then the party in our head stops, and it feels like work. Next, we self-sabotage. We promise to do something we know is life-changing, but we just can’t get off the blocks. Why do we plan so carefully, setting beautiful goals that remain unchecked off? Maybe we believe we don’t deserve success.  Perhaps we don’t see a way to change or think we’re capable of making significant transformations. A leader in the field of transitional recovery services, Hired Power’s discretion and confidentiality assures anonymity through all stages of returning to wellness. Whether moving to your detox program safely and with discretion, to recovery and sober living partners that can help you through the holidays, Hired Power is there for you or your loved one, standing as that bridge between you and traditional recovery plans. You don’t have to struggle alone; our personal recovery assistants are here to help you walk through this process, believing in you, empowering you to change, step by step. Call Hired Power today at (714) 559-3919. We look forward to hearing from you.