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Revolutionizing "Self-Sabotage"


OCT 2022

"Self-sabotage" is a term I’ve come to dislike. I hear it used frequently in the wellness community and I wholeheartedly believe it’s being misused. While I certainly do not believe this misuse is intentional, I do believe it can potentially be harmful.

I find that in general, the term "self sabotage" lacks a trauma informed narrative. If we want to bring a true sense of understanding, forgiveness, and healing to our lives, I believe reassessing our language is also important. I have learned that when we accuse ourselves or someone else of "self-sabotage" there is a keynote of shame behind it, even when it comes from a loving place.

On my own healing journey, I found myself feeling extremely unsafe, unsupported, and unseen with healers and facilitators using the terminology in this context. This left me feeling confused emotionally and psychologically. I presume this feeling of unsafety and lack of support is not unique to me, especially for those with big T trauma.

Often times, the term "self-sabotage" suggests that we are consciously and intentionally committing an act for the conscious purpose of destroying ourselves. Most actions that are deemed self sabotage are fueled by deep rooted trauma, regardless if they are somewhat conscious or not. These acts are purely a self protection mechanism for the trauma, much like addictive tendencies. This is where the harmful shame connotation comes into play. Using language that essentially shames trauma is not only counterproductive, it’s retraumatizing.

It wasn’t until I got to the bottom of my own confusion with my healing experiences that I realized it wasn’t my patterns that were making me feel stuck, it was the lack of support I felt whilst trying to move through them. (Now don’t get me wrong, these facilitators that I worked with had all of the highest intentions, I know this for certain. And at the same time, I was able to shine a light on a deeper layer of my needs through these experiences of feeling confused. I know that if I need this deeper layer of gracious attentiveness—others do too.)

Instead of the term self sabotage, I prefer to address these patterns as Trauma Loopholes. It’s the unaddressed trauma that’s flaring up in the guise of ‘sabotage,’ not the "Self" creating it. These patterns are fueled by trauma, therefore causing more trauma, thus creating a seemingly ‘impossible to end’ spiral. Trauma Loopholes are absolutely possible to end it....IF we get curious, IF we bring loving attention to them, and IF we approach them gently and safely.

These patterns want to be recognized, seen, and most importantly nurtured. Instead of potentially shaming our patterns, I have found it much more powerful and sustainable to simply bring compassion and curiosity to them with open heartedness. Gentle curiosity is the healing. The most profound thing I have learned on my healing journey is that there is great efficiency in gentleness, in the slow and steady, in the deep nurturing.

Gentleness is not only imperative in the way we approach these looping self protective patterns, but also in the way we speak of them. The nervous system readapts and rewrites most sustainably with consistency + safety + reverence + open hearted understanding and forgiveness. Being open hearted and gentle does not mean that we can’t dive deep. True gentleness takes great grit and perseverance.

Whether we are self healers, healing facilitators, or guides—if we approach, speak, and lead in this gracious, open hearted fashion, we are bound to be conduits for outstanding transformation that is not only sustainable, it’s revolutionary.


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