Listen all ya'll, it's a sabotage! Okay this episode isn't really about the famous Beastie Boy song, it's about something much more serious. Self-Sabotage can be a vicious cycle. On this episode, we tackle self-Sabotage in relationships and in life. Procrastination, addiction, self-worth issues and so much more. We also provide some insight on how to recognize when it's happening and stop the cycle.
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Emily: You can meet a person and then they're really into you and you start dating them, but in the back of your mind you're like, "Wait a minute." They're way more sexy than I am, way more intelligent than I am. Maybe they're more rich than I am, more popular with all their friends, have life of the party. Why in the world would they be interested in me? There's no freaking reason why that would be. If you're happy with the same old ways of dating.
Dedeker: If you enjoy sucking at communication.
Jase: You have no desire to improve your romantic life, then our Podcast might not be for you.
Dedeker: If you want some out-of-the-box ideas to deepen your current relationships.
Emily: Broaden your sexual horizons.
Dedeker: Develop a better understanding of yourself.
Emily: Or learn more about non-monogamy.
Jase: Then you've come to the right place. I'm Jase.
Emily: I'm Emily.
Dedeker: I'm Dedeker.
Jase: This is the Multiamory Podcast.
Jase: On this episode of the Multiamory Podcast, we're talking about self-sabotage in relationships and in life. Whoa. So many of us can sour our lives in a variety of ways, whether it manifests due to fear or lack of control, self-sabotage can keep us from getting what we really want in our relationships and in our lives. Today we're going to talk about reasons why we self-sabotage as well as how to combat them. I really wanted the intro to this for me to just go [raps] listen all y'all, it's a sabotage.
Emily: Oh, gosh.
Jase: [raps] Listen all y'all, it's a sabotage.
Emily: Who does that thing.
Jase: Beastie Boys. That song. Beastie Boys.
Dedeker: That's just too young to be into the Beastie Boys just barely.
Emily: Don't they yell in that and then it gets like hard rock?
Jase: All of the Beastie Boys is like--
Emily: Yelling hard rock thing.
Dedeker: Pretty much every single Beastie boys song has been described.
Jase: Yes. They don't really sing. It's like the three of them are rapping, yelling. Yell-rapping, yapping.
Dedeker: Well, I'm going to stop here and sabotage your efforts to turn this into a Podcast about the Beastie Boys and bring us back to the topic of self-sabotage. Do we even know what that is?
Emily: Well, I can talk about what it is. I have a definition right here. Apparently, it is behavior that creates problems in our lives or interferes with long-standing goals. That can mean a lot of different things. If any of us have ever done something called procrastination.
Emily: Which I definitely have.
Dedeker: I don't even what you're talking about.
Emily: No. That's definitely a way in which we self-sabotage. We have a deadline coming up something that we really need to get done and we just decided to procrastinate, put it off put it off, put it off until the last minute. Then obviously, it becomes a lot more difficult right at the end but that's a form of self-sabotage. Also, even things like self-medicating that can include alcohol, drugs, things like that that can be considered as a form of self-sabotage.
I know like medical marijuana that's not necessarily, in my opinion, a part of self-sabotage. That's probably something that is a nice way in which to cope and deal with life.
Jase: I think it's how you use them, I think with all of this.
Dedeker: Yes, with all of it.
Emily: Yes. I guess you're probably right, but if we're talking about something that really is interfering with your life in terms of alcohol or drugs then, yes, that can absolutely be construed as a form of self-sabotage.
Jase: Well, I think it's worth making the distinction here too that self-sabotage isn't about like you're doing this thing and it's ruining your life. It's not even to that level but I'm doing this thing and it's making me not accomplish the things I want to accomplish or not have the relationships I want to have or not have the friendships I want to have. It's a little more subjective. It's not just like, "Oh, you're not even showing up to work." It doesn't have to be that extreme.
It might just be like, "I'm not getting the projects. I want to get done, done." Instead, I'm like, "I'll just have a drink or three so that I'm not so worried about it and then I can just--" There's that fine line between how much is just- like, "Okay, I like this and I'm relaxing and I'm still achieving my goals and how much is not that."
Emily: How much is like I'm actually just putting it off indefinitely and [crosstalk].
Dedeker: I think with any kind of substance whether it's alcohol or illegal substances, of course, there's always going to be a line between what is just having fun or just relaxing or socializing versus what is using it as something that's avoiding dealing with something that's bigger in your life.
Emily: Yes, absolutely. Another way of self-sabotage is self-injury. This is a tough one for sure, but-
Emily: -one of my dear friends growing up had, what is it? Trichotillomania. Which was plucking out her own hairs and that is definitely a form of compulsive self-harm. There's a variety of other ones obviously, but, yes, that is a more extreme version in my opinion of a self-sabotaging behavior. Addictions which I think can go along with self-medicating in a variety of ways, but, yes, this--
Jase: It could also be an addiction to a-
Emily: A behavior.
Emily: Yes, absolutely. Or substance. Any sort of behavior or substance can be an addiction. Then even just frequent interpersonal conflict. If you're a person that just tends to have a lot of conflict in their life that can be a form of self-sabotage. If you're constantly trying to find conflict and never really choosing to move past that or it just always comes towards you then, yes, that can be a form of self-sabotage.
Even distorted thinking or beliefs, poor self-worth, not being honest with yourself about what you actually want, what your goals are in your life, how you're achieving them or if you're not and then also heavy self-criticism. Things like that can definitely be a form of self-sabotage.
Dedeker: I feel like a lot of these overlap.
Emily: Yes. They can.
