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What are your best tools against self-sabotage?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by zclesa, Sep 26, 2019.

  1. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    One of my final hurdles in overcoming TMS is overcoming self-sabotage. Has anyone got any specific practical tips that have helped them beat this?

    I'm not really talking about vague stuff, like "be compassionate to yourself", but actual practical things you've used that helped you to beat self-sabotage. If your answer is "be compassionate to yourself", please tell me how you practiced self-compassion, if you see what I mean.

    I think self-sabotage may be one of the trickiest things to overcome, so tried and tested approaches would be very welcome. It doesn't matter if it's a self-help thing, or a specific therapeutic method. I'm just interested in what worked for you.

    Rainstorm B likes this.
  2. EricFeelsThisWay

    EricFeelsThisWay Peer Supporter

    The terms “practical” and “beat” imply that there’s something we have to DO in order to start feeling kinder to ourselves. But TMS-era are consummate do-ers. They’re great at getting things accomplished, not so great at letting go, relaxing, loosening to grip of self-criticism.

    Having said that, I find it helpful to talk to myself throughout the day with phrases like, “Wow I’m being really harsh on myself right now. I don’t need to be so mean to myself.” It reframes the situation.

    Recently I wrote a journal entry, the subject of which was: “Why would I ever do anything that wasn’t for my highest good?” Didn’t get a lot of answers then and there but I’ve been chewing over it and it’s really interesting.
    Celayne, JanAtheCPA and zclesa like this.
  3. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    Thanks @EricFeelsThisWay. Yes, the language we use is very important. I have a slogan on my wall which says "You are allowed to succeed" rather than "You must crush self-sabotage with an iron fist!" lol. That's really my problem. I was given the message that I wasn't allowed to be a successful adult, which I took to heart and tend to get a lot of success then eff everything up. So for me, it's about giving myself permission to succeed, but also this must mean taking practical steps to break the old patterns.

    Reframing is a good tool, and I like your self-talk. Yeah my therapist asked me almost your exact question a while ago. When I defended some of my going out of my way to meet others' needs by saying it didn't damage me especially, she added "So it doesn't damage you, but it doesn't benefit you either, (or does it)?" That was interesting.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    My particular form of self-sabotage occurs when I let a regular practice of mindfulness lapse. I have finally realized that for me, the best way to accomplish a more balanced emotional (and physical!) state, which includes mindfulness, is specifically with journaling and meditation. I don't have to journal every day, but I do need to at least try to meditate every day, for just 10 minutes (this is the amount of time that "The Daily Calm" takes in the Calm app - recommended by @plum, and which I've found suits me very well for a number of reasons). Ideally, I will journal when I wake up, then meditate, which is the practice recommended by Nicole Sachs. But that's not written in stone - sometimes I journal at night if I'm rushed in the morning, or if I'm having a bad day, I'll just drop everything and journal immediately. I'm really working hard at meditating just that 10 minutes every morning.

    I recently read two articles about journaling, or any regular practice of writing down thoughts. One said that pen and paper is more therapeutic than using the computer , which I definitely believe is true, even though my handwriting is so bad that I can't read what I've written - but that truly doesn't matter since I destroy it all anyway, as recommended by Nicole. That being said, I also believe that something is better than nothing. The second article said that focusing our writing specifically on things that are worrying and upsetting us is more therapeutic than just writing down thoughts. That makes sense, since worry and upset (anger, annoyance, frustration - all those shallow emotions) are all distractions overlaying the true emotions, so there's more of a chance of uncovering the deeper emotions if we allow ourselves to concentrate on the things in that first layer.

    One more thing: my favorite self-talk phrase is aimed at my fearful brain when I'm having symptoms: "Hey, I know you think you're protecting me by doing this, but I don't buy it, and This Is Not Necessary!"
    Rainstorm B, zclesa and plum like this.
  5. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    Thanks @JanAtheCPA

    Mindfulness is very helpful in becoming aware of thoughts and patterns of behaviour. I think a "mindfulness check-in" is a good idea. I used to do this whenever I was waiting in a queue or not particularly concentrating on anything. I'd scan my body for tension and feelings and stuff to see what was drifting around outside of my conscious awareness.

    I love your self-talk! I know this is what I need to do as well, but I keep forgetting to do it. Perhaps that should go on my wall as well. It's so important to acknowledge all our parts, including the saboteur bits, and to kindly but firmly say "no".

    Last night I needed to pop out to the shops, but it was raining, getting dark, I was tired etc. etc. etc. I eventually went and rather enjoyed the short walk and didn't mind too much about the whole experience. Had I been more mindful, perhaps I would have been able to pick apart my "excuses" about going out as I'm sure some of them were about sabotage, looking back on it as I did need to go out. I was vaguely aware that some of them were probably excuses, which is why I went anyway.

    But using a strategy like a mini mindfulness check-in would have enabled me to see this more clearly, and then I could have done the self-talk thing acknowledging the concerns and reassuring. Then when it was over, it might have been good to do a little self-talk again, reaffirming that it was OK in the end and I needn't make excuses like that anymore.

    I don't journal much at the moment, as I don't really have anything too worrying to deal with. I see my therapist weekly, but when that ends, perhaps I will journal. I already do creative writing, and many of my feelings come out in that anyway. I do make little notes from time to time when things occur to me and I do post on my online thread every few weeks to keep a record of what I'm doing and what's helping me, as my progress is something I can be utterly blind to.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  6. Rainstorm B

    Rainstorm B Peer Supporter

    Hi @zclesa

    This is a perennial struggle for me too...
    I got a LOT of help from the book Soul Without Shame: a Guide to Liberating Yourself from the Judge Within by Byron Brown.
    It explains really clearly why we talk to ourselves the way we do when we’re self critical and sabotaging, and (more importantly) gives plenty of practical means to breaking out of this self-destructive way of being.

    I’ve found it a very holistic approach and, for me, much more powerful than affirmations etc in making lasting changes to my inner landscape. When I am able to apply the ideas (nowhere near all the time yet!), along with a soothing practice like yoga, I notice a marked increase in internal peace...and attendant decrease in pain.

    I also love the self-talk phrase @JanAtheCPA gives at the end of her post above - very much in the spirit of Soul Without Shame and spot on!

    zclesa and JanAtheCPA like this.
  7. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    Thanks @Rainstorm B. I actually learned a long time ago not to engage in negative self-talk or criticism. But my actions - urgh! I have achieved many wonderful things in my life, but unfortunately whenever I get too many achievements in a row, especially if they are huge achievements, I will do something to screw it up. It's like I have my own "glass ceiling" of how much I'm allowed to achieve.

    I also don't feel proud of myself very much. I don't get happy about major achievements for very long, and I don't physically feel pride, even though I know rationally I've done good. It's pretty strange and annoying. I do know where it comes from, though.

    I love, love, love yoga! It has helped me so much with TMS. I have a "balance disorder", and it more or less goes away when I'm doing yoga and for some time after as well. Hopefully when I am more "at home" in my body, I'll be more comfortable with positive physical feelings like feeling proud and won't have to unconsciously block them out.
    Rainstorm B likes this.

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