Traumatic experiences can take many forms, from difficult family dynamics to abuse, neglect, entanglement, or excessive involvement. Self-sabotage is a common response to these traumas, and it can manifest in a variety of ways. Common signs of self-sabotage include chronic procrastination, need for immediate gratification, repetition of unhealthy patterns, isolation, substance abuse and other unhealthy coping mechanisms, low self-esteem, and negative internal dialogue. Other signs include poor time management skills, perfectionism, defensiveness, fear of taking risks, and difficulty staying present in the moment.
In a professional context, self-sabotage may look like forgetfulness, not meeting deadlines, or failing to meet expectations. In relationships, it can involve repeating old patterns, picking fights, resisting intimacy and vulnerability, or projecting insecurities onto your partner. Most of the time, self-sabotage is not intentional; however, it can be incredibly frustrating when you want to make changes but feel held back by something within yourself. Complex trauma or complex PTSD can develop as a result of repeated or continuous traumatic events.
Complex trauma can occur at any time in our lives; however, this blog will focus on attachment trauma related to child abuse or neglect. According to Joseph, self-sabotage occurs when you do certain things that were adaptive in a context but are no longer necessary.