I used to be realllllyyyyy negative. And when I was trying to recover from my depression, I didn’t realize that I was doing certain things that were actually taking any progress I was making and causing me to slip back into the depression over and over again. Are you unknowingly sabotaging your recovery too?
Are You Sabotaging Your Recovery?
Back in high school, on the outside I was a very polite, kind, and soft spoken girl who was always lifting other people up and encouraging people to go for their dreams, but on the inside I was saying that I was fat, ugly, unlovable, and going to fail at life.
And with that kind of thinking, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s going to turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think everyone hates you, you’re going to subconsciously sabotage all your relationships until you prove yourself right. This has to do with cognitive dissonance, which is when your reality doesn’t match up to your beliefs and so your mind is torn between two or more conflicting beliefs. (Whoa, I didn’t know we were going to learn something here).
Because of cognitive dissonance, if you think you’re a failure, you’re going to start failing at things because your brain wants to prove itself right. It’s not even your fault that you’re doing this; we just sometimes subconsciously start to sabotage things in our life. So if you’ve ever started to get better and then you suddenly fall off the wagon, it’s because your brain is subconsciously sabotaging you. (Stop it, brain!)
But you can DO something about preventing this from happening in the first place.
Another reason we sabotage ourselves is based on Gay Hendricks’s idea that we have “upper limits” to how much happiness, success, love, etc we will accept into our lives. It’s like this quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
So if you believe you’re not worthy of love, you’re going to sabotage any good thing that comes into your life. For example, if a sweet, friendly guy comes into your life, you’re going to reject him (but in your mind you’ll be like, “Well he’s not really my type,” etc, etc, and make up some excuse) because you believe, deep down, that you don’t deserve to be loved.
Or if you start studying really hard and doing well in all your classes but you still have the belief that you’re not very smart (maybe because when you were little someone told you that you weren’t smart), at some point you’ll probably feel uncomfortable with the success you’re having. Maybe you’ll start thinking that everyone is going to have higher expectations for you now, and then you’ll study a little less and do less well on your tests until you’re back to a level where you are comfortable. You’ve reached your upper limit.
So, you might be wondering what the heck you’re supposed to do when you realize you’re sabotaging yourself. The first step is to just be aware of it. Recognize and identify whatever the particular negative belief is causing the upper limit. For example, if we use the studying example from before, the belief would be that you’re not smart. Once you realize what you’re thinking, it can be helpful to affirm the opposite. So you might affirm, “I am intelligent and capable.” You’re replacing the old negative belief with a new one.
You can also try doing forgiveness work to let go of your old beliefs and memories that are still causing you pain and subconsciously influencing the way you make decisions.
Sometimes just being aware that you’re sabotaging yourself is enough to prevent it from continuing. You can do this.
This article is from our 30 Day Negativity Detox, a 30 day email series about letting go of the negativity in your life and past hurts and replacing it with positivity and good habits.