The Root of Self-Sabotage
At this point, it's fair to say that most of us have heard of the term "self-sabotage." We've likely seen others engage in self-sabotaging behaviors, and we may have even done so ourselves at some point. Habits and patterns form for a number of reasons. They form through childhood experiences, genetics, culture, and environments. Maybe you were shown a certain example of love in childhood, and that example was wired into your nervous system. So, in relationships, you unconsciously seek those same patterns and deny anyone who offers something different. This doesn't make us wrong or bad; it's simply human.
Self-sabotaging allows us to predict what is going to happen which gives us the illusion of control over our pain. As human beings, we are hardwired to keep ourselves safe and alive. If something in our patterning - our past experiences- has shown us that being vulnerable or using our voice or exercising autonomy then our brains and bodies will flag this as a threat to our survival.
Self-sabotage is a Survival Response
Changing self-sabotage requires understanding what it actually is: a powerful survival response. When we engage in self-sabotaging behaviors, our nervous system is trying to keep us safe.
Neurosciences tell us that experiences, traumas, and situations in your upbringing and past influence your interoceptive accuracy.
What is familiar is translated to be what is safe. Our brains cannot tell the difference between the two. Neuroscience tells us that the brain's fear center, the amygdala, is activated when we encounter something unfamiliar. This activates the body's stress response, which can lead to anxiety, fear, and even panic.
It’s not that you don’t want that relationship that is wildly loving and expansive because maybe love has always felt limiting or maybe tense or perhaps even unsafe.
It’s not that you don’t want that financial success, but maybe you’ve only ever known struggle and living paycheck-to-paycheck (or barely making ends meet)
It’s not that you don’t want that community of friends and bonds, it’s just that in the past friendship has only been something where you’ve only been able to show certain parts of yourself in order to be accepted.
So, when we try to change our habits or patterns, our brains may resist because they see it as a threat to our safety. This is why it can be so difficult to break bad habits or start new ones.
To see a change in your outer world, start by examining the narratives you tell yourself that define your concept of self. When you begin to shift those internal dialogues, you will shift the experience for yourself and actually feel capable of having what you desire. (needs something more here)
The Control of Self-Sabotage
Self-sabotage is a complex behavior with many contributing factors. One way to understand it is as a coping mechanism for dealing with fear and powerlessness. When we feel powerless in a situation, we may self-sabotage in order to regain some sense of control. Self-sabotage is a way to take back control over people and situations where you feel you are losing power. The one who does the sabotaging is the one who is controlling the trajectory of the relationship.
Neuroscience research supports the idea that self-sabotage is often driven by fear. When we are afraid, our brains activate the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain. The amygdala triggers a cascade of physiological responses, including increased heart rate, breathing, and muscle tension; The fight-or-flight response.
In some cases, the fight-or-flight response can be so intense that it leads you to make the exact opposite choice you want to make. This is because the amygdala bypasses the rational part of the brain and makes you act on impulse.
Self-sabotage can also be seen as a form of manipulation. When you self-sabotage, you are essentially forcing the outcome of a situation, even if it is not the outcome you want. This can be a way of protecting ourselves from further hurt or disappointment.
However, self-sabotage is ultimately counterproductive. It reinforces the limiting beliefs that you have about yourself and the world around you. It also prevents you from achieving your goals and living a fulfilling life.
Staying in Alignment
From a spiritual perspective, self-sabotage can be seen as a sign that we are out of alignment with our true selves. When we are not living in alignment with our true selves, we experience a sense of inner conflict. This conflict can manifest in a variety of ways, including self-sabotage.
To overcome self-sabotage, we need to first identify the underlying beliefs that are driving it. Once we have identified these beliefs, we can begin to challenge them and replace them with more positive and empowering beliefs.
We also need to learn to trust ourselves and our ability to handle whatever life throws our way. When we trust ourselves, we no longer need to self-sabotage in order to protect ourselves.
Releasing self-sabotaging reactions and behaviors takes intense alchemy and inner work. However, it is incredibly important to do in order to feel peace and happiness, and experience love, and real and healthy attachment. It is something each human must confront at some point in their live.
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