By now, you have probably seen me share about self-sabotage on my Instagram page in one way or another. And while I like to use Instagram to break down complex topics into easily digestible bits of information, self-sabotage is one where a lot of nuance and understanding is required.
This is because self-sabotage is portrayed in mainstream media quite differently than how we know it to unfold in the life of a trauma survivor. For example, we often see self-sabotage depicted in film as the avoidantly-attached partner explaining to their current friend-with-benefits that they need to end the situationship because they are catching feelings and are too afraid to get hurt. And while that is certainly an example of self-sabotage, the avoidantly-attached protagonist demonstrated incredible insight into what they were struggling with and communicated it quite effectively to their partner… which is… not normally how it goes…
The truth is that self-sabotage is normally a subconscious process. Meaning, we subconsciously engineer destructive relationship habits that all but ensure the relationship ends. This is because it’s easier to be disappointed in a breakup that we engineer ourselvesthan it is to be heartbroken by one that we never saw coming.
This is the same truth that causes us to overthink or to look at our partner’s DMs when we are in a relationship. As our body wants us to be prepared for danger and threat, it will use rumination and anxious thoughts to try and prepare us for the various ways things may go wrong.
And while this is a very sophisticated attempt by your body to keep yourself safe, it also can keep you stuck, lonely, and insecure.
#1 way people sabotage their relationships
In my eight years of being a licensed social worker, the most common way I see people sabotage the potential of their relationship is by never asking for their needs to be met in the first place.
As an example, raise your hand if you ever heard or said the words “they should know by now what I want; if someone really loved me, they would have figured it out by now”
Take a second and reflect on the last time you told your partner exactly how you would like to receive emotional support. Or ask yourself when was the last time you communicated your trauma trigger in a way that was loving and included tangible steps on what you need them to do when you’re triggered?
keep reading if you feel personally attacked…
The truth is that our partners can not read our minds, and unless we use clear and effective forms of communication (which, yes, sometimes includes having to repeat ourselves!), our relationships are going to suffer in ways that feel unbearable. After all, we are in relationships to get our needs met. So, if we don’t communicate what we need or how we need our partner to show up for us, chances are that our relationships are going to feel incredibly lonely.
When it comes to self-sabotage, not asking for our needs to be met is the ultimate form, because it allows us to blame the other person for the relationship not working out.
But failing to ask for what you need isn’t exclusive to self-sabotage. It also comes from a deep fear that we are asking for too much, a fear of being rejected, or sometimes it’s simply due to not knowing how to ask. (These are all really common responses to childhood or relation trauma btw, so if you see yourself reflected in this article, know that you are in good company).
Listen, I get it… asking for your partner to show up for you is no small feat. It is already a vulnerable thing to do when you haven’t experienced childhood trauma. But, if you really want your relationship to work, you owe it to yourself and to your partner to at least give the relationship a fair chance at surviving.
In my next masterclass, I will be dedicating several slides to this exact topic, and I will be including my go to scriptfor effectively communicating your needs to your romantic partner. You won’t want to miss it – stay tuned for our November launch date!
Until next time,