Self-Sabotage-Is it really a bad thing?

An article popped up on my Facebook feed recently "Overcoming Self Sabotage...Release Toxic Emotions." I of course, take issue immediately with the idea that there are toxic emotions. Emotions do not destroy our organism. Or poison it. They are here to help us find our purpose and discover our specific thread of genius.  The strategy this leaves you with causes more harm that it does help. How do you release an emotion? Where does it go? Does it stay away forever and now you reach all of your goals comfortably and happily?  What frustrates me so much is that the solution they offer, release toxic emotions, is not even possible.  So let's look at the definition for self-sabotage first.

Psychology Today defines self-sabotage like this:

Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals. The most common self-sabotaging behaviors are procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating, and forms of  self-injury such as cutting.

First let's address the behaviors they list: self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating, self-inury and let's call it what it might be: addiction. Addiction is psychologically essential. And releasing toxic emotions will get you nowhere with it. In fact, to make movement here, please seek the help of someone trained in human psychology. Here is a link to Dr. Lance Dode's website. It is filled with resources that can help you work with your addiction in ways that are not shameful. (AA/12 step programs only have a 5-8% success rate. So if you have tried either and haven't shifted your addiction Dr. Dodes' website and resources might be a breath of fresh air for you.)

Now that we have addressed addiction, let's address the idea that we can release toxic emotions. I'm really curious what is a toxic emotion? And where does it go once I release it? Silliness aside, emotions are action-requiring neurological pathways. Remember the phrase above, psychologically necessary? When an emotion surfaces, even if it surfaces as an uncomfortable sensation in our body, it is causes us to take action. Just like addiction, the action of taking a drink, eating, or cutting ourselves aren't the action needed to achieve the goals we are so desperately wanting to achieve. In the Four Keys to Emotional Genius Karla says this,

" Welcome All Emotions: All of your emotions are messengers that tell you how you're feeling and what's going on. All of your emotions have important messages for you, and all of them bring you the skills and energy you need in each situation. Even though the way you work with emotions can have positive or negative outcomes, the emotions themselves are not good or bad. All of your emotions bring you intelligence and information, and all of them can help you understand what's going on."

Here is a download of Four Keys to Emotional Genius

and a download of The Intelligence Inside Your Emotions<-----------


When I look at "self sabotage" I see real beauty in it and I feel sad for the shame that is inherent in articles like the one I saw. Again, they leave us thinking that if we could just eliminate our emotions and the sensations they cause in our bodies than we would be able to achieve everything we've ever imagined. And I just need to say this, if it were true that we would make progress once the toxic emotions were gone, with all the distraction, dissociation, numbing and addiction that is going around wouldn't we all be achieving our goals?

I found this somewhere, and for the life of me I can't refind it....but it was written in context of labor strikes and sabotage at work. And it is what inspired me to write this post. It brilliantly makes my point for me...

...Sabotage means going slowly with the process of production...

Aren't there times we need to slow down production? In terms of labor disputes, often times workers are slowing down because they are demanding higher pay, better benefits, or better working conditions. Wouldn't this be a great time to not be meeting work related goals?

How about when we are pursuing a goal that maybe doesn't really resonate with us any longer?

What about when we have pushed so hard to reach a goal that we have fallen out of balance with our health needs (like exercise, eating healthy, balanced meals, play time, fun with family)?

And, what about when discover the way we are doing business isn't aligning with the other values in our lives?

Wouldn't the indicator be an uncomfortable sensation in our body? And wouldn't we want to stop for a moment and listen? And, if we had skills to listen to our emotions, question them, and calm our nervous system and dive deep into our soul to find the answer wouldn't that be more helpful than "eliminating toxic emotions"?

In closing, these types of articles scare me because they leave readers more disconnected from their emotions than they might have been before reading the article. Our emotions are not toxic. In fact, they are the very things that can help us discover new actions to take that aren't so harmful to ourselves or those we love. Remember, emotions are action requiring neurological programs that require action. If the actions you are taking in response to your emotions aren't feeling so good or aren't getting you where you would like to go, or you are working with addiction in your life, 

reach out. I would love to hear from you. 


Andrea Watkins