Self-sabotage happens when you have two desires working against each other in your life.
Have you ever had a long-term goal to stay healthy and fit? You felt so strong about it in January. Made resolutions. Created workout plans. Set goals. Then a few months went by, and things started to slip a bit. Eventually that goal you felt so strong about began to feel like more of a nuisance. And you decided to skip a gym day. Then you chose to have two desserts at dinner with the family. Then a week went by without any fitness. It continued that path until eventually, it was all over. You stopped even trying.
When it comes to the aspects of our lives that require attention and management, our conscious and subconscious minds are at odds. And it is up to us to make sure the right one comes out on top.
Similar to a long-term healthy lifestyle, sobriety requires constant vigilance. In addiction recovery, when a person has a long-term goal of lasting sobriety, anything they do to impede that goal, no matter how small, is a form of self-sabotage. And the results are a little more serious than simply slipping on a couple of months of an exercise commitment. They could cost everything.
The key to keeping oneself from self-sabotage in recovery is an awareness of the actions we take every day. Our daily choices may seem innocuous, but in reality, they form the base levels of our most important life decisions.
Every recovery journey is unique, so you may need to customize your list of self-sabotaging actions, but here are a few common ones to be on the lookout for in your life, along with a few suggestions on how to combat them.
Not Following Through
There is nothing more egotistical than refusing to follow through on the system and recovery plan set up for you with, and by, trusted professionals in the recovery world. Skipping meetings, ignoring schedules, skipping exercise, all the things you agreed were best for you while in treatment are still best for you. Follow through is your recovery. Do not undermine yourself, and your life, by skipping out on your commitments.
Yes, boredom is self-sabotage because, with some proactive intentionality, it can be alleviated. In the past, you have filled your time looking for a fix. Now, there is still time to fill, so make a list of activities that you can engage in when you find yourself spiraling into a fit of idleness. Take note of your feelings. Keep an eye on patterns that lead to sitting around the house all day. Create a schedule and stick to it.
Friendship is generally a good thing in life. However, you know which friends are good for your sobriety and which ones are harmful. Allowing the harmful ones back into your life is an action that will have direct negative consequences on your successful recovery. Staying clean is more important than the hurt feelings of a person who does not actually care about your long-term health. Strong healthy decision-making is vital in this aspect of your life. Be firm, and surround yourself with people who will support your sobriety.
Returning to Patterns
There are certain triggers that are so connected to your life as an addict, they need to be cut away from your new life. The parties, the sports events, the eating, the walks under the bridge across town. You know what the patterns were in your life before sobriety, a return to them represents a willingness to damage your own hard work.
Honesty, especially with the people you have brought into your life to hold you accountable, is fundamental for a recovering addict. As soon as the temptation arises to hide certain aspects of your life from the people who care about you, or who have been put in place to help keep you on track, it is time to get real with yourself. Secrets are going to sabotage all the time and effort you have put into giving yourself a lifeline of hope.
Loneliness, sadness, depression, negativity, self-pity, boredom, denial—all of these things come as a result of isolation. The more you separate from friends and family that love and support you, the more you are likely to return to patterns that lead back to destruction. Know your support system. And use it.
You are unique. You have had people pour into you. You have had the grace to move away from an addiction that would have cost you your life and everything worth living for.
Don’t sabotage it.
All of the people in your life—your family, sponsor, support group, counselor—can only do so much. Ultimately it is up to you to become aware of behaviors that will harm your goals and sobriety.
We Can Help
If you (or a loved one) are already on the path that has led to relapse or if you are struggling with addiction now, please call us. We are here to help with whatever part of the journey you find yourself on: 1-888-590-0777.