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Author Topic: 4.12 | Identifying and working on self-sabotage  (Read 16441 times)
blackandwhite
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« on: January 17, 2011, 11:19:39 PM »

From Surviving Childhood Abuse/The 21 Steps on Coping and Healing in a Family with a BPD Parent, Sibling, or Inlaw Board:

I have identified the parts of myself connected to self-sabotage.

Excerpt
Mourning [Step 9]: This step involves identifying and sorting out all the various aspects of yourself so that you can understand which parts are helpful and which are responsible for self-sabotaging acts in your life. Self-sabotage is probably a source of some of the problems you identified in your inventory in Step Eight. By now, you probably know where the self-sabotage comes from and how it affected you as a child. Now, as an adult, you need to look at the part of you that controls this behavior and how it expresses itself in your everyday life.

As you identify the parts of you responsible for the self-sabotage, you will probably discover adult versions of the childhood roles you played. Many of the most common roles that adult survivors used as children are still employed but bear different labels: "co-dependent" for "caretaker," "masochist" for "scapegoat," "offender" for "bully," "leader" for "hero," and "eccentric" for "recluse." Although certain aspects of these roles may help you in your daily functioning, they will create problems for you if you let them dominate your interactions. For example, caretaking is an essential part of parenting, but dominating or overcontrolling your child is a common characteristic of co-dependent mothers. Try to identify what roles you adopt as an adult the positive ones as well as the problematic ones. Learning to strengthen the healthy aspects of yourself while controlling the less helpful ones will be a major task in Mourning and Healing.

If you've reached or are looking ahead to this step, what have you identified as possible areas of self-sabotage?

This is one of the hard ones, but one of the most rewarding steps to move through.  xoxo

B&W

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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 01:55:15 AM »

In my current head space, I feel more like "what isn't self sabotage?"  Guess that's just my place in the journey.  Maybe I'm still on an earlier step. 
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2011, 08:05:11 AM »

I think this is something I am really looking at right now.  I think I have alot to think about here.  I have a fairly active and happy life.  But I really struggle with feeling "good enough".  I worry people will see how much I suck Smiling (click to insert in post)  I have a very loud inner critic some days.  Its a constant struggle.  I think this will be something I write about today.
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2011, 08:35:55 AM »

If you've reached or are looking ahead to this step, what have you identified as possible areas of self-sabotage?

This comes up in strange ways for me.  I noticed it last year when I had a birthday party.  Mostly I prefer not to have birthday parties, as the attention makes me nervous, the stakes seem really high, like people are trying really hard to make me happy, and I have to be happy, otherwise they'll be disappointed that they tried to make me happy and I failed to be happy, thus failing them and letting them down and making it clear that I'm not worth loving.  But I decided to have a party last year and it brought up all those feelings.  A lot of the people that I invited didn't come, and though I had a great time with those that did (it actually clarified who my real friends were in many ways - not in an aggressive, I'll never talk to those jerks again kind of way, but it just made it clear who was willing to work me into their schedule and who wasn't) I felt a bit disappointed, and then guilty for being disappointed, like I was letting down those that DID come.   Ugh.  This whole complex of feelings.  So what happened was, I just enjoyed the party for what it was the best that I could, and afterwards I had a good cry and journaled a bit about my reaction.  I was kind of proud of pushing my boundaries and taking the action of deciding to have a party, even though I have these self-sabotaging feelings of having to live up to high emotional expectations in order to deserve a party.  Going through it made me feel confident enough to have another party this year.  

I guess the role at work here would be the caretaker - feeling that I am responsible for other's feelings.  
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2011, 08:56:25 AM »

Two big ones for me are:

1. Self-doubt

2. Deprivation

Self-doubt presents itself mostly in the form of big, important tasks that I need to complete.  I manage projects and in the past, I let a lot of self-doubt sabotage parts of projects because I was afraid to ask questions and/or ask for help.  I doubted my abilities and subscribed to black-and-white thinking a lot - "I can't do it if it isn't perfect."  I've worked through most of that.  Now, my next task to work through is writing and feeling like I can be a good writer.  Most of the things that I need to work through, I found stemmed from BPDm's planting seeds of doubt.  I know that she did this for two reasons: she did not want me to accomplish more than her and/or she did not want me to abandon her.

Deprivation was something I witnessed my BPDm doing in every aspect of life growing up.  If you wanted anything or needed anything, take a quarter of it.  Taking it all means you're selfish and greedy.  BPDm also had a lifelong eating disorder, so being one of her daughters and witnessing that affected me more than I like to admit. 

I have always been so fearful of accepting gifts and/or time from people.  I find myself wanting things, but depriving myself of them or letting guilt get in the way and wishing good things away from myself.  I know now that the feelings of guilt stem from not feeling "good enough" or not believing that there are people who love me enough to just want to give me things or their time.  This feeling is starting to fade with age, but it creeps up in times like birthdays and Christmas or when I am very ill.  The flip-side to this is that I definitely like to give more than I like to receive!  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2011, 09:40:42 AM »

This is certainly a hard one for me, because I don't really even have a good feel for what self-sabotage is in my life. But at the same time doing this feels important, so here goes.

At the moment I have severe procrastination issues with my work. This has happened since I went NC.  The only thing I feel sure about this is that it's not a case of perfectionism.

Instead I think it's partly about my difficulty in taking myself and my time seriously. I have no trouble with this when I'm doing things for other people, but when it's for myself - well, not a priority. So I tend to leave my work until it becomes about the looming deadline, when it's suddenly a matter of potentially letting down my client or my organisation. I guess I therefore deny myself the pleasure of leisurely, interesting thought and just engage with the stressful bare essentials.

Also, there's something there about reproducing the roller-coaster type anxiety of my childhood and more recent life with my uPDf. I 'forget' my task for as long as I'm able and then suddenly... .aaargh... .I'm facing an all-nighter to meet my deadline.
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2011, 02:05:27 PM »

Funnily enough I had noticed for myself recently, that i tend to self sabatoage in areas connected to looking after/caring for myself. I think its connected to having (or not!) feelings of self worth. Despite having found a technique that helps me a lot with dealing and processing stuff from the past, I put off doing it  - no time/privacy/later etc etc. All the usual excuses but no real reasons. I just started using it again recently and really feel the benefit.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 08:22:26 AM »

Glad so many have chimed in. Self-sabotage is a very common problem for those from dysfunctional families. Some are interested in learning more about it. Here are a couple of comments from professionals about it, to help define self-sabotage and explore the topic further:

Excerpt
What is self-sabotage? Well, perhaps calling it by some other names might help give you an idea: "shooting yourself in the foot,""putting your foot in your mouth," or "cutting off your nose to spite your face." These phrases all refer to a desire to achieve a goal, but in the process of pursuing that goal you burn bridges to achieving another, more desirable goal. Everyone does something that is self-sabotaging once in a while. Smoking one last cigarette, over and over again, while you are trying to quit. Hitting that snooze button one too many times and being late for work. Yelling something insulting at your romantic partner during a fight - that always goes well, doesn't it? These are common examples of self-sabotage that may be classified as "oops moments" if they happen once in a while. Yet, when these types of behaviors become habits, they can become very problematic.