Dedeker: Procrastination can be linked with your decision to self-medicate. Let's say by just like getting really drunk instead of doing what you need to do, which is also a form of self-injury which and also lead to addiction or to frequent interpersonal conflicts. Which may be the base of it is this distorted thinking or beliefs about your self-worth. It's all these things. Self-sabotage can definitely be this holistic force that can lead to many kinds of different behaviors.
Jase: For this episode for the first half of the episode, we're going to talk about some of the reasons why we self-sabotage and with the hope of getting some insights and seeing which ones resonate for you. I know as we were preparing this there were some of them that for me was like, "Yes, yes, I definitely do that one." Other ones less so. Even in putting together these categories there was still a lot of, "You could argue that this one falls into the other category."
There's so much overlap in all of this and that your mind can try so many different ones of these strategies to try to keep itself comfortable or to stop from being afraid. It is really interesting how much overlap there is but we did end up landing on some categories that we felt would help for at least figuring out which ones resonate the most with you and seem to show up the most in your life.
Emily: Yes. I feel like a lot of these do tend to overlap and I don't know, they can feed in and out of one another so it is interesting to look at it in that respect. Let's jump into it for sure.
Dedeker: We came up with eight. I'm going to start with our first one. Sometimes we can self-sabotage because of reasons that are deeply tied to our inherent sense of self-worth. For instance, sometimes we can prevent ourselves from taking action or taking the first step toward a project that we want to do or a job that we want to apply for because there's a part of us that feels like maybe we don't deserve it. Maybe we don't feel worthy of this particular thing and so we're not going to go after it in the first place.
It can look a variety of ways. It could be something like maybe at work you're always working overtime or you're taking on a bunch more tasks to try to make up for maybe feeling like you don't deserve the position that you have.
Emily: That's really interesting.
Dedeker: In relationships, it can be you get this urge to leave the relationship or to bail on the relationship once it's starting to get actually intimate or serious and maybe that's linked to an idea of like you don't feel like you're worthy of this person. You don't feel like you're worthy of this particular relationship. This reminds me of there's a study where they found that in heterosexual couples where woman made significantly a higher income than the man did.
They were both working but she was bringing in more money, they found surprisingly that actually still the share of household work and childcare work still fell disproportionately to the woman more so than in couples where their incomes were relatively the same.
Dedeker: They found that when it was relatively the same it was closer, that there was an equal division of labor but with women who had significantly higher incomes, they actually took on more of the labor. They theorize that the reason is that it's, a lot of women have been so told that it's like they need to be the ones doing the care-taking, they need to be the ones doing the childcare. Based on a sense of feeling guilty around having a busier or "more successful job" that a lot of women felt pressure to take on more tasks at home to balance that out.
Which of course, it's the whole second shift things, at least to a lot of people being extremely burnt out and tired out. Dealing with both a high-pressure job, as well as handling all these tasks at home. I think that's interesting that we can self-sabotage in a way that on the outside looks good and more productive, but then it's actually maybe destructive.
Jase: Fascinating. It's funny when you were talking about working overtime or taking on more tasks. When you were saying that, it also made me think of when you're working freelance or something of underbidding yourself.
Dedeker: Oh, yes.
Jase: Or just being like, "Oh sure, I'll do that thing for $100 and it ends up taking you 20 hours," and you're like, "Cool, I just made $5 an hour because I didn't feel like I deserved more than that."
Emily: I feel like actors do that all the time. In Los Angeles. Like, "Yes, I'll work for free. Like I don't deserve to be paid for this thing because so many other people, would go after it and do it for free as well."
Dedeker: That's a huge one. I think especially whenever you're in a position of having to price your own work or the value of your own work, whether it's a tangible product that you put out or you're a freelance doing some kind of intangible work. That one's really, really hard because I think money itself is already so emotional. Then tying it also to how much we feel like we deserve, how much do we feel like our time deserves, our labor deserves like that. It can get really sticky really quick.
A lot of people can self-sabotage when they decide like, "I'm really not that worth that much, or if I say it's going to be this much, then it's going to scare away the client. Already it's a client I don't deserve as it is, and so I'm just going to underpay myself and then be poor."
Jase: Yes. I could even see that applying on the other side with relationships too. Instead of just the example of ending relationships as soon as they start to feel serious because it's like, "Oh, that couldn't possibly work out for me. I better get out of this," but also maybe getting into relationships with people that don't feel that great to be with.
Emily: It's like you're afraid to be alone or--
Jase: Well, I was just going to say because it's like, "Well, this is probably as good as I deserve." Our second category here is control. This one is basically the idea that I would rather be in control of things going badly than to feel like they're good, but it's out of my control that it could go bad at any moment. The example here would be like you're consistently either creating problems or coming up with new problems or things to fight about in a relationship until you eventually break up.
At least, you were sort of in control of all of that rather than being really happy and being, "Oh my gosh, this is great." Then if something does go wrong, if they do break up with you or something happens that fell out of your control as opposed to the other way --
Emily: Like a more vulnerable position to be in.
Jase: Exactly. It's like letting myself enjoy the good thing makes it that much scarier, so I'd rather be in control of it being bad than out of control of it being good.
Dedeker: I've anecdotally seen people do something where it's like, let's say they're in a monogamous relationship and one partner cheats, but what the downfall of the relationship is, is actually the person who cheated, kind of accusing the other partner of something and that's where it all falls apart. I've also seen instances where it's like one person snoops their partner's phone, for instance, but what the actual downfall is that they, the person who snooped actually accusing the other person of violating their privacy.
Then it all spirals out of- not really out of control, but all spirals down. I guess it's that same thinking of this idea of like, "I need to take control of the situation even if it means flying the plane into the ground rather than myself being caught, or rather than all the pressure and the spotlight being on me and what I've done wrong." I've definitely seen that happen numerous times and people's relationships falling apart.
