Self Sabotage

Have you ever decided you were going to do something only to have that idea fade into memory weeks or months later? We are pushed towards New Year’s Resolutions come the end of every December. Some people embrace this as a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the year almost gone by, but for others the thought of setting a goal is as pleasurable as eating dirt, because they’ve experienced failure too often.

There are many reasons for not achieving your goals. A big reason is self sabotage. One dictionary definition of sabotage is, a ‘Treacherous action to defeat or hinder a cause or endeavor.’ Treacherous may seem like a harsh word in the context of goal achievement, but when we add the word ‘self’ in front of ‘sabotage’ the meaning of the word ‘treacherous’ is all the more potent. Why would we consciously deny ourselves our greatness? Why would we choose to defeat our own actions?

Speaking from a gay-male perspective, there have been a number of times that I have sabotaged my own efforts in life. I am a firm advocate of not blaming circumstances — I fully believe we are totally responsible for our own choices — even the choices we make to self-sabotage. These choices may be predicated on the outside world, the judgments and opinions of others. Should it matter what other people think of you? Absolutely not and this is when self-love and self esteem come into play.

Being gay does set one apart. We are not equals in society. Yes, we have more ‘rights’ than we ever have, but the fact that we have a ‘need’ for equal rights proves that we are not accepted. I first acknowledged that I was gay when I was 15 years old, and even at 40 years old, I sometimes still wonder what other people think of me as a gay man.

A few months ago I had a shocking realization that there was still a deep need in me for acceptance — very deep in my subconscious. It was a small voice that said, ‘I sometimes still don’t feel good enough as a gay man’. I thought, ‘How could this be happening?’ and then took the time to reflect on this new awareness. I realized that if you have even a ‘pea-sized’ issue of negative self-worth, and if it’s buried so deep you almost can’t reach it, it will impact your life and all of your actions and choices.

When we choose to be influenced by the opinions of others we sometimes make bad choices — but they are still our own choices. We own them and sometimes we have to ‘own up’ to them. For some it’s an unhealthy relationship out of a need to feel desired. For others it’s ‘emotional’ eating or treating their body in an unhealthy way. It can also be more subtle — suppression of your dreams, your desire to be who you are meant to be. All of these choices are distractions from our truth, the truth we don’t want to face, not because of external judgment but because of our own self-imposed judgment.

We continue to make unhealthy choices until one day we decide we’ve had enough. The past choices that ‘mis-created’ our life were a catalyst. We get to a point where we are past feeling ashamed and the opinions of others about our choices would no longer influence us. We recognize that we can choose to be happy now; that we deserve better. This is a conscious moment of self-acceptance and the ability to make better, healthier choices.

This can be a moment when we feel incredibly relieved, with the awareness of who we are. Awareness is a gift. Knowing is power. When you know what is holding you back you can make a new choice and you can do whatever necessary to improve your self-esteem in that area and then move forward. This is a mark of successful people. Successful people have issues of sabotage and fears like everyone else, they are just more aware of who they are, their passions, their inspiration, and they look these challenges squarely in the eye and find resolution more quickly. It’s practice that makes the master.

Be kind to yourself — you’re worth it!

[Originally published February 14, 2006]

© 2011 Darren Stehle & Integrated Fitness. All Rights Reserved.