For the sake of this self sabotage article, we are using food and your goal of wanting to lose weight as the primary focus.
Believe it or not, the behavior we use to sabotage ourselves with actually starts off in our brain as a positive action step that helps us cope with a negative feeling or situation. Over time that behavior (eating, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, having sex, spending money) turns into a negative action step that winds up hurting you in the immediate and long term future.
As a child, we create pain and pleasure points in our mind. For example, when you were a child and lost a soccer game, your parents may have patted you on the back, affirmed that you still did great, and assisted you all get ice cream to help cool down. Or if you won the soccer game, your parents most likely congratulated you with a big hug and wanted to celebrate over ice cream.
As a child you now associate food as being a behavior to go to when you are sad and happy. Most likely the next time you make a behavioral decision on your own to help yourself cope with a feeling, you will go to food because that is what your brain is now wired to do. That is your pleasure point.
Because we are now wired to always go to food, any time you are experiencing a negative thought or uncomfortable situation, your brain wants to protect you from feeling uncomfortable and will then direct you to the pleasure point you created.
I predict a binge coming on.
While you are eating food/binging to help yourself cope, you are seeking immediate comfort, zoning out and helping your brain release feel good endorphins (carbs and sugar releases a chemical in your brain that makes you happy). Of course you are going to feel good during the act, but then what comes afterwards? Feelings of guilt, anxiety, shame, bloat, and unwanted weight gain. You want to turn the behavior of eating out of negative emotions your pain point. It no longer serves you as pleasure because it is keeping you from reaching your goal which is losing weight and becoming healthy.
So how can you beat this self sabotage cycle now that you understand why you do this?
Before you are in a negative situation, take time to yourself and lay down. Picture yourself feeling a negative emotion, see yourself going towards the kitchen... and then STOP yourself. Redirect your visualization. Focus on setting yourself up for success in the moment and for your long term future. What do you like to do that will be good for your mind, body and spirit? Is it journaling, dancing, painting, running, hiking, taking a bath? Find a behavior that you can visualize yourself doing and create that to be your new pleasure point. Do this daily if you need to. Rewiring your brain can take some time. Then when you are actually physically facing a negative situation, you will turn towards an action step that will maximize your life and your goal, not hold you back.
Tune in next week for part 2!