How do you handle disappointment, regret, stress, frustration, sadness, risk or just life in general? What do you do to escape? Is there a repetitive reaction or behavior you participate it when you encounter life’s ups and downs? Is the response one you take the time to evaluate as being healthy or unhealthy? Have you ever said to yourself, I need a beer, a cigarette, a piece of chocolate or two, or some other addictive substance to handle a situation, where one glass of wine turns into a bottle an hour later? Even the behaviors we perceive as being healthy can be substitutes for emotional accountability. I need to exercise again, work longer, volunteer more, lose more weight, etc.
Personally I can reflect where there have been many instances where I would utilize an outside perceived comforter to soften the struggle of life, or the outcome of an event, relationship or project. I am tested each day with my ability to contain patterns of behavior that I know to be self-destructive. How often do we take the time to think before we act? How often do we participate in behaviors and not reflect on the possible cause or outcome of that behavior, and years later we wake up and say to ourselves what have I done to myself? Of course I am referring to irrational excess and consistent patterns of actions, although many sabotaging behaviors in moderation can be incredibly debilitating as well, such as substance abuse. Years may past and you may ask yourself how did I ever go down this road of personal emotional and physical deterioration? The end result of such behaviors may not be a totally sabotaged life, but the day-to-day internal battles that stimulate those behaviors contribute to emotional and physiological struggles that are extremely debilitating.
There are countless experiences we had as children we can examine that aid us in understanding why we are the way we are, but what to do now? Although the deep-rooted understandings of these dysfunctions can be left to the therapist to decipher, I am asking all of us to use common sense in recognizing what we may be doing to ourselves in the course of handling life. I want us all to be happy with ourselves. It is always easier to make the excuse then it is to assess where you are with yourself and incorporate the core values you believe in, act on them and build a greater sense of personal strength and self-respect. The key question to ask yourself, how are my behaviors impacting those around me, especially my loved ones? I believe most individuals know when they are being harmful to themselves, which then translates into the task of taking personal accountability. However, how often do we reflect on how those behaviors may impact those around us, and take accountability for that?
As our society continues a growing pattern of self-rationalized excuses for misbehavior, an all about me, and entitlement attitude, belief in self-determination becomes all the more challenging. Stop the self-sabotage and begin to develop the person you want to be and believe you can be, by understanding there are people who love you, believe in you, count on you and need you. If you impact another person, you have a responsibility to that person and personal accountability is key. Are you taking ownership for your life, dealing with the occasional or constant unhappiness, or are you continuing a pattern of behavior to shelter yourself from feeling what you do not want to feel? If you scream at those around you when you are under stress, what are you protecting, where are you vulnerable? If your opinion must always matter, ask why? If you need to drink to where you cannot feel, what are you not dealing with? It is not fair to you and especially those around you to be miserable and create misery. We all doubt ourselves, so do I, but how extensive are those doubts and how are they impacting others and us? The first major hurdle in overcoming our self-sabotaging is to acknowledge we are doing it. The next jump is to listen to those around us who are the recipients of those self-destructive behaviors. It will always be humility and acceptance of our vulnerabilities that will be the breakthrough in persevering through what we dislike about ourselves. You can only love others to the extent you love yourself.