Addiction is a process of self-destruction that can be difficult to stop. While you were actively using, the drugs and alcohol created chaos in your life. They may have isolated you, destroyed your relationships and led to financial stress. Even though you knew what they were doing to your life, you continued down the same path. The cycle of self-sabotage went on and on.
Now that you are in recovery, you might think that destructive behavior is automatically removed from your life. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. You may find yourself reverting back to the same self-sabotaging thought patterns and behaviors as when you were an active addict.
There are many complex reasons why people sabotage themselves. However, there is also a simple one: it’s comfortable. While you were using, you probably felt that you deserved the pain and unhappiness that resulted from your addiction. Now that you are recovering, this thinking doesn’t automatically stop. It takes time.
Signs of Self-Sabotage
Here are some of the signs that you may be sabotaging your own recovery without realizing it.
Negative thinking. Are negative thoughts creeping back into your head? “I’m not deserving of happiness. I’m not worthy of love.” However, the number one source of negativity comes from within.
Stress. Everyone experiences stress, but it’s how you deal with it that makes the difference. Those who struggle with addiction often handle stress in unhealthy ways. You may find yourself reverting to harmful behaviors.
Isolation. Isolation can be a dangerous cycle, just as self-sabotage is. If you isolate yourself from friends and family, you’ll feed into loneliness and depression, which can put you at risk for relapse.
Bottled emotions. One of the main reasons why people use drugs and alcohol is to deal with their emotions. It becomes a band-aid to their pain. Continuing to keep your emotions bottled up can put you at risk for relapse.
Guilt. In rehab, you probably thought about the pain you caused yourself and others. Punishing yourself will not do you any good. You must learn to forgive yourself and others.
Denying help. Allow friends, family and mentors to be involved in your recovery. Pushing them away or denying that you’re experiencing any of the feelings above can stall your recovery or put you at risk for relapse.
Stopping the Cycle of Self-Sabotage
It’s possible to break free from destructive thinking. As you heal from your addiction, take extra good care of yourself by eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest and exercising each day. It’s also important to surround yourself with positive influences and attend your support groups.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is probably most helpful for stopping destructive behavior. CBT teaches you how to respond to stressful situations in a positive, constructive manner. It’s also important to have healthy outlets for negative thinking, such as by writing down your feelings. As long as you continue to work at your behavior and stick to your sobriety goals, the cycle of self-sabotage can finally come to an end.