The Hidden Wisdom Behind Self-Sabotage

Posted: July 17, 2010 in Confessions of the CEO, Excuses excuses..., Fitness

So, wow – hey there.  Where did the time go?  It’s been four weeks since my last confession.  I confess that I am not really great about regularly writing this blog…  But today’s topic is fascinating and well worth the wait. 😉

And the topic is self-sabotage (as you may have guessed).

Once upon a time in my early thirties one of my friends asked a question that I have been trying to answer ever since.  It was just after a particularly awesome Ultimate Frisbee game and we were all high on endorphins and feeling like superstars when Martin Wrigglesworth asked, “Why don’t we always do what’s good for us when it makes us feel so great?”

Whether it’s eating well, exercising, becoming more educated, cleaning the house, keeping to budget, gardening or loving the right person most of us struggle with some sort of self-sabotage.  I haven’t been able to find a definition of self-sabotage which pleases me but I think most of us would agree that it points to behaviors that stand in our way of achieving what we want – falling on some continuum between eating that piece of cheesecake to shooting up heroin and robbing a bank.

What’s the opposite of self-sabotage?  Who are those people who don’t self-sabotage?  I would suggest that they are the self-possessed – those rare individuals who really know themselves and can manage all the voices in their heads.

My personal view is that more than anything else, we are seeking unity – maybe with the sacred (however you define that), maybe with someone else, or maybe we just want an integrated self.  I think what gives us the greatest joy is connection – but before we can fully connect with someone else, we must be connected with ourselves.  And that includes all our darkness, all the twisted repressed hateful parts of us, all that we don’t want to face – because therein lies our humanity and it deserves as much acceptance as all of our so-called virtues.

Back to the question of why we self-sabotage.  Maybe because in this perfectionistic world it’s the only way that these unsightly forces can get any recognition at all.  Maybe because our shadow side is trying to get our attention and the only way it knows how is by digging in its heels and fucking up our lives.

So, using fitness as an example: the next time you don’t want to go to the gym but you think you should, instead of beating yourself up for it, how about having a sit down with yourself and get to fully know the voice in your head that tells you don’t want to go.  Have a conversation with it – you might be surprised what it has to say if it gets the chance to be heard.

And finally, here’s something to think about:  in every moment of your life, you are either in command of yourself or you are being commanded.  Wouldn’t it be good to know who’s giving out the orders?


  1. Deb F says:

    I love that comment, every moment in your life you are in command of yourself or being commanded.

  2. hitgirl says:

    Thanks for commenting Deb – glad it meant something to you.

  3. Jennifer says:

    You have some great pieces of wisdom to share, thank you. 🙂

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