From Eddie Selby: www.psychologytoday.com/blog/overcoming-self-sabotage/200912/who-needs-enemies-when-you-ve-got-yourself

Excerpt
People with PTSD often have a problem with self-sabotage. This can be very overt or very subtle or anywhere in between. An example of overt self-sabotage comes from our old friend procrastination. We put off doing something that we want or want results from until it's too late. Another example of self-sabotage is when we say or do something that destroys or decreases our chances of getting what we want. Another form of self-sabotage is not going after what we want. A more subtle or disguised version of this is telling ourselves that we don't really want what we want or that it's not really that important to us or that it wouldn't really be that good if we got it. Or we just keep ourselves very busy so that we don't think about it. This can go on for months or years or our whole life and we end up never getting what we want.

From John C. Flanagan: www.johncflanaganlcsw.com/articles/Self-Sabotage.htm

1. Do you see examples in your own life when somehow you trip yourself up when headed to a goal?

2. When this happens, what do you feel? What are you saying to yourself (self-talk)? Sometimes self-sabotage is linked to our "inner critic"--that voice inside our head that puts us down.
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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 08:33:22 AM »

I really struggle with this at times. You know you hear people say that maybe you feel like you are not wanted by your FOO? It was not just a feeling, they told me they didn't want me. Also, whenever I would try to excel at something, whether it be academics, attire, relationships, etc. they (FOO) would work to verbally sabotage it. To this day (or rather 6 years ago when NC began), my sisters told me that my college degree was worthless and theirs is not!

That is one example.

It takes a lot of work over a lifetime to erase and replace the evil harmful messages I received up until 6 years ago. But well worth the effort! Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2011, 08:36:03 AM »

This is a very current topic for me right now.  I can relate to all of the above, being a caretaker, and kind of super achiever to try and be acknowledged.  I also relate to the deprivation and I'd say Self Doubt is a biggy.  Here are the biggest that I'm facing right now:

Being Distracted by Other people's needs.

I have a hard time discerning between what NEEDS to be done, what other people want me to do, and what I WANT to do.  My lack of self esteem kind of contaminates how I see my own wants.  When I see things that "need to be done", like community volunteering etc., it feels like I create safety for myself by trying to satisfy and bring contentment to other people.  The thing that I forget is that when I am doing what I really want to be doing, that it gives me energy, it's fun and I experience a lot of joy.  When I'm trying to "be responsible" (which is almost an obsession really), I have residual resentment and fear because I'm afraid that my entire life will be taken up of managing other people rather than really living my dreams.

I have been an entrepreneur and am at a place where it is time to take my work to "the next level".  When I weigh the pros and cons of this, there is part of me that's drawn to keeping my business small.  When my therapist asked me about my motivation behind this, I found that the "real answer" to the question that flew out of my mouth was "self punishment".  We were both surprised by my answer.  I'm glad to have answered it honestly, but it's TIME TO CHANGE it!

By the way, I've found paradoxically that being focussed on other people's needs makes me feel more helpless and MORE NEEDY!
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2011, 09:31:35 AM »

Thanks for bringing this up Black and White-

  I hate this one and I love this one.

I hate it because this is the reason I went into a profession i would not be completely satisfied with and this is the reason for many of the wrong decisions i have made including  becoming more and more co-dependent over the years

But I also love you bringing this up now, because after 9 months of reading on this site, reading books on codependence, dysfunctional families and learning that I don't have to make everything better, I am finally getting to the point where I feel I am ready to do some things I -Telios, want to do!  Therefore I am getting closer to getting over self-sabotaging behavior and without all these resources I can tell you this would probably never completely happen.

woo what a relief to be getting to this point, thank God!   Telios
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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2011, 12:27:04 AM »

The only thing I can think of for me is to continue dwelling on things.  I feel like I really need to just move on and enjoy my life, but instead I think about things on a continuing basis.  Sometimes to the point of NOT enjoying my days.  Not sure if that is the samea s self sabotage or not.
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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2011, 06:38:18 AM »

Good call, B&W.

Seems a recurring theme for some of us here.  Thank you for finding a way to start the discussion on it's own.

I have two main areas.

My weight.  I need to watch my food intake, and stop making excuses not to exercise.  This is about not making it a priority and there's really no reason not to.

My work.  I need to make some sort of effort to market and find new clients.  I have the abilities, and a niche, and probably a ton of potential clients.  Marketing requires some sort of "bragging" is what I think about it.  I can do it for clients, or anyone else... .but for myself, there is some barrier.

Probably I need to start by defining my goals.  I have ALWAYS had difficulty with this... .and most of that is "what if" I don't meet the goal?
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« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2011, 07:01:00 AM »

1. Do you see examples in your own life when somehow you trip yourself up when headed to a goal?  School!  I have started and stopped school so many times (I think 4) and changed majors too.  I havent ever finished.  "Things happen".  But ya know, I happen to be incredibly driven when I want something, so if I was really going after my degree, I would have gotten it.  I know this.   

2. When this happens, what do you feel? What are you saying to yourself (self-talk)? Sometimes self-sabotage is linked to our "inner critic"--that voice inside our head that puts us down.  Under it all is a real fear that my mom was right and I am not smart at all.  I think at least. I have struggled with being "perfect" in college.  If I dont do everything perfect, I feel like I am showing how dumb I am.  I hear "I can't do that, I am not smart enough".  "I am lousy at math, I cant take college level math.  I would never be able to"  (Math is a huge hole in my college transcripts).  "If I keep going to college, I will fail so I should drop it".

An interesting development in my life is I am taking some college classes.  Online... .community college... .nothing to write home about.  But its getting going back in that direction.  And I have been panicking! 
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« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2011, 08:16:43 AM »

1. Do you see examples in your own life when somehow you trip yourself up when headed to a goal?

Absolutely, often (for me) around the issue of perfectionism. One example is studying languages. I would really love to speak lots of foreign languages, but I'm not especially quick at learning to speak them (reading and writing is fairly easy for me). So since learning to speak foreign languages is not something I'm naturally good at, I've avoided trying. I took Latin in college, partly out of interest but deep down because I was afraid I wouldn't succeed at the speaking portion of language study. So I got an A, but didn't learn a language I could speak. The whole reason speaking is hard for me, I suspect, is my fear of making a mistake and shaming myself in front of another. Making lots and lots of mistakes is inherent to learning to speak a new language, and if you never try it with another person around, you never really get it, as it's about communication between people. So my fears painted me into a box. I have since worked on it by putting myself in situations in which I HAD to speak a foreign language, and that helped, but it took a huge amount of effort to force myself to take those risks and I've never gotten extremely comfortable with it.