Jase: Yes, and I think this could also apply to just in your personal life. It's like making irresponsible decisions or maybe even like doing shoddy work, to kind of doing something that's going to make sure that your business goes into the ground. Or that you don't get those promotions, or that you get fired or that you don't end up with a product that you're proud of because it's like, "Well, at least I was in control of that." As opposed to giving it my all and then if it's still bad, that was out of my control and that's a much worse outcome essentially, right?
Emily: Well, yes, it's actually your best work is like as much as you can give and as much as you are, and then if somebody shits all over that or says that it's not good enough, then that's going to feel way worse than if you did a shoddy job on something and they tell you, "Well, that wasn't very good," and you're like in the back of your head. "Yes, I know. I know it wasn't, but at least I was in control of that situation." That's interesting.
Jase: Right, and I think that one's going to be related to--
Emily: The next one?
Jase: Not the next one, but the one after that. These two get into each other, but keep going with the next one.
Emily: Sure. The middle one is going to be the old chestnut imposter syndrome.
Jase: For people who aren't familiar with imposter syndrome, how would you define that?
Emily: Well, for me, it's that idea that even if I get something really great in my life, I'm actually not worthy of it. It's as though an imposter was coming in and is taking control of the situation and saying like, "Okay, this imposter person got the thing that I am getting in this moment."
Jase: You're saying you're the imposter.
Emily: Yes. I'm the imposter--
Jase: You came in and pretended to be a successful person.
Emily: There you go. That's the one. I'm not actually a success. I'm just an imposter person. Like for example, okay, I'm going to go back to acting, but--
Dedeker: Can I jump in on this one?
Dedeker: I feel like it is very closely related to self-worth in that sense feeling like you're not worthy of this. However, I know for me where the imposter syndrome comes up is more specifically in feeling like I'm not qualified for this or like I've somehow deceived my way to this particular position of success and I'm going to be found out. I think that's a big part of imposter syndrome for me. [crosstalk] It's this idea of if people actually looked critically at me or critically at my work, they would find out that I'm not actually supposed to be here, that I am an imposter. It's kind of like one part of self-worth and also one part feeling like there's some sort of weird deception.
Emily: Yes, I remember I did a national commercial a couple of years ago and the entire time I was like, "I don't deserve this, I don't deserve this. Someone much better than me should be doing this. I'm going to get fired off of this job because this is my first one and I'm not worthy of being here essentially." It's exactly that thing like, "I'm not a person who should be sitting in this position right now."
Jase: It's like the difference between category one which was self-worth is more like, "I'm not going to do this thing or I'm going to do it badly because I don't think I deserve it," and Impostor Syndrome is like-
Emily: I got the thing.
Jase: - "Somehow I got the thing, I better sabotage it because I don't deserve it."
Emily: Sure yes, or even just like subconsciously telling yourself like, "You are not worthy. You are going to get thrown off this job or whatever because I'm an imposter."
Jase: You didn't though, you didn't, in that example, you didn't self sabotage yourself. Even if you did have that belief, which I think is something worth realizing as we talk in the second half about how to deal with these things, and it doesn't necessarily mean you won't ever have these freakouts or these fears--
Emily: No. Absolutely.
Jase: The importance of learning how to not self-sabotage yourself.
Emily: Yes. I mean, so that's an example in my personal life, but also, in a relationship, you can meet a person and then they're really into you and you start dating them, but in the back of your mind you're like, "Wait a minute. They're way more sexy than I am. Way more intelligent than I am. Maybe they're more rich than I am, more popular with all their friends, the life of the party. Why in the world would they be interested in me? There's no freaking reason why that would be."
Jase: I'm going to conflict or I'm going to get bad or give them reasons to break up with me because obviously they couldn't-- [crosstalk]
Emily: They couldn't possibly be interested in me. Yes. Something like that. This is an interesting one, it's like if you're at a networking event or a dating event or a social event to kind of like downplay who you are in a sense, or just talking down about yourself. That imposter syndrome in the back of your mind is like, "Well, nobody's going to be interested in me at this event. I'm not worthy of people's time, so I'm just going to shit all over myself when I'm talking to people."
Jase: Like that self-deprecating humor that can go a little too far, yes.
Emily: A little too far, yes. Exactly.
Dedeker: Right. The next one, again, this is closely related to the control category and all these things build upon each other. We called this setting yourself up the bomb, but it's, basically, it's like planting the seeds of your own demise.
Jase: Wow, so epic.
Emily: I know.
Dedeker: I know, right? It's under this assumption that it's like, "Well, if I don't try then it's okay to fail." Or if I don't try then the sting of failure isn't quite as stingy. It can be something like you don't study for a test because if you fail on the test then you can just be like, "Oh, well, I didn't study clearly. That's why," instead of, "Oh, I tried my best and tried really hard and then failed. It's not on me it's on the fact that well, clearly I just didn't even try." It takes that pressure off, takes that sting out of the failure a little bit. In a relationship, it can be something like doing intentional things that you know are going to contribute toward the collapse of that relationship.
Things like maybe you go stay out late drinking all the time and not communicate or you freak on your partner all the time. It keeps you from being vulnerable and potentially getting hurt because you can be like, "Well, yes. Whatever. The relationship fell apart because I was just not around or just not present." I feel this is a little bit akin to trying to ghost your way out of a relationship.
It's this idea of if I just neglect things enough that it's all going to fall apart especially if you feel like you don't feel confident enough or solid enough or maybe even brave enough to be the person to initiate that breakup conversation or to talk about the reasons or what you want to have changed in the relationship. It's just easier to go this route of setting yourself up the bomb as it were.
