“I am trying, but my best just is not good enough.”
That is what my son said to me today. A statement like that from my child would normally turn my stomach upside down, but not today. Today I understood that voice inside telling him what to say. (He is my kid after all.) Today I knew he could do better. Deep down inside, I think he knew it too.
Know that this was not a matter of a parent pushing a child beyond his limits or a child with an anxiety disorder. This was about wanting my son to stop giving up on himself.
Children & Self-Sabotage
Recently I heard someone say these words to a room full of people ages nine and up. He said, “If you have a reason why you cannot be present or complete an assignment, I can accept reasons. However, what I will not tolerate, are excuses. Therefore, you absolutely must be able to differentiate between a reason and an excuse.
Those words were so poignant to me. They make perfect sense and were stated so simply, yet in a way which I had not heard before. Though I wish those words had been said to me when I was a child, I am grateful to have heard them at any age. If those words were stated to more young people, perhaps they would recognize some signs of self-sabotage.
After all, many of us create excuses deep down in our minds even before we start out on a task so that we are prepared (if we fail) to protect that little ego of ours.
Reasons for Self-Sabotage
Self-sabotage is done subconsciously. It is about self-persuasion and a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes it’s the fear of failure. Other times it’s the fear of success. It is a self-defense mechanism that often it begins early as a way to deal with common anxiety in children.
According to the experts, here are some other reasons why people self-sabotage:
- Wanting to stay in one’s comfort zone
- A familiarity with failure
- A need to be in control
- Not feeling worthy of success
- Need for excitement or an adrenaline rush
- Perfectionist tendencies
- Self-doubt about your ability to succeed
- Concern about others’ opinions
- Choosing discontent or despondency over success
For my son, the real fear is that if he does not succeed at this task, the burden is all on him. He cannot blame anyone or anything else. He will not have a legitimate reason and no amount of excuses will matter.
So what can a self-sabotager can do to get out of his or her own way? First, remember the rule. Know the difference between a reason and an excuse. Here are some other expert tips:
- Remind yourself that you are worth it.
- Be kind to yourself. Remember that success and perfection are not one in the same.
- Enlist a partner who will prevent you from exhibiting self-sabotaging behaviors.
- Promise yourself that you will not give up on you.
- Try to recognize your signs of self-sabotage. Keep an eye out for repetitive patterns or what generates anxiety.
- Celebrate each of your successes along the way to the bigger goal.
- Let’s consciously celebrate every crumb of success, love, and prosperity that graces our path.
As far as my son goes, I have given all the encouragement I can muster. At this point it is up to him, though I am confident that he will conquer these nerves in time to reach this milestone he has been striving for.
And I will be cheering him on all the way.