People who were abused in their families of origin may practice the same abusive behavior towards themselves. They may also pass it on to their children. This creates a sick, and sometimes fatal, cycle of abuse that repeats itself generation after generation.
They say troubles come in threes. I think issues must too. It seems that clients and colleagues alike seem to be struggling with the same issues at the same time. One week I'll have a plethora of "Victims" in my office. The next a lot of depression. This week it seems to be people tilting at windmills. I'm still trying to figure out if I just become sensitive to an issue so that is what I see everywhere. Or if everyone is truly struggling with the same thing at the same time. Either way, I seem to be surrounded by people tilting at windmills this week.
My mother had a friend who was an oil painter. She never finished a painting. She would work on it for weeks or months and bring it to the point that it only needed a few finishing touches - and then she stopped. My mother once asked her why she never finished them. Her answer?
This seems to be Self-Righteous Indignation Month. Apparently I did not receive the memo. I'm seeing so many clients this month who are filled with self-righteous indignation about the behavior of other people. They really get themselves worked up over it and come in totally frustrated and angry. What is this all about?
I often think we are our own worst enemies and I continue to be amazed and appalled at how completely and utterly we can sabotage our own lives. Self sabotage is when you work against your own hopes, dreams, efforts or goals. Why do we do this to ourselves? How do we do this?
You know you need to lose that extra 20 pounds or get more exercise or stop spending so much. You find a diet, sign up for the gym, or make a budget. But somehow, the diet, the gym, or the budget never seem to happen. You examine what's happening and realize you are engaging in Self-Sabotage. But how do you stop it?
I've begun to see a connection between clients who are struggling with self regulation and growing up in a very authoritarian families. By "self regulation" I mean they have difficulty managing, or regulating, their emotions, behaviors, and impulses. They may use drugs or alcohol to excess, overeat, break the law or spend money far beyond their means.
Changing these long standing patterns is difficult, but very possible and well worth the effort. There are three major components:
Most of us utilize multiple forms of self sabotage and our sabotaging behavior is typically subconscious. This is what makes it so difficult to identify. Do any of the descriptions below sound like you? Has anyone in your life accused you of doing these things? If so, you may want to focus on your behavior more carefully and see if there is truth in what they are saying.
Self sabotage is a defense mechanism. It works to protect beliefs and feelings of which we are not aware. In order to eliminate self sabotaging behavior it is important to examine the beliefs and fears which motivate us.