Hello everybody, welcome to episode 227 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Todays' question is on sabotaging one's relationships and stepping back from self judgment.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
And if you read the description folks, you’ll see that today’s episode begins our second ever two parter! Yes, this question today seems to warrant a little extra so we’ll do just that. We’ve got an asker who wants to do right by herself and her relationships by stopping what she’s deemed a personal habit of self-sabotage. Needless to say, self-sabotage exists in many forms and certainly can take place outside of relationships, so today and Monday we’ll look at how to address the pattern itself as well as how to still respect events that trigger us to do partake in self-sabotage. Buckle up for a long one, let’s get started now…
QUESTION: “I am three months into a new relationship with a very lovely guy! Compassionate, understanding and level headed – awesome! However – my old trust issues have decided to come knocking again.
I stupidly clicked on his following list on Instagram and BAM half naked hot chicks with tattoos everywhere! He's liked many of their pictures and even popped a few cheeky comments underneath tagging his mates… and there I go – instantly putting my guard up and starting to resent them… for what??? I have no idea….
How can I stop this self sabotaging behaviour? It’s so unhealthy and stems from old insecurities and old cheating partners. This is a behaviour that has to stop.”
Past Experiences with Infidelity
Those half naked hot chicks with tattoos are always trouble aren’t they? Ok, good question and thanks for sending it in.
First things first, good on you for identifying where this self-sabotage comes from and taking responsibility. Past experiences with infidelity are bound to lead to these types of actions on your part. After all, they can help you get a leg up which is empowering, and if you’ve been cheated on several times then you’re bound to seek more and more empowerment with each new relationship.
So you’re moving in the right direction in that you’re not making false justifications and are aware of the fact that you’re letting your past interrupt your present. That’s half the battle.
But there are a couple of things I’m concerned about that we’ll need to discuss.
Number one is that you’re being very hard on yourself. The phrasing of your question was laced with self-judgment, feeling bad about feeling bad, all the while ignoring the opportunity to be compassionate with yourself about the fact that you self-sabotage because you have been and still are hurt.
You’ve asked a few questions on the show now, and based on our email exchanges, I know you know better than to do this. Maybe it comes from the pressure you put on yourself to find the right person. Maybe it comes from somewhere else. But by now you know that judging yourself isn’t a practical means of changing your behavior, especially if you’re judging yourself for having a hard time with vulnerability.
So you’ve got to cut yourself a break here. It’s easy and natural to get upset by the type of situation you’ve described, especially given your history. It’s also easy and natural for you to bear down too hard because of your general relationship anxiety.
Allow yourself this, and then make room for changes.
What's In The Big Picture?
And this brings me to my second point. The more you judge yourself for being vigilant in your relationships, the more likely you’ll miss when something is actually going on. There has to be an in-between for you. Although you have patterns, these types of events like seeing those comments are still isolated events.
What I’m saying is that in this particular scenario, you might actually have a case. Maybe, maybe not. To me, it seems like something worth investigating and not just brushing off so easily because your bigger focus is on not self-sabotaging. So let’s briefly look at this whole comments thing, just to get the wheels turning and show you that you shouldn’t totally write it off or totally convince yourself that this guy is terrible:
What do we know about the big picture? Seems like so far, it’s been great. You describe him as compassionate, understanding and level headed. It’s new, so you’re still discovering things, but that’s enough to give him the benefit of the doubt from the evidence you’ve collected assuming you aren’t lying to yourself for any reason.
Self Sabotaging vs. When Do You Draw the Line?
We also know that it’s foolish to think that anyone out there who’s in a relationship is not attracted to or occasionally fantasizes about other people. And a much healthier outlet than acting on these urges for men and women alike is to joke with friends about these hot people. We love bringing anything to the table if we know it will really make a splash and our friends will eat it up. That’s called social currency.
But of course there’s a line. Most importantly, what types of comments were they? Were they funny comments about a celebrity that will be lost in a sea of comments, or was he actively trying to solicit girls that may actually care about what he has to say? Should it be the latter, were these comments made before or after you were together? Have you considered yourselves official yet?
These are just a few of the variables worth considering.
So there are a lot of potential answers in here, some telling you that you’re overreacting due to your anxiety, others telling you that he might actually be up to something suspicious. You won’t get clarity on them, however, until you allow yourself to appropriately question all of this without being too quick to judge yourself or your boyfriend.
And there will be more on Monday, folks, have no fear. We’ve built a good foundation, and after the weekend we’ll have more discussion on how to address and overcome the self-sabotage itself as it exists outside of the events that cause it to flair up.
So be sure to come back for that if you like this beginning and you’re curious for more, but above all have a great couple of days and be safe out there Looking forward to tackling the rest of this with you guys in the next one.