What is Self-Sabotage and How Does it Affect People with BPD?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can cause a wide range of reactions that can be considered self-destructive or self-sabotaging. It influences thoughts, emotions, behavior, and communication, adding a degree of volatility and unpredictability to daily life that can be unsettling for people with BPD and their loved ones. Self-sabotage, also known as behavioral dysregulation, can be conscious or unconscious depending on the level of awareness. An example of conscious self-sabotage is deciding to eat cake, despite the goal of eating healthy. Unconscious self-sabotage occurs when a goal or personal value has been undermined but has not been initially recognized.

Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems in daily life and interferes with long-standing goals. The most common self-sabotage behaviors include procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating, and forms of self-harm, such as cutting. People may hinder their progress for a variety of reasons, which can range from childhood issues to effects of previous relationships. Other reasons for this type of destructive behavior range from low self-esteem and coping problems to problems with cognitive dissonance. Self-destructive behavior is any behavior that is harmful or potentially harmful to the person participating in the behavior.

Self-sabotage behaviors often appear in relationships. Dating people who don't check all your boxes is a common type of relationship self-sabotage. Self-sabotage can manifest itself in many different behaviors, unique to each person. However, there are some common and recurring examples. Self-sabotage is when we actively or passively take action to prevent us from reaching our goals.

This behavior can affect almost every aspect of our lives, whether it's a relationship, a professional goal, or a personal goal such as weight loss. Although it's very common, it's an incredibly frustrating cycle of behavior that reduces our self-confidence and makes us feel trapped. There are many reasons why someone may choose self-sabotage behavior, but many come from a lack of faith in oneself.

What Causes Self-Sabotaging Behavior?

Self-sabotaging behavior is often rooted in low self-esteem and feelings of insecurity. People may feel like they don't deserve success or that they are not capable of achieving their goals.

This can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear which can manifest as self-sabotaging behavior. Cognitive dissonance is another factor that can lead to self-sabotaging behavior. Cognitive dissonance occurs when someone holds two conflicting beliefs at the same time. For example, someone may believe that they want to lose weight but also believe that they are not capable of doing so. This conflict between beliefs can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear which can manifest as self-sabotaging behavior.

How Can Self-Sabotaging Behavior Be Overcome?

The first step in overcoming self-sabotaging behavior is to identify the underlying cause.

Once the cause has been identified, it's important to work on developing healthier coping mechanisms and building up your self-esteem. It's also important to practice positive affirmations and focus on the things you do well. It's also important to practice mindfulness and be aware of your thoughts and feelings in order to recognize when you are engaging in self-sabotaging behavior. Once you have identified the behavior, it's important to take steps to change it by replacing it with healthier coping mechanisms. Finally, it's important to practice self-compassion and forgive yourself for any mistakes you have made in the past. Self-compassion will help you move forward and make positive changes in your life.