Psychology Today defines self-sabotaging behavior as “when it creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals.” Recently, I’ve been binge watching Being Mary Jane and I couldn’t help but notice her very unhealthy relationships with not only romantic partners but friends and family as well. In one episode, she would swear off men, then a few scenes later she would be in bed with them. The next day, she would tell them that it was a mistake and that she couldn’t be with them. Her best friend, Kara, was just as self-sabotaging. In one episode, Kara had just announced to the world that she’s now in a relationship with a professional baseball player. A few scenes later, she would tell him that she did not love him and that she had received everything that she wanted from him. When he left, she cried as if he was the one to break off the relationship. Not even one full episode later, she was back in bed with him. These different scenarios not only irritated me, but they made me think about my own self-sabotaging behavior.
Psychology Today suggests that unhealthy ways of coping with stressful scenarios “undermine” or, in other words, sabotage us, or those around us. In my own life, I’ve become aware of self-sabotaging behavior that I’ve been using to cope with my stress and unhappiness. Whether it’s with my friends or guys that I’m interested in, I use anger to get my point across. When I feel threatened or unhappy, I lash out in ways that are not the most effective. In Mary Jane’s relationships, she would drink alcohol when she became upset, or have sex with men that she had no intentions of being with.
I’m sure the next question is “How do you change these self-sabotaging behaviors into effective communication?” Well, Psychology Today suggests a few things including:
Ask yourself how your childhood might have an effect on your “current self”
Was there something traumatic that might’ve happened when I was younger, that would cause me to lash out or act negatively towards those I love (or want to build healthy relationships with)? I’ve been thinking a lot about this one. Tackling my childhood issues brings us to another suggestion.
Dwelling on “If only…”
If only this had happened… If only this hadn’t happened… If only NOTHING. It’s time to move on. We can’t think about “If” when there are so many reasons to be happy about the things that are certain in our lives.
A lot of things are easier said than done, I know. The first step in changing our unhealthy, self- sabotaging behavior is to acknowledge that we have a problem. The next step is to figure out how to fix those issues. It isn’t something that happens overnight. Things like this take time. The only way to get to the happier version of yourself is to recognize the signs of self-sabotaging behaviors. Check out what else Psychology Today has to say about this topic, here.