Self-sabotaging behaviour is when an individual is consciously or subconsciously doing things that are harmful to themselves. The root cause of self-sabotaging behaviour stems from childhood. When infants are born they have no self-identity, or awareness of themselves. They learn and develop their self-worth through their parents. Consequently, their parents represent a mirror of themselves, and children develop a sense of identity from as early as four years old.
Children develop their sense of self and self-esteem slowly as they mature into adolescents. Identity is highly imposed and encouraged by environmental and cultural factors.
Once a child incorporates a negative learnt behaviour, it is likely that they will transfer this behaviour into adulthood.
People with self-sabotaging behaviour often do things that are harmful to themselves and their relationships.
In most instances, they have a negative view of themselves and feel that they are not good enough. As a result, they enter relationships that are toxic and often do not value or appreciate healthy relationships.
Signs of self-sabotaging behaviour
Continuously finding negative ways to numb your emotions
You avoid feeling and dealing with negative emotions by overeating or comfort eating, particularly when you have weight concerns. When feeling vulnerable you tend to eat to numb your emotions. You feel guilty for eating so much, then eat more again to overcome the guilt. This repeated cycle could be addictive and hard to break. In addition, you take recreational drugs, use sex, over spending, or dependent on alcohol to feel better.
There are 24 hours in a day and it’s important to utilise your time productively and wisely. When you keep putting things off and spend a lot of time doing unproductive things, it hinders your self-esteem this includes; spending an excessive amount of time watching TV, playing computer games, or speaking on the telephone. Making excuses and putting things off affects your personal growth and development and could lead to fear of failure (starting things but never finishing).
Attracting dysfunctional partners
When you consciously choose men or women that are emotionally unstable. You are only going to make your life miserable. If someone is emotionally, physically or financially unstable they are unable to provide the security that you need to compliment you within the relationship. For instance, if you attract men/women who are emotionally or physically abusive, then your relationship will always be based on fear and as a result, you could lose your sense of your self and begin to believe that their behaviour is acceptable or “normal”. You may subconsciously attract partners that are a negative reminder of your childhood. Consequently, your potential mate will continuously reinforce the negative emotions from your childhood, which could be a hindrance to your self-worth.
Desire to have promiscuous relationships
If you have strong desires to have promiscuous relationships, particularly if you often don’t use protection or have risky sexual encounters, then you are putting yourself and relationships at risk of STDs and impacting your emotional well being in a negative way. Sex addiction including, pornography, paying for sex, escorts or prostitutes can affect your self-esteem and your finances. These experiences could lead to fear of intimacy and cause difficulties in being fully committed to one person within a relationship.
Fear of commitment
People with self-sabotaging behaviour often have a fear of commitment as they struggle to be fully committed to themselves. They become afraid when their relationship is getting intense or when their spouses are becoming close as they have a negative belief from previous experiences or childhood that “people that love you will hurt you”. In order to manage with this belief system, they develop a coping strategy of loving from a distance or hurting people that love them before they get hurt.
Fear of failure
When you have a fear of failure, you continuously keep putting things off and often not accomplishing your goals. You start things but don’t finish it. If you don’t set goals or pursue them, you’re only making your life unfulfilling. As goals give you a vision, purpose and direction in life.