We all do it. Not just teens and young adults but all of us. I don’t know if it’s fear of success, fear of failure or just plain impulsivity that drives people. Then again, it could be boredom. I think channeling your destructive impulses is one of the main goals of DBT. If only we could focus our energies to something good, like a fierce marshal artist or a flame thrower or a meditator. But alas we have been taught to just power through, shut down or grab a quick fix like chocolate, alcohol, shopping or sex and text. These don’t work. Not even in the short term. They all make you sick and ashamed in the long-run.
- According to Scientific American, “There are a million ways we self-sabotage, but some of the most common are procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, stress eating, and interpersonal conflict. Actions like these are especially insidious because they’re relatively small—it’s just one argument, one trip to the fridge, one beer—and in the moment, they may even seem helpful. But like a river eroding away rocks, over time, self-sabotage creates a Grand Canyon of self-defeat from which it’s hard to climb out.”
It’s not easy getting by these days. I see a lot of stressed out young-adults who didn’t have the advantages that their peers may have had growing up. They lived decent, working-class lives which came with a lot of stressors built in: parents not home, parents not available, crappy schools, lack of direction, resources and more. So they get themselves through school and beyond but how can they make it in this world of competition, fake news, nepotism and greed? That’s right, they can’t. Human beings need support by definition. No one can go it alone.
A deep sense of inadequacy plagues many of us. This is from a well of early pain in our lives, all of us struggling to be understood. We sabotage because we don’t think we deserve to do well. Remind yourself of your accomplishments, read your resume (!) or think of a time you got over an obstacle. Resilience, strength and confidence will follow. Avoidance will not allow you to succeed. It will keep you stuck. No one ever came into my office and said, “You know what, I wish I took fewer risks in my life.” Never.
Support groups, social groups, hobbies, meet-ups, sports, routines, arts and creative expression are just some ways to find yourself unencumbered by the outside world. The world may be a harsh place full of responsibilities and grief but it can also be a joyous ride if you allow it to unfold…