Therapy Can Work

Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

Licensed Psychotherapist & Psychoanalyst
Union Square, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

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Therapy Can Work

Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

Licensed Psychotherapist & Psychoanalyst
Union Square, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

Defeating Self-Defeating Patterns: How I Get in My Own Way

Defeating Self-Defeating Patterns: How I Get in My Own Way

There’s nothing cool about being self-destructive.

~Patti Smith

The reason we hang on to self-defeating behaviors is because it’s easier not to take responsibility.

~Wayne Dyer

“I keep doing things differently, I follow my friends’ advice (and sometimes even my parents’!) and no matter what I do, it just doesn’t seem to come out any better.”

Whether we’re talking about finding a significant other, looking for or starting a new job, going on a diet, joining a gym to add exercise to your life, stopping the procrastinating and finally get going on that project you’ve been talking about forever, learning to say no instead of yes at the expense of yourself, it’s really all about how you get in your own way. It slows you down. You don’t flow freely through life.

You know how when you’re on the highway and all of a sudden traffic is moving at a snail’s pace instead of speeding along? And a half mile down the road you realized it’s a merge. You see those orange cones narrowing the lanes. And another mile ahead there are more orange cones, narrowing it from the two it had already become to one lane and maddeningly crawl for the next who knows how many miles.

Why?! The orange cones in your life weren’t put there by anyone but yourself. You want to remove them, one by one, and when you get good at it, two by two.

Ok, I’m talking in metaphors. What do I mean by orange cones in real life? I mean not doing all those things listed in the second paragraph. You’ll have rational reasons why each didn’t happen, and you’ll explain the orange cones in great detail as if they were made of concrete, rather than the light rubbery plastic they really are. But do a reality check on yourself, and be honest about it.

Did someone MAKE you take that second piece of cake and force it down your throat? Or did you rationalize it by saying “I spent an hour at the gym this morning, so I can have it.” (Do some research on how many calories need to be burned to justify even one piece.)

Did you browse quickly through LinkedIn for a job you’re qualified to do or did you spend a few hours on several days (yes, that many), diligently searching for something you see that while it might even be a bit out of reach, what the hey, it doesn’t cost to send in my resume anyway. And did you go ahead and send it to all the ones that are tailor-made for your qualifications? Or did you say to yourself that you tried that before and didn’t even get a single interview, so what’s the point? The point is that every day of every week, new opportunities become available and you need to pound away and not give up trying.

Did you go to that social event someone told you about and talk to people you don’t know even though you’re uncomfortable doing that? Or did you stay home and binge-watch Game of Thrones (for the third time) and justify it by saying you just weren’t up to going out that night.

There are dozens of ways to get in your own way. The first way to overcome them is to begin to recognize that that’s what you’re doing rather than believing the excuse, rationalization, justification for the choice that doesn’t lead you forward. And then tell yourself you have nothing to lose by trying it the new, hard way, and maybe a lot to gain. On the theory that you never know, give it a shot. You might surprise yourself.

1 comment on “Defeating Self-Defeating Patterns: How I Get in My Own Way”

  1. This is helpful. I like that you point out that the first step is recognize what you’re doing. It removes a lot of the self-blame and the going around in circles. I’m going to remember your orange cone metaphor. Lots of the mountains turn out to be pushovers!
    Thank you for this.

     

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