Emily: Again, controlling the situation.
Jase: Yes, definitely has some connections to that. Well, I feel like, it's also-- It's that idea of-- What is it? Basically, that you could confuse it and think, "Oh, no. I'm just being really honest with myself." It's like, "This person broke up with me because I wasn't really around or I wasn't communicative or I was distant. Okay. Yes, that's on me."
Emily: It's like, "Why weren't you?"
Jase: That's the thing. It's like the reality is that you didn't do those things, you weren't those things because then you could blame it on that instead of really giving it a go. Then if you fail it's because they didn't like you. At least, that's how it feels rather than saying, "I could blame it on a thing I did rather than on just me." I think sometimes people can even trick themselves into thinking they're not doing this because they're taking ownership of their own failures when in reality they're not taking ownership of things enough and instead doing these things so they can't blame it on them. All right, the next one here is familiarity.
This is basically kind of like the devil you know. It's essentially the idea that, "I would rather have this thing that's not great but I'm familiar and I at least know how to get by in this situation then to venture off into something that could be better but that I don't know." It's not familiar.
Emily: Uncharted waters.
Jase: Right. In life, this could look like something like staying at a job that you hate or that you're really unhappy with or that you really don't like the work environment or anything like that. There's a part of you that knows you could do something better or that you could get something better but that just seems so overwhelming, but it's like, "Well, I'll just stay at this thing because I at least understand it."
In a relationship, this can look very similar. Basically exactly the same of staying in a relationship that's not very good. It's not happy. Maybe it's toxic, maybe it's a little bit or a lot bit abusive. Any of those things but it's familiar, you know it, you've figured out how to get by with it. It's like, "Well, I'd rather do that than risk being alone because I don't know or I don't know if anyone else would like me so I'll stick with what's comfortable."
Emily: Yes, you feel safer because of that.
Jase: Then a different spin on this is that maybe you have a fairly tumultuous relationship with a partner and that things have actually started to get better. You have sort of worked out some of these things and you're starting to get along better but that's not comfortable because it's not familiar. Ironically, the thing that's better doesn't feel as comfortable and so you'll do things to push their buttons or things to try to get more of that emotional- fired up response.
Emily: Response- [crosstalk]
Jase: We talked about this a long time ago on about long-distance relationships that it's something I found or I noticed that I was doing years and years and years ago during one of my first attempts at doing long distance was over the phone. Starting extra serious conversations or arguments or getting upset about stuff. I think because I missed the intense feelings that we had in NRA. Now, that we were more long distance, it's like, "Well, I'm not feeling this intensity. I'm just living my day to day life. I've got to get that somehow," and so causing fights or getting upset about things was a way to do that.
Emily: The next category is going to be disempowerment. This is a really interesting one. It's this idea that you don't start a task or a project because you don't feel empowered to be able to take action. You don't feel maybe educated enough to know how to even start something and so you just avoid it altogether. In life, you might want to create something.
You might want to even create your own Podcast or write a book or start a YouTube channel or write a play or something along those lines but you don't have any idea what the first step to take is. You don't know how to market it, how to get it out there so you just choose to scrap the project altogether or you procrastinate or do something along those lines and then just never get it off the ground.
In a relationship, it can be just perpetually avoiding a difficult talk or something that really needs to be addressed because again you don't know where to begin with that or you know like, "Hey, this is going to be really tough for both of us." I'd rather stay in the familiar pattern of just the day to day even if it's not going very well. I'm doing that as opposed to really having the honest conversation with my partner.
Jase: In the book, The War of Art, have either of you read that book?
Dedeker: I've only read it by extension [crosstalk]
Emily: [crosstalk] some of it. Yes, exactly. I know. I was like, "You've talked about it over the years."
Jase: Anyway, The War of Art. It's a really interesting book about getting past self-sabotage specifically as an artist and writing or making music or whatever it is. One of the things I remember from that book that's related to this category specifically is the idea that no composer says like, "I don't ever want to write a good piece of music," or, "I'm never going to make that. I'm just not going to do it if everyone's going to do it tomorrow." It's that idea of like, "I will write the next great symphony or the next great novel but-
Jase: - tomorrow because I don't really know how to start it, but maybe tomorrow I will."
Dedeker: Yes. I'll be honest, I really like the narrative of taking-- It's so easy to shit on procrastination. It's simultaneously so easy to just shit on it. "Oh, it's terrible," and, "Oh, it's the worst and such a bad habit," but then also to like really relate to everyone because it's like almost everyone procrastinates.
Emily: At some point. Yes.
Dedeker: You're right, but I really like the idea of changing the narrative around procrastination, that is about this, it's about not feeling-
Dedeker: -empowered or knowledgeable enough to even start a task, but it's not necessarily inherent, related to like, "Oh, you're self-sabotaging because you're so freaking lazy." That it's like, "Maybe your self sabotaging because you just don't know or you just don't even know how to break up the task into different steps or how to break it into smaller tasks or whatever things like that."
That is closely related to the next category which is something that is near and dear to my heart. That is perfectionism. It's this idea of like, "You're self-sabotage because everything needs to be perfect before you can actually take action, and because you're waiting until everything's absolutely perfect, you don't actually end up taking action."
Jase: This just reminds me of this woman who was a really, really famous, really glorious figure skater, Sasha Cohen, in the early 2000s til like 2006. She called herself a-- No, I'm sorry, a perfectionist and she never, never could do a clean long program. She always would at least make one mistake or something within it. I think it was just a mental block about it, but she always blamed it on perfectionism.