2. When this happens, what do you feel? What are you saying to yourself (self-talk)? Sometimes self-sabotage is linked to our "inner critic"--that voice inside our head that puts us down.

For me, self-sabotage generally seems to be linked to fear and shame. What I hear in my head is, "You're an idiot, you'll never do this, you can't do this, you shouldn't try... ." And the feeling is truly a mix of fear/anxiety (if in the extreme, pounding heart, shaky hands, sick feeling) and shame (hot faced, sort of frozen, sinking feeling, wanting to hide).

John Flanagan, whom I quoted before, has interesting things to say about the origins of self-sabotage in the article previously referenced (he's focusing on PTSD but I think his comments apply pretty broadly). He also talks about a way to start to tackle self-sabotage through a "fear journal."

Excerpt
So why do we do this? ... .I suspect... .out of habit and out of fear. The habit started because of fear and now even though the fear is less, much less or has disappeared all together, the habit persists because of a free-floating anxiety that has taken on a life of its own. Originally we were afraid of bad consequences if we went after what we wanted. We would literally be punished for such behavior. This punishment took various forms for each of us, but it was very real and very much to be avoided if possible. We learned to think of others first. We learned that other people's feeling/moods were more important. We learned to keep our mouth shut, to keep our feelings to ourselves. We learned that children were to be seen and not heard. We learned that if we tried to accomplish something or to better ourselves we got made fun of, ridiculed, put down or shamed for being so presumptuous. We learned that nobody cared. No matter what we did or tried to do nobody noticed. Nobody responded in a positive affirming way.

All of this, any of this ultimately made us feel rotten. It made us feel bad, very bad about ourselves. We felt like we were bad. We felt incompetent. We felt like we could never succeed. We felt like we wanted too much. We felt that we were too needy, that we were desperate and that we looked desperate. It made us feel so bad in fact that we couldn't stand to be in our own skin. So we left. We dissociated to get away from those horrible feelings.

So now when we feel like bettering ourselves, when we feel like going after what we want, we automatically sense danger. We usually don't know what the danger we fear is and we try to pin it on something current. We rationalize that our current fears are realistic. A client recently told me that he keeps a fear journal. On one side of the page he writes down whatever it is that he consciously fears, i.e. a certain negative reaction and or bad consequence. Later, after the event has past, he writes down what actually occurred. Almost never is it as bad or worse than what he feared.

Generally it is a lot better than he anticipated. Often there is actually a positive outcome. It is easy to see that if we let these fears rule the day and stop us from going after what we want, we would be sabotaging ourselves at every turn.

We need to keep in mind that our initial reaction is usually a reaction to something out of our history. Its only connection to the current situation is that something in the current situation triggered this reaction. The current event triggered the reaction, but it did not cause the reaction. The cause is in our history and the automatic reactivity that was set in motion a long time ago. It is as if our reaction stems from a post-hypnotic suggestion. It is a post-trance repetition of the original set of reactions we had at the time of the trauma that caused the trance-state in the first place. The best thing we can do is to constantly question our reactions, not act on them and give ourselves time to rethink our interpretation of the current events. This is one way at least that we can keep our self-sabotage to a minimum.

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« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2011, 10:06:36 AM »

My mother was a very hard task master, especially when it came to education. If I didn’t do very well her response was “That isn’t very good, now is it Patty. You can do better than that. Do better next time”.  She wasn’t too bothered about subjects like history or geography as she wasn’t interested in them (which was good news for me as and neither was I). So whatever I got in those didn’t matter. But with other subjects, she pushed and pushed.  I used to teach myself so that I could keep up with her demands.  But I failed some exams when I was in my teens and she really blew her top.

There are things that I know I am not very good at and I am okay about that. There are other things that I would like to be good at but know I am not but give myself a hard time about being no good at them.  But like Magenta, I have quite a lot of determination and if I want to try something, I will keep at it until I get there. But I still do the “can’t do it” stuff a lot as well. I know there is no point in that but I still do it anyway.

Great thread and input from everyone!   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2011, 04:15:49 PM »

Thank you, blackandwhite, for starting this thread. Very thought-provoking.

On reflection, here's what I tend to do:

1- put others' priorities ahead of my own. It's tough to find a real balance, because we are interconnected with others, but I can't let my needs get lost in the shuffle.

2- wait too long to decide on things, because I am trying to come up with an ideal solution that pleases everyone. I need to be more decisive, and trust that I can live with the consequences of my decisions.

3- neglect my appearance, in terms of spending money on myself. This relates to a feeling of unworthiness, and might also stem from a desire to distance myself from the more Narcissistic people in my life. I am addressing this by consciously budgeting time and money for personal upkeep (e.g., haircuts, underwear, clothes).

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« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2011, 09:58:37 PM »

If you've reached or are looking ahead to this step, what have you identified as possible areas of self-sabotage?

Mostly I prefer not to have birthday parties, as the attention makes me nervous, the stakes seem really high, like people are trying really hard to make me happy, and I have to be happy, otherwise they'll be disappointed that they tried to make me happy and I failed to be happy, thus failing them and letting them down and making it clear that I'm not worth loving.  

Good for you!  I go to great, ridiculous lengths to hide my birthday when it comes around.  It's one of the many reasons people think I am weird(it's also awkward when the subject somehow comes up and it has recently passed).  The day makes me so uncomfortable that I used to stay home from school.  Now that I am an adult I force myself to go to work and graciously accept any "happy birthdays"(used to have an HR lady who sent out emails... .couldn't get away from that!).  I used to dread my birthday parties as a kid.  I have always wished that we lived in a culture where birthdays simply were not celebrated and forgotten - but then that makes me sad as well.  I am working on not being so uptight about mine.  

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« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2011, 09:49:49 AM »

So let's look at some of the types of self-sabotage we've mentioned so far and start to explore some of the different aspects of self-sabotage, which is a pretty vast topic.

Examples of self-sabotage:

1. Being distracted from our own goals by other people's needs.

2. Giving ourselves a hard time for failing to achieve goals set by others (such as a parent); internalizing the "critic" who says we're a failure, will never amount to much, just aren't good enough.

3. Perfectionism I--making our self-esteem depend on being "perfect" and when we're not, feeling worthless/shame.

4. Perfectionism II--fear of failure; not trying or stopping ourselves short (often for a "real" reason or excuse) of achieving because of the risk of failure.

