I’ve been very fascinated recently with the concept of self-sabotage, where a person either consciously 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.
In 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.