Avoiding Self-Sabotage Relapses

Life is going well, and you feel invincible. You’re sure you’ve identified and eliminated your self-sabotaging tendencies (see Recognizing Self-Sabotage and Overcoming Self-Sabotage), and your conscious and subconscious are in sync in working toward your goals.

Then things start to take a turn for the worst. At first, you can’t be sure if it’s just natural life variance or if somehow you’re causing the problems.

Recognizing that your self-sabotaging gremlins might have returned is key to damage control.

Most of us don’t make mistakes identical to those in our past: Instead we are smart enough to create new ways to screw things up. Nonetheless, there are probably common themes to identify and squash before they get out of control. Here are a few examples:

1. In the past you might have spent a sudden financial windfall foolishly by buying a new car, a new boat, and being overly generous with family members. Now you’ve rebuilt your nest egg and you’re considering a high-return investment and a new business venture. Consider whether your desire to spend money is more prudent now than before. Is it the same subconscious self-destruction coming back in a new form?

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2. You’ve historically had a hard time with long-term relationships because you’ve never found someone quite right for you. Like Seinfeld and his friends on the TV show, there is always something wrong with the people you meet: They’re too tall, too short, too thin, too heavy, too quiet, too talkative.

You’re now about six months into a new relationship, and suddenly everything the other person does annoys you. You’re constantly picking fights with your significant other. Has your relationship sabotage taken on a new form?

(For classic Seinfeld dating chatter, watch the first few minutes of this:)

3. You’ve changed jobs several times, always feeling like a better opportunity was waiting for you. The last time you interviewed, you received pushback from employers about your frequent moves, and you convinced your current company you’d stay for several years, perhaps all the way until retirement.

Now you’ve been there for about three years, and everyone loves you. There’s a rumor you’re going to get promoted, but you’re beginning to wonder if the company is the right place for you long term. You’ve heard people at other companies make more money, and several recruiters have called you within the past few weeks. Should you look at changing positions again or are you sabotaging your long-term success by continuing to take new jobs rather than grow and advance within one company?

When self-sabotage is in your past, it’s important to evaluate your reasons for making decisions more carefully than others might. The subconscious tendency to get in your own way is tenacious and seems to spring back when we least expect it, so it’s important to remain vigilant.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be frozen in place, incapable of moving your life forward. The solution is to take the extra time to think through your own motivations and weigh your alternatives. This is an instance where intuition might not serve you well, unless you are rock-solid certain you know the difference between intuition and subconscious self-sabotage. The latter is a familiar feeling and could easily be mistaken for intuition.

Have you had an instance where your tendency to self-sabotage has returned?


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