Self awareness

Self-sabotage & Self-awareness

So I wrote a post last week about the things that help me manage my depression … the goal being to share what helps me, in the hope that it helps you recognise or even just start to pay some attention to what helps you.  Self awareness, I think, is a big step towards managing that constant companion that some of us carry around in life.  It got me thinking about self-sabotage … something I am rather good at, even if I do say so myself! I absolutely know what helps me feel better but I seem to avoid doing those things – it’s a bit like keeping away from the sugar when I’m trying to lose a few kilos … it seems so much harder to avoid when I’m focused on avoiding it. But why? Why do I seemingly sabotage my own efforts to be happy {or insert pretty much anything good for me here}?

No, I don’t have the answer(s).  Not yet (if ever), but I have started observing my patterns and trying to change, mainly because the strain of little kids has had a negative effect on my mood swings (which have been progressively getting worse) and mainly because I want to figure this out for my kids.  Not only so that they have a (mostly) “happy” mummy but also so that I don’t make the same mistakes my mother did – the things that she did moulded me into the person that I was, which I am still trying to undo, 20+ years of self work later …

So, back to the question, why self-sabotage?

Food / weight is a big one for me so let’s look at that.  Why do I continue to put things in my mouth that aren’t good for me?  Is it the positive associations of being soothed as a child by “sweet treats”? * Is it my fear that when I’m slim (aka in my head “beautiful”) and my life remains the same that I’ll have nothing left to blame it on? Or is it my husband’s theory that I like to have a safety cushion (in the form of a nice fat outer shell) in case the world tries to hurt me? (I not sure about this but it is an interesting observation on his part and one to consider.) I have yet to figure this out entirely, but what I have done is try to stop myself when I reach for things to understand what it is I really need. I consequently drink a lot more water and take a lot more naps these days in place of eating just by stopping and asking myself if I’m thirsty or tired. Simple observation and self-awareness has helped my relationship with food a great deal, as well as my body image and the self-sabotage occurs less often.

Besides the food thing, there are other ways that I self-sabotage (most of which have to do with my self-confidence) – after many years of introspection, I can safely say that some of it has to do with my childhood, where I often felt alone and simply never good enough for my mother’s love – one of the first things she still says whenever she sees me is that I’m fat.  I read somewhere once that the “voice” we often hear in our heads are usually our parent(s) and I have no doubt that my negative self-love had a lot to do with what I heard as a child. From this I have decided to try to give my children the gift of confidence in themselves, their voice and their abilities.  I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the last two decades or so and have gotten to a point where I am generally comfortable with the woman I am and have really understood what I have to offer.  Where my skills lay and where they don’t.  I’ve stopped trying to make my mother happy (I’ve realised that it’s an impossible and pointless task – we can’t make other people happy, it’s entirely up to them) and focus more on making myself happy. Doing the things that make me smile, regardless of what other people think.  I have tried to simply find my tribe, as it were, of people who love who I am and what I do and leave the critics behind. I realised, at one point, that I kept making the same mistakes over and over again – trying to gain the respect and “love” from all the wrong people.  All the people who were never going to give it, who were never satisfied with me – these people were simply a representative of my mother’s love that I kept chasing, for years. When they ignored me or criticised me, it just fed my self-hatred and self-sabotage kicked in.  It was a viscous circle that I finally stepped out of a few years ago but still occasionally find myself repeating. When I catch myself, I look around me – at the people who love me, my family and friends, at my successes (rather than focusing on the bad things) and try to look outward (as it helps me remember how lucky a life I lead compared to many others in the world around me) and most importantly, try to get back in touch with my inner voice.  The one that is truly mine (not my mothers) and it reminds me that there is one person that absolutely adores everything about me and loves everything that I love, and that person is me.  While other people can bring me happiness, it really is up to me – I am in charge of my happiness and loving myself is the biggest step towards that. And it’s also the biggest step away from the self-sabotage that creeps in.

Do you self-sabotage? How so? Do you do anything to try to keep it at bay?

With love,


* My mother used to do this – I realise now, as a mother myself, that she didn’t have the tools to soothe me herself – she never learned about this growing up and did what she could.  I no longer blame her, which in itself is a huge step forward. I’ve also learned not to make the same mistake with my kids.