According to Psychology Today, “Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems in our life and interferes with long-standing goals. Among the most common self-sabotaging behaviors are procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating, and forms of self-injury such as cutting.”
Mindtools.com also says that self-sabotage includes negative thoughts, indulging in unfulfilled dreams, anger, feelings of worthlessness, and worrying about all the things in all the ways (worrying about “things that really shouldn’t matter” and “fearing that if you fail, others will think less of you.”)
As a general human being and a writer, I do (and have done) all of these things. Some of these parallel with anxiety and depression.
So how does self-sabotage relate to writing if you enjoy writing? Surely you wouldn’t keep yourself from making your deadlines, you want your deadlines, you want your drafts finished. Right? Yeah, right.
There were times when I totally knew what I was doing and that yes, I chose to binge watch 5 episodes of Dancing Queen instead of write. Voluntarily. But there were other times, like when I spent the entirety of my 20s drunk because drunk was easier than dealing with the problems. Is self-sabotage the same as negative escapism? So many parallels.
To break the cycle or cycles of self-sabotage you need to (again from Mindtools.com):
1. Recognize your behavior
2. Monitor your negative thinking
3. Challenge that thinking
4. Make self-supporting behaviors
Easier said than done!
I’m a sociologist, not a psychologist. I can’t make all the bad things go away.
But I can say that, when it comes to writing, self-sabotage is a bitch and the best thing I’ve found to do, for me, is just ignore it and push through.
Because pushing through gets the words on the page.
I was supposed to have two new novels published last year. I’m still writing them because I got in my own way last year. This year I am determined, double determined to not let that happen again.
Because the worst kind of self-sabotage I indulge in is negative thinking. I tell myself this is going to be awful and I’m going to fail. I tell myself if doesn’t matter because I’m not going to meet my deadlines anyway, so why try?
Mr. J constantly tells me to relax and stop being so hard on myself. Easier said than fucking done. And really, there’s no good reason I should be hard on myself, I’m fine, I’m not doing anything wrong. But I could later, and it could all be shit. Therefore the now should be shit too because REASONS. That’s what I deal with in my head every day.
And the best thing I can do with that negativity is ignore it, even thought it’s coming from inside me. I just tell myself to shut up and write even if what I think I’m writing is the worst kind of shit imaginable. Even if I know for a fact I won’t make my deadline, I’m going to do it anyway because I want to, because I love writing.
That takes will power and sometimes I can’t ignore the negativity and I sleep all day because napping is easier than getting drunk and facing all the bad things. But that’s okay to because when I wake up I try to write again.
I have to constantly remind myself that I LOVE this, I LOVE writing and I’m not going to fuck up something I love. The negative thoughts can’t predict the future, my negative self doesn’t have a crystal ball. And neither do I. The negative thoughts are just my imagination and they don’t mean anything.
Mr. J told me no matter what happens, as long as I keep trying, he’ll still love me.
So that’s the advice for today: no matter what, keep trying.