Self sabotage is a very complicated, dangerous and persistent problem.
It takes a long time, in my opinion, to figure out that self-sabotage is what one needs to deal with... that is to say, we follow the same pattern, over and over again; we wonder, what have I done to deserve this? when we end up in the same hole we just climbed out of; and then, finally, it dawns on us that the "please kick me" sign we are carrying around on our back is written in our own handwriting.
Yessiree Bob...we wrote it, we taped it and we pick it up and put it back on when it falls off. And, we do this in a sleep walking state where we can't see that it is indeed US creating our "groundhog day" existence.
Then we talk to our friends about it...some listen in such an attentive way that they hear the pattern and after a while, tired of watching people they care about falling into the same hole in a very Pooh-like way, they try to stop us before we fall back in. Sometimes they pull us out and try to give us advice on how to avoid the hole the next time.
All of this is very frustrating for us (we don't believe we are really falling in the SAME hole each time; I mean, we really do believe we learned and changed from the last 100 times we fell in the hole) and for them (they just want to lock us in a closet and play the video of the last 50 times, thinking that will be enough to convince us that we have, indeed, been right here before).
What they don't know is that we can't really hear the advice. Partly, we are determined to get out of the pattern, and we mistakenly believe that we can solve the problem by getting back in the pattern and just doing it RIGHT, this time.
What we don't know is that solving the problem doesn't mean getting back into the pattern and getting it right. In order to solve the problem of self-sabotage, we need to acknowledge that we DO NOT need to be punished. We do not deserve punishment for our selves, our behavior or any past bad acts. It's worse than a messiah complex because we are not just saving the world, we are judging it, starting with ourselves and meting out what we think is appropriate retribution.
Solving the problem of self-sabotage entails loving ourselves enough to be open to constructive, productive and healthy interactions/relationships with ourselves and others. It is the opposite of seeking the interactions/relationships that will ultimately put us back in the hole.
Getting out of the hole and staying out of the hole can be accomplished by believing that we have no reason to be in the hole.
Generosity and compassion demand that I have more patience with myself and my friends who are struggling with self-sabotage. Today that means not feeling bad that I just gave harsh feedback to someone who keeps jumping into the hole with two feet. It also means cutting myself some slack for dreaming about my hole last night.
It is a daily struggle to stay out of the hole. For the past few months, my solution has been to limit my contact with new people. I mean, if I don't meet any new people who will potentially trigger the pattern, then I am safe, right? Wrong.
Being afraid to go out and deal with the world is a better symptom than denial of the pattern. But it is not a long term solution; it's not a solution at all. It demonstrates some willingness to recognize the problem and even to start to battle the desire to jump back into the pattern. Ultimately, though, it does not confront the underlying issue: taking head on the issue of loving myself, or rewriting the agreements about the life I deserve.
I am trying.
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