Like, "I just want to be so perfect so that's causing me to not be able to ever be perfect." It's interesting. I know how you have talked about well it's challenging sometimes because you want your book or your whatever to be perfect. It's hard to get started with it or complete something or not have a mental block about it.
Dedeker: Totally. In life, it can manifest as maybe you do create something like a Podcast or a book or a video or a piece of art or something like that but you never show it to anyone or you never publish it or you never submit it because it's imperfect.
Jess: Hey, you guys remember that whole podcast that we recorded two years ago that we never released?
Emily: Yes. The on you made about figure skating?
Dedeker: Yes, I remember it. I remember it, yes.
Emily: We did that a couple of times.
Emily: We recorded some Holic multiple episodes of the podcast. They were like, "No."
Dedeker: No, but it's not perfect enough. In the multi-game revolt, there's so much content that has been released because we're just like, "No, no, not perfect enough." I know, for me, it always comes up in my writing. Like, I definitely have the terrible habit that everyone says a writer or shouldn't do, but that I do all the time which is like editing while I write. I've been like, all right or I'm like, "No, no, wait, it'll be better this way. No, no, wait, wait, no, no, it should be this way. Wait, no, that's not the right word. Wait, what do I want?"
While I've been pouring over getting this one sentence perfect everyone else has written 200 sentences, ans so that holds me back from creating more content. In a relationship kind of similar to the dis-empowerment thing, it can be avoiding a difficult talk or some uncomfortable communication just perpetually because you're hung up on getting your words, your thoughts like 100% right or 100% clear. I think it's not a coincidence that I'm both a perfectionist and a chewer instead of a spewer when it comes to processing things because I'm all about, "Okay, I need to sit and chew on this and get 100% clear what I'm going to say so that I can deliver this perfect monologue to my partner."
Then I can talk about it but I can't talk about in the moment or I can't talk about it while I'm feeling things or I can't talk about it while my thoughts are in a jumble because that's just not going to do. Then the talk ends up getting pushed off and pushed back and procrastinated on and then maybe even never happens. I've definitely seen it with clients who avoid the next step in opening up their relationship because they're waiting for it to be 100% comfortable or to feel 100% perfect, which very rarely happens. Whenever you're dealing with personal growth or with something new is that it rarely feels 100% perfect or comfortable but because they're waiting for that they end up not going anywhere.
Jess: The difference between these last two categories the dis-empowerment one and the perfectionism one is that for opening up a relationship, the dis-empowerment one would be like, "This is something that I really want, but I don't know how someone would possibly talk to their partner about that or how people would even do that. I don't do it." Then the perfectionism one is the, "I've read every single book ever published on polyamory and I've listened to every episode of Multiamory twice but I haven't-"
Dedeker: My partner and I have spent 60 hours talking about it.
Jess: Right, but we haven't quite evaluated every possible contingency plan for everything that could happen and so we haven't moved forward. They can seem very similar when you describe them at first it's like, "Well, you just don't know what to do. So, you don't move forward." The way they manifest is where they're very different from each other.
Emily: We've seen this in both cases. People deciding to go into polyamory or not.
Jess: Yes. Then our last category here in this half is about community identity. What this looks like is say you have a group of friends. What your friends do when they're together is you all get together, and you complain about your terrible relationships, or you complain about the shitty dates that you go on, or whatever it is. In this case, say, you then go on a date that's actually good, and you're starting to have a relationship that's really good. There can be this tendency to want to self sabotage that either by just getting out of that relationship or causing problems in it, or looking for more things to be upset about. Because if I were to be happy in my relationship, how do I fit in with my friend group anymore? This is what we do, this is how we bond socially.
Or another example would be, say, you have opened up your relationship, and you and your partner both have been struggling to find dates. Then you do find one, it can feel like, "That's going to make me disconnected from my partner or that's going to upset them." I won't go on this date or I'll find some reason why this person is not right for me, or something like that, to try to sabotage it in order to maintain comfort in that relationship.
The irony here is that in both of those cases, your friends didn't even necessarily say, "You can't talk to us anymore if you're happy." And your partner didn't say, "I don't want you to find a date." This is something that you've put on yourself of like, "Well, I don't want to be different from my community, so I'm going to ensure that I don't become different from them by having more success."
Dedeker: I feel like this it's related to the familiarity category that we talked about earlier but I feel like there's a part of it that's about maintaining the status quo to a certain extent that sometimes we all self-sabotage in order to maintain status quo.
Jess: I think this one's just focused on how you fit into a community of some sort even if that's just your community with your partner whereas the other one's almost more like just yourself, just what you're used to, I guess.
Emily: A lot of these are just like a question of where do I feel safest I guess as well and if that is within this community that has remained the same for years and years and I don't want to leave that because that feels unsafe or variety of other things. The dis-empowerment even, deciding well, it feels safest to stay in this place and it's unsafe to possibly create a new thing and then now know where that's going to take me in my life.
Jess: Then this one when we were preparing this, Dedicar pointed out that this comes up a lot with someone who is monogamous and wants to be non-monogamous but worries, "Well, I'll lose all my friends. I won't be able to fit in with my friend group so I'm going to make sure that I'm not able to become non-monogamous." Or even the other way around of like, "I'm non-monogamous and I actually want to have a monogamous relationship, but I'm worried that I won't fit in with my polyamory discussion, group friends, and things like that." This can definitely come up in a lot of different ways in terms of that, wanting to be part of a community, not wanting to disrupt the status quo of that community and your place in it.
Now, in the second half of the episode, we're going to look at some things you can do to actually address these. How do you stop doing these kinds of self-sabotage both in terms of looking inside yourself and figuring out what are the underlying causes of this? How can I change those beliefs? Then also some just practical like, how can I just stop doing the things even if I still have some of those beliefs. I really wanted to title this whole second half. If you've got a problem, you'll all solve it. Actually, you have to solve it yourself. Vanilla ice. My whole thing is-
Dedeker: You're just really bringing out the references today-
Emily: He's bringing out how old he is.
