Self-sabotage is something you deal with in general, but this is especially true when you are or have been involved in a toxic relationship with a narcissist.
Whether or not you’ve been officially diagnosed with PTSD or C-PTSD, chances are that if you’ve been abused by a narcissist, you have some of the associated symptoms – and self-sabotage often comes along with it.
When you engage in this self-defeating way of thinking and behaving, it literally creates problems for you – and directly interferes with your ability to meet your goals.
The most common self-sabotaging behaviors include the following.
- Self-medication with drugs or alcohol
- Comfort eating/Food abuse
- Forms of self-injury such as cutting
Sure, these little vices seem helpful in the moment because they somehow take us away from the problem for the moment, but ultimately, they undermine us, especially when we engage in them over and over again.
After all, the definition of insanity is to repeat the same acts over and over but to expect different results, right?
Have you ever told yourself you were going to do something, but then turned around and made sure it wasn’t going to happen? That’s a great example of self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage is all too common for narcissistic abuse survivors, unfortunately, and it pretty much guarantees that you maintain the status quo, whether the status quo is good or bad.
Don’t beat yourself up! It’s human nature – you’re naturally resistant to change. This sabotage is rarely intentional.
We subconsciously do and say things that make success much less likely. You might accidentally fail to set your alarm cook and be late to an important interview as a result.
Self-sabotage can be challenging to spot, but your friends and family are an excellent resource. It’s easier to spot in others.
Learn more about self-sabotage and discover how you can get rid of its negative influences.
1. Self-sabotage is a form of control. When an outcome is uncertain, we can create certainty by failing intentionally. You can ensure the lack of a job offer by being late to your interview, rather than suffer from the lack of control that comes from waiting for that phone call after the interview.
- Self-sabotage allows you to dictate the outcome, even though it might be negative.
2. You can avoid change by sabotaging yourself. You might not like your current job, but you know everyone and how to navigate through the company. Familiarity is one form of comfort. A new job brings a lot of uncertainty.
- You don’t know whether you’ll enjoy a new job or not. You don’t know whether you’ll like your boss or co-workers. You don’t know how much stress you’ll face.
- Sabotaging yourself can keep you in your comfort zone, even if it isn’t very comfortable.
3. You might feel that you deserve failure. If your self-esteem is low, you might believe that you deserve to fail. Self-sabotage is common. It’s also comforting in its own way. Self-sabotage is also a great hindrance to progress and happiness. Repeated failures can ruin anyone’s attitude.
1. Take a look at your past failures. When you made poor choices, consider your thoughts. Were they reasonable? No one is perfect, and you’re bound to make mistakes. However, when you do something you know is wrong, take note.
- Do this for every “failure” you’ve had. Pay particular attention to your past actions. If you see signs of self-sabotage, ask yourself why you did it. Do you see a pattern?
2. Determine appropriate behavior. After recognizing the times you’ve sabotaged yourself, determine what you should have done. Take the time to figure out what the best course of action would have been. Do this for each instance of self-sabotage you’ve noticed.
3. Think about how much self-sabotage has cost you in the past. You’ve missed out on a lot because of self-sabotage. Do you make less money, have fewer friends, and live a less fulfilling life because you sabotage yourself? Realize how much you’ve cost yourself, and changing will be easier.
4. How much has your self-sabotage harmed others? How have your friends, family, and other loved ones been affected? Living a small life has an impact on everyone around you. Give yourself effective reasons to change your behavior.
Much like the other side-effects and personality-changing trauma reactions we have during and after narcissistic abuse, self-sabotage is a defense mechanism.
Sabotaging yourself keeps you safe and in control, at the expense of making any real progress in your life. Stopping this pattern of behavior requires reflection, honesty, and a little courage. Examine your life for instances of self-sabotage, make the necessary changes to your behavior, and enjoy your resulting success!
Are you sabotaging yourself? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. Let’s discuss it!
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.