We Are Our Own Biggest Enemies

Posted on August 20, 2018

We have to make so many choices in a day, sometimes it just gets very exhausting and difficult to keep making the right ones. From indulging in a sinfully chocolate fudge cake when we are supposed to be on a diet, to escaping from our problems at the bottom of a bottle, these are just different forms of self-sabotaging behaviors that we indulge in for a myriad of reasons that we are going to delve into today.

The first reason is a bit of an irony – we self-sabotage because we don’t feel deserving of the success and happiness that we are getting. Sometimes, the most driven people that we see derive their motivation from a perceived sense of inadequacy and this leads to the need to work harder than the rest to achieve stellar results to remedy the sense of inferiority. The self-sabotaging starts when the fruits of their labor come in and this could perhaps be aptly explained with the concept of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance happens when we feel there is a mismatch between our behavior and our cognitions and emotions, so we try to make them more aligned with one another. In this case, when we receive affirmation in the form of success and happiness, but cognitively still view ourselves as lacking and thus undeserving of the good things, we start to reject the good things so that things line up again.

We may also self-sabotage to gain a sense of control over the situation. We would rather fail on our own terms, then have the failure blindside us. Worse still, when we give our best and try our hardest on a task, and have failure greet us instead. Humans value knowing what to expect and self-sabotaging serves that purpose – it is a form of preparation, even if it is preparation for failure.

In addition, when we self-sabotage, we can turn the blame around on our actions instead of having the blame squarely on our shoulders. Usually, failure is unpleasant and unpleasant because it threatens our self-esteem and our self-concept. However, self-sabotaging behaviors allow us to escape this unpleasantness because the cause of our failure is external – “it is the behavior, not me”.

Lastly, it could even be a sense of familiarity that leads us down the path to self-destructive behaviours. The comfort of familiarity is always preferable to the unknown; when you have been at the bottom for so long and used to feeling neglected, it’s oddly comforting when confronted with an alternative, unknown outcome.


Category(s):Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions, Other, Self help groups

Source material from Psychology Today


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