Dedeker: It's true. I had a question. If this section is combating self-sabotage, we're looking for what's the opposite of self-sabotage. What's the opposite of sabotage? Collaboration, support-
Emily: Stop, collaborate, and listen. Damn it.
Okay. Yes, it is.
Jess: If you've got a problem, you'll all solve it. Stop, collaborate, and listen, that's the answer?
Emily: There you go.
Dedeker: Is that the answer? I don't think that answered my question.
Jess: No, it doesn't.
Dedeker: I feel like that's the best I'm going to get that song out of my head.
Jess: There's self-sabotage, self-
Jess: Self-empowerment, self-progress.
Dedeker: Empowerment is part of that, progress is part of that.
Emily: Yes, we'll talk about some of those things. The first one is self-examination, which I think is probably the initial one, see even like move forward past self-sabotage but probably the most difficult to get to initially because if you see that your life is continuing to go in this cyclical pattern based way, it might be time to examine things about yourself-
Jess: If that first half of the episode resonated with you.
Emily: Yes, and you're like, "Who, who, yikes, oh, man, here we go."
Then maybe it's time to take a look at yourself. The first thing that you might want to do is look at the things that you believe about yourself because other people told you. That can include messages from your parents, from teachers you had in the past, from your ex's, all three of those--
Dedeker: Your partners.
Emily: Yes, all three of those resonate for me right off the bat. I've had teachers who said that I wasn't good enough at X, Y or Z thing or whatever, parent things, ex's absolutely all of those. It's important to actually look at yourself and look at the difference between, did somebody tell me this because it's true or do I have this belief about myself just because it was said to me at one point in my life and is that actually truly the case and is it like serving me in this moment?
Dedeker: When I was first going to therapy, I forget what I was even talking to my therapist about but I mentioned something where I was like, "Well, I can't do this because then if I do this then that's going to just feel rude and it's going to be inappropriate so I can't say that." My therapist just said "Who taught you that?"
Jess: You're like...
Dedeker: I was like, "Oh damn."
Actually, I really appreciate that question, just framing it that way of like, who told you that? Who taught you that? When you say something about yourself, especially, when you say something about yourself that's negative, because it just invites that examination of, "Really though, who did teach me that?" It's like maybe my parents taught me that, maybe in an indirect way, maybe they didn't directly say to me, "You're rude and inappropriate." Indirectly I got that message that I am a rude and appropriate person.
Jess: Actually this comes up a lot with things like clumsiness. If you just got told over and over that you're clumsy, with that can be one that you can take on as a belief about yourself.
Emily: Yes, totally.
Dedeker: All I think in my case, something like perfectionism comes from I did really well in school, so being told over and over again like, "Oh, you do so well in school or you always get straight As or you always so good at X, Y, and Z." Then it's like, well I can never not be good at X, Y, and Z and essentially that can happen.
Jess: That's a really good example.
Dedeker: There's the old adage floating around that it's like, the ways that parents speak to their children end up becoming their inner voice when they become adults. I think that applies for both criticism and even prayers as well.
Jess: These are the things that are valuable about me.
Emily: Absolutely. To go along with that there's also things that our parents believed about themselves that we took on. Even if a parent is not really present in our lives, for instance, if our parents were missionaries and they are constantly going off and leaving us at home or whatever, then we see that as something that's important and maybe view ourselves as the less important thing. As this thing outside of ourselves is more important and we take that on, we adapt to that belief to a degree or just like, hey I don't know your parents or scared of X, Y, or Z thing, and so, therefore, you take on that as well and are always afraid of money or afraid of I don't know.
Jess: Money is a big one
Emily: Yes, absolutely.
Dedeker: Money is a huge one, oh my God.
Emily: For sure, yes I know. My mom just had a lot of money, things throughout her life that she not necessarily was needed to worry about, but it was instilled in her that she should be worried about it or uptight about money, and I definitely think that I have taken that on in my life to a degree.
Dedeker: Sorry, I'm laughing because I just put something's together. I think I inherited my mom's self-criticism about her looks because growing up at least I didn't get any direct criticism from people closed to me about my looks. I know some people do, but I definitely didn't get that. I got all the normal messages that girls get about how they are supposed to look, but at least for my mom and for my close inner circle I never got criticism about my looks. I still inherited the ways that my mom criticized herself about her looks, which was-- and my mom is a beautiful woman and-
Emily: Also are you.
Dedeker: -has always aged incredibly well, but that's the thing. I grew up listening to her criticize her own weight to herself all the time, or if she left the house without makeup on always commenting on, "I look like a hag right now." Honestly needing to leave the house with her bangs perfectly 100%.
Emily: There it all makes sense.
Dedeker: There it all is. Mom would finally be ready to leave the house and if it was the summertime and the air-conditioning was going, she would make one of us go over to switch off the air-conditioning because she couldn't walk in front of it because it will mess up her bangs. [laughs] That's 100% me now, it's ridiculous it all makes sense, y'all.
Emily: Yes, it does.
Jess: I feel you've gotten better about letting it go, but-
Emily: The bangs?
Dedeker: Well, I got a better hair cut that way my bangs behave better, that's why.
Dedeker: I did not expect you're going to get into my bangs hangup in this episode.
Emily: It's okay, that is what it is. It is important to examine also these defense mechanisms that we have created to combat all of these beliefs about ourselves.
