Tag Archives: self sabotage

Being in the Right (Head) Place at the Right Time

26 Feb

How often does this happen to you?

After hours or even days of depression, procrastination and self-loathing, you finally find yourself with the energy and mood to do what you want/need to…but by then you’ve run out of time to do it. 

A couple cases in point, just from my last week:

At Work: (Not) Tackling a Mountain of Tasks

I spent one morning hungover (a story for another day) in meetings, struggling even to pay attention, let alone participate. Then a few more hours stressing over my workload, going out for smoke breaks and ruminating over my lack of productivity. 

Only when I had less than an hour left before I had to leave did I “snap out of it” and kick into the high gear I needed right after my morning meetings. In that last hour I got more done than in the previous eight…but I left with a mountain of unfinished tasks I promised myself I’d tackle over the weekend (not going well so far). 

At Home: Household Chores

Today I had the house to myself for five solid hours, and a manageable list of chores to go along with it. I spent half of it at the bar at the end of the street, and another hour watching Bill Maher, before doing the only productive thing I did all day – putting away a single hamper of already folded clothes. 

After another trip to the bar for a quick couple pints, and with 20 minutes before having to leave for my kid’s hockey game, it happened again. Only when I didn’t have the time to do it did I snap out of my rut and feel almost enthusiastic about tackling even the most onerous chores on my list. 

Sometimes it’s as if the only time I’m in the right mood to get something done is precisely when I don’t have the time to do it. 

What’s Your Secret?

I know I’m not alone so I want to hear your stories. And what I want to know just as much is, how do you align your mood with the time when you need it? 

Or…how do you end up in the right (head) place at the right time?

Cut a great bargain…with myself

11 Feb

Right off the top, let me say that I did not meet the expectations I set for myself last time I wrote, going on three days now. I did my writing in time but didn’t finish the cover letter.

By my own and no uncertain terms I was in my rights to declare the week a a failure. My inner critic was chomping at the bit and tempting old habits – like self criticism and sabotage – circled like vultures.

But I didn’t give in to temptation or my typically harsh judgement. I stopped.

Taking a page from Daniel Kahneman’s excellent bookThinking Fast and SlowThinking Fast and Slow, I stopped. To breathe, to find calm, to think rationally. I caught myself in time with three anchors of reason:

1) Life’s not black and white, all or nothing. Everything in life is painted shades of grey. Yes I missed one goal, an important one but immediately urgent only to me. What’s I tend to forget is that I met the other 80% of my goals and did even more. How can I give myself a failing grade? Would I judge someone else through the same harsh eyes? Bottom line….I give myself a solid B+.

2) This old catastrophizing, self-sabotaging habit of mine is a stubborn bugger. Getting past it, accepting what I did instead of dwelling on what I didn’t, even giving myself a pat on the back…these are precisely the things I need to learn how to do again. They pose the biggest, toughest challenges in my life right now.

3) Through smart choices, a healthy attitude and the right meds, I’ve been on a bit of a run lately. I’m taking all my meds, I’m doing more and I’m keeping myself busy all day long. B2C days (bed to couch) are rare when they used to be daily. It’s too easy for me to forget the progress I’ve made, big picture progress. I need reminding that my worst days now are better than my best days in December.

So there you have it.

Maybe I’m finally starting to learn how to appreciate myself as is…that, or I just bargained myself off the hook for putting off an increasingly urgent task that I’ve been avoiding for ages.

Procrastination or appreciation? Crazy or lazy…thoughts?

The art of self sabotage

30 Jan

It’s 11:28 and I’m still 5 minutes away from my 11:00 dentist appointment (at the time I started writing).

I didn’t have an earlier meeting that went long. I wasn’t rushing to get something done before walking out the door. Traffic and public transit were running on time. It wasn’t fear or procrastination either.

I made myself late through my own acts of self-sabotage.

A special brand of manufactured obstacles, self-sabotage means taking deliberate but often subconscious measures to make an already pressing task unnecessarily more challenging. More than simple procrastination, acts of self-sabotage work directly in conflict with truly important priorities.

Among the crazy, self-sabotaging is a common behavioral pattern, and a frequent topic of conversation at my group therapy. Particularly when we’re in a rut, trying to pull out of one, or in the face of an imposing or unfamiliar situation, we sabotage our best interests through decisions and judgement we know to be self-defeating.  Memorable examples include…

…letting your phone ring through to voicemail because it’s someone you’re just not ready to talk to. Now you’ve got the burden of returning their call, probably anxieties about the call itself, and the shame of avoiding it in the first place.

…putting off a reply email for so long that the people expecting it have moved on.  If you do end up replying, you’ll feel it necessary to explain your absence, further complicating an already daunting task.  If you write it off completely, maybe you’ve burned a bridge in the process.

…having a drink or two before an important meeting to relieve anxieties and boost your self-esteem.  At best you’re oblivious to the fact that you smell like a brewery.  At worst you end offending the very people you were trying to impress.

…drinking or smoking to incapacitate yourself from facing an important phone call, meeting or task.  Escape and relief from short term pain lead to more in the long term; you’re going to have to get to it sometime, only now you’ll have less time and more stress to do it.

…taking on work you know you can’t complete because you don’t want to say no to someone.  At some point however, and the longer it goes unsaid the more difficult it is to say, you’re going to have to own up. You’re going let that person down far more than had you were honest from the get go.

…Waiting for your last pill to order prescription refills. This might involve an awkward (in your eyes) call to your doctor, and almost certainly means you’ll be going 2-3 days without your meds.  No big deal if we’re talking Zoloft.  Clonazepam can be a bitch though.

The pattern is obvious enough.  Each is a form of avoidance.  The cost of avoidance, a heavier workload and accompanying anxieties, was far worse than the work being avoided in the first place.  We worry so much about the inevitable that our actions make it impossible.  And yet we repeat the pattern over and over again.

Why?  What drives our acts of self-sabotage? What are we really avoiding? What are your favorite examples?  These and other exciting details to come.  Stay sane:)

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