I’m pretty sure everyone has encountered a moment of self-sabbotage at some point. If you are fighting for recovery from an eating disorder, trying to change a habit, working at not procrastinating at school or work, trying to get a raise; whatever it is, chances are you’ve gotten in your own way. Whether it’s self doubt, lack of confidence, your brain on autopilot or a lack of motivation and stimulation chances are you don’t have whatever you want most because of something you are doing, or not doing.
I spent years saying that recovery was too hard, that I was meant to be sick forever, that I was beyond help, too broken, too entrenched. The truth was I was too scared and not motivated enough. No, I’m not saying that with sheer will you can pull yourself out of the depths of illness but realizing that you and you alone are the thing keeping you stuck is the first step to recovery, it absolutely was mine.
After 10+ years of illness and 4 years of active recovery I consider myself healed from my eating disorders, but it wasn’t easy. From the moment I started realizing that I was preventing my own recovery and not some demon in my mind it has been a WILD ride full of questions I never wanted to ask and answers I never really wanted to know. I can still remember the day I started realizing that even though I’d said for 4 years that I wanted to be better and had gone through the motions of recovery and relapse, treatment programs and therapy I had gone no where and actually only gotten worse. It was March 4th 2013, 4 1/2 years after my intake interviews for my treatment program and 5 years after seeking professional help for my eating disorder that I realized it wasn’t up to the demon to get out of my head and decide to leave, it was up to me to kick it out.
Anyone who knows me knows of my addiction to TED talks. The whole premise is “ideas worth spreading” and people get up to talk about inspirational, interesting or awe inspiring things through speeches, slide presentations, spoken work poetry, music, whatever. I LOVE them. I came across one a couple of weeks ago that has stuck with me by Mel Robbins called “How to stop screwing yourself over” I’m actually going to link it right here because everyone should watch it —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp7E973zozc
When I was planning on doing a post about self-sabbotage this week Mel’stalk came into my mind. The biggest form of self sabbotage was of course keeping my illness running my life but now that I’m recovered from my eating disorders I still haven’t recovered from the habit of self-sabbotage. I still sabbotage my healthy eating habits, my efforts at moving my body in a healthy way, my desire to have a tidy house or at the very least taking my dog for a daily walk.
For the last 2 years I’ve had it as my goal to take the dog for a daily walk like I used to. For TWO YEARS I’ve lived in a land of excuses; it’s raining, I’m too tired, the baby doesn’t like the cold, I don’t have good enough boots, she’s such a pain to walk, I’m too busy, the baby isn’t sleeping blah blah blah! Today I’m not taking her because it’s raining. I’ve already decided that because it’s cold and rainy and it’s a pain to push the stroller and hold the dog and hold an umbrella that I’m not taking her. I feel bad but I’m still sitting here, not taking her out. Now this feels like a pretty simple solution but it’s just a small example in a much larger web of self-sabbotage.
Realize Your Worth
There is always the question of why self-sabbotage shows up in some people’s lives more than others. I’m not going to spend too much time on it but I think it’s completely intertwined with a feeling of one’s self-worth (see my last post about that here). If you don’t feel you are worthy of all the things you desire in life you subliminally do everything in your power to make sure you don’t get them. Get a good look at how you feel about your self worth and then come back and figure out how to stop crewing yourself over. Mel Robbins has a pretty great way to get out of your own way and get anything you want but first you have to believe on some level that you might just be worthy of getting everything (or even just one thing) that you want.
What Do You Want?
First question – what do you want!? Don’t respond with something generic but be specific. I want to get out of the house doesn’t fly because it’s not specific enough. I want to walk my dog every day or take my baby to something social once a week, I want a better job, to get paid more, to write a book, to be able to run 5k, to be strong enough to get through a yoga practice without taking a modification, to eat less crap – those are all great examples, many of them my own. ONe thing Mel says is that setting a goal of “Being heathy” will not get your ass on a treadmill. whatever your motivation, find it even if it sounds stupid to other people.
One big thing for me that I’ve been working on for years is that I want to write a book. I want it to be a memoir about my recovery and to call it “wishbone”. I’ve had this plan and idea for years now but it never quite gets off the ground. I’ve spent so much time “researching” what to do, as if some book somewhere will magically give me the motivation to get started. As if reading another blog or another book or writing another blog post will get me one step closer to being ready.
That’s my biggest clue that I’m self-sabotaging getting what I want. “I’m not ready”. Well why the hell not!? Will I be ready next week or next month or next year? WIll I be ready when my babies are all grown up and I have “more time” or when I have read another book or watched another TED talk? Why am I waiting for the perfect set of circumstances to tell me that I can now begin to reach for the stars?
Be Your Own Parent
My favourite quote from Mel’s TED talk is this:
“When you turn 18 no one tells you that it’s now your job to parent yourself. It’s your job to make yourself do the crap you don’t want to do so that you can be everything that you’re supposed to be. You’re so damn busy waiting to feel like it, and you’re never going to.”
Lets just let that sink in for a second.
We never want to do the crap we need to do like going for a run or not eating another doughnut, or turning off the tv, or getting off our butts and walking the dog. You will never feel like waking up early to get a start on your day, showering when you’re feeling depressed or clean the house instead of napping when the baby is asleep.
Be Your Own Parent. Stop waiting for someone to tell you what you should do or to feel like it. Force yourself to do the things you don’t want to and your life will start to shift.
Stop Thinking About It
Get out of your head and off the planning paper. Start making meaningful changes whether you want to or not. Get up out of bed early. Call a friend who can help. Create an accountability buddy. Set a small goal and start meeting it.
Get Comfortable With The Uncomfortable
Growth happens in the places where you feel least comfortable. When your muscles quiver and shake, they are getting stronger. When your lungs gasp for air on a run, they are getting bigger and better at regulating your oxygen. When you feel stress or anxiety in a new situation but there is no threat to your safety, you are experiencing your boundaries and comfort zone slowly shifting.
In my recovery I felt overwhelming anxiety about going to sleep without meticulously planning my next day’s food and activity. I stayed up for hours until I knew exactly what I would eat and when, how much and how long I would exercise for. To recover I had to slowly learn to experience and overcome my anxieties one step at a time.