Jess: Well, to combat also the behavior of the people in our lives. Your example earlier, Emily, about the parents who are gone a lot of the time, perhaps that's upsetting for a kid, so that kid then develops some beliefs or some behaviors of their own to make that not hurt so bad. Perhaps being aloof or perhaps being-
Emily: Ghosting someone?
Jess: Yes, ghosting their parents or being-
Dedeker: Avoid and reattach.
Jess: Being angsty or whatever and that at the time was very helpful, right? It helped them at that time to not be so hurt by the situation, but then later in life, it becomes a problem where it gets in the way of them actually connecting with people, it causes them to self-sabotage instead of actually having relationships with people who will be there for them and who are reliable. The three categories the first one is, things the people told you about yourself that you have believed. The second one is, things that you watched other people that usually your parents believe about themselves, then you said, that must be true of me too. Then the third is, what have you built up to protect yourself from some of these behaviors you're exposed to over and over again, but might not be serving you today?
The first answer here is to get some outside help, and this could mean therapy, it could mean counseling, it could mean a support group, especially, if we're talking about handling addiction or addictive behaviors with things like that. Getting that outside help can be really helpful to get you to baseline from which you can then work on, on improving things.
This could also depending on your situation, it could be even something as simple as just getting an accountability buddy.
I think we've mentioned before on this show that, for things like that it's generally best not to have that be your romantic partner, this is a piece of advice I heard years ago, that when I heard it I was like, oh my God that makes so much sense. It's basically you don't want your partner to be both the person that you're supposed to love and feel happy with and have sex with, but then they're also your jailer, or the policeman, or the trainer keeping you accountable, that the one relationship doesn't really foster the other. In a day to day situation. Obviously, if you want to do some role-playing of that, that can work, but you know what I mean?
Dedeker: Getting the outside help again it doesn't have to be showing out a tone of money for a therapist. It could be if you examine like, "I noticed that I have major impostor syndrome going on. As whenever I sit down to work on this particular project, and I'm going to find a friend that I trust when I feel that impostor syndrome and just talk to them about it, just be like, hey, "Oh my God, the impostor syndrome is coming up, can you just tell me that I'm good at what I do.
Emily: It's going to be okay
Dedeker: -and it's going to be okay."" It couldn't be just as simple as that, your friend can be your accountability buddy in that sense. Ideally, maybe that's a mutual thing as well, but you can help encourage your friend through them getting over the way so they often self-sabotage as well.
Jess: They can also be finding a social worker or a coach or something who does a sliding scale to make it affordable for you. There's lots of different ways that you could get this, so don't feel like, "That's not an option I could do." Maybe if you're having that thought examine which of the self-sabotaging phase I might take away from-
Dedeker: That's a huge one. Now that makes so much sense because I've done it, when it comes to getting professional help that I've gone through all the different varieties of either like, no that's not I can afford, or no there's other people who are way more messed up than I am who actually need help. I don't actually need help for this tiny little things or no it just feels more comfortable to not break up my routine.
Jess: I've definitely done the thing of spending a ton of time looking on yelp or trying to find sites and researching different places and then never going to any of them-
Emily: Procrastinating through.
Jess: -because I'm too overwhelmed by the whole process.
Dedeker: You're trying to find the perfect one, instead of just one.
Dedeker: I've definitely done that too, how gosh it's not coming together.
Emily: It doesn't exist.
Dedeker: Another thing that can help break you out of self-sabotage cycles is learning to re-frame failure. This is such a huge one, we can probably do an entire episode just on the topic of re-framing failure.
Jess: I like that, let's do that.
Emily: We should do that.
Dedeker: I'll put it on the list. For instance, many of us carry the story that "serious talks" in relationships means that there's some kind of failure. I think a lot of us carry this message of love supposed to be organic and to a certain extent it's supposed to be easy and if you truly connected to someone you know you're always able to finish each other sentences. That means if we have to sit down and schedule a talk or talk about something uncomfortable that means there are some failure, and that failure or that fear of the discomfort can cause people to just avoid it perpetually, never bring up the topic until it explodes later on, or causes much bigger issues.
I'm often directing people especially clients to re-frame this idea around communication to realize that intentional and uncomfortable communication it's not a failure it's something that helps your relationships get better. It's an opportunity that helps develop more intimacy and closeness between you and the person that you're communicating with.
Jess: It's almost like exercising to get stronger or to get in shape and that.
Emily: That is uncomfortable it can be at times.
Jess: Right it's--
Emily: Especially if you're just starting out.
Jess: Exactly, but I think most of us, at least, on an intellectual level understand that that's something you need to do in order to get stronger or to get in shape. It's likely applied the thinking of relationships would be like if you thought, "Oh, I should just be strong," like, "I should just be in shape and if I have to workout that means something's wrong with me or I'm failing so that can't be it."
Dedeker: Or if the workout is challenging.
Jess: Right, if the workout's hard that means something must be wrong which is exactly the opposite of what you need to do if you actually want to get any progress with it.
Dedeker: Related there's also this story that we carry culturally, that any relationship ending is a failure. Therefore, a lot of people will self-sabotage by stubbornly staying in a relationship that's not making anybody happy because we're trying to avoid that sting of failure, that and how a relationship ending is going to reflect on us. Again it's learning to re-frame that story. That a relationship ending or de-escalating or changing in some way, it just allows both people to keep moving forward in a better direction for their lives. That's not necessarily a failure.
Outside of the realm of relationships when it comes to things like creating something like writing or art or creating a new project I know for me, I'm really trying so hard to just remind myself that it's part of the process is failure in both big and small. It's like failure in imperfection and it's okay to trust that process. It's okay to just make something even if it's not perfect. It's okay to make something even if it doesn't 100% capture what you are going for.
