Self-Sabotage: Is it in our DNA?

Ah the sweet nectar of self-sabotage, she really is hard to resist. An internal temptress, an unwavering seduction, an allure to sip from her wicked cup. A real bitch.

Is it will power (or a lack thereof)? An inability to delay gratification? A lack of self-belief? Self-worth? A curiosity to see how far we can fall if we put our efforts in gear for the opposite direction?

Giving it the ol’ ‘fuck it’ when you’re dancing on the border of tipsy and drunk and know with certainty that the 4 more shots of tequila you’re about to order are going to take you over the edge. The list of chores you’d been putting off until Sunday starts to blur and just like that, you’ve got no clean knickers, your sheets haven’t been changed for 3 weeks and the lunch-prep you promised yourself you’d do has, once again, turned into a Tesco meal deal. Splendid. 

Reaching for your twelfth chocolate-coated digestive biscuit, at this point, barely even registering the taste. Falsely comforted by the elasticated waistbands we’re all becoming deeply intimate with, since the coronavirus lockdown. You reach for the next and then the next, until your fingers caress the skin of an empty wrapper and you can’t decide if you feel sick or should open a second packet and follow through with a strong finish. It’s the fifth consecutive day that you’ve over-committed to your love for sugary goods and you briefly ponder the inevitable frustration that’ll set in when the day where you’re to squeeze back into your non-stretch work trousers finally comes. ‘Jeans?’, you think, ‘that sounds like a problem for the future’.

You hike upstairs to see you’ve grown a new friend on the end of your chin, staring back at you in the bathroom mirror. Two days tops and you know it’ll heal itself. You even hear your mum’s voice telling you to leave your face alone, but you ~ still ~ dig your claws in with complete lack of restraint, only to produce a feeble dribble of blood and the indent of a new scar forming. Wonderful.

Staring at the sorrow that is your bank balance which, thanks to online banking, you can remind yourself of 24/7. You really must start budgeting, although you’ve been telling yourself this for months. No eating out, limited social events, you even consider – and regrettably agree on – temporarily downgrading your weekend wine to Blossom Hill. All’s going well and if you keep it up, that’s a frugal week’s worth of buckaroos straight into your savings. That is until the group chat starts popping off and suddenly plans are in place for a Sunday group brunch. A worthwhile investment? Probably not. Although, are memories not the greatest investment of all? Plus, you saved a whole £4 from enduring the acidity of your earlier compromise on alcohol, so you’ve ~ earned ~ it. 50 whoppers later and you’re clinking to your fifth round of Prosecco and tucking into an eggs Benedict. But your cash balance has seen better days. It’s beans on toast for the foreseeable and the prospect of ever owning a house, a pair of Lululemons or a box of the ‘fancy’ granola is pretty low. Maybe next week will be more financially fruitful.

I’m sure there are a multitude of theories on the intricacies and wonders of self-sabotage, hiding in the depths of Google Scholar and Psychology Today. Depths I have yet to explore, but am intrigued by, nonetheless. The human brain really is amazing; so clever, so advanced. Yet we always manage to throw the odd spanner in the works of our own goals and desires. What’s more, lessons learned are usually in vain. The lull of self-sabotage lies dormant at the beginning of the week – Monday; a day of productivity, focus, getting in my daily steps. Monday is untouchable. For the most part, at least. Instead, she prefers to come out to play at the tail end of the week, unleashed by excitement as the border between mundanity and freedom comes into view. The guard is down and temptation is too hard to resist. For the fear of missing out, of not living in the moment; for the thrill of defiance and saying to hell with sensibilities. May she strike again, because you already know she will. She rarely comes without her joys, though. Hidden beneath the bitterness, where the reins are relaxed; a moment of instant gratification, a sound of laughter and the buoyancy of inebriated bliss.

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