I almost didn’t write this week. I have a lot on my plate completing projects and term papers for my master’s program, but then while doing all of this I’m recognizing a pattern of behavior that I realize has been part of me since birth. I’m a self-saboteur.
It doesn’t matter what it is, as soon as I start to see progress I knock my feet out from underneath myself and ruin it. If I manage to keep from ruining it, I’ll be certain to make the process as difficult as possible instead.
For example, those of you that have been with me for this journey may remember last spring when I decided to really make my diet a priority. To be honest, I kicked its ass and saw incredible gains. It was a big accomplishment for me. I felt amazing and my body transformed. It was awesome. And then summer happened…yeah…submit varied excuses here, but needless to say, maintenance didn’t quite work out. I haven’t ruined all of my efforts by any means, but I sure have made the process way more difficult than it ever needed to be, and it’s like starting over, all over again.
And even now, I’m working on papers and projects for my program and I’ll get everything together to get started, and then walk off- maybe physically or just mentally, but either way it’s a no-go. I will be all ready to work on it and my brain will just completely shut down. Next thing you know I’m spinning around in my chair, bouncing balls off the wall, doing any possible thing except for the task at hand. I put myself in horrible situations time and time again as I work under tremendous time crunches. I tell myself that I’m better under pressure and that I turn out higher quality work, which to some extent is true, but on the other hand I know it’s just a particular skill that has resulted from my constant avoidance of tasks over the years. Most would just call that procrastination, but I recognize it for what it is- just one more form of self-sabotage. It increases stress levels which takes a toll on sleep which takes a toll on diet and exercise… it’s a complete cycle of destruction. So what do you do about it?
I would love to make a claim that I now have the answer to this pesky problem, but that would be a flat out lie. Considering I did it today, I am 100% aware of the fact that I do not have a solution. I have a problem and am in need of an intervention lol. Unfortunately, this is where the issue of being a highly informed, educated person arises- there isn’t anything someone is going to tell me that I haven’t already heard. I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what, I know how, I know when…and yet, here we are. I’ve read all the articles about not being a procrastinator or how to quit self-sabotaging, (“5 steps!” “10 steps!” “However many steps and you’ll be there!”), how could I possibly still struggle with such helpful information? Hmmm. And truthfully, I’ve managed it this long- it wouldn’t even matter if I didn’t get so frustrated.
It bothers me to work so hard on something just to watch myself throw it away as if I’m standing on the sidelines watching a train wreck and can’t look away. I see myself making detrimental choices, I recognize I’m doing it, and it’s like a mind-body disconnect where there is no communication going on there whatsoever to get me to stop. The whole inner-dialogue, my shoulder angel, is telling me not to do whatever it is, the better choice I should make, and it’s the devil on my other shoulder that’s like “oh that’s the better way? Cool, then I definitely need to do the exact opposite! Yeah!” Why do I listen to that guy? I know he’s an idiot. (And why is it a he? Deeper questions for another time…)
And really, I guess I do have one small piece of the puzzle in all of this. I see my self-sabotaging as one more arena for my all-or-nothing personality to play in. In my mind it’s better to make a conscious choice to move in a direction of failure, than to actually fail in full motion. If I am in any way uncertain that I will be able to succeed at the endeavor, I choose the failing action to beat failure to the punch and that way I have something else to blame it on.
Not sure I can quit eating sugar forever? Tell myself it’s not what I want for my life anyway (cuz where’s the fun in that?) and go eat a brownie (times five).
Not sure I can maintain my workout schedule? Choose to skip a day “to rest” and let it turn into a week (or longer).
Afraid I’ll get a bad grade on an assignment? Put it off until the very last minute so that I don’t have time to give it my best effort.
These are all example of self-sabotage that I have committed and the stories I’ve told myself to make it ok. But it’s not ok. Because I’m better than that, and so are you.
So…while I don’t have the answers, I do have desire and I am willing to make a commitment- to one day at a time.
I don’t have to quit eating sugar forever- just for today. I don’t have to work out every day for the rest of my life, just this one. And I don’t have to complete all of my papers and projects today, just one part today.
Tomorrow will come in its own time and I can commit to a brand new day of goals at that point, but for today I’m all in.