December 12, 2020

How Trauma & Insecurity causes us to Sabotage a Relationship.

Ah, self-sabotage—the silent, deep-seated foe of our happiness.

It’s the sh*tty things we do and the reactions we have that stem from underlying…yeah, you guessed it: trauma. We’re subconsciously trying to protect ourselves from something, and it results in a frozen “deer-in-the-headlights” mentality or an extreme, polarizing reaction.

The frustrating thing is that we typically don’t really understand why we do (or don’t do) these things until we, “Sit in the yuck,” as my brilliant coworker and friend, Nicole, says in her own article.

Often, self-sabotage is coming from a place of physical and/or emotional insecurity. (Say hello to your powerful yet fallible human-ness!) We basically set up our own little land mines within our relationships because of our pain—romantic or otherwise.

I think it happens more frequently with family and romantic partners because, on a simple level, they’re likely to be around us more, and we’re comfortable with them—they’re in the line of fire, so to speak.

I wrote a piece recently that contemplated the “why” behind our coping mechanisms, and I think this is a wonderful follow up on it. Before we can break free from an unhealthy cycle, we have to get to the root. Think of it as a root canal of the heart.

(And yes, they’re painful. But if we don’t address it, the infection will continue to spread throughout our relationships and lives.)

Here are eight possible reasons we might sabotage a relationship:

1. Low self-worth. 

If we don’t believe we’re worthy of love, we might purposely push it away. We think we’re avoiding an impending pain, but we’re actually perpetuating it ourselves.

2. Fear of losing friends.

We think we must always, always be there for a lover or family member because, otherwise, their affection might stop. We think we have to constantly earn our place in their hearts. (Hi, this is me. Working on it!)

3. Fear of being unable to balance.

Work, family, friends, hobbies, life. If we’re used to being on our own, fending for ourselves, then we might worry that getting deeper into a relationship with throw it all off-kilter—we fear we won’t be able to do it all. And that feels like an extreme vulnerability.

4. Fear of being a “disappointment.”

This ties back to the self-worth issue. We think we aren’t capable of being a good partner (or friend or coworker), and so we avoid it altogether.

5. Fear of abandonment.

Anytime we’re entering into a new relationship, there is a risk. We risk being left. We risk being judged. This can cause us to want to run out of the first open door. (But we also risk that for the opportunity to make connections and be loved!)

6. Loss of freedom.

If we’re used to a certain level of familiarity and that sense of control a person, job, or situation gives, we might try to avoid any new opportunities that will rock that.

7. We fear they’ve overestimated us.

If we don’t believe in our own abilities, we will probably cringe at the perception they have of us (we see it as an “unachievable expectation”). Instant anxiety trigger!

8. Fear of rejection.

I think this one is pretty straightforward. We feel like an outsider—imposter syndrome is real AF. If we are tangled up in the mess of thinking we will be rejected and “not good enough,” we might bring these things to fruition as a way to avoid the rejection coming from the outside. (Hi, this is me—again.)

If you identify with any of these, I can assure you that you’re not alone. (Also, if you have any tips or tricks to counteract self-sabotage, please comment below!)


This video offered great insight! Enjoy:


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