5. Self-neglect--acting out an internalized belief that "I am worthless" or "I am less important than others" or similar. This category would include things like not looking after our own appearance, not taking care of our own health/diet/exercise, etc. I think zxmct98's birthday example might fall in here. (I too hope you find a way to enjoy celebrating your birthday.  xoxo)

6. Procrastination--if we never actually do "it" (whatever it is) we can't succeed, or fail.

7. Self-abuse--not sure anyone mentioned it but it's a big feature of self-sabotage (as well as connected to the complex issue of addiction). Abuse of drugs and alcohol, putting ourselves in dangerous situations, eating disorders, repeating unhappy or abusive relationship patterns, and so on.

One example I didn't mention before is that when I'm in a certain state of agitation about "things going wrong" or even "things going right" in a potentially scary way I sometimes seem to get extra clumsy, dropping things, tripping--almost as if my own body were sabotaging me! That used to drive me into shame and withdrawal. Now I try to take it as a signal that I need to pay better attention to my own inner state and get more centered.

Some aspects of self-sabotage:

Replaying childhood roles and patterns. The Survivors' Guide to the right ---> talks about this. In the expanded version, there's more information:

Excerpt
Self-Sabotage

Where low self-esteem is the primary feeling of the adult survivor, self-sabotage is the corresponding behavior pattern in the external world. Self-sabotage is any kind of conscious or unconscious behavior that undermines your successful functioning in the world. Self-sabotage may range from buying a "lemon" of a used car to losing one's checkbook to becoming involved with an alcoholic partner to engaging in life-threatening activities. You may allow yourself to be exploited by a boss or engage in physically harmful or potentially dangerous activities such as cutting yourself or engaging in unsafe sex. Typically, one's pattern of self-sabotage is closely related to one's personal issues and family history. Survivors who grew up in addictive families may self-sabotage by driving while drunk or getting caught with illegal drugs. Survivors from violent families may tend to get themselves beaten or injured. Survivors from wealthy families often find themselves losing money, getting swindled or making bad investments. Studies have shown that survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely to be assaulted as adults.

Self-sabotage is linked to the survivor's instinct to become re-victimized in a way that continues or replicates the past abuse... .Reversing self-sabotage begins with building awareness of everything you do in your daily existence that sacrifices your happiness, satisfaction and productivity.

Question: When you think about the forms of self-sabotage you identify in yourself today, can you link back to your family history and roles you played? For example, if you were the family caretaker, do you find that today you are distracted from your goals by others' needs?

Later we'll also hopefully get to:



  • The Inner Critic and the ways we act on the "mirrors" we learned to see ourselves in as children


  • Avoidance and negative reinforcement




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« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2011, 11:33:19 AM »

Question: When you think about the forms of self-sabotage you identify in yourself today, can you link back to your family history and roles you played?

Ok, so Cardio-Kickboxing story (really).  This is going to seem minor but it is such an obvious example.

I put on weight when I was 7ish.  Although my mom had always talked about me being "fat", I really was then.  She needed me to be on her chubby-team.  It was a real center point of the abuse I suffered.  But I was placed with the responsibility of making her feel better about her weight by accepting mine, and being her best friend, etc. 

I was told I was not athletic, I was encouraged to share a love of unhealthy food with her (it was our "thing".  When I tried to diet or get healthy, it was thought of as an insult to her and she would pout and sabotage. 

I am not graceful by nature, or athletic.  But my mom would point this out often, when ever I tried to be.  It was projection at it's finest.  I felt I had to be bad at athetics to not hurt her, and I did believe I was bad at it.

Fast forward, I got my life together.  I went from 300+ lbs to healthy/normal weight and fairly fit.  I work out 5 days a week.  I run, spin, weights, bootcamp, etc.  But I still avoid anything really "athletic" or that takes coordination.  I am smart enough to know that I could also learn more athleticism or coordination (like I learned balance and speed) by practicing.  But the internal critic... .its loud.

Last week an instructor came up to me while I was on the eliptical and charmed me into going to his cardio kick boxing class.  He assured me it wasn't a thing like dance and you didn't have to be coordinated at all.  WRONG!

But the thing is, I actually did ok until it got a little faster.  Then I froze up and stood there.  Looking around the room, nearly no one got it (they were all new) and he assured us it was something you get after 5 or 6 sessions but to keep moving.  I heard my head "see!  you are NOT athletic.  You have two left feet!  You can not do this!".  When the class was done and we walked out, it was pointed out to me that up to that point, I was doing really well (I was the youngest and in the best overall shape to be fair).

But I quit.  Because I am not allowed to be good at it.  Because I *knew* I couldnt be.

(I also felt like people might be outside the room laughing right at me, something my mom would have been doing - although then she would have given me condolences on having her genes when I was done with her fake pity)

I am so going to go again this week with a renewed sense of resolve to just keep trying.

Ok, so I am not sure if this is the right direction, but it popped in my head so I ran with it.
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« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2011, 11:59:23 AM »

I think that is a good example.

And good for you to go back again.  Let us know how it goes!

I am similar to you in this way.  I'm more than a tad bit overweight.  For the first time EVER, this week, I have worked out every single day.  Go me.

My mother has always had issues with weight.  Doesn't like to exercise.  So, she does the fad diet stuff, low carb, pwlc, whatever... .loses a ton of weight, gives me all of her "big" clothes since she's too small for them, and then gets tired of the "diet," gains the weight, and buys a whole new second wardrobe.  Rinse and repeat.  My daughter even asked me why I keep taking clothes from my mother, when she's a grandmother and not even the same style as I should be.  I said, "Free clothes, I guess.  I can spend the money on you guys, instead."  Last year, DD made me go shopping for my own bras (something I never do... .always have hand me downs) and decent undergarments, even some shirts and pants.  It felt good to own my own clothes, even though I really don't like shopping for myself. 

Anyway... .This is a big area for me, fitness and weight.  My enSis is very, very overweight.  I get snide remarks from her here and there.  I'm afraid to hurt their feelings by being thin and athletic.  I am clumsy though, that's not just in my head.  When I was in 7th grade, I tried out for basketball.  I really wanted to be on a team sport.  I had taken dance lessons for 7 or 8 years.  When the coach cut me, she said she thought I'd be more coordinated coming from a dance background.  My mother had called and asked what days of the week the games were so that she would know if she should continue to pay ahead for dance classes IF I made the team.  Knowing what I know now, besides the fact that I wasn't a star player or anything, I'd bet a million the coach was like, "Great, one of those annoying parents... .best get rid of that now."  I don't know if it's right, but I really hated that my mother called her.  For a long time.  I didn't try out for any more sports. 

