What is Self-Sabotage in Recovery?
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Sometimes, we really can be our own worst enemy, whether we realize it or not. Self-sabotage can happen in recovery, either consciously or unconsciously. Essentially, this involves engaging in behaviors that are counteractive to what you are trying to accomplish. It could also involve failing to complete certain things you know you need to do to accomplish something you’re working toward. 

At first glance, you might think that this type of behavior doesn’t make any sense. Why would you purposefully stand in the way of your own success? How is that rational behavior? When it comes down to it, self-sabotage has a lot to do with the fear of failure or simply low self-esteem. 

What Does Self-Sabotage Look Like? 

To better understand self-sabotage, it can help to look at it in simple terms by going back to your school days. Imagine you have a big project coming up for a class that you really want to get an A in. The project is going to be a big part of your final grade, so it is very important that you take it seriously. But if you’re not confident that you can complete it and get the grade you want, maybe you’ll just decide not to try at all. 

Perhaps you will procrastinate working on the project by ignoring it for weeks. Maybe you’ll miss deadlines and, in the end, turn in something that is just not up to the quality of work you could have provided. However, you wouldn’t know if you could have earned a better grade because you never even tried. In the end, you accept this grade as the grade you think you deserve and allow it to be just another reason to tear down your self-confidence. 

Self-sabotage doesn’t just occur in school projects, however. It can occur in the workplace, it can occur when trying to start a new business, when you’re trying to lose weight, and even when you are trying to stay sober from drugs and alcohol. 

How Might Someone in Recovery Engage in Self-Sabotaging Behavior? 

Engaging in substance misuse in and of itself is a form of sabotaging behavior because it prevents you from truly living life to the fullest and being the best version of yourself. When you are regularly distracted by drugs or alcohol, you’re not going to be able to devote your whole focus to the dreams and goals you have for yourself. Nor are you going to be able to achieve your best possible mental and physical well-being. 

Many times, self-sabotaging behavior can occur even after someone has reached out for help and entered treatment. It can happen not because an individual doesn’t want to get help but because they simply don’t think they can or lack the confidence they need to stay committed to their sobriety. 

Are You Affected by Perfectionism?

One example of self-sabotaging behavior is perfectionism. A lot of people may feel that they need to do everything right all the time. If they make even one mistake, they may feel the need to start over or even give up completely. For example, imagine if you were a few weeks or even longer into your recovery journey and you experience a slip-up. Maybe you’re going through a hard time and have a day where you relapse and turn back to substance misuse. Self-sabotaging behavior would be to tell yourself, “Well, that’s it. I might as well give up,” and simply return to engaging in self-sabotaging behavior without trying to hold back. 

The opposite of this behavior would be to take a step back and acknowledge that the mistake happened but not allow it to dishearten you. Instead, you can pick yourself back up, remind yourself that mistakes are simply a part of the journey, and recommit to your sobriety. 

Another way that someone may engage in self-sabotaging behavior in recovery is by failing to follow through with the continuing treatment plans laid out for them by their treatment provider. For example, this could involve skipping support group meetings or therapy sessions. 

How Do I Stop Engaging in Self-Sabotage in Recovery? 

The best thing that you can do to avoid engaging in self-sabotage behavior in recovery is to be aware of your thoughts as much as possible. You’ll also want to remind yourself that mistakes happen and that you don’t have to expect perfectionism from yourself. Furthermore, if you do make a mistake, it is not a reason to give up entirely. It’s simply a stumbling block along the way that you can overcome. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and recommit to your recovery journey. 

Perhaps most importantly, be sure not to hesitate to check in with your therapist or treatment provider whenever you feel that you may be struggling. 

Did you know that it is possible for you to be your own worst enemy? Another term for this is self-sabotage, which can happen consciously or unconsciously. Essentially, this is any behavior that you may engage in that is counteractive to whatever you are trying to accomplish. A lot of times, this is a result of a fear of failure or low self-esteem. To combat this type of behavior in recovery, you must remember that nobody is perfect and that one mistake is no reason to give up. You can always recommit to your recovery. If you are struggling with substance use disorder, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today.