Then it's like the process of making something or taking that step forward is still progress essentially and that's a huge one. It's definitely one that if I keep reminding myself of that that it's like it's okay for it to be uncomfortable and imperfect. That's going to still move you forward. That's definitely helped me to become braver, and not just sabotage myself by constantly just choosing to not create or avoiding creating or writing or things like that.
Jess: Then the next one we have here is choose your friends wisely. We all have heard this before with kids in school it's like, "Oh, you fell in with the wrong crowd." Or the right crowd and that that makes a difference and that our parents will worry about who we're associating with in school. The same is true for you today. This isn't just something that applies to kids.
This is something that if you look this up. Do a Google search for something like how does your friend group affect your success? Or how does your friend group affect your decisions? Or how does your friend group affect your health? Any number of these. There are so many butt-loads of studies showing how true this is that in things from self-control to students performance in school, to workers both job satisfaction and their performance at their job, your health, just so many things, can be determined by looking at your group of friends. You can basically look at essentially the average of your group of friends and determine how you're going to be in a certain category.
Jess: I think it can feel really mercenary or harsh to people to just say like, "Oh, so what? You're saying I should just stop being friends with all of my friends?" Yes, maybe it's not quite that simple but it is really something worth thinking about because we talked before about the need to fit into a social group can actually stop you from improving beyond that because then you'll feel like you're not part of that social group.
Whereas similarly, a social group who is doing well in these certain areas, will more likely encourage you and support you in being more successful in those areas. Whether it's relationships or work or other parts of your personal life because that's how you fit in better with your community.
Emily: Yes, I'll save it for the bonus episode.
Emily: What I was going to say.
Jess: Okay, all right, well for our patrons, you'll check that out. [cross talk]
Emily: For our patrons, if you want to hear become a patron.
Dedeker: Gosh, what a tease.
Emily: I know right? The last one that we have is just do it Jessica Graham style. If you remember our dear friend, Jessica Graham from many moons ago when we did the episode and interview about her book Good Sex she talked about doing things cold turkey. Like stopping.
Jess: Actually, she didn't talk about this on that episode, I don't think.
Jess: This is just a different thing she's taught me and Dedeker that we like to bring up from time to time. I don't think this actually came up on that episode.
Dedeker: I think she included this is her book, though.
Jess: Oh, okay.
Emily: Yes, she talked about it in the book.
Dedeker: But it was, yes, when she was talking about a self-sabotaging behavior which was smoking cigarettes. It was just like quitting it cold turkey just don't put the cigarette in your mouth. I was laughing because I was like "That's what I did when I became Vegan. I just didn't put the turkey in my mouth. It was cold turkey, I just didn't put it in my mouth, yes."
No, but really it is that just taking that leap. If something is that scary to you, just do it anyways. If something is not going well, then stop doing it. That's tough that's a tough one. That's really something that's like "Oh, man, can I actually do that? That takes a lot of courage, I think."
Dedeker: It sounds so simplistic but I do think the point that Jessica always makes whenever she talks about this is it's some people just need that permission. That they don't need to dive deep into therapy about something that is literally like, "Okay, it is okay to just stop." Something that Jess and I say back and forth to each other all the time. I believe this was Ajahn Chah, who is a Tai Buddhist monk who's written a bunch of books really venerated in his field. I read the story about he had a translator, this is an American guy who is translating Tai into English and like translating English into Tai for an audience that is giving Ajahn Chah questions.
Someone in the audience had described "Often I have feelings of guilt that come up from the past or recent past or whatever and sometimes that comes up in mediation and I was wondering what Ajahn Chah's thoughts were on handling guilt within a meditative practice."
The translator realized that in the Tai language there isn't really a word for guilt and he's like, "Oh gosh, okay." So he had to make essentially cobble together this explanation of what guilt was in Tai because there wasn't actually a word for it. Ajahn Chah was like, "Wait what?" "What is it?" "Wait what?" The translator kept struggling and trying to describe what guilt was. Then finally Ajahn Chah said, "You know what? That sounds like suffering just tell them they shouldn't do that."
That something that Jason and I have adopted in saying to each other. Sometimes when I'm like "Oh, I just- I don't know, I want to put together a book proposal but then I start thinking about this and then I'm like but maybe the book shouldn't be about this but then I'm like oh and then I'm writing it-" and then Jason is just like "It sounds like suffering just don't do that."
Emily: That's good
Jess: Yes, we've gotten each other with that one many times.
Dedeker: Sometimes even something that simple actually is really helpful. He'll be like "Actually you're right. It's just suffering, it's just self-sabotage I'm going to do something else that's not that."
Emily: Wow, wise words
Emily: Wise words, Madam and Sir, yes. We definitely want to hear about all of the ways in which you self-sabotage, and the ways in which you chose to stop suffering and stop doing that. I think that that would be really interesting to hear because I know this a very personal thing. I think it's something that pretty much everyone has to deal with as some point in their lives or another.
It's great to hear how one combats that, and we hope that some of these ways are ways that you yourself can learn to combat self-sabotaging and make your life better, make your life happier. The best place to share your thoughts with other listeners is on this episode's discussion thread in our private Facebook or discourse forums. You can get access to these groups and join our exclusive community by going to patreon.com/multiamory.
In addition, you can share with us publicly on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org leave us a voice mail at 678-MULTI-05. Or you can leave us a voice message on Facebook. Multiamory is created and produced by Jess Lingren, Dedeker Winston, and me Emily Matlack. Our episodes are edited by Mauricio. Our social media wizard is Will Mcmillan. Our theme song is Forms I know I Did by Josh and Anand from the Fractal Cave EP The full transcript is available on this episode's page on Multiamory.com.