Self

5 Self-Sabotaging Habits Of People Who Never Heal

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woman self sabotaging, looking back

I’ve never been very good at moving on or letting go. There are reasons, of course. There are always reasons. But the truth is that the reasons don’t matter nearly as much as we think they do. We can intellectualize why it is we hold on so tight while ignoring behaviors that prevent us from healing and moving forward with our lives.

Don’t get me wrong. Understanding why we tend to hold on when we’re better-served letting go can help us have more self-compassion. It can also help us identify patterns and create new, more productive ways of coping. It can even help us explain to friends and family why moving on seems harder for us than it is for them.

Here are 5 self-sabotaging habits of people who never heal:

RELATED: If You Do These 12 Things, You're Addicted To Self-Sabotage

1. Trying to rationalize the pain

One of the ways we self-sabotage is by trying to rationalize our pain. We spend too long trying to figure out why the other person did whatever it was they did. Then, we spend even longer trying to understand our actions — and worse, trying to see if there was anything we could have done differently to change what happened. It’s an exercise in futility, and it can keep us stuck in the past.

While this is a normal step in the path of healing, we can get lost. Did it matter why he chose to leave or why I couldn’t accept it was over? It didn’t change anything. Even understanding the why and how of what happened didn’t make it hurt any less.

2. Looking back

Social media has many benefits, but it can be a hindrance when it comes to moving on from relationships that have ended. It’s all too tempting to orbit our exes to see what they’re doing now. For me, it started innocently enough. I woke up from a terrible nightmare and was afraid something was wrong. Checking my ex's profile was reassurance that he was, in fact, okay. But what was my excuse all those other times?

In reality, checking never made me feel better. It was a reminder of what I had lost. It was another wound that I hadn’t healed from the last one. If it was comforting at all, it was a cold comfort and a reminder that we can never truly know another person. Every time we look back in a vain attempt to self-soothe, we keep ourselves from continuing forward.

   

   

3. Allowing 'harmless' fantasies

As much as I hate to admit it, I had what I would consider a harmless fantasy after my relationship was over. I held hope that he would come back. No one has to tell me how stupid it was to think that way. I know. I knew even then. But it felt like a harmless fantasy. For a moment, I was soothed. What if the end wasn’t the end after all?

Those kinds of fantasies are far from harmless. In the beginning, they might be natural ways of thinking when we’re in denial and moving slowly through the grieving process. But later, they keep the door open to hope. That might seem like a good thing except the hope is completely in vain. Yes, some people come back, but if we’re not the exception to the general rule, then we’ve wasted our time hung up on a fantasy rather than working to accept reality.

RELATED: How To Believe In Yourself & Stop The Self-Sabotaging Effects Of Negative Self-Talk

4. Suffering through comparison

We can also trip ourselves up comparing every future suitor to the one we lost. They suffer by comparison — but so do we. The problem with doing this is that we’re not comparing them to the reality of the relationship as a whole but to the good parts alone. New potential partners can’t ever live up to the snow globe memories of our last relationship.

In reality, we’re probably not doing this on purpose. It can be hard to move on when we don’t want to have to move on in the first place. But the reality is that if someone left us, they weren’t for us. Blocking love doesn’t make us better; it just makes us lonelier. Comparison can become a habit that ignores reality and keeps us from discovering new love in our lives.

5. Building up walls

One of the worst things we do to self-sabotage our healing is building up protective walls to keep other people from hurting us. It’s an understandable impulse. I don’t ever want to be hurt again the way I hurt the last time. It’s a terrifying thought. But risking heartbreak is necessary if we want to love again.

It’s tempting to tell ourselves that we’re "bad at relationships" or that because this one person didn’t love us, no one else ever will. We can build stories within these walls, and we can try to make ourselves invulnerable. It won’t work, but we can try. All we’re doing is blocking our ability to heal. We have to be vulnerable, but we don’t have to like it. We rarely do. It’s still important to keep that vulnerability as we heal and move on.

   

   

RELATED: 10 Strategies To Stop Self-Sabotaging For Good

When I stopped making excuses and trying to change reality, a pattern began to emerge. I could see habits that were hurting me, but I could also see a way to change them. It wasn’t easy, but it became necessary.

I stopped trying to rationalize the pain.

I understand what happened. I’m using that knowledge to make me a better person and partner in the future. I can accept my faults and applaud my strengths, but it does no good to keep reliving what happened.

I stopped myself from looking back.

Sometimes, I’m tempted. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been. I have moments when it feels like it would be a comfort, but then I remind myself it never truly is. When that particular feeling surfaces, I take a deep breath, and I wish that person well with all my heart. Then, I move on with my day. I had a habit of checking, but I’m creating a new habit now.

I also don’t allow harmless fantasies.

They aren’t self-indulgent; they’re self-sabotaging. I don’t choose to focus on the what-ifs. I look at my reality now. I realize it’s not just unproductive to nurture fantasies of what could be; it keeps me stuck and takes energy away from what I could be building in my life now.

I’ve stopped comparing new potential partners to the best version of my last partner.

I’ve stopped the comparisons altogether. I’m trying to make myself vulnerable to love — even when the mere thought of it tempts me to scurry behind my walls and hide.

I'm creating new, healthier habits.

It’s funny how much can change in a few short years. I sometimes wonder what he would think about the life I’ve built from the ashes of the one I wanted — and then I remember that what my ex thinks is none of my business. I turn my attention to all the wonderful elements of my life that exist because I chose them. I stop comparing this life to the one I might have had, and I take that surplus of love I once poured into him and pour it into this life I’m living.

 I love hard, and that’s a beautiful thing. When someone wants to leave, I’ll wish them well on their journey as I continue my own — one slow step at a time for as long as it takes to arrive home to myself.

Photo: VANNGO Ng/Pexels

RELATED: 7 Bad Signs You're A Chronic Self-Sabotager

Crystal Jackson is a former therapist and the author of the Heart of Madison series. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, and Mamamia.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.