Monday, September 19, 2011

Overcoming Self Sabotage

I think that many people understand the concept of what self-sabotage is but very few people ever talk about it. Some of you may have no experience with it and probably won't relate to this blog post. Some of you live with it every day and understand it all too well. Well I'm here to bring this dirty little secret out into the open and address it head on.

I am a self-sabotager. The first step in recovery is to admit it, right? So there, I've admitted it. I'm cured. Okay, maybe not. Or as Lee Corso might say, "Not so fast my friend!"

I haven't always been a self-sabotager. It seems to be a characteristic that I've managed to fine-tune over the past 15 years. When I was in high school, college and even MBA an law school, I seemed to be the type of person who set a goal and then worked to achieve it. And most of the time I was successful in reaching those goals. But once I got out of school and into the real world something changed. I'm not exactly sure what it was that changed me and I'm not sure that it was one identifiable event, but I changed. And now I struggle with self-sabotage on a regular basis.

I guess one of the first things that happened was my divorce. After the divorce I think I felt, for the first time in my life, that I had failed at something. As I said, up to that point I was usually able to set a goal and achieve it. No one ever gets married saying "My goal is to be divorced in 7 years." (Well I think some people go into a marriage with that philosophy but that's an entirely different blog.) With that feeling of failure I think I began to feel that I wasn't worthy of happiness. And that began a downward spiral of self-sabotage. I began to eat and drink to cope with my feelings. I managed to gain so much weight that I was tipping the scales at an impressive 365 pounds. That was up from 205 pounds in 1994.

So now that I am working out diligently and eating healthier and am on the verge of losing 100 pounds, everything is better now right? Not so fast, my friend! I still struggle with self sabotage. Here's a perfect example.

I am very close to being down 100 pounds now. I knew at the beginning of last week that if I ate right and kept a good exercise routine this week then I would reach that goal on Sunday. But on Saturday my wife and I went to the UK football game. Knowing that I had to run 7 miles on Sunday morning I decided not to drink at the game. That was a good call on my part. But for some reason I found myself eating, a lot, and almost uncontrollably, at times. I have no excuse for it. I told my wife this morning that I felt like there was some type of short circuit Saturday in my thinking pattern. While tailgating I had a beef burrito, a chicken quesadilla, a bratwurst, and some cookies. THEN at the game I had a hot dog, peanuts, popcorn, a pretzel and a Sprite!!! I was out of control. And when I woke up Sunday I felt terrible.

So what went wrong? To be honest I don't really know. But all I can think of is that my old habit of self-sabotage kicked in on Saturday to prevent me from reaching my 100 pounds milestone on Sunday. For many people that may sound crazy. To many of you, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

The key difference now though is that instead of bemoaning my bad behavior all day Sunday and perpetuating the insanity, I recognized that Saturday had been a problem day for me and I decided that Sunday was going to be a better day. And it was. I went out Sunday evening and set a personal record for distance by running 7 miles. That is the farthest that I've ever run in my life. I am back on track this morning with the eating and working out and I feel great.

I guess the key is realizing that I have the propensity, somewhere deep inside, to commit self-sabotage. I don't know that there are any "warning signs" but I know that as I get closer to bigger and better milestones the tendency for self-sabotage seems to rear its ugly head. All I can do is acknowledge that I have that character trait and continue to believe that I am worthy of success and happiness. I really think that is the key. I'm sure that I will make mistakes and have moments of self-sabotage in the future. But at least now I know that I can work through those moments, pick myself back up, and move forward.

Life will always give us obstacles and we can choose to be afraid of them, turn around and go back to where we came from or we can take them on and move forward. Sure we may trip and fall, but at least we gave it the best shot that we could, and more importantly, we kept moving forward. I realize now that I deserve to be happy and successful. At everything I do I deserve that. And so do you. You just have to believe.

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