And I do fall down a lot still.  In every situation, though, it's that I'm in a hurry, not paying attention to where I'm going, and I trip or slip and fall. It's a running joke in my family... .mostly from my DD.  She's the tall, graceful, athletic type though.  I'm so glad.  LOL  Mostly because she worked hard for what she wants to do in high school and deserves it, but also because it's a shining example of how I'm NOT like my mother.  I keep up on ways for her to be a better athlete, and encourage that, rather than sabotaging her efforts.

What do I want to do, and keep telling myself I can't?  Take dance lessons again.  I found out there is Zumba at the Y.  I think we will get a membership, and I will try it.  I love dance and music... .was a band geek in high school, too.  If I can burn calories doing that, why not?  Will I procrastinate on it?  Probably... .but now you are all going to hold me accountable right?

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« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2011, 10:53:34 PM »

Self-sabotage... .


By denying my own importance. My fiance has been absolutely wonderful with me. Until I met her, I never really truly considered what I wanted. Only what worked, and usually that fell into place with someone else's wants and needs. It's been difficult to figure out what I want because it's a strange notion. I fade into the background and wind up packed into a small cubby hole. I have to constantly fight to prevent myself from "fading away".
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« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2011, 08:03:54 AM »

It's great to see how we're identifying self-sabotage and starting to work on ways to undo it.

One thing to watch out for is setting ourselves up to experience negative reinforcement. Sometimes shifting a dynamic is a bit like going against entropy--it takes a lot to get started. Once you get started and experience some (hard-won), you actually change, and it becomes easier to accomplish your goal, but you have to work through some difficult stuff to get there.

Let's say, picking up from the examples mentioned, you want to get started with an exercise program doing a certain activity, but don't because of negative messaging you've received in the past. It's not so much the negative messages themselves--they are in the past. It's the legacy they've left in you: fear, anxiety, self-doubt, feelings of lack of self-worth. You think, "I'd like to start doing X program, but I can't. I'm not athletic. I'm not coordinated. I'll never be able to do it. Even worse, I'll make a fool of myself." And you feel anxious and bad about yourself, even feeling some of the shame you may experience at your "failure" (of something not yet actually tried!) in advance. So you let that ambition go, because thinking about it is too uncomfortable.

What's at work here is a pattern of negative reinforcement:

Excerpt
One of the most common experiences in life is feeling uneasy about a situation, and the most common reaction to anxiety is to avoid the situation. This avoidance is self-sabotage. Think about it, have you ever walked away from an important goal because it was just too hard to face your fears? I know I have.

Although understanding the causes of your anxiety is important for overcoming it, the most important aspect is to focus on is how you respond to your fears. In fact, the ways that we respond to fear can often feed that fear and make it worse! By learning how you respond to anxiety and working to change those responses, you can overcome anxiety and accomplish some very difficult goals.

Now if there's one concept from the psychology literature that I'd like you to remember regarding fear and avoidance, it is the concept of negative reinforcement. Understanding negative reinforcement will help you combat fear in your daily life, and it will also help you see the same problem in other people, which may be useful at times. Negative reinforcement refers to a behavior which is rewarded because that behavior removes an unwanted stimulus or feeling. For example, when I get into my car and forget to put on my seat belt, my car starts beeping loudly at me. That beeping is extremely annoying! So to get the beeping to stop, I plug in my seat belt. Doing so ends the beeping and restores peace to the car. In this situation my car is negatively reinforcing me for putting on my seatbelt. It is rewarding me by removing the annoying noise, and the next time I get in the car I'm more likely to put on my seatbelt right away to avoid that noise.

Negative reinforcement in the case of anxiety can be thought of as "avoidance." Each time you attempt to accomplish a goal, but you let the fear take control and back down, you are avoiding and thus negatively reinforcing yourself. You are sabotaging your goals just so you don't have to experience the fear anymore! The more you avoid anxious situations, the more likely are to avoid future anxiety-inducing situations.

So how does one overcome avoidance and accomplish his or her goals? Part of the key to understanding your avoidance behavior is to understand how you are influenced by negative reinforcement. You have to catch yourself in the moment, when you are about to avoid an anxiety-invoking situation, and recognize that to avoid the situation would be to negatively reinforce yourself.

From Eddie Selby Overcoming Self-Sabotage

1. Do you recognize this principle of negative reinforcement from your own experience? Have an example?

2. If you've overcome negative reinforcement in a specific instance, how did you do it?
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« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2011, 03:58:31 PM »

Okay, an example.

Last week, I was at a board meeting for my kids' preschool.  I freelance work from home.  One of the board members was complaining about how much work they had (also a work at home mom) and it seemed like she had things I could help her with using my skill set.  Normally, I'd talk myself out of saying something... .she'll say no, I'll be embarassed, if she needed me, she would have already asked, blah, blah, blah. 

So I said, "sounds like you need... .(services I offer)!"  And winked at her, to keep it light, and prepare myself for a no or some sort of negative reaction.  She said, you know you are right!

I have a new client now.

Yay.

I had to take the risk, the leap though.  My stomach was turning, and even still was when I did a follow up email the next morning.  Thankfully she replied that she was looking at her schedule to see where I could help her. 

It was a real confidence builder.  I know in business you have to get used to being told "no."  It's not the fear of actually hearing that... .but the fear of going out there and looking like a fool that has gotten in the way of my marketing.   

Chalk one up for me.
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« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2011, 11:48:40 PM »

Good on you, BMama! That's terrific!  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

I can give an example of negative reinforcement and then how I overcame it.

Like many here, holidays and special occasions growing up were not all that festive and were special only in that "maybe if I hide under the table until this is all over, I might just make it out alive" kind of way. So for me as a child, holidays and special occasions were externally sabotaged. When I was older and had control over how I spent them, I still felt fear, anxiety, and depression as they approached and breathed a sigh of relief when they passed. I had a true fear that if I tried to do something to celebrate, something bad would happen. I would avoid anything that made a particular day or event stand out. I wouldn't dress nicely, no decorations, not an occasion to create great food, nothing. Just wait it out. Impulses to be more festive were quickly squashed by anxiety, and when my DH would try to break out a little cheer, I was pretty repressive (trying to make that up to him now  Smiling (click to insert in post)). The longer this went on, the more ingrained my belief and attitude that "I just don't like holidays' and the grimmer my holidays actually were. My holidays at that point were internally sabotaged.

What started me on the path to overcome this was my DD. I realized that it was completely unfair to her to give her this experience of "celebration." For her, I forced myself to overcome my instincts and fear and began to do little celebratory things. We got a Christmas tree! We decorated it! There was... .music! We... .cooked and even... .baked! Not all at once, but over the years, we've been developing traditions and I'm finding that holidays are actually rather fun. (Must give the caveat here that I'm NC with my uBPD mother, so that's not a factor.) Along the way, I discovered that my self-fulfilling grim holiday prophesies were not really fair to my DH either. And, critically, they weren't fair to ME. I'd been recreating for no good reason other than my own fear the very conditions I despised.

