Addiction can lead to a wide array of unhealthy habits but one of the patterns that often emerge is that of self-sabotage. Addicts can be experts at self-sabotage and addiction itself is a form of self-destructive behavior that dramatically impairs a person’s life. Even after becoming abstinent from drugs or alcohol that old pattern of self-sabotage can still be an issue for someone in addiction recovery.
Many people revert back to their psychologically destructive tendencies even though they are completely sober. Self-sabotaging thoughts or behaviors can be dangerous for people in recovery because those kinds of patterns can ultimately lead to relapse. It is important for addicts to recognize when they are sabotaging themselves and try to find more positive ways to cope with life’s problems.
The Destructiveness of Negative Self-Talk
It is common for people with addictions to have a habit of negative self-talk and the tendency to punish themselves in a way that feels necessary at times. They may feel that they don’t deserve happiness and should only experience the type of misery that feels normal to them.
Addicts suffer from a core belief that they aren’t good enough and this mindset causes them to engage in self-attacks and judgment that affects their actions in the long run. Their self-sabotaging thoughts eventually lead to a feeling of hopelessness and defeat that leaves them desperate for an escape through substance abuse. Many of the false beliefs that they hold about themselves eventually translate into real-world consequences such as harming relationships, losing a job, or going deeper into addiction.
Addicts need to develop more self-awareness and learn to recognize their negative self-talk as false thinking that does not reflect reality. When they are able to intervene and derail the train of self-sabotaging or destructive thoughts they can start to substitute more accurate thinking that will keep them stable and sober.
Egocentric Thinking and Isolation
The type of negative thinking and insecurities that addicts experience can also lead them to have egocentric thoughts that are another form of self-sabotage. They might start to believe that they are different than others in recovery or more capable of handling things on their own.
They could start to feel competitive with others in their recovery program and want to feel that they are right all the time. Their egocentric thoughts serve to mask their deep-seated fears and insecurities and are simply another way to be destructive. People in recovery can also have the tendency to withdraw and become isolated if they are not careful.
The habit of isolating themselves can become so deeply ingrained in their behavior that they are not fully aware that they are retreating into the kind of loneliness and depression that fueled their addiction. Avoiding isolation is crucial especially in the early months of recovery. Addicts need to be involved in activities and asking for help from their friends, family members, counselors, and other recovery patients so that they do not withdraw into isolation.
Self-sabotage can come in many different forms but it often begins out of the insecurity that plagues many addicts their entire lives. Addressing their false beliefs about themselves in therapy is the first step in reducing their self-destructive thoughts and habits over time.
Focusing on their strengths but also avoiding the tendency to inflate their ego can be the best way to develop a habit of more accurate thinking and self-image. The biggest obstacle in an addict’s recovery is often themselves and their own enemy that lies within. Recognizing their own pattern of self-sabotage and developing techniques to channel more positive habits can be one of the most effective tools to use throughout recovery.