I help women daily recognize what self-destructive behaviors look like. They are on a spectrum; it’s how I see a lot of things. Maybe you’re engaging in excessive alcohol or drug use. Or you could be running up your credit card bill to the MAX! This phenomenon could be easily described as “getting in your own way”. We are faced with opportunities, then we decide they make us feel unsafe. That’s all it takes to figure out a way to get back to our status quo...the way things used to be. We tend to do what we know, despite how unhealthy they are because at least we know how to navigate them. It’s almost scary how we do this without even thinking and we are numb to the haze we live in. Sometimes we do know. Either way it goes, let’s talk about why you’re actually self-sabotaging?
It feels safe.
Trauma has this twisted way of making us believe that the way of life we are living is the ceiling. I’ve helped women recognize the lies they tell themselves when in an abusive situation, a terrible job, etc. It’s what keeps us in a place that has us thinking this is as good as it's going to get, so why not just navigate through. It’s called trauma bonding, which is a whole other post! We mistake these survival techniques for safety. It’s not the way.
My friends and I talk about the notion that we act out of fear sometimes. Get you a tribe like mine, we hold each other accountable for this pitfall regularly! Some of us are raised to believe things will not get any better than what they are and we think we can’t have anything more than the slice of the pie instead of the whole delectable treat! So we settle for the man, the job, etc. because we can’t imagine “little ol me” advancing. It’s sad. And don’t get me started on the cultural implications of this. Black women have this narrative playing even louder! When good things happen to you, ask yourself: why not me? Instead of going to the default mode of destroying what could be amazing for you.
You’re doing what you learned.
No one has to sit you down and tell you to destroy a good opportunity. We learn from watching the village who raised us. What messages did you get about relationships? Conducting business? Parenting? We are sponges and take in so much information during our formative years that still stick with us if we don’t update the information. We hang on to crappy messages that don’t serve us and probably never did. This is a crucial point I write about in my book: unlearning the narrative that has you stuck. It’s completely possible.
You can get out of this habit of surviving and thrive, Sis! It won’t be easy at first. Your mind and body will fight it. Be prepared for that by engaging with positive people and good literature to walk you through it (find my books in the shop!). How do you know you’re self-sabotaging and what do you do about it? Comment below!