There are many relationships both inside and outside of the Lifestyle that exist under undue strain and eventually crumble under the weight of the behaviors that are a result of self-sabotage, and all too often these habitual patterns aren’t recognized though they are repeated with great frequency. A cycle of strife is perpetuated year in and year out. With tepid determination, one may say, “This time is going to be different. I’m making changes,” yet the confidence and tenacity to follow through on those changes are lacking due to not really knowing where to begin and not being aware of the avenues to make the transformation a reality.

After so many years of living a certain way under repeated cycles of self-sabotage, can one make changes? Is it possible to unlearn more destructive habits and learn how to implement thinking and behavior that will instead nurture a budding or existing relationship? Yes! However, to do so takes time, patience, determination, and consistency. I would like to take time to discuss some key points on recognizing self-sabotaging behaviors and give an example of how to begin making changes. Though I use a very practical example, the process is universal and can be applied to our Power Exchange relationships as well.

Why the term “uprooting”? Roots systems are a vital part of the plant kingdom. They provide not only an anchor point for vegetation, they also help to stabilize the surrounding area by helping to hold soil in place. The root system is also responsible for providing nourishment for the plant. Many nutrients and water are absorbed through the root system. Those plants that are well rooted in rich soil in areas that have access to fresh water, say for instance a stream or regular periods of rain, tend to thrive in great abundance. And if the vegetation is thriving, it usually points to wildlife that is also flourishing. On the contrary, when the soil is poor, the ground is rocky, and there’s a lack of water sources the root systems can’t fully extract what’s needed in order to nourish the plants. As a consequence, plant life is scarce, dies, or ‘hibernates’ until more favorable conditions occur. Even we speak metaphorically about “our roots” or “being rooted”, meaning where we started, what sustains us day in and day out, as well as what gets us centered and keeps us balanced.

Root systems can also have what we perceive as negative impacts. Anyone walking through the city will often see roots breaking through sidewalks or causing sidewalks to buckle as the roots continue to spread and grow in girth. Roots have also been known to break through and fill pipes. We see that as an inconvenience and a disruption to our daily lives, mobility, and in the case of the buckled sidewalks that tends to go against what we consider aesthetically appealing. But, roots are doing what they are designed to do – to bring and maintain life in the system that is supported by them. This is why uprooting troublesome systems is necessary.

The negative habits and thought processes contribute to acts of self-sabotage work in the exact same way. They seek to be fed so that they can actually thrive and the self-sabotage can perpetuate day in and day out because of this. Sometimes the patterns can be insidious, while other times being quite blatant. So, how do we identify and determine at least some of the contributories to self-sabotaging habits? Here is a perfect starting point to begin the examination process:

      What specific behavior/pattern is causing a disruption of or hindering the path to a healthy life physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

      How is this behavior/thought impacting my relationships?

Sometimes we overthink how to start changing deleterious patterns and thoughts. Simple questions can help us hone in on patterns when we take the time to reflect. For example, I used to want to lose weight and be able to do fantastic physical feats. Whenever I would start a workout routine, after about 3-4 weeks, I would lose steam and stop all together. What actually helped me see that pattern was looking back over my workout journals and seeing the huge gaps that were prevalent. But what precipitated me looking into the pattern I was keeping was a reality check given to me by Master. In essence, he said either I will or I won’t; and if I won’t then I will continue to gain and lose the same weight over and over because I wasn’t being consistent. That was when I looked back over my workout journals and saw the startling truth of what I was doing.

Using the following questions can help take the examination even further to better zero in on the behaviors and more precisely identify and flesh out the root causes:

      What are some ways I’ve experienced self-sabotage?

      What is the earliest memory of experiencing this particular pattern/habit/thought?

      How many times have I attempted to change this habit?

      What held me back from the changes needed to remove or redirect the habit/pattern/thought?

While looking at the journal was a solid start, I also needed to address why I would fall off from doing what was actually good for me only to settle into what was keeping me from thriving and succeeding in this particular area in my life. Fear and doubt kept coming up. I actually had (and still deal with it from time to time) a fear of being athletic in anyway. I was afraid that I would lose my femininity (the softness associated with it) and be seen as unattractive. The irony is that I also deal with the fear of being attractive and desirable. I know, it’s convoluted and complex. Oh the joy of being human! At any rate, after arming myself with this awareness and delving deeper into it, I was able to set a goal and stick to it no matter what – workout regularly for a minimum of six weeks.

