Inner saboteur

Small Betrayals — My Inner Saboteur

I’ve been thinking about all the ways I betray myself and why my inner saboteur is so active.

I have a problem with consistency. You may have noticed it if you subscribe to my newsletter since it didn’t go out in January, as it was supposed to. (Sorry!) Ditto with social media and this blog, where I post faithfully for a couple of months and then disappear for a quarter. This inconsistency thwarts my intention to build a solid connection with you, the people who support me in my creative journey.

I am also addicted to Netflix series. I don’t mind watching a documentary or a movie in the evenings (they are finite), but series are a problem because I lack the self-control to watch only one or two episodes. My imperfect solution is to skip them altogether, but sometimes I can’t resist chapter 1 of a promising series, and there I am all over again: I binge four hours every evening, I go to bed too late, and I wake up exhausted. (Right now, it’s Outlander.)

Every morning I read the New York Times and do the mini crossword puzzle during breakfast. Nothing wrong with either per se, except it takes almost 45 minutes of my peak energy time.

My body is stiff and sore, clamoring for movement, but I don’t stretch or exercise regularly — if at all.

I’ve been trying to understand in therapy why I shoot myself in the foot in ways big and small. Here are a few possibilities:

  • I don’t think I am worth the effort of taking care of myself and doing what’s best for me (lack of self-worth is a common consequence of trauma).
  • I fear my success (I grew up within a large tribe and being different wasn’t precisely well regarded).
  • I suffer from “perfectionitis.” Every newsletter, every blog post, every social media status has to be perfect. Since I can’t be amazing at every turn, I shut it off to avoid losing face.
  • It’s difficult and scary to show up authentically at every turn.

Whatever the reason(s), I know I am sabotaging myself.

We all have an inner saboteur. Growing into our best selves is intentional, difficult, unrelenting work. It’s important to understand that we don’t avoid it because we are lazy. There are many forces at play.

A first step to overcome my self-destructive tendencies — and to accept my own ambition — is self-compassion. I have to try to forgive my weakness when I let myself down and attempt to do better without punishing myself too harshly. Not ban Netflix series, but limit the watching. Move the crossword puzzle and the newspaper to a different time of day to protect the time when my energy peaks for more important endeavors (writing, anyone?). Find exercise I love, like dancing. Accept that not everything I write will be good and that not everybody will like me.

How do you deal with your inner saboteur?

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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