Surely she was joking.
Me? Self-sabotaging? What kind of an idiot sabotages themselves?
I thought in horror, wondering if this was the kind of cap all therapists dish out in exchange for $200 of people’s hard-earned cash.
As a 21-year old with a well-endowed ego (and list of problems to match), the idea that all the dramas I had just laid out so gingerly for my therapist to commiserate with me on were all my own doing, was downright offensive.
No, therapist lady, I didn’t lose that job because I’m afraid of commitment. It was because my boss was just an asshole.
No, me quitting on the 4th business I started isn’t because I’m deathly afraid of failing - it’s because I have a new business idea that is definitely, most certainly and absolutely going to be the next Instagram.
And it absolutely isn’t because I binge every weekend and spend my life researching hacks to speed up weight loss, that I can’t lose weight. I just have a slow metabolism.
And so, predictably, the problems (and bad patterns) repeated themselves, ad nauseum, until one day, they knocked me into a pit so deep, I had no choice but to face an uncomfortable possibility – maybe I really am doing it all to myself.
As a mompreneur, with thousands of moms looking to me for inspiration and a daughter who needs a role model to look up to, I knew I needed to do better.
Author Patrick Rothfuss once remarked that, “The best lies about me are the ones I told.”
And when it comes to deception, no-one does a better job than we do to ourselves.
You self-sabotage to protect yourself - but destroy yourself in the process
In the book, The Mountain Is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage Into Self-Mastery, best-selling author Brianna Wiest expertly breaks down self-sabotage, explaining why it occurs and why, counter-intuitively, we sabotage ourselves due to a subconscious attempt to protect us from further suffering. But this comes with a catch - it leaves us miserable, stuck and ultimately, worse off than we would’ve been otherwise.
Wiest explains that self-sabotage is a coping mechanism used to fulfill unmet needs and avoid discomfort. Comfort is the driving force of human behavior - but growth and progress cannot happen in the context of comfort. To stop self-sabotaging, we need to explore our discomfort and uncover how self-sabotaging behaviors serve us. Ultimately, we are the only ones who can save ourselves from our own madness.
The Mountain Is You literally changed my life (and helped me lose 50 pounds).
It gave a label to that incessant voice inside me that tells me to quit while I’m ahead; to binge because feeling good NOW is more important than later; and to focus on all the bad things that can happen because focusing on the good will just end in disappointment.
I have hundreds of books in my home library but this book is only one of two that have a permanent place on my desk, along with my supplements and hand cream ❤️
Here are 3 profound lessons I learned about self-sabotage from The Mountain Is You.
When we realize what our core needs are, we’ll understand why we make certain decisions in life.
Self-sabotage is a coping mechanism that helps fulfill unmet needs, even if it's maladaptive. Contrary to popular belief, self-sabotage is not about self-punishment.
Instead, it’s a subconscious attempt to meet our needs, often without realizing that we have them. To stop self-sabotaging, you need to figure out why you do it in the first place. The self-sabotaging behaviors we engage in are symptoms of the root problem. When you find the root cause for your actions, you’ll discover why you sometimes end up ruining things for yourself.
“You cannot get rid of the coping mechanisms and think you’ve solved the problem,” explains Wiest. You must find healthier means of meeting your core commitments - or intrinsic needs- but to do that you need to know what they are in the first place. For example, if you’re a person who values freedom and travel, you may find yourself sabotaging work opportunities or quitting on jobs constantly and you can’t figure out why. Or maybe your core commitment is to feel loved, but you are never fully engaged in your relationship because you fear that your love is going to “fade”. If you don’t learn to align your actions with what you are committed to at a core level, you will always find ways to sabotage what you’re doing.
Seek opportunities, not comfort.
Human behavior is driven by comfort, as people tend to prefer what is familiar and safe. This preference for comfort often leads to self-sabotaging behaviors until the discomfort becomes too great to ignore.
According to Wiest, "people reject what feels unfamiliar, even if it's objectively better for them.” This is one of the big reasons we engage in self-sabotaging behaviors. Well, that is until self-sabotage becomes the less comfortable option and we have no choice but to face ourselves and our lives.
Wiest also argues that some people avoid self-improvement because it can come at the cost of their old life, including relationships and friendships. However, she insists that those who are meant to be in your life will meet you on the other side, where you can build a new comfort zone around things that move you forward. Remember that everything you’ll lose by choosing to grow was built for the person you were - a person you no longer want to be. Detach yourself from your old life and focus on the new life you’re building instead.
You’re the only one that can save yourself.
Remember that the only person getting in your way is yourself. You can continue to live in denial and convince yourself that the rest of the world is out to get you but the only thing you’ll gain from doing that is more misery. You can continue to screw up your life because you’re too afraid to live it or you can acknowledge you’ve made mistakes and move forward toward a better future. You can decide that you want better for yourself because you deserve better.
This book has genuinely changed my life and was worth every cent of the $17 I spent on it. It did more for me than the thousands I spent on therapy, quite frankly. If you find that your life tends to be spent just putting out fires and solving problem after problem, I have a sneaking suspicion it will change your life too.
By Sabrine Elkhodr
Sabrine Elkhodr is an Australian pharmacist based in the USA. She has a Master's degree in postnatal depression and is passionate about helping moms feel their best.
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