One thing that might be missing so far in this discussion is tackling this issue from the core belief and self-esteem side of things. I'd like to get to that before too long.

For me, I find that to create real change I often need to tackle something from (at least) two directions. Sort of from the top down and from the bottom up. What we've been discussing here, shifting negative reinforcement, feels top down. You realize there's a problem, you identify the thing you need to change, and you try to act at least a bit "as if" you can change. Then when you find you do change a bit, you get braver, and change a bit more... .and so on. It can seem less daunting if you pick the right thing at the right time, and view it as a sort of experiment, along the lines of (in my example), what would happen if we made a gingerbread house? Anything likely to explode? No, okay, let's try it. I don't have to do it again if it gets to be too much... .next thing, there's a gingerbread house, nothing has exploded, and I feel a little more secure that holidays can be enjoyed without mayhem ensuing.

The other way into change, the bottom up way, is more about getting to the roots, to addressing the hard stuff at our core like "I don't deserve happiness" and other beliefs and feelings that can hold us back.

B&W
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« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2011, 05:55:55 AM »

I think sometimes removing bad feelings is borne of making new habits first.  B&W said that she had to take baby steps (build the gingerbread house) first, and feel good about that before she added things on.

Which of the items would you like to pick that you could flesh out here?  I don't mean actually do if you're not ready... .but focus on?
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« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2011, 09:21:33 AM »

Thanks, blackandwhite, for pushing us further on this.

On reflection, one way I have been sabotaging myself is by not taking credit for my accomplishments. I think this goes back to the family roles we were assigned growing up (I was thinking about this on the other thread). One of the "rules" was that I was not supposed to outshine my sister, because she was the hero. (For example, when I won a big scholarship, she started raging at me for causing my parents so much worry).

Our family also has a good dose of superstitious magical thinking: don't be too happy or something bad will happen (as if our thoughts and feelings can control the world around us  )

But, enough. This morning, one of my colleagues (a normal one, not the BPD/NPD creep I mentioned on another thread) found out that I won an award from my professional association a few weeks ago. I hadn't told anyone at work about it, because I was worried that I would attract some negative attention from people. After reading this thread, I figure: screw it! Let people think whatever they want; I am proud of what I did. (And being happy isn't going to result in some horrible karmic backlash where my house burns down).
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« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2011, 10:22:18 AM »

Ok, so I am not in the right place to be answering questions... .but I am here self-sabotaging.  I finally got the nerve to take up where I left off in 8th grade math (yes, I got through highschool and several years of college without  taking math!  I am tricky).  

My story:

I was in advanced math through elementary and middle school.  My mom disapproved (she was bad at math).  My sister had been in advanced math as well, but that was somehow ok.  I had it in my head that I was in advanced math because my sister had been, because really, I was awful at math just like my mom (she told me).  I made good marks on my exams, but rarely turned in homework (too afraid if people saw they would realize I was stupid and I would get put in special ed).

In 6th grade I had a really bad math teacher.  He would sit and talk about his health problems (not helpful for an anxious kid!) and not assign homework or go over the work.  I couldnt keep up and, much to my mother's delight, got put in regular math.  They were so much further along then my "advanced" class, my previous teacher was seriously slacking off.  I mean, like I missed half a book!  The teacher was good, but I don't think she realized how far behind I was.  So I struggled and ended up with a C in the class which confirmed my suspicion that I was really lousy at math but they had been expecting me to be good at it like my sister.

7th grade didnt go much better, as I went into the regular class.  I just refused to try anymore.  The messages were loud and clear, I was bad at math!  The next year I was in remedial math.  My mom was so pleased, now we could share heart break over being slow.  :'(

And that is where my math ended really.  I did a couple other classes but dropped them.  I ended up in alternative school after having left school for some time, and I got to do basic math over and over.  And in college, well I managed the tests to get in somehow, but never took math.  I did somehow figure out enough algebra to get a B+ in chem.

So I am taking online Intermediate Algebra.  My teenage kids have all basically told me I am dumb because they took that in 8th or 9th grade.  But ya know, I set myself up for it.  I basically asked them to tell me what a dummy I am.  I think if it comes up again I am going to say (in the least passive aggressive tone I can muster), "I know.  I am so happy you guys have had the opportunity to go to school and excel.  I feel really lucky to be able to have that chance now.".  

Anyways, I am in panic.  I feel like crying every time I sit down with my book.  And I keep coming here and reading posting instead of just focusing for more then 2 minutes.  I am already a week behind... .it feels like I am reading Greek.  But I know I can do it... .like I really do.  I actually know it is easy stuff too.  It is this weird block that I feel like my brain is broken and I could never understand anything even slightly abstract in math (although, I really do know this isnt true... .my inner 12 year old is screaming it at me)
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« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2011, 11:01:15 AM »

I just told my husband "I can't do math!  I am going to cry" and he offered to help me tonight.  I messaged back "If you do, you will see how dumb I am and never respect me again".

Then I caught myself.  re-replied "Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) I mean... .thank you so much for the offer.  I think that would help alot.  It has been a really long time since I have done math, and I am having some anxiety about it.  I think letting you help me get started would really help"

and he said "Good!  I really would like to"

And now I am going to cry again... .

(My husband, btw, is really good at math.  He uses algebra daily, took several college level math classes in high school and went as far in math as he could with out going phd in math route.  It is a touch intimidating.  But I guess he would be pretty helpless at my job if he jumped right in with no training)
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« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2011, 11:24:16 AM »

Hi MagentaOrchid;

Just jumping in to cheer for you. You can do it!   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Also, you might be interested to know that there is very little evidence that mathematical ability is innate or genetic. It really comes down to practice, and how much time you put into it. Just like sports, piano, and any other subject.

Think of all the other things you are good at -- they show that you have the ability to persevere and do this too.
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« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2011, 08:12:57 AM »

As encouragement for us all, and since I created a list of forms of self-sabotage, how about a list of ways we have overcome self-sabotage? This is just a start and feel free to add!

1. Creative questioning and thinking. Challenge ourselves; firmly but gently question your own impulses sometimes, when they seem to be getting in your way. In my example, it was the process of asking myself, "will anything explode if we make a gingerbread house?" Quartz mentioned a wonderful example:

Excerpt
One thing that is helping a bit is to imagine the Quartz Board of Directors; kind of like a group of guardian angels who have my best interests at heart. When I'm faced with a decision, I try to imagine their discussion, and what they would decide. (i.e., yes, it is not unreasonable to say no to this, or to say yes to that).

