The saying, "you are your own worst enemy" couldn't be more consistent with self-sabotaging behavior.
For example, do you wait until the last minute to finish something, then it takes longer than you expected so you get mad at yourself for doing that?
Or, have you acted out on self-interest and later regretted that behavior and again got mad at yourself for doing so?
There are many other forms of self-sabotage, like binge drinking, emotional eating, skipping workouts, and staying up late (even though you need be up early the next morning).
You might be self-sabotaging.
Self-sabotaging can be the most abusive and destructive behavior that you engage in. The worst part is, you often don't realize you're doing it.
Self-sabotage behavior occurs when you have constant negative feelings (or undermine yourself) that get in the way of daily behavior or long-term goals.
How can you break the pattern of self-sabotage?
Rebececca Scritchfield, MA, RD, joins Dr. Holly to discuss what self-sabotage is, the many forms it comes in, and how you can overcome it.
RadioMD Presents:HER Radio | Original Air Date: March 25, 2015
Host: Holly Lucille, ND, RN
It's time to separate fact from fiction and health fads. It's time for the Dr. Holly Lucille Show. Here's Dr. Holly.
DR HOLLY: Hi, folks. Thank you so much for joining me. I have for our first segment, which is a very, very compelling segment, I think. I have Rebecca Schritchfield with me again. She is Washingtonian Magazine's top nutritionist and she's been voted Young Dietician of the Year. She is amazing. She has such, I think, deep philosophical, moving subjects to talk about and today is certainly one of them. Self-sabotage and how we get in our own way. We're going to be talking about the top 3 things you can do to get out of your own way. Hi, Rebecca.
REBECCA: Hi. How are you today?
DR HOLLY: I have to admit. I'm a little humbled because I think I'm in my own way sometimes. I really do.
REBECCA: Yes. You know, this is a common challenge with all of my clients. You know, I've never had anyone who has never gotten in their own way and kind of repeated the same mistake and so I thought it would be really interesting to try to delve into this. So, the first one that I wanted to bring up—the number one type of self-sabotage--is waiting for the perfect time to change and do anything.
DR HOLLY: Right.
REBECCA: Right? You hear a lot about excuses. I don't really love the term "excuses" because that just sounds a little bit too judgmental to me. For me, these are like your distractions. What do you tell yourself that is getting in your way when you're just waiting for the absolute perfect time to change? Because there is not one. That's like unicorns. It just doesn't exist.
DR HOLLY: Right. I love it. I think it's such a great topic because when people are seeking you out as a nutritionist and then people coming to me, I don't...I have a cash practice. I don't advertise. People find me and they want to come and they pay good money. They have desires. They really do. Somewhere inside of them, they want to change and they want to do things better.
REBECCA: Right, but don't you find when they come and talk to you, which, obviously, they've already taken action. That's a very important first step, but even when they're talking to you and they're getting advice and recommendations, it can get really overwhelming really fast and I feel that then, there is sometimes a little bit of pushback like, "Oh, maybe I'm not ready for it yet." Like, I will have clients that will say things to me like, "You know, I just can't wait until life is just easy. Like, I will stop emotional eating once life is easy."
DR HOLLY: Right.
REBECCA: Well, it's like, "It's probably not going to be easy." There are ways to deal with and manage the triggers, while we don't wait for the most perfect time. So, what you can do about it, if you're a person that likes to wait for the perfect time, you just want to take some action, some steps, within the next 5 minutes, just don't give yourself any time to lollygag, right? You can do anything in 5 minutes. You could take a quick walk. You can go get a tall glass of water. I'm going to look at my plate and add a fruit or vegetable. It can be something that you could take and action on. Say, "You know, what? It's not the perfect day. It's not the perfect time, but I've got a 5-minute window or a 1-minute window and I'm going to choose to do something for myself and healthy for myself." Your body needs to experience a positive self-care change and transformation. So don't want for the perfect time.
DR HOLLY: That's awesome. Yes. Agreed. Then, they get that message back that they can do it. The time is now. The time is right. There is no waiting. There's no waiting anymore and they can feel that change because they initiated it in a timely fashion. That's great. That's so great. What's tip number two that we can talk about?