Every act of self-sabotage was once a seedling planted from sometimes the strangest or most tragic of experiences. Sometimes, they were even planted by erroneous “words of wisdom” given to us from trusted sources such as loved ones. We accepted these seedlings for whatever reasons and allowed them to grow through constant reinforcement over time. That reinforcement is what nurtured the pattern and allowed it to grow and become a part self-identification. When it came down to changing the habit of discontinuing my workouts after a certain number of weeks, making the goal wasn’t enough. I had to address the issues of fear and doubt. I doubted my ability to be athletic because I was only looking at my size and limitations in mobility. I had listened to the negative taunts and ridicule from different people in my life. I feared becoming mannish in appearance and being too strong to be considered feminine. So, each time I would start on a good consistent streak determined to reach a specific outcome, somewhere in a relatively short period of time, all of my efforts would cease.

A major step in uprooting the beliefs that haunted me and threatened to destroy my health eventually was allowing myself to become curious as to what my body is capable of. This helped me to learn a “new song to sing” about myself and what I was doing in the area of my health. I looked at the words I said to myself and began deconstructing the negative beliefs. I make it sound rather cut and dry, but nothing was cut and dry about it at all. Surely enough, around four weeks in I found myself feeling hopeless about what I was doing, the excuse I had to give up was that I didn’t see any progress. I had to fight internally to break the chain and free myself to move beyond the usual stopping point. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to reach out to people for encouragement and help talk me off the ledge. That support made a huge difference for me because without it I more than likely wouldn’t have been able to muscle through what could have been a breaking point. I also had to continuously speak positively towards myself in order to maintain the wonder of discovering a fuller range of my physical capabilities. I’m pleased to say that and more has sustained me over the past four years. The results of persistent and consistent efforts have been that my diet has been overhauled with great success; health issues that I was once plagued with are no longer points of concern; and there are constant improvements that continue to delight and motivate me.

So, how does all of this tie in with our chosen relationship styles? As I said in the opening, self-sabotage can put a tremendous strain on our relationships and hinder our ability to serve in any capacity. To elaborate further on my experience from above, by me not remaining consistent with my health endeavors, I was falling short on being a good steward of the property, which would have eventually led to illnesses and complications that more than likely could have been avoided or at the very least well managed with proper attention. That would have been a disservice to Master; but even more, he requires that his slave manages the affairs of health and wellness. So, to be very blatant, me not taking my health, wellness, and fitness seriously was a turnoff for him. Furthermore, the shift in my attitude and disposition has impacted other areas of my life including my submission and service to him. Amazing, right?!

Before closing, I would like to share a few suggestions to help assist you in making changes so that you can be the best you:

      Recognize the issue(s) and be honest about what you see.

      Make different decisions based what will support the life and relationship you want. This requires putting aside the tendency to make decisions based on fear, anger, and regret and so on. Decisions should support thriving, especially in our relationships with others. For me, this looked like making decisions that were the opposite of what I would have done in the past based on my former way of thinking.

      Seek and graciously receive effective tools to help you become a more objective thinker, then use them. If it wasn’t for me earnestly seeking and humbly accepting the tools given to me in an effort to help me do and be better, I wouldn’t be doing and being better. Tools are useless if they aren’t used, that’s the most important part!

      Even if you stumble and fall down, get back up and keep moving forward. This will help you develop your consistency muscles.

      Incorporate your spiritual beliefs/practices if you are a theist. If you are an agnostic or atheist, implement the practice of positive thinking and make positive choices.

      Seek professional help as needed and allow those who care for you to support you. There is nothing wrong with seeing a counselor, pastor, psychiatrist, and/or hypnotherapist to get the guidance and help that’s needed to go on this journey. Those who genuinely care for you will be thrilled to support you, and in a way, you may inspire them on some level.

Be patient yet courageous and unyielding in this process. This isn’t a one time shot, the reality is that we can face such behaviors at any point in life due to any number of possible triggers. But the beauty is that going through the initial process creates a better depth of self-awareness that can be readily accessed at any point going forward, and you will surely meet with success.