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Self-Sabotage bahavior?
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Self-Sabotage bahavior?

For more than 20 years I've been repeating and repeating an unhealthy behavior towards myself. It usually revolves around a job and a direction in life.

I'm a fairly intelligent person, but I seem to destroy all the good things I make happen in my life. I can't tell you how many jobs I've thrown away. I would make excuses about why I didn't want to work there anymore, usually surrounding anxiety issues or boredom. It's affecting all areas of my life now. I'm 44 years old and can't take care of myself because I keep destroying the good things I bring into my life.

I just recently threw away yet another incredible job. Making more money than ever, in a great location, easy work with minimal supervision, etc. I kept getting anxious and finding excuses to call in sick or leave early. I finally got to the point where I was on my final warning. Usually, when I get to that point, the self-sabotage behavior can ebb somewhat. But I usually end up pushing myself that last few inches and fall over the edge and lose the job.

Why do I do this to myself? I don't have the ability to see a counselor, as I have no insurance. I get panic attacks, severe anxiety and other health issues from this lifestyle.

I had a love/hate relationship with my father most of my life. He died in 2002 and we had just started getting to know how to like each other. Mom died in 1993 and I felt helpless during the whole 6 month collapse of her life. But my self-sabotaging behavior seems to have started even before that.

I am a gay man as well. I consider myself very fortunate in that I never went through the self-hatred and internal struggle a lot of gay people seem to face. Or am I attacking myself in other ways? I look at it like this. I didn't ask to be a gay man, nor could I pinpoint the exact time in my life I decided to be gay. It doesn't work that way. I believe firmly that I was born this way and there is nothing I can do about it. I am not ashamed of being gay. I don't feel the need to broadcast it to the world, but if asked, I will be honest about it 100% of the time. Could this be a part of my self-sabotage somehow?

Today I have an interview for a nothing job here in NJ. I've already missed the bus I need to get there on time. Needless to say, I've blown yet another opportunity to do better for myself. Luckily I have someone I am living with that is taking care of me: my partner. He and I broke up over this in March, when I moved to Arizona and managed to keep a job about 9 months before ruining it all again. Fortunately, he took me back three weeks ago and I didn't become homeless over it.

My whole family has written me off as a hopeless case. They don't understand me, they don't agree with my choices, etc. I have no real friends anymore either. I've managed to ruin just about every aspect of my life, including my health. I'm 320+ pounds. I have some issues with my health that are no doubt related to my behaviors. I even gave up on taking care of my oral hygiene and lost all my teeth. I don't have a way to get those fixed either, so my diet revolves around eating lots of instant mashed potatoes and the like.

Help me, somebody, to understand why I do this to myself.
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6 Comments Post a Comment
Avatar f tn
Why does anyone do it?  Granted you seem to have taken it to the extreme.

Perhaps at some point you felt unloved and so felt you had to do everything bigger and better to get attention.
Self-destructive behavior usually feeds underlying emotions.
Identify and resolve those underlying issues -problem solved.
If you keep repeating the behavior then you haven't figured out what is causing it.  There are usually themes.

Some people will discard the good even if there is only a very small amount of bad in it.  By doing this it keeps them safe.  
What would have happened if you had of stayed in these jobs?  Anxiety is a good clue that you need to make changes.  What are you running from?

-anxiety/ boredom
-avoiding taking responsibility
-mothers collapse
-relationship with your father -I expect there is a lot of emotional stuff there
-?homosexuality issues

Some of these point towards not being accepted and also not loving yourself enough.

Avatar m tn
Thanks for your insights.

I am sure there are underlying emotional aspects to this. In over 20 years, I haven't been able to put a finer on them yet.

I know I have dreadful self-esteem issues. When someone pays me a compliment, I always react with revulsion. How could anybody see anything attractive or admirable about ME?!?!

I know I am running from something(s). But when I get my most anxious, all I want to do is run more. If I had a car, I'd get in it and drive to the middle of nowhere, just to get away from everything and everybody. I know that's not the answer.

I suspect I have a lot of unfinished business with my dad. Funny how of the four of us kids (me being the baby) I was the one who got along with him the least. Yet, when he needed someone to take care of him during his battle with cancer, I was the ONLY one to step forward to help him. He died suddenly of a heart attack, of all things. Maybe I'm still in shock over his sudden disappearance, but that doesn't explain the other 14+ years of my sabotage to myself.

I wish I could find the answers to this puzzle. I'm 44, and while not old per se, I haven't even begun to have a career yet. I'll be working until I'm 85 at this point. I sure hope it isn't too little, too late for me.
Avatar f tn
It's never too late!!
There are people much older than either of us doing absolutely amazing stuff.