2. Deliberately trying a small experiment even though there's a risk that we're "right" about ourselves and we might fail. BMama is considering taking dance classes, even though to do so means undoing a lot of past history and programming and overcoming a tendency to procrastinate. An experiment might fail, but each time you try, you start to overcome negative reinforcement and it's easier to try again (as long as you keep it light and go back to #1 if needed... ."it was an experiment... .Am I hopeless if it didn't work the first time? No!" Here's an example of a successful experiment--go BMama!

Okay, an example.

Last week, I was at a board meeting for my kids' preschool.  I freelance work from home.  One of the board members was complaining about how much work they had (also a work at home mom) and it seemed like she had things I could help her with using my skill set.  Normally, I'd talk myself out of saying something... .she'll say no, I'll be embarassed, if she needed me, she would have already asked, blah, blah, blah. 

So I said, "sounds like you need... .(services I offer)!"  And winked at her, to keep it light, and prepare myself for a no or some sort of negative reaction.  She said, you know you are right!

I have a new client now.

Yay.

I had to take the risk, the leap though.  My stomach was turning, and even still was when I did a follow up email the next morning.  Thankfully she replied that she was looking at her schedule to see where I could help her. 

It was a real confidence builder.  I know in business you have to get used to being told "no."  It's not the fear of actually hearing that... .but the fear of going out there and looking like a fool that has gotten in the way of my marketing.   

Chalk one up for me.

3. Giving ourselves permission to go against our family roles and discover who we are, not who we were expected to be. MagentaOrchid is considering trying a cardio kickboxing class even though her role in the family was to have the same weak areas as her mother, which means she "should" not be athletic or coordinated.

4. Recognizing our own worth and acting as if we really mean it. By fostering a relationship with a loving person, Rbrdkyst4 is undoing the damage of "I am worthless" messages from earlier in his life:

Excerpt
By denying my own importance. My fiance has been absolutely wonderful with me. Until I met her, I never really truly considered what I wanted. Only what worked, and usually that fell into place with someone else's wants and needs. It's been difficult to figure out what I want because it's a strange notion. I fade into the background and wind up packed into a small cubby hole. I have to constantly fight to prevent myself from "fading away".

There's much more to be said on #4, which I hope we'll get to.

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« Reply #31 on: January 27, 2011, 09:11:18 PM »

Great, now you've reposted and are holding me even more accountable.

I kid.

Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2011, 08:22:11 AM »

Great, now you've reposted and are holding me even more accountable.

I kid.

Smiling (click to insert in post)

Ahem, and I quote!  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Will I procrastinate on it?  Probably... .but now you are all going to hold me accountable right?

I wanted to revisit this piece:

Excerpt
Recognizing our own worth and acting as if we really mean it.

Beverly Engel, in her book Healing Your Emotional Self, discusses how a parent acts as a mirror to show a child who s/he is, and that the images in those mirrors profoundly shame us. She suggests that by recognizing the mirrors that have shaped us, we can begin to sort out who we really are from those (often distorted) reflections. She pairs specific dysfunctional parenting styles with the resulting mirrors. See if you recognize any of these:



  • If you were neglected, rejected, or abandoned ---> The "I am unlovable" and the "I am worthless" mirrors


  • If you were overprotected or emotionally smothered ---> The "I am nothing without my parent" mirror


  • If you were overly controlled or tyrannized ---> The "I am powerless" mirror


  • If you had overly critical, shaming, or perfectionistic parents ---> The "I am bad," "I am unacceptable," and "I am not good enough" mirrors


  • If you had a self-absorbed or narcissistic parent ---> The "I don't matter" mirror




If you resonate to any of the "I am" statements here, can you talk about why and how?

How does that feeling possibly relate to self-sabotage for you?

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« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2011, 01:24:50 PM »



  • If you were neglected, rejected, or abandoned ---> The "I am unlovable" and the "I am worthless" mirrors


  • If you had overly critical, shaming, or perfectionistic parents ---> The "I am bad," "I am unacceptable," and "I am not good enough" mirrors


  • If you had a self-absorbed or narcissistic parent ---> The "I don't matter" mirror



Wow, I really relate to these messages, and I feel like it's a recipe for what I've done with my life!  When I see these statements, I think, what would a person who believed these things do?  If they believed they were unlovable and worthless, they would try really hard to find a place to belong, where they are recognized and valued.  If they believed they are not good enough, they would try really hard to perfect themselves and achieve a lot.  And if they believed they don't matter, they would probably find themselves in a somewhat subservient, enabling role, rather than being the star or center of attention.  All these things are so true of how my life has turned out. 

I think it's really connected to self-sabotage, especially the last one - "I don't matter."  I think believing this has often held me back from trying my hardest to get what I want, rationalizing that what I want doesn't matter that much in the end anyway, so if I don't get it, it's okay.  It keeps me from fighting as hard as I might otherwise. 

These things are so hard because on one level they can all be really positive, I think.  In some ways, believing that you aren't the center of the universe, that the world won't end if things don't go your way, is quite a reasonable and even spiritually elevated perspective to have.  But on the other hand, it should of course come from a sense of humility in the face of the complexity of the cosmos rather than a sense of shame or self-hatred.  It shouldn't require minimizing or brushing away one's own identity and goals, but just understanding that they are one piece of a larger puzzle. 

It's very difficult to untangle what's destructive and what's not, for me!
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« Reply #34 on: January 28, 2011, 02:38:33 PM »

Yes, I too can relate to all 5 mirrors/messages... .
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« Reply #35 on: January 30, 2011, 05:29:26 PM »

  • If you were overly controlled or tyrannized ---> The "I am powerless" mirror


  • If you had overly critical, shaming, or perfectionistic parents ---> The "I am bad," "I am unacceptable," and "I am not good enough" mirrors


  • If you had a self-absorbed or narcissistic parent ---> The "I don't matter" mirror

These, but I will have to think about how they specifically fit.  I think that I have a few current situations where I'm feeling that I'm not deserving, but when I say to myself, "I deserve... ." I feel like I'm being selfish.  It's not right, but it is what it is.

B&W... .making an appointment to tour the YMCA this week;-)
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« Reply #36 on: January 31, 2011, 07:42:36 AM »

Sounds like the various mirrors have some resonance. Salome, I think you're onto something when you ask, "What would a person who believed these things do?" A person with these core believes will follow the beliefs with actions that reinforce the "I am worthless," "I am powerless," and so on messages. Often the actions that flow from and reinforce these beliefs are self-sabotage.

To see the connection more clearly it might help to take a look at the concept of the inner critic. Here's a checklist to determine the strength of your inner critic, from Healing Your Emotional Self by Beverly Engel (previously referenced):

Excerpt
1. Do you spend a great deal of time evaluating your performance, your appearance, your abilities, or your past history?

