Understand the Roots of Self-Sabotage and the Path to Healing
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?
- Despite the fact that I have an MBA and a law degree, I have been making less money with each new job I get.
- Every time things get good in a relationship, I find a way to sabotage it.
- I know I need to set boundaries, but every time I tell anyone NO, I feel just so guilty.
If you can relate to any of these statements, you’re not alone. So many of us, including myself, have found ourselves in self-destructive and self-sabotaging patterns.
As a life coach for entrepreneurs, part of my work is to help you bring to your conscious awareness what is going wrong so that you can create a life you will love.
That is why in this article, we will discuss the roots of self-sabotage and tips to move past these tendencies so that you can live an authentic, peaceful, and joy-filled life.
People-pleasing your way towards despair
Many of us have experienced moments in our lives where we’ve felt stuck in self-sabotaging patterns, unable to set healthy boundaries, or constantly striving to please others at the expense of our own well-being.
For a long time, I was no exception. I found myself trapped in a cycle of people-pleasing and perfectionism while achieving far less than I knew I was capable of. I collected certifications and worked tirelessly, often putting in 60-80 hour workweeks, but my efforts weren’t translating into the financial success I desired. On top of that, I struggled to form deep and meaningful relationships.
It took me years to realize the root of my struggles. I had unwittingly subscribed to some destructive life scripts that needed to be identified, cleansed, and re-evaluated. I had been trying to be everything to everyone, yet I had nothing substantial to show for it.
Can you relate to this feeling of striving to meet others’ expectations while neglecting your own needs and desires? It’s a common struggle, but there is a way out. The first step is understanding your life script.
Is your life script hurting you?
What is a life script?
Before we talk about healing from a terrible life script, we need to understand what it is. Here is a Reader’s Digest explanation: Each of us has a collection of messages that are imprinted onto us. These messages come from experiences with our denominations (parents, educators, siblings, religion, culture, etc.).
Using our super-power machine called the brain, we store a lot of these experiences in our hippocampus and interact on autopilot based on the examples we learned from others. This is called scripting. Instead of trying to create something new, we default to what is known and predictable. And it doesn’t matter if it is helping or hurting us, as long as the brain thinks it is efficient!
That is why you may find yourself doing stupid things for years, if not decades. Behind perfectionism, avoidance, and fear lie deep insecurities from unresolved trauma.
Your brain is designed to learn and heal
But there is good news! The brain is plastic and can be healed from past traumatic events. It just takes work and support to resolve it.
The path to healing and personal empowerment begins with recognizing the harmful life scripts that have held you back. These scripts may have taught you that setting boundaries is wrong and that you don’t deserve happiness. They may have convinced you to serve those in authority or those you admire, no matter the cost to your well-being.
In the next section, we will discuss how you can free yourself from self-sabotaging patterns that may be infused into your life script.
How to heal from self-sabotaging patterns
If you’re struggling with self-sabotaging patterns, don’t despair – there are steps you can take to heal and set healthy boundaries.
1. Question Past Ideas
Start by questioning the beliefs and scripts that have guided your actions for so long. Are they serving you, or are they holding you back?
For example, you may be someone who learned that SILENCE IS SAFETY because that way, you could avoid the manic, crazy wrath of an emotionally unstable parent. And now, as an adult, you still stay silent because you fear attracting attention, even if standing up for yourself may put you in a dangerous situation.
2. Learn the Importance of Boundaries
I don’t know about you, but I treated myself like a 7-Eleven convenience store. It was open and available to anyone who wanted to enter my mind (and unfortunately, my body). Some of us were scripted to NOT THINK, and therefore never took the time to assess whether someone was worthy of our time and attention.
The question is, are you letting people run all over you emotionally, physically, or financially because you believe some attention, even negative attention, is better than none?
Now is the time to create boundaries. Creating boundaries is not only okay but also essential for your well-being. It’s a way to protect yourself from harm and create a space for personal growth.
3. Create Structure for Yourself
“From the time I wake up to the time I got to sleep, I am just running.”
Tami always looked so tired, I felt tired just looking at her. From the hunched shoulders to her blood-shot eyes, I knew she was letting people and life overwhelm her.
Are you letting life drain you? Are you on the brink of burnout?
If so, now is the time to establish a structure that allows you to defend yourself from harmful ideas and prioritize your own needs. This means reevaluating your relationships and commitments to ensure they align with your personal growth and happiness.
The image below summarizes these ideas. In the next section, I will share with you my final thoughts.
Breaking free from self-sabotage and people-pleasing may take time and effort, but it’s a journey well worth embarking on. It’s about reclaiming your power, discovering your true potential, and living an authentic and fulfilling life.
I share these insights because I believe in keeping it real and raw. It’s essential to recognize when we’ve been wasting years – even decades – entangled with people or ideas that keep us small, limited, and fearful. And yes, this can include therapists or authority figures who may inadvertently perpetuate these harmful scripts.
If you are ready and excited to move past this way of living, I would be honored to work with you.