Theories suggest that counterproductive behaviors are a kind of defense mechanism, which deceives people into thinking that they are dealing with stress, pressure, social demands, and other difficult situations. It may seem illogical, but the mind has its own logic. Most defense mechanisms, such as regression, repression, and denial, are counterproductive but serve the immediate psychological purpose of protecting us from overwhelming feelings of anxiety, guilt, or shame. Self-sabotage is rooted in counterproductive mentalities such as negativity, disorganization, indecision, and negative self-talk.
Perfectionism and imposter syndrome are also forms of self-sabotage. An insidious and pervasive form of self-sabotage is meaningless distractions that prevent us from achieving our goals. Self-sabotage can cause us to fail in several ways. It reinforces negative behaviors that erode our potential for success and can lead to chronic struggles with food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, and self-harm.
It can also strip us of our motivation and make us feel anxious. Being too critical of ourselves is a defense mechanism. By giving ourselves a hard time, we make sure that others criticize us too. This way, it's easier to take it because we're already hitting ourselves to the ground.
The reasons for sabotaging relationships are complex, but understanding the origins of sabotage is key to changing this destructive behavior.