The answers will come.  Often they just take time.  And if they don't come, well then you're either looking in the wrong place or you weren't suppose to know.

Aren't you able to see anyone?  Aren't there ways around that in your country?
Have you seen a doctor about the medical issues?  Dentist?

Is there anything you would want to work towards keeping?

To me it sounds like you still have issues with your father.  It was good of you to support your father and I expect it was a huge shock when he died.  For some reason I'm wondering if he was alcoholic. None of my business.  Anyway, perhaps you father died before you were able to process some of your losses from when you were younger.  I guess there is a dilemma now of what to do with all those negative emotions.  Having to hold them all yourself and not vent them must be hard.

Behavior often gets worse during crises.  The behavior was probably more obvious during the more traumatic times in your life.

Why don't you like you?  Did someone say or do something?
For me it was because my older sister called me fat and dumb.  And because I was beaten a lot when I was younger.  And other stuff.

I can interpret compliments, etc as being criticisms, etc.
I don't believe others when they say positive things about me.  Not because I don't want too, but because ... I don't know, maybe I feel like I have no worth or value and the two aren't compatible.
I was talking to one of the experts on the forums because I've been feeling suicidal.  He said that I've come across as being sensitive and knowledgeable.  I still feel bad and useless despite the kind words.  Nothing anything says changes how bad I feel about me.

Maybe where I just give up on life more, you actually really sabotage yourself.
Maybe it is the same way to say we are insecure and have confidence issues??
How much do you actually like yourself?

When you want to run, ask yourself why you want to do it then.  That may help you understand some of the deeper stuff.  

The same sex parental figure in one's family is suppose to be the most significant.
Daughter -mother.  Son -father.

The answers are there.  If you're avoiding the clues (the anxiety) how do you expect to identify and resolve the issues?

It's never too late!!  You also deserve better.  It's time we started treating ourselves as we want others to treat us.


p.s.  Just wondering if you could be depressed too.  (Why did you miss the bus?)
Avatar m tn
I just had to tell you something. You said in an earlier post that my negative behaviors towards myself could be because of an underlying need of some kind. That really made me think!

Why would a person continually sabotage their life? Maybe to keep themselves dependent on others? I think that's exactly what I was doing. I relied on my parents for a safety net my whole life. I would always have a place to come back to for security and a sense of comfort. Home was a wonderful thing.

I think that I am still looking for that sense of security, but in others. I screw up my jobs and other things just so I have to live with someone else. Have them take care of me. I don't do this intentionally either. I feel compelled to mess up. I've lost many good jobs with this behavior. It never occurred to me that there was a positive aspect to this destructive behavior. That positive aspect was that I got a sense of security while depending on others, just like being at HOME.

You really opened my eyes with this. Please don't discount yourself, you made a huge difference for me today. I really appreciate your insight. Pat yourself on the back for helping a lost soul today. Thanks.

Avatar f tn
You did all the work.  Only you have the ability to change your own life.

The pattern you describe extends to your relationship with your partner too.

It's interesting that we would make ourselves vulnerable in order to obtain nurturing and security.  It would be great if we could achieve the love, security, etc whilst feeling empowered, independent and autonomous.
Tony Robbins (author of Personal Power II, etc) said it is about our hierarchy of values and beliefs.  While empowerment may come high on the list, security could come higher and therefore we'd do the utmost in our life to feel secure.  I gues that even means at the expense of ourselves.

My previous therapist had a saying: needy / greedy.
If we have needs that are unmet we become greedy.  We do things excessively or intensely.  Eating is an obvious example but there is usually always an unmet emotional need triggering it (the greed).

Is it about a need to feel secure or is it about a fear??
Fear of failing, fear of being judged, fear of ...??

If you ever get stuck, just keep looking deeper.

Well done on your insights.  I hope at some point you can begin to translate these into behavioral changes.

Best wishes.
Avatar f tn
I have been learning more about BPD lately. Yesterday my psychologist who I've been seeing for 3 years noticed that I keep coming back to issues around my childhood and not ever having a real sense of who I am....separate from my siblings etc. I was given a lot of responsibility when very young and I don't think I ever really knew how to just let go and play.  At 57, I am now starting to do that mostly thru "art".
I now have to learn to parent myself and that means being proud of myself - not getting stuck on not hearing how proud by parents were/are of me.  and taking care of me - I am my number one responsibility and that feels really hard for me. I don't have a feeling of my own "history".....everything that is important seems to be right now but I know, intellectually that I have a history but I discount the good stuff and that isn't healthy.
Maybe it's something you can apply to your situation?
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