Perhaps I’ve Said Too Much

I’ve been very fascinated recently with the concept of self-sabotage, where a person either sabotageconsciously or subconsciously engages in behaviors that will almost certainly lead them to failure. According to an article published on the Psychology Today website, “The most common self-sabotaging behaviors are procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating, and forms of self-injury such as cutting.”

These are all definitely very serious behaviors and deserving of special attention, but I’ve been thinking of a different kind of self-defeating behavior lately. It has to do with how we view ourselves, the faults we either have or believe we have, and how open we are in sharing those faults.

The very nature of this blog is very confessional, and I’ve pointed out several negative aspects about myself. Inevitably, in the course of a natural conversation with me, I will point out at least one unflattering trait about myself as well. Most of my humor is self-deprecating, and I’m always the first to point out my own mistakes.

Why do I do this? Well, I’ve been trying to figure that out lately. I have several different theories. Maybe I have low self-esteem. Maybe I’m a very honest person. Maybe I believe I’m somehow being more genuine than everyone else if I show all my warts. Maybe I think it shows other people that I’m human, just like them. Maybe I hate myself. Maybe I’m desperate for someone to tell me I’m actually not all these negative things.

My latest guess is this: I bring all these things to the light because somewhere, deep down inside, I am convinced the deficiencies in me will cause whatever I’m involved with to crash, so I might as well let everyone know what kind of person I am.

Self-SabotageIn all honesty, though, the reasons don’t matter. I’m putting myself behind the eight ball every time I bring one of these traits to light. I’m planting a seed that very rarely yields anything good. I’m not saying it’s not a good thing to be honest with yourself about your faults and confess the sins that need to be confessed. When they become what defines you, though, and basically drive you in every relationship, they veer into self-sabotage territory, in my opinion.

I think about the apostle Peter often. Peter flat-out denied he knew Jesus. There was no grey area; he bold-faced did it. Have you ever noticed, though, that in all his writings and in all the recorded instances of him speaking after Pentecost, Peter never mentions this again. I would be like, “Okay, look, I am the guy who denied knowing Jesus three times, but…” He just doesn’t even go there. He didn’t even introduce that negativity into the conversation.

He believed he was better than those moments of denial.

I don’t believe we should all put on masks and act like we’re perfect. I also don’t think we should blab every fault we have to anyone who will listen. I am convinced there is a happy medium between the two extremes. The battle to find it can be bloody and difficult sometimes, though, and it can be so much easier to wallow in the depression and pain and fear. Staying in that place, though, sabotages everything in my life, from my relationships to my job to my spirituality. I become toxic to myself.

I’m trying to do better at identifying the thoughts that would sabotage me before they can take root and cause me problems. This is usually where I would say I’m not doing such a good job of that. To avoid planting that see of negativity, though, let me just say I’m just going to keep right on trying.

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Missing The Signs?

(Last night, the internet service at my house was coming in and out, so I skipped posting anything and went to bed early. I had all this on my mind last night, though, and got some further reinforcement of it today. Oh, and I didn’t sleep that well, but that’s another post for another day…)

Have you ever gotten the feeling God is trying to tell you something?

Receiving positive reinforcement is sort of a Catch-22 situation for me. On the one hand, I really feed off of it. In fact, I borderline crave it. On the other hand, though, I have a tendency to either not believe people when they say nice things to me or I downplay whatever point they’re trying to make. It’s an odd state of limbo to live in, I’ll admit, longing desperately for something you’re not even entirely sure is genuine when you do get it.

One of my primary weapons of choice for making sure I never feel too good about myself is self-deprecation. Now, in the rodney-dangerfieldproper hands, self-deprecation can be really, really funny. Just look at Rodney Dangerfield. I’d like to think I wield it in the same way – as a tool for humor and relating better to those around me. Recent events, however, have led me to believe I might need to tone down the act a bit, so to speak.

Two different people yesterday told me I need to stop speaking so negatively about myself, and then another person told me the same thing today. The irony of this is that I actually thought I was doing better. If they think I’m bad now, they should have seen my in my twenties. Actually, on second thought, I’m glad they didn’t know me back then. They might have committed me to some kind of institution or something.

At any rate, it seems an unusual amount of people are coming across my path these days and telling me to lighten up on myself. Telling me I’m not such a bad guy. Trying to convince me the things I perceive as negative about myself are actually not any worse than the struggles most people wrestle with every day. I should be hoarding all this away, putting it all into some sort of self-esteem piggy bank in my soul. Instead of just accepting it, though, I seem strangely intent on batting it all down.

Backtracking to the question I began this entry with, yes, I do believe God may be trying to tell me something through all this. In fact, I can probably even pinpoint exactly what that something is. I’m fighting it, though. Fighting it every step of the way. Of course, in the maze that depression creates in the mind, I know I shouldn’t be. People probably aren’t noticing half the things I don’t like about myself anyway. I know they’re there, though, and that’s what makes believing the good things people say about me so difficult.