Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.

The Art of Self-Sabotage

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Mar 20, 2013 7:15 PM

I see so many almost-successful people. They sabotage or shy away from the very next accomplishment which would improve their chances of achieving their supposed goals. There's the depressed and anxious young woman who avoids her coping skill exercises and the activities which will make her life and mood better. She does fine until the fear of the responsibility of doing well takes over. There's the teenager who's out of trouble finally but still feels damaged and undeserving as a result of childhood abuse . He flirts with trouble again.There's the couple getting along for quite awhile and then one picks a fight--for fear of the intimacy of a successful relationship. There's the school star who gets drunk on a field trip. Or the media star who does. Or the sports star who dabbles with crime. Maybe the pressure of success was just too much? Maybe testing limits is part of human nature, anyway. Success is almost there and then they check to see if it will stay there when they break the rules. It won't. It takes work and consistency.

Here's what I think might help. These people shouldn't seek perfection, just sometimes great, sometimes good, sometimes OK, and sometimes just passable. That way, there's less pressure. They should build relaxation into their lives, even if they have a high-pressure job or family. They should look at events and obligations in terms of "interesting," rather than daunting, figuring that there's little to lose by trying, caring and being nice and a sincere worker. They can learn from every effort but not from making no effort or messing things up on purpose. They need to remember that they are no worse than anyone else in the world, that they deserve respect as much as they give it. They could focus on gratitude for every opportunity, realizing that they can take it and see what comes of it without judging themselves on their every move. They can exercise self-respect.

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