Madissyn Fredericks, Licensed Professional Counselor, Symmetry Counseling

Engaging in romantic relationships is one of the biggest risks you can take. While they may bring you so much joy and happiness, they can also encompass pain and betrayal. As you continue to open yourself up and become vulnerable physically and emotionally with another person, the risk of getting rejected, hurt, betrayed, or abandoned grows. Experiencing such hurt can lead anyone to engage in self-sabotaging behaviors moving forward. People engage in self- sabotage in order to protect themselves from getting hurt, not necessarily to consciously sabotage themselves. For example, you may feel very insecure and believe you can’t handle being rejected again. Consequently, you may begin to isolate yourself or judge everyone you meet as being “not your type” or “not good enough for you”. Other forms of self-sabotage include driving someone away through “clingy” behaviors, sleeping with someone before you are ready, being excessively demanding of your partner, and judging yourself and others harshly. Continuing to engage in self-sabotaging behaviors may prevent you from the healthy and loving relationships you deserve unless you become aware of your patterns. Below are some tips you can try to challenge your self-sabotaging behaviors.

Identify Trends and Patterns

There is most likely an experience or fear keeping you from engaging fully in relationships. It is important to notice when you feel insecure, unsafe, or rejected and begin to assess why you are feeling that way. Was it something your significant other said? Was it something they did? Ask yourself “What am I feeling?” and “Why am I feeling this way?”. Doing this will help you identify patterns and common themes that trigger you to become distant or pull away.

Be Mindful

Be mindful of not only how others make you feel but how you feel about yourself. Are you engaging in negative self-talk? Do you struggle with low self-esteem? Are you experiencing racing thoughts or rumination? Simply begin to notice the way you are speaking to yourself and what you are experiencing. Being more mindful will allow you to challenge the negative thinking or low self-esteem rather than feeding into it. Choose a healthier coping mechanism such as mindfulness techniques, reframing your thoughts, or engaging in a self-care routine.

Redefine Your Worth

If you are afraid of embracing relationships out of fear of rejection and pain, then you are letting other people define your worth. Decide to define your worth based on the positive things you do for yourself and others rather than the “failures” you have experienced up to this point. It can help to keep an affirmation journal daily. All you have to do is write down three things you are grateful for, proud of yourself for, or something good that happened that day. This exercise helps you spotlight the positive in your life and helps you begin to define your worth based on the good in your life.

Practice Self-Love and Self-Compassion

It is crucial that you learn to be kind and compassionate towards yourself and your feelings. When you embrace yourself with compassion and understanding rather than judgment, you are less likely to be afraid of pain or rejection from others. Try to see “failures” as opportunities for growth and learning rather than being angry or disappointed with yourself. Having self-love and compassion will allow you to love another fearlessly and wholly.

If you are engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors in your relationships and would like to challenge them, try some of these tips. If you feel like you need some more guidance, it may be helpful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to schedule an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!