Self-respect is the opposite of self-sabotage. An act of self-respect is an act of self-love.
When we set healthy boundaries with others we care about, it’s a sign that you believe you matter and that your thoughts, feelings and needs are to be paid attention to. We literally show the world how we expect to be treated and respected.
My purpose for this post is to help provide examples of self-sabotage in relationships so you can recognize it if it exists in yours, and give you a way out, new behaviors you can try and practice so that it doesn’t keep repeating. Additionally at the end of this post, I have included a free self respect exercise worksheet, I developed to share with my clients here in Southport, NC, for you to download and use in your efforts to build self respect.
Self-sabotage can be considered acts carried out, often unconsciously and out of habit, which usually keep your life small and safe and your place in relationships diminished and powerless. By sabotage what I mean is anything that limits your ability to be happy in life and grow!
If your relationship is starting to feel like a straight jacket, limiting you in ways that feel uncomfortable and unhealthy, there is something wrong. When you begin to realize that you prefer to avoid your partner more and more because you feel so uncomfortable it’s time to do something different.
Doing nothing about this kind of dynamic is a form of self-sabotage. You are not powerless. It is your responsibility when you know that you are not feeling respected by another person to stop them in their tracks and communicate clearly to them what it is your needs are. (BTW, that doesn’t mean they will give you what you need. But if you don’t ask for it, you know where all of this will go right?)
They won’t know what “should” (see a later reference to “shoulding all over yourself”) be happening, because if they did know, they’d be doing it, but clearly they’re not! They are not mind readers.
Communication is key. A healthy and happy relationship between two people allows each person to be fully himself /herself with plenty of space and time to communicate their needs to their partner. Each person’s thoughts, feelings and needs are held equally important.
How To Recognize A Self-Saboteur
You are sabotaging yourself if you:
- Allow your partner to interrupt you-to talk, emote/scream all over you especially when you are talking and making a point. Time to take the earplugs out of your ears. (Let’s face it. If you had them in to begin with, you weren’t listening to them anyway!) If you let them do this and give into under the guise of “hating/avoiding conflict” –too late! If you think by taking these emotional blows that you are “preserving the relationship” please ask yourself-What about this do I really want to preserve?
- Take the blame for everything that goes wrong in a relationship; (i.e. you are the cause of your partner’s thoughts, feelings and/or behavior).
- “He left me because I wasn’t smart enough,”
- “He’s ____(fill in the blank with any emotion) and it’s my fault because I didn’t do enough of ___________(fill in the blank with any of your people pleasing behaviors).
- You use the word “should” a lot, as in I should’ve been more______ (again fill in the blank here with the deficiency-of-the-day) Here we say you are “shoulding all over yourself”.
- You find yourself listening to, and endorsing, rational sounding reasons why your life is (or “should be”, see above) small, unhappy, unfulfilling; as a result you feel powerless, disconnected, lost and alone.
- You think that your “small” life is the “price you have to pay” for misdeeds in the past. (BTW, there is no price you have to pay for your life. It was given to you freely and that’s how you must enjoy it.)
- You keep making lists with goals that you would like to accomplish and the same goals keep getting tossed to the bottom each time you look at it.
- You let another person’s opinion of you become more real/aka important than your own.
- You allow someone to compare you to someone else’s physical attributes, achievements, etc.
What To Do Instead To Build Respect
So, let’s take the first case where your friend/partner/family member is interrupting you – let’s call them the Intelligence Bomber. I am assuming that the person you are speaking with you want to continue to have a meaningful relationship with. (And BTW, people generally only do what they KNOW to do, what they’ve been taught were the rules by another generation, so remember, they are doing the best they can at any given moment). For whatever reason in the past, you kept allowing them to do it. Maybe because you didn’t want to cause conflict, maybe because you didn’t feel strong enough in the moment to deal with the repercussions. Your next step, just download my simple, free exercise with the button below.