2. Do you set very high standards for yourself?

3. Is it difficult to live up to the standards you use to judge yourself?

4. Do you give yourself little breathing room to make mistakes?

5. Is your underlying sense of self often determined by your beliefs regarding what is right or wrong? (Note: I interpret this to mean "I define myself as a good person or I am a bad person based on some recent action."

6. Is your sense of self often determined by whether you have met your own or others' standards?

7. Do you spend a great deal of time worrying that you have done something wrong?

8. Are you continually plagued by critical messages inside your head that you are unable to quiet?

9. Do you constantly compare yourself to others or to the success of others?

10. Are you often envious of others' successes or achievements?

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« Reply #37 on: January 31, 2011, 03:41:02 PM »

Often the actions that flow from and reinforce these beliefs are self-sabotage.

More of a self-fulfilling prophecy, then?
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« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2011, 06:02:12 AM »

Good call.

We have a Y membership, BTW... .I haven't joined the zumba class yet.  But, one step closer!  I got DD running there a few days a week, and hubby using it on his days off when he can't go to the work gym.  I'm still working out at home, though!
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« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2011, 12:38:16 PM »

It was this article www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201102/self-sabotage-passive-aggression-toward-the-self-pt-5-the-logical-ill  that got me thinking that I really did need to see a therapist.  I could definitely identify with alot of what was said and said "well that sounds alot like me!"  This is my goal in therapy - I want to work out my own baggage that comes from an association with a BPD mom.  I can fix me; can't fix her... .
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« Reply #40 on: March 07, 2011, 12:53:37 PM »

Quote from: MyAimIsTrue l

[b
Self-doubt[/b] presents itself mostly in the form of big, important tasks that I need to complete.  I manage projects and in the past, I let a lot of self-doubt sabotage parts of projects because I was afraid to ask questions and/or ask for help.  I doubted my abilities and subscribed to black-and-white thinking a lot - "I can't do it if it isn't perfect." 

Deprivation   If you wanted anything or needed anything, take a quarter of it.  Taking it all means you're selfish and greedy.  BPDm also had a lifelong eating disorder, so being one of her daughters and witnessing that affected me more than I like to admit. 

I have always been so fearful of accepting gifts and/or time from people.  I find myself wanting things, but depriving myself of them or letting guilt get in the way and wishing good things away from myself.  I know now that the feelings of guilt stem from not feeling "good enough" or not believing that there are people who love me enough to just want to give me things or their time. 

I totally relate to both of these feelings. In fact, because of self doubt, I sabotage my relationship with my husband who has given me no reason NOT to trust him. He constantly shows me his loyalty, trust, and love.  So I guess this is a step I'm moving through, because I see my behavior. I can write about it, identify it, explain it, but in the midst of an argument I can't stop it! Then I feel doubly sad and self defeated because I end up beating myself up for being so awful to someone I love.

I spent my birthday in Vegas last year on a road trip with my h, sil, and their cousin form Europe. So the road trip was geared toward doing all American things, but on my birthday I wanted to dance. I said all night, I WANT TO DANCE.  I was experimenting with boundaries, but couldn't enforce them. I didn't do anything about it, so instead I followed everyone else's whims and desires and ended up sad-drunk and having a temper tantrum and then beating myself up and feeling guilty that I wanted anything at all.  Looking back, I feel angry with myself for realizing what happening and not stopping it.  I guess I was the caretaker and now all my actions are motivated to pleasing everyone around me.  Food is the only thing I let myself spend money on.  Because it pleases people when you go get a bite to eat with them.  But I let my clothes and shoes and house fall apart because I don't deserve to have anything nice.  That would be selfish. 

This is a very painful step.  One I see that I am in the midst now and I feel a bit stuck. 
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« Reply #41 on: March 14, 2011, 12:26:49 PM »

If you've reached or are looking ahead to this step, what have you identified as possible areas of self-sabotage?



Growing up as an only child, I played most all of the roles, but I came out with two that I can clearly identify:

Scapegoat or "patsy", and caretaker/hero.  Both are still very active.  When I first saw that adult masochism was identified with childhood scapegoating, it horrified me because of the sexual connotations involved there, but as I reflected upon it, given time I've seen the truth of it.  The helplessness that comes with being victimized and re-victimized, and then re-re-victimized (you get the picture,   Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)  ), does eventually become a form of some kind of paralyzed masochism, like the rabbit hypnotized by terror of the boa constrictor ("If I hold still long enough, maybe it'll go away".)  As for my caretaking of other people, I do it quite mindlessly and compulsively and sometimes disregarding any kind of common sense, like whether or not the person or persons actually want or need my help.  In my early life, my attempts at heroics usually led to disaster, as what pleased one parent definitely did not suit the other parent, for they were seriously at odds with each other and I got batted back and forth between them.

Really good thread here... .    Smiling (click to insert in post)


xoxo   s a

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« Reply #42 on: April 19, 2011, 02:53:11 PM »

This is certainly a hard one for me, because I don't really even have a good feel for what self-sabotage is in my life. But at the same time doing this feels important, so here goes.

At the moment I have severe procrastination issues with my work. This has happened since I went NC.  The only thing I feel sure about this is that it's not a case of perfectionism.

Instead I think it's partly about my difficulty in taking myself and my time seriously. I have no trouble with this when I'm doing things for other people, but when it's for myself - well, not a priority. So I tend to leave my work until it becomes about the looming deadline, when it's suddenly a matter of potentially letting down my client or my organisation. I guess I therefore deny myself the pleasure of leisurely, interesting thought and just engage with the stressful bare essentials.


Also, there's something there about reproducing the roller-coaster type anxiety of my childhood and more recent life with my uPDf. I 'forget' my task for as long as I'm able and then suddenly... .aaargh... .I'm facing an all-nighter to meet my deadline.

I also find procrastination my worst form of self-sabotage. I've gotten much better at speaking my mind, setting boundaries, maintaining NC, etc., but those are interactions with others. The procrastination issue is almost exclusively directed at myself and doesn't generally affect other people (other than my NPD ex occasionally, which I think is a form of me finally having some control over him). I put off looking for clients, cleaning the house, exercising, doing my taxes, even taking a shower. It's almost 1pm and I'm still in my pajamas as I type this.

I've been trying to figure out why I do this, as everything I've read about procrastination says that it serves the procrastinator in some way, even if it seems negative. I think I have some PTSD and prefer to stay a bit numbed out, rather than risk rejection (client says no) or bad news (no refund on my taxes), etc. I anticipate the bad consequences of completing my actions more than the bad consequences of NOT doing them, if that makes any sense.

And I agree with SS about somehow subconsciously desiring the roller coaster, which for me goes all the way back to childhood. Not a surprise that several of my many siblings also do the same thing: put off deadlines and crank under pressure, to the point where we almost do better that way than by leisurely completing a task.

Would be my number one bad habit to get rid of. I do better for a while, but then regress... .
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