Tag Archives: self-sabotage

Shaming Others: “What is wrong with you? You are good for nothing!”

"Blue Tune" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

People who live with a sense of deep shame can become consumed by despair as a result of the feeling that they are flawed and unworthy. Excessive shame is difficult to bear, and often leads to self-destructive behavior, addiction, depression, and in some cases, suicide.

Even when people who feel deep shame are doing well, they may continue to expect others to be disappointed in them. Their shame sometimes leads to self-sabotaging behavior, which results in their getting the negative response they feel they deserve. Thus, it is difficult to deal with people whose reckless behavior is partly due to their belief that they do not deserve any better.

We want to motivate them to change by pointing out how mistaken their actions are. We want to set boundaries and protect ourselves from their reckless behavior. Yet we have to be careful that our intentions do not get expressed with contempt. Harmful behavior should be met with repercussions. We should set boundaries, enforce consequences, and communicate our disappointment, but it is not effective, helpful, or kind to shame and humiliate another person.

Expressing your own feelings about someone’s behavior while setting boundaries is fundamentally different from judging that person as a worthless individual: “What is wrong with you—you good for nothing!” Similarly, showing compassion while setting boundaries is very different from trying to artificially boost someone’s self-esteem with permissive indulgence.

Expressing disappointment in a situation should be factual rather than judgmental. Communicating your own feelings and intentions to set boundaries is more effective and humane than making negative or humiliating judgments:

“When you did such and such, I was disappointed and angry. I’m asking you to….”

“I can’t trust to you follow through at this point. So I will no longer….”

“I don’t think that my ‘help’ is really helping you. In fact it seems to be doing the opposite. So I can’t continue, but I truly wish the best for you.”

People who feel deep shame need to be loved, valued, and spoken to honestly rather than judged or coddled. They should be held accountable for their actions without being humiliated. Often a therapist can help them stop their negative self-criticism and restore in them a feeling of self-worth.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Procrastination: “I can’t deal with that now. It’s too stressful.”

"Long Drive" — Jim Furyk by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.

~Mason Cooley

People who procrastinate put off things because they hope to avoid the stress in dealing with them. However, procrastination is really a form of self-sabotage, actually increasing a person’s stress level and making most problems worse.

If you don’t deal with a late bill, the charges go up and your credit rating goes down, creating more stress. If you don’t talk to your partner or child about their behavior toward you, their behavior becomes ingrained and communication becomes more difficult, creating more stress. If you don’t start a work project, the pressure to get it done mounts, and other activities get tainted by stress.

Life is full of surprises and challenges. By facing such challenges head on, we adapt, grow, and learn to manage life without exacerbating the stress. If you stop running from your problems and face them sraight on, starting with the biggest one first, the relief you will feel will be liberating and life altering.

Rather than letting the fear of pain and frustration cause you to avoid life and its challenges, you can examine that fear to make better decisions. Instead of thinking, “Oh no, how can I avoid this miserable problem?” you can ask yourself, “What added pain and frustration will I have to suffer if I put it off?” No one likes undue stress; however, it is much easier to endure when we realize that we are minimizing long-term pain and suffering and maximizing long-term peace of mind.

Making a list of the steps you need to take is a good way to start. Then you just have to take that first step and face a problem head on. That’s usually the hardest part. If you just start the project, the momentum builds and usually takes care of the rest.

Of course there are appropriate times to procrastinate. On some occasions it’s wise to mull problems over for a day or two. Moreover, if a truly exceptional situation comes up, it can be worthwhile to wait until tomorrow and then to stop procrastinating.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Avoidance Behavior: ‘I’ve been dreading telling her about our financial problems.’”

Read “Stress: ‘I’m so stressed out. I don’t know if I can handle a promotion.’”

Read “Changing your neural synapses: ‘It’s just the way I am. I have a bad temper and can’t change it.’”