Every one of us has painful memories. They may originate from many places such as childhood, previous relationships, etc. However, no matter which aspect of your life they might have come from, one thing is certain, trying to bury these painful memories is nothing if not challenging.
For example, those people suffering from PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome may find it really difficult to forget and avoid these memories as they have already been left traumatized and scarred by them.
You may not notice it, but most of the time these painful memories cause you to change your habit patterns and subconsciously, if not unconsciously, acquire self-sabotaging behaviours such as shutting people out, procrastinating, etc.
These distressing memoirs from your past can also make you believe something you didn’t believe in beforehand. They can prompt you to question yourself and your worth, to try to be perfect in all that you do, and to fear success, failure, and the future.
When trying to move on and avoid the negative feelings that come with these memories, you develop defence mechanisms. These are actions that you do to protect yourself from the anxiety that arises from pessimistic thoughts and emotions.
For example, if you see the partner you’ve been with for 10 years cheating on you and kissing another person, you would try to forget and move on from that painful memory. You’d pretend as if nothing had happened and refuse to accept the situation by using denial. You’d do all of that just for the sake of not having to deal with the emotional impact that it’ll have on you.
Another example of a defence mechanism in that situation would be talking bad about yourself. Since you caught your boyfriend cheating on you, it led to a break-up. You’d eventually tell yourself that you don’t deserve him because you’re a failure.
Every time you reminisce about these memories, you repeat these kinds of behaviours, resulting in the development of habit patterns. Even though not all defence mechanisms cause self-sabotaging behaviours, most of them still do. So, how exactly can you prevent these from developing?
Know and Understand Your Self-Sabotaging Behaviours
The first step to end self-sabotage is self-evaluation. Get to know your own self-sabotaging behaviours. After all, you cannot begin to stop something that you aren’t even aware of.
To do this, you can start by thinking about the plans that you’ve wanted to do for a long time but haven’t yet accomplished. What do you think are the reasons why you haven’t carried them out? Are there any areas in your life hindering you? It may be due to a lack of motivation, burnout, or even fear of what other people may think of you when you pursue these plans.
After that, you may also think about the things that you perceive yourself to be bad at or frequently fail at. Reflect on your actions that usually upset or frustrate others. What behaviours cause these frustrations? Is there an activity that you’ve been doing which is making you feel dissatisfied and affecting the people around you?Understanding the underlying emotions behind these can help you be more aware of your self-sabotaging behaviours. Most of the time, they actually stem from feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, and worthlessness, which is why managing your emotions is key.
Though this process may seem painful, it is important to stop self-sabotage. Always remember that a combination of awareness and understanding is a small yet vital step in the right direction.
Change Your Thinking and Behaviour Patterns
Once you become aware of your self-sabotaging behaviours and understand the underlying emotions behind them, the next step is to change your thinking and behavioral patterns.
Changing these patterns starts with the way you think about yourself. Instead of seeing yourself as a failure, try to put yourself in a more positive light. You’re in the process of becoming the best version of yourself and all failures only become a part of your learning as you grow into someone stronger.
Once you program that kind of thinking, you will start to behave in accordance with it. For example, if you think and believe that you deserve success, then you will most definitely lean towards achieving that success.
Develop Self-Supporting Behaviours
Once you identify and change your self-sabotaging habits, it is now time to develop yourself, increase your self-esteem, and take on a positive attitude.
You can start by using words of affirmation. Say affirmative and encouraging words to yourself. Every morning, look in the mirror and marvel at the perfectly imperfect human being staring back at you. Regularly tell yourself that you are amazing.
You can also make a gratitude journal where you list everything that you’re grateful for towards the end of every day. This can shift your perspective and help you develop a positive attitude.
Painful memories are our personal baggage that are really difficult to overcome and move on from. To stop yourself from self-sabotage is to start accepting that they are a part of your past yet do not define who you are.
You can always replace these bad memories with much better ones, but to do so, you must start believing in yourself. Develop that positive attitude and remind yourself that you are not the bad things that have happened to you.
You are not your past, nor your failures…
About The Authors
They’ve studied, researched, written, and spoken for 20 years on the topics of time management, goal setting, strategic planning, superior selling skills, business model innovation and emotional intelligence.
Daniel is considered the world’s Number One business coach specialising in emotional intelligence, with over 1,350 case studies into emotional intelligence in the past three years alone.