Episode 90: Self Sabotage
Episode 90: Self Sabotage
Self sabotage often shows up at many points throughout our trauma recovery. It can take both conscious and unconscious forms. Tune in to find out if you may be sabotaging your own healing process.
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Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
What’s up everybody. It’s Alyssa Scolari. I am your host of the Light After Trauma Podcast. Welcome back to another episode, talking about self-sabotage today. I’m very passionate about this one. Very passionate. I’m going to get real raw today and it’s going to be really uncomfortable.
Alyssa Scolari [00:45]:
Trigger warning just upfront. We’re going to be talking about some sexual abuse related stuff. Not the whole episode. So you can feel free to skip when I’m talking about it and yeah, that’s what we got today. We’re talking about self-sabotage.
Alyssa Scolari [01:02]:
Just some housekeeping things. Thank you, of course, as always for all of the love and the support. In case you missed it on the last episode, we raised $110 for Doctors Without Borders to help in Ukraine, which is so exciting. You can actually see the receipt for the donation on the Instagram. My Instagram is Light After Trauma. So feel free to go check it out. You can see the receipt, but if you signed up to become a Patreon member for the month of March, whatever you donated for that month, I matched with my own money. And then we sent that to Doctors Without Borders. So that was really fun. That was really awesome. And I can’t wait to continue to do this for like other causes and charities and ah, it’s good stuff. Good, good stuff. I’m super proud of us in our little community. So thank you. Thank you.
Alyssa Scolari [01:58]:
If you still want to become a Paton member, you can head on over to the show notes and that would extremely helpful. Anything you are able to give towards the podcast really helps keep this podcast up and running. So I appreciate it. Thank you for your also reviews and ratings. It helps the podcast to grow. It helps get the word out. So anytime you leave a review, it is extremely, extremely helpful and helps the podcast to move up in the ranks. And then when it moves up in the ranks, it becomes more available to people. So thank you. Thank you very much. And I think that’s it.
Alyssa Scolari [02:40]:
Oh, no, no, no, no, no, that’s not it. I did want to say you are all the best, you really are. Because last week’s episode, when I was talking about my horror story with the EMDR therapist, some of you emailed me and gave me referrals to therapists in your area or therapists that you know of that you thought would be great. And I just love it. I’m so thankful for the support. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it means to me. And it’s also really nice to hear from you because I feel like I have a bunch of friends out there, but I don’t necessarily have confirmation of that unless I hear from you in some way, shape or form. I don’t know who you are unless you reach out to me. So I just love it when I hear from people. It’s so much fun. I just feel like I have a bunch of friends. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Alyssa Scolari [03:43]:
As an update on the EMDR front, the therapist that I had, and if you listened last week, you kind of know what happened. That the therapist I had ghosted me completely and it was horrible. After one session, I went back to our second session and he did not show up. And there’s a little bit more to it, but you can feel free to listen to last week’s episode if you want the details. So I reached out to him and it took me a few days to do it because I struggle with boundaries and I feel guilty when I set boundaries and I wanted to him the benefit of the doubt, of course, always. And I felt super guilty. So it took me a little bit of time to be able to say, “Hey, I actually don’t want to move forward with you.”
Alyssa Scolari [04:32]:
I was really determined to tell him, instead of just ghosting him, not because he deserves an explanation because quite frankly, I think the angry part of me wanted to do to him what he did to me, which is just not show up for my next session, but my card would’ve been charged for a late fee. And quite frankly, I don’t feel like paying for it… He doesn’t deserve my money, honestly, but also I wanted to practice boundary setting. This was a good opportunity for me to practice dealing with all of the feelings that come up when I set boundaries. So he basically just responded…
Alyssa Scolari [05:16]:
Well, I texted him and I was like, “Hey, after having some time to process, there have been several scheduling errors. And then after you not showing up last week, that was really like the last straw for me and I really need a therapist who can give me consistency. So I don’t think that you and I are going to be a good match moving forward.” And he just responded and was like, “I understand and I sincerely apologize,” or some crap like that. I mean, I’m glad that he was able to accept it and not retaliate or say something kind of snarky, but at the same time, it’s still just like, it’s your fault, dude, because honestly he could have repaired that relationship. He could have. If he had picked up the phone and called me to make sure that I was okay, but I just… It’s kind of hard to explain.
Alyssa Scolari [06:10]:
I feel like unless you’re super familiar with EMDR, you can’t understand that missing any kind of therapy session, for a therapist to not show up can be super damaging for anybody. It’s a little bit perhaps less damaging if you’re not doing EMDR. And that’s not to say that I would like invalidate anybody’s feelings because whether I have EMDR or not, if my therapist didn’t show up, or if I didn’t show up for one of my clients, I would absolutely expect abandonment stuff to come up. And I would have to take accountability as the therapist, or I would expect my therapist to take accountability. Now, God forbid, if there was like a real emergency. I mean, of course, I would understand it. I would hope my clients would understand it and I would hope we would be able to repair.
Alyssa Scolari [07:01]:
With EMDR though, EMDR can leave you so raw. And he warned me in the session. He was like, “You’re going to be really raw. You’re going to be really emotional. It’s going to be really difficult. There’s going to be a lot of intense stuff that comes up.” So he knew that. He told me, and then he just didn’t even bother to call me. And he had the ability to call me because he was talking to me or he texted me. And so I know he had the ability to at least touch base with me. And he really offered no real explanation for why didn’t show up. Of course, I know the reason. I know he fucking forgot because he didn’t read the text message that I sent him when he asked me to remind him when our appointment was, which is problematic in itself. But I digress.
Alyssa Scolari [07:53]:
So there’re just so many other things that he could have done to repair that relationship. And if I were in his shoes, I would have that client on the phone in a heartbeat, not charging them a single cent and seeing how they’re feeling, if I triggered their abandonment. How we can repair this relationship. And no, maybe I’m not going to stay on the phone with them for an hour. I wasn’t asking for a free session, but he should have touch base with me. He had no idea if I was safe, unsafe, he had only met me one time. So the whole thing is just really infuriating that he can be like, “Oh, EMDR is going to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.” And then just like not show up and really not give a flying fuck about how I am. So he’s gone. I did it. I set a boundary and I feel really good about it. In hindsight, of course, it was not easy doing it, but I feel good about it now. I think I might have found somebody else. So we’ll see. I have my first session scheduled and we will see how it goes. Enough about that. We can transition into self-sabotage.
Alyssa Scolari [09:09]:
I did a fun little thing this week, where I had a poll on my Instagram. And I asked you all to tell me what you wanted to hear, because I was going back and forth between talking about self-sabotage and talking about borderline personality disorder. And obviously I definitely want to talk about both on this podcast, but many of you requested the self-sabotage. So that is what we are doing today.
Alyssa Scolari [09:35]:
Self-sabotage is basically behaviors that you engage in that hinder your progress. It’s pretty self-explanatