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James Bond (007) has got NOTHING on me when it comes to sabotage

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It is time to paint some mental pictures. I find that the pictures I paint with words on the canvas of a computer screen are a great way to connect our journeys so we don't feel quite so alone. Grab ahold of my hand, and let's take a walk through this mental exhibit that contains some similar life experiences:

-- You just got a promotion at work. Your boss and the Powers That Be are so impressed with your work, that they have plans for you. You are so excited, and of course you accept. But inside the voice goes off that says "sorry, fellas. You must be thinking of someone else. You just don't know about all the mistakes I have made this week ALONE!". You end up calling out sick the next day because you just can't drag yourself into the office.

-- You have managed to clean out most of the junk food in your house or your desk at work. You are SO proud of yourself as you look around and see lots of healthy yummies neatly arranged on every shelf, in each drawer, etc. Two days later, you go grocery shopping and just can not resist the urge to pluck your favorite cookies (or, in my case, bag of chips) from the shelf and place them lovingly (but with a bit of guilt) into your basket. You get home, put the groceries away, and find that they don't fit in anymore with your kitchen. The voice in your head says "Just squeeze a little corner on that shelf for some GOOD food like your cookies". A month later, your spouse and children are excstatic to see that the junk food shelf or drawer is firmly back in place where it has been for the last 10 years, the soda pop has taken up residence in the fridge where "it belongs", and you feel more guilty and yucky than you have before you started your adventure into health. And the voice in your head says "see - I knew it wouldn't last!!!"

-- You have worked VERY hard to put some exercise in your life and eat healthy, good food. People start to notice. Your buddy at work says "hey! Have you lost weight?? You look GREAT!" You thank them as you are beaming and basking in your success and their recognition. By the time the fourth person in a week remarks on your weightloss, you find yourself in the drive-thru at McDonalds and don't even know how you got there. But, you decide, it's OK - I will just get a Happy Meal and minimize the damage. Several weeks later, the scale has gone past the point that you originally started at, you are back on a first-named basis with the people who work at Starbucks, McDonalds, Wendy's, etc. and you are stopping at the gas station every night on the way home from work to get rid of the "evidence" (empty wrappers, Starbucks cups, etc) as you try to convince yourself that you haven't really slipped -- it is just for 'today'.

Perhaps one or two of these hit so close to home that you wonder if I have been watching you live your life while you didn't know it - lol. I promise -- I am not a voyeur.........I can be WAY too self-absorbed sometimes to be THAT curious about what someone else is doing......just kidding ;)

For me personally, my real obstacle is NOT in finding motivation to keep going even when I am not feeling it. It goes much, MUCH deeper. Lack of motivation is just a symptom of a deeper and more sinister problem. My ability to sabotage my own successes has been honed and perfected over more than 45 years. It usually starts with a little personal deception. That deception can sound like "I worked out HARD the last 5 days - I have earned a break", or "I haven't touched any fast food in 2 months -- a Big Mac won't kill me", or -- my favorite -- "I just can't seem to get motivated today!! Well, everyone deserves a day off. I will go back to living healthy tomorrow".

I have a LOT of work to do around healing the reasons that I sabotage my own success and it is going to take a LOT of time for the healing process. However, I can't delay my journey while I wait for this part of myself to be fully healed. Taking that approach has left me with 35+ years of no progress on being healthy, active and balanced. I need to have some coping mechanisms NOW when this destructive behavior is triggered. I have talked to some folks to ask for suggestions, and I have been reading a lot of blogs, articles, etc searching for some new tools. Here are a few that I have found have been successful for me.

1. Once I actually achieve something, celebrate the success. THEN SET A NEW AND UNRELATED GOAL!!!! For example, some of my clothes have gotten loose enough that I have had to either alter them or put them in storage. To celebrate, I actually went out and bought a couple of new items (on clearance, of course -- because I am "frugal" and don't want to spend clothes on transitional clothes - lol). I then set up our March Fitness Madness, which is focused on exercise and fitness minutes. I also decided that I am not going to weigh in or take measurements for March, because my focus needs to be on exercise and not loss.

2. Let the people close to me in on my personal sabotage game and ask them to help me by NOT mentioning any changes that they notice. This doesn't work for everyone, but for me recognition is a HUGE trigger. There may come a point where it will be inevitable that people who are not in my inner circle will make comments in the spirit of being supportive and encouraging. I will deal with that when it gets here. I have had some very open and frank conversations with those close to me and asked them to help me; I then gave them ideas on how to be helpful and supportive. When they feel the urge to compliment me on my "progress", I have asked them to compliment me on a character trait that I have which they admire, or an action I have taken (such as setting up our fitness challenge) that they appreciate, etc. I have also asked them to do things like parking out further in the parking lot when we go shopping, or ask me to go for a walk instead of go to dinner, etc.

3. When I find myself fighting the urge to do something (like buy that bag of chips, or swing through Starbucks), I set up a time limit with myself. I tell myself that, if I REALLY want whatever it is I am craving in an hour, then I can go back and get it. 80% of the time, I either forget about it, or decide I don't want to make the extra trip.

4. When I find that I can't get moving because I am just not feeling it, I get up and either take a walk to the corner and back or grab my stationary bike and knock out 5 minutes. It doesn't always work, but often times it breaks my lazy-bone.

5. I jump onto SP and start reading postings that are focused on this being a LIFESTYLE AND NOT A DIET. I start to look at the way different people are just living it out as part of everyday life -- just like taking a shower, or going to work/school, or helping the kids with their homework. It isn't an EVENT, it is a permanent fixture.

Those are just a few techniques I have found to help offset my compulsion to sabotage my own journey. I would LOVE to hear any of yours that have been useful for you :)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You said this perfectly. So many of us struggle with self-sabotage. I know I do, and sometimes it's a constant - daily, hourly, even minute by minute struggle. Other times, it's not a big deal, but some days are just bad days! (that turn into bad weeks or months!)

    You're right, it's important to focus on "progress, not perfection"
    2392 days ago
    Tanjat88, you are a gifted writer and, YES, it is all familiar, and I have been thinking about it, because the denial things suddenly having me zone out and end up a month later in a different place is so subtle that I don't even notice it. A pastor preached that if you point your boat in a direction 1degree off, you won't notice it is wrong immediately, but by the time you reach London, instead of Spain, you will figure it out.

    The having people notice being a big trigger is huge for me. That is often what causes the zoning out in the first place.

    Another trigger is having people say, "You need to lose weight" which just happened to me - a relative that I live with said "You need to go on a diet" and I have been feeling so good with the 22 pounds I have lost and focusing on the process and she dragged me into "the results" focus. I felt slightly discouraged, but I intentionally refocused on the process again so that I didn't end up in the "Not good enough" mindset that has caused me to stumble so often.

    By God's grace, I will not allow my mind to go down that path, but I haven't figured out how to talk that relative through so they won't trigger me, because they have memory issues and remember me more as my thinner pre-injury weight, so my going down in pounds doesn't register.

    I like that you are giving me ways of strategizing with people how to help me. emoticon Very helpful!
    2392 days ago
    Tanja, thanks so much for sharing! Your posts are always so motivational! I for one, tend to self-sabotage when I get comfortable in the journey. Thank you for putting my thoughts (LOL) into words so eloquently and giving us some great advice if/when we are confronted with it!
    2392 days ago
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