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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Self-Sabotage vs Self-Preservation

This is a post with a subject matter that I have been hesitant to write about because it is so deeply ingrained in my history and my psyche and has created so much psychological trauma and drama that it seems almost self-destructive to address it.

But like so many other things that I've come to grips with in my life and about myself, I guess it's time to talk about what I've learned about myself and maybe give some information about the whole act of self-sabotage that will help others.

When I look at all the major changes, crises or turning points in my life, they all came about by what may be best described as acts of self-sabotage.

I really couldn't find a good, concise definition of self-sabotage so I guess I'll just define it myself.

Self-sabotage is any act or behavior that initiates, creates or encourages negative or destructive consequences or outcomes to one's self.

Obviously, the acts or behavior can result in nearly any form of negative outcome whether it be physical, mental, emotional, vocational, relational, etc.

Self-sabotage is not a good thing - right?.... or is it?

Hang with me here a minute and let me give you a few examples that might support the hypothesis that Self-Sabotage may not be as bad as it first seems.

One of the things I am struggling with now is my consumption of alcohol.  My consumption is not excessive by any definition but I have found that any alcohol consumption above maybe a few glasses of wine a week are detrimental to my overall and long term health goals.

I have seen the cause and effect action caused by drinking too much - overall body inflammation which leads to immediate weight gain, negative effect on sleep patterns, lethargy, propensity to overeat.... all of these things are negative.

The problem statement in this particular example is that when I drink too much, I am committing an act of self-sabotage.

The revelation is that it has led me to recognize the really negative consequences of this self-destructive act.

I see, recognize and understand this act of self-sabotage and because of that can make adjustments.

Self-sabotage is a way of identifying weaknesses and defining limits.

Now let me give you several examples that lend even more and more meaningful credence to the benefits of self-sabotage.

I worked in a corporate type job as a chemical engineer in a major petrochemical complex for 18 years.  In a nutshell, I really didn't enjoy the work.  In fact, I hated it. It got to the point where I just really wanted out but I was bound financially to the job and frankly was scared about giving up the seeming security and lifestyle it afforded me.

However, in the last 2 - 3 years of that career, I began to do and say things in that job that made it clear that I did not want to work in that job or career anymore.  In looking back at that behavior, I would have to define it as self-sabotage.

But here's the kicker.  The self-sabotage was rooted in the realization that the career I was in was not good for me.  I did not want that job anymore. So in a way, the self-sabotage was a way of putting the control of getting me out of that job into the hands of the company I worked for.

I guess I didn't have the conscious realization or moral or intestinal fortitude to just make a graceful and fortuitous plan for exit and cut the ties myself so I forced somebody else to do it for me.

I could also look at the ends of both my marriages and realize there were real and evident acts of self-sabotage used to force a crisis resulting in divorce because I simply didn't want to be married to those people anymore.

More recently, I was in a relationship where at the conclusion the other party used self-sabotage as a description of my behavior that resulted in the demise of the relationship.  In reflection an examination of that relationship, I was ready to exit but just didn't know how to do it in a more mature and effective manner.

In a most recent encounter, I had a random meeting with a lady in Santa Fe that resulted in a follow-up discussion and dinner, during which the conversation covered a variety of topics and disclosures that made it clear to me real fast that this was not going to be someone I wanted to go any further with.  In the drive home, I said something that in retrospect was clearly a self-sabotaging statement. It was basically a way of saying "Nice to meet ya but you won't be hearing from me again."

Here's the takeaway from my learnings and experience with self-sabotage.

In every case I can think of, my acts of self-sabotage were a way of getting me out of a situation that had become stagnant or destructive to my health and well being.

Self-sabotage was a Subliminal Way of Saving Myself Now from Something More Destructive in the Future.

I guess for me Self-Sabotage is a form of Self-Preservation.

Bet the psychologists / counselors / self-help artists of the World would have a Field Day with that Concept.

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