REBECCA: Okay. So, this other part of self-sabotage, they wait to try to create the perfect "thing", right? "This is my perfect plan. This is what I'm going to do." And they're so crazy about it, right? Right. I'm motivated but it's a major problem because it's kind of like biting off more than you can chew. That's not how this works. When you are trying to design the most perfect plan, that means that lots of things underneath of it are going to need to be in order and if one little thing messes up, you feel like you failed, but, in reality, you've just created too complex and too advanced of a plan for that beginning, getting started thing.
So, don't try to create the absolute, most perfect plan. In order to start eating healthier, I've got to clean out my refrigerator and my pantry and I've got to make sure I never eat out, ever again. I'm going to pack my lunch 5 days a week and you just start adding to this list. Those are all fabulous things, but if you get too big of a list, it gets overwhelming and you want to throw the list in the trash. Stop trying to do the perfect thing.
DR HOLLY: It sounds a lot like New Year's resolutions where people almost get relieved because they do have a resolve around it and they'll say it and it's knee-deep in the hoopla at the end of the year and the reality comes around January 1, maybe sometimes January 2, because you've got to get all those football games in and all of the nastiness that happens there. It's like, "Oh, this is too much. It's not even doable." It sounds like that because there's a huge failure rate on those New Year's resolutions, so I can imagine it's kind of in line with that.
REBECCA: Yes. You know what the clients will tell me. They'll show up and tell me, "I just need a reboot." Look, I'm not arguing if you feel like your life needs a complete overhaul or a complete reboot. It's just that we are human beings and it's not so easy. Unless we're going to kind of go off into some kind of alternate universe where everything is figured out for us and we have no barriers, we're not going to do well when we try to think of the ideal A+ most perfect plan. We're going to be so far away from doing that, that it's going to feel too overwhelming. So, you can feel like you need a reboot and do whatever feels the easiest of the reboots first, then add to it. You know, we don't start out in Spanish 101 fluent in Spanish. Start smaller and easier, with a realistic set of goals and expectations.
DR HOLLY: Love it. Yes. Because, once again, it builds confidence. So, they chunk it down. Get some success with the little things they can do to get them closer to their goal. It feeds their brain that they can do this. It is success that they are capable and they're moving on from there.So, the third big thing--how people get in their way and what people can do about it?
REBECCA: Right. So, the third thing is what I call "waiting for the perfect change". That means that they expect "Okay. You know, I went and saw this dietician. I went and saw this doctor and we talked and we came up with a plan," and they're just expecting that it's just like snapping a finger and everything is going to fall in line. It does not work that way. We're humans and we are perfectly imperfect. We make mistakes all the time.
We are emotional feeling creatures who happen to be thinkers, but we make a lot of decisions based off our emotions, how we're feeling in the moment and there's just no one kind of rule following "I will do this all the time" like a robot. So, we get so mad at ourselves when we're like, "I know what to do and I spent this money on you and so I really, really want this. Why can't I do it?" You have to understand with a sense of compassion that we're human and that we literally have to make brain cells and wiring grow and that is what makes it habit and that takes time.
DR HOLLY: Wow. So, I think that we could maybe have the answer to all of this, instead of stem cell research, we could do this kind of research where it's like you can just grow these little brain cells by just doing one little thing at a time. Like I said, it's a path, right? I ran the L.A. Marathon the other week and I was like, "How am I going to do this?" Well, one step at a time as it was 90 degrees here.
REBECCA: Exactly. To get ready for that marathon, you didn't just get off your couch and do something, you know? You had to do training and before that, the thought had to come in mind. I'm sure there were other races, and lots of factors that got you to this start line, let alone finishing the race in 90 degree weather. I've been there and it's not pretty.
DR HOLLY: No.
REBECCA: So, congratulations to you on that. Oh, 60, that's perfect. Better than her 90. You know, I think, overall, my message here is that it is great to have a goal of being healthy, eating better, exercising, there are so many things. Working on self-improvement is awesome.
DR HOLLY: Yes.
REBECCA: It's just that if you noticed, I used the word "perfect" over and over again. We just tend to kind of set the bar super, super high for perfectionism and that's the enemy of true, healthy, happy living.
DR HOLLY: Yes. So, perfect is really being perfectly imperfect and who we are. Rebecca Scritchfield. You can find her at RebeccaScritchfield.com. Thank you so much.
This is Dr. Holly Lucille. We're going to be right back.