Mental health

Ugly Truth 013: Self-Sabotage Slows Progress

“What is required for many of us, paradoxical though it may sound, is the courage to tolerate happiness without self-sabotage.” -Nathaniel Branden

Dear Readers,

I have been a self sabotager all of my life. I believe this is a facet of my childhood abuse and abandonment. Self sabotage is a function of imposter syndrome, control, fraudulent thinking or familiarity in a seemingly powerless universe.

As an adolescent my false beliefs blossomed into fundamental distortions such as, “I am not good enough,” or “Who am I to think I can…” or “I am unworthy of love.” This left me with nothing more than a gaping hole at the center of myself, and a personality partial to self-loathing melancholy.

The truth is, children of abuse or abandonment have a unique ability to blame themselves for the shortcomings of their environment. Likewise, they are made to believe the worthlessness that is instilled in them, indirectly or otherwise, because the message comes from the source of those promised to love and protect them most. However false, we find it naturally credible at the time.

As an adult, my inherent worthlessness clashed with the elevated speeches my father used in attempt to build me up. Likewise, my foolish romantic choices did not match up with my intellect. After a series of uprooted relocations and exposure to multiple severely traumatic events, I grew deeply weary – which shifted my distorted thinking from poor self worth to suicidal indifference.

The truth is, I often resent the fact that my life has been saved. When you’d rather be dead you tend to become complacent, counting your days as blessings rather than practical opportunities. However, I remain deeply discontent. When I combine my restlessness with my resentment – and throw in a dash of fear convictions – I achieve only paralysis. Unfortunately, insight isn’t everything.

After years of therapy, I still find it incredibly difficult to set and execute life goals. Aside from episodic mental illness, the only excuse I have is a fear of success.

The truth is, anguish can be an excellent catalyst for change, or it can hold us back from that which we are easily capable of by swallowing our personhood and keeping us warm at night. Likewise, when you have suffered a traumatic event you may find that excitement feels dangerously close to anxiety or panic, thus you avoid it completely. You may be familiar with this if you know what it feels like to be “too happy.”

Catastrophic thinking holds us from our own potential despite the sense of self preservation we may feel. Perhaps this is why motivational speakers or perspective adjustments like those found in spirituality can be so powerful. Afterall, not all lessons on how to harness human ambition are hocus pocus. Sometimes, it is exactly the healing affirmation you need to hear. Sometimes, it is mind over matter.

I have released my need for control, re-defined my personal truth, and no longer trigger seemingly meaningless conflict in my relationships. This has left me with only one stone unturned: familiarity.

As an extremely stubborn individual, I find a no-nonsense approach to self development is best. So, what can you do if you’re getting in your own way by engaging in problem behavior such as self-harm, substance abuse, stress eating, interpersonal conflict, or procrastination?

Additional Reading: 8 Ways to Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Success from Entrepreneur Magazine

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

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