Okay, this ex isn’t fully an ex, if I’m to be honest. I’ve had several breakups with this ex, but progress, not perfection. The last time I had a breakup, it was tough, simply because I was unaware I was in a relationship with this. I was simply unaware that I had felt this way for so long that when I realised, it slapped me in the face. It was like an out-of-nowhere wake-up call. I had not just come across the term self-sabotage; my best friend had said it once or twice, but I must have blindly disregarded it until God was ready to tackle me on this one.
One thing I want to declare before I begin is that God is good and His timing is the best! 19-year-old Faith wasn’t ready for this conversation, I wasn’t ready till I was about 22 actually.
Okay, let us try and define Self-sabotage. I have recruited some anonymous friends for this.
Friend A sees self-sabotage as an unconscious, unintentional something that comes from a place of low self-esteem. It is a desire to bring things back to normal, even though the normal is bad for the person. So for instance someone that is used to being in a toxic relationship unconsciously sees a good relationship, where they are valued and all of that and starts acting out because they don’t realise that their body considers good and safe to be boring and then it is trying to recreate what they are used to.
Friend B sees self-sabotage as the inability to allow oneself to be happy in situations that seem too good to be true.
If I was to define self-sabotage, I would define it as a compilation of negative self-actualisations, and behaviours that profess that one is inadequate, unworthy or undeserving of some form of success or accomplishment in a particular area. Basically, your mind prepping you and being in a state of irrational, unjustified anticipation for failure. A conscious, sometimes unconscious pattern of behaviour blocks success and one’s goals.
Fortunately and unfortunately, we all have different defence mechanisms that can cloak things in our conscious minds, and in my case, I was completely self-sabotaging unconsciously. As in, I had no clue I was self-sabotaging, and weirdly enough, I had been doing this, years before I even had the first speckle. This goes back to times when my skin was one tone. This goes beyond my skin, yes the presence of my speckled skin eventually exposed it, but it also has to do with my mind, my character, my mannerism, my emotions, and my temperaments. Tbh everything is sha. I think my speckled skin made this issue (my relationship with self-sabotage), so undeniably obvious, but not straight away because in the first 2 years everything I felt about my skin was justified as far as I was concerned; but was it tho?
I don’t know when exactly I would have started this relationship with self-sabotage but I think I self-sabotage because I find it hard to let myself believe and know that I am indeed loveable and valued exactly how I am, how I look and how I show up in life (insert childhood trauma!). To paint a picture, I would say I would have found a way to self-sabotage every friendship, relationship and good thing I have had the privilege to be a part of since I was about 10. So when my speckled skin would reveal itself, it was like a, ‘well it couldn’t just get worse kindda moment; like really, I didn’t already have enough to be dealing with mentally without it, lord you just had to add the cherry on top’. Imagine this in the voice of angry 19-year-old Faith. It would take me at least another year to realise I had resented God, and honestly, nothing seemed to make sense.
So although I was unaware, self-sabotaging seemed to make sense, as the one person who I could trust loves, values and accepts me exactly as I am, I was resenting Him. The bible verse says;
I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. Jer 29:11 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do. Psalms 11:3 KJV
In all essence, my relationship with Christ is and should be my foundation for everything else, but this most important relationship was currently shaking and looking destroyed. So it was the easiest access for self-sabotage, and every other ex I’ve spoken about. In the early years of being speckled, self-sabotage looked like never showing my skin, or isolating myself so much because I believed that my skin will definitely be a problem. This is in friendships, relationships and even church. Let me rat on myself a little, my thought process was disgusting. I at some point believed I didn’t deserve friends, love or care, so I would do everything to push people away, whilst feeling lonely and depressed for those exact reasons. Like what in world does deserving friends mean, like who thinks like that? Me! I thought like that for months, but you know when the enemy has your mind in a choke hold, you would be producing all these wild thoughts litch out of nowhere, for no damn reason.
For someone else, it might look like believing you don’t deserve, or haven’t done anything to be happy or have joy, so you act from that space of feeling undeserving and mess up whatever could have made you happy (insert imposter syndrome). An example could be someone that wants a better-paying job, but instead of applying and preparing for the interview they just tell themselves, I could never get it anyway, so what’s the point of giving it my best or even showing up, literally sabotaging that opportunity for yourself. I honestly believe that at least 70% of us not being our best comes from self-sabotaging.
So check yourself:
That thing you want and have set up methods to justify, and behavioural patterns to not getting it is self-sabotaging.
That weight you want to lose or gain, but have told yourself that your genes are messed up already anyway, so what’s the point, I might as well eat whatever and not workout, is self-sabotaging. Simply because even if your genes are indeed messed up, still show up and do your best.
That important somebody in your life, that might genuinely just wants to show you love, but you have told yourself ‘men are trash’, or ‘fear women’, so you push them away, is self-sabotage. Simply because anybody can be trash, but don’t automatically assume this one in front of you must be.
That level of ministry and influence you want to get to, but have told yourself.’ that could never be me’, ‘no one would listen’, is self-sabotaging. Simply because if God has called you and placed influence on you, you are only shooting yourself in the foot by not walking in it.
That annoying phrase, “it is what it is” is the biggest scam and a technique of self-sabotaging.
Self-sabotage is usually fuelled by a fear of failure and success, perfectionism, and procrastination. Here are some of its symptoms :
- Not asking for help.
- Starting quarrels and conflicts with others and within oneself.
- aiming too high or too low.
- isolating oneself or avoiding others.
- negative self-talk.
- overly critical of oneself, and achievements.
- people pleasing and always seeking external approval.
If you aren’t being your biggest cheerleader, then who is?
You can not continually expect someone else to cheer louder for you than you do for yourself. there might be people that do at different points of your life, mums for example, but it shouldn’t be a norm or expectation, or come from a place of not cheering for yourself enough.
Self-sabotage, unfortunately, goes hand in hand with imposter syndrome, and with how we live in such a fast-paced generation, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that we haven’t done enough to get something, to be something or someone. Imposter syndrome is so real and under-talked about. You could literally feel like an imposter in something you put 100% effort into, not to mention the things that God blesses us with in His divine mercy. Imposter syndrome shows up when you are second-guessing and thinking, “why me and not them?”, “I don’t belong here”, “this should not be my story”, “im about to be exposed as a fraud”. These sound like simple random things that can just cross the mind, but for someone that is already self-sabotaging, this can be very overwhelming.
So what do you do when you are self-sabotaging and tag team with imposter syndrome?
Let God be the source of your confidence (Godfidence). I say this because we cannot mistakenly overinflate our egos, and think we are all that because, we are not. As good as God is to us, and he decorates our lives, we are still dust, so make your boast in the lord.
Pslam 103:13-14. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those that fear Him. For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.
Pray for, work on and develop self-awareness. You will need it to confront imposter syndrome and self-sabotage.
Be honest with yourself, and make notes of what area you are self-sabotaging. You can go a step further to think of why you could’ve self-sabotaged, and what are your schemas and thought patterns about this.
Write down practical steps you can take to change. remember change doesn’t have to be drastic, it can be as little or as big as you can handle at the moment. it has to be doable.
So the reason why I say this isn’t fully an ex is because of how easy it has been for me to slip back into my old patterns and every day requires even more self-awareness to realise. It’s usually just a slip and I pick myself right out, nut there is still that unconscious part that has grown from years of negative self-talk, which honestly is a pain in the backside.