Self-sabotage or something else?

Self-sabotage or self-preservation?

Let’s look at the root of both words:

  • Sabotage – to damage, disrupt, interfere with or harm.
  • Preservation – referring to protection, safeguarding, maintenance or continuation.

I’ve used the first when I might really have meant the second; talk about different meanings… yikes!

Have you ever charged so hard down a goal’s pathway only to stop and then realize you’ve put very unrealistic expectations on yourself?

I have.

Recently, I plowed down the exercise path, again.

I say “again” because it’s taken me this long to really understand myself and here’s what I’ve learned:  Routinely, I set very high standards.  Standards that can be difficult for me to maintain.  Then .. when I can’t, I get frustrated and, in turn, am extremely hard on myself.

Example:  I’m gonna _____ *fill in the blanks

1)      Exercise every day!

2)      Eat only healthy stuff all the time!

3)      Etc. etc. etc.

The problem isn’t in the doing or in the determination. I have plenty of both.  The problem lies in the fact that, sometimes, life gets in the way. It has to.  I’m not a celebrity. I don’t have a chauffeur, cook, or anyone else.

I get busy.

I get bored.  *Yawn*

I get frustrated.

I get tired.

Can you relate?

But here’s something I’ve learned: I thought self-sabotage had to be the reason that I stopped.  I thought that, somehow,  somewhere, there was a deep, dark part of me that just didn’t want “it” badly enough.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

So, by berating myself after I gave up, I, in effect, neglected to see what had already been accomplished.

But recently I’ve learned another way of looking at this: maybe tucked in there with the negative connotations instead lies a semblance of self-preservation.

Maybe, at my core, I know better?


Maybe when I am fatigued and stressed and stop to take a day or three off it doesn’t have to mean that it’s all or nothing.

Maybe, I’m just tired.

Maybe I’m not a failure.

Maybe … if I instead acknowledge that some standards are too restrictive to be maintained I can see that it’s not always self-sabotage.  Perhaps it is, instead, self-care?

Perhaps it’s my inner voice suggesting … hey hot stuff, how about you go at it 3 – 4 days a week?  Pick something you enjoy and mix it up a little when it gets stale?  It’s OK: It will be enough.  You will be enough.

I get it now, I think.

image from

So last night, I danced, punched and shook my way through a round of Turbo Jam (fun!), enjoyed a luxurious cool-down in the pool and, after supper, took old dog for a leisurely stroll in the neighborhood.

None of it felt like exercise.   I never once looked at my watch. And all of it … felt like… fun!


Today’s a new day and while my intentions are great, my expectations … are a bit more realistic.

Having fun might just be what brings me back for more.

# # #

You?  What keeps you moving forward to your goals? Have you ever stopped, erased what you’d planned, and started again? 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Forgiveness, Friendship, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Post navigation

18 thoughts on “Self-sabotage or something else?

  1. For right now blogging is my happy place. Once upon a time I never missed the news…now I prefer reading real life news. And I prefer watching HGTV over swimming endless laps in the pool. Is it transition or change? What’s next?

    • I hear you, Georgette. For me, I’m changing from “shoulds” to “want tos.” I should exercise for all the obvious reasons but I am finding that if I instead do something I enjoy *that is also physical* .. I want to do it.
      Cheers! MJ

  2. I know I need to work on my core muscles. After two c-sections and not heeding the recommended exercises afterwards, I am battling back pain. If I worked on my core, the back pain would lessen. Still, the motivation is non-existent. I don’t kid myself – I just accept that I’m not there yet. I continue to think about Yoga and getting involved in an official ‘class’ – one day. Maybe.

    In the meantime, I watch what I eat. I don’t diet, I just limit something so I can indulge in something else. And, we all know my choice for indulging.

    Just as they say if you find a job you love, it won’t feel like work. If you find a way to ‘exercise’ that is fun, it won’t seem like exercising. (Which is what you described.) Good for you MJ!

    • well .. good for you, Lenore, that you have accepted you’re “not there yet.” I think that’s 1/2 the battle!!

      Remember being a kid and riding your bike becuase it was fun? I do. That’s what I miss. I miss the fun .. with the added benefits of cardio :).


  3. I agree with Georgette: I love blogging and ready other blogs. So much so that I don’t read the paper like I did at one time.
    I do drag myself away from the computer for my morning walk (but while I’m walking, I’m usually composing a future blog entry in my mind!).
    Great post, MJ! Really makes us stop to think that we don’t need to push so hard. Sounds like you had a great time yesterday “exercising”!

