The Importance of Noticing (and Avoiding) Self-Sabotage

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.
— Stephen King
Behavior is self-sabotaging when, in attempting to solve or cope with a problem, it instigates new problems, interferes with long-term goals, and unsettles relationships.
— Psychology Today

At the beginning of a new process, such as a nutritional therapy program, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we’re not ready, not up to the task, too tired, too busy—or that we already know enough.

Self-doubt is a normal function whenever we engage with something that is unfamiliar. But it doesn't have to be a problem, and if we stick with it, it can actually draw us onward to succeed at things we never imagined were possible.

But if self-doubt is left unchecked, it can also lead to self-sabotage, the original non-starter strategy.

Self-sabotage shows up when our fear of failure escalates beyond feeling vulnerable around change, and we take measures—active or passive—to break the new process before we can fully engage with it. It becomes a circular kind of logic. We create preconceptions of and preconditions for our “failure” and then act them out as “proof” that the program won’t work.

For example, we might “cheat” early on in a nutritional therapy program—pig out at a holiday gathering, go crazy with desserts, or drink alcohol to excess—and then feel like we blew it and will never succeed. Or we might just ignore the basic recommendations for daily hydration and food choices entirely, expecting that taking the right supplements alone should be enough, and then blame the program when little changes.

While these attitudes need to be noticed and re-framed for ultimate success, they are not automatic failures in and of themselves. They are the ghosts of old habits that brought us to our health imbalances in the first place. We can learn to move beyond them and replace them with more supportive habits through daily practice.

But if we’re looking for a way out of our commitment to the program, then whenever we “fail” to follow our steps or meet our goals, it’s proof positive that we weren’t meant to succeed in the first place.

Listen all y’all, it’s sabotage…

In such cases, we might catch ourselves thinking things like:

  • “I’ve always struggled with _________. My whole family struggles with _________. So it’s probably just genetic. Nothing I can fix.”

  • “I’m obviously not suited to this kind of program, so there’s no point in trying to do it any longer!”

  • “I shouldn’t have to give up the things I like to feel better!”

  • “I’m not going to keep track of every little detail of what I eat and drink each day! That shouldn’t matter so much!”

If you notice these kinds of thoughts coming up, it’s completely OK.

There’s nothing wrong or abnormal about it. Let ‘em come! Just don’t listen to them or let them steer your choices! Laugh at them. See them for what they are (fear of change, old habits dying hard, hungry fungi sending neurotransmitters to your brain to make you eat what they like).

Just don’t give up, even if you fall down from time to time. Every step you take forward now pays you back with an increase in your future capacity for wellbeing.



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