    • I love writing my blog, reading others, and thinking about/being inspired for future posts. That’s my message, “we don’t need to push so hard,” effort and intent will be enough. Yesterday was fun and – bonus – I am feeling it today. Added bonus? Slept wonderfully last night! Yay!! MJ

  4. I figure if you stop trying you lose and without some fun, there isno trying. Changing what doesn’t work keeps me from going “insane”. Good post, MJ.

    • Yep, I definitely have learned that while a work routine is comforting, in my personal/down time, I enjoy some variety. The “same old/same old” just kills my spirit. Thanks for weighing in 🙂 MJ

  5. cooper

    Hmmm…sounds like you’re a human being.
    Isn’t it grand that when we set expectations for ourselves and don’t meet them that one of the first things we do is raise our expectations? It has taken me awhile to learn that lowering expectations is acceptable.

    as for what gets in my way? very little, except myself.

  6. I have to get back to the exercise room too. I’ve been dealing with a bad knee ( perfect excuse to not do it) but today the doc gave me a cortisone shot and said I should be able to get back on the bike. Hmm, maybe after I get back from vacation.

  7. Oh, this is me. I don’t have this issue so much with dieting…I can control my weight with portion control and basic food choice. But my commitment to exercise! Like the proverbial diet that will start on Monday, how often I’ve said that to myself! Sometimes I can stay with it for a while, but as you say, inevitably life interrupts. And I’m never really sorry about that. I admit that I am easily distracted, because at best, I exercise out of guilt, not out of enjoyment.
    My husband on the other hand, loves to work out, and genuinely regrets it when he has a stretch of not getting to the gym…It’s a mystery to me! I think some people are just designed to need and enjoy that, and some are not. I definitely know which group I’m in!
    Thanks for the reminder that I’m not alone!

    • In the past, I have done it because I “should,” not because I wanted to. The funny thing is that when I do get some exercise on a regular basis .. I feel great! Yes I get sore, but I sleep great and it really boosts my energy. So … for me, I think what’s going to help me continue to WANT to is to choose to do activities that are “fun” for me. I have enough work, I don’t need exercise to feel like work :).

      We’re all in this together .. MJ

  8. rich ripley

    I’ve decided that despite the efforts of my wife, doctor and (sometimes) myself….I won’t live forever, and I’m cool with that. I’ll do the best that I can do, then let the chips fall where they may (which is usually into some french onion dip…MMmmm…DIP).
    Good blog. R

    • ” usually into some french onion dip … ” Ha! Rich, you crack me up :). Thanks for “getting it” and for the grins to boot .. Cheers! MJ

  9. I’m so far behind in my blog reading, but I’m not going to miss any of your posts, I promise! As usual, you hit the nail on the head. Thanks for your support during my own recent self-sabotage, er, self-preservation 🙂

    • you’re welcome dear friend. Take a page out of my book and try to give yourself a little of what you give everyone else – and I know that’s a lot. It’s OK to take a day off and do “whatever.”

      🙂 Cheers, MJ

Please share your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Connie Rosser Riddle

Connecting with people in my path

Atypical 60

A Typical Blog. A Typical Woman. A Typical Take On Life. With An Atypical Twist!

A New Day Dawns

Arise, shine, for your light has come...Isaiah 60

Virginia Views

Country Living for Beginners

Waiting for the Karma Truck

thoughts on the spaces in between

Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

Kate's views on life edited by four opinionated cats

Renee Johnson Writes

Novelist, Traveler, and More

Life Is A Journey... Not A Guided Tour

My Journey From Merchant Mariner to Mother, And Spiritual Being.


Nancy Roman

Flamidwyfe's Blog

Midwifing women all over the world!

Operation Gratitude Blog

Care Packages for Deployed U.S. Troops, Veterans, New Recruits, Wounded Heroes, First Responders & Military Children

Hot Rod Cowgirl

Riding Through Life One Horse At A Time...Courage Is Being Scared To Death But Saddling Up Anyway!

She's A Maineiac

just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

The View Out Here

A view in pictures, from me to you

I also live on a farm

Just another weblog

Undercover Surfer

...random thoughts and images overflowing from my brain

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

music, poetry, musings, photography and philosophy from a woman who found her way back home and wants you to come over for a hike and a cocktail.

Georgette Sullins's Blog

My view of the cow parade

these days of mine

Stop in and see what's happening during these days of mine

Writingfeemail's Blog

Random observations on writing and life

Grace and Life

Looking for grace notes in life's journey...

When I Ride...

How life coaches me as I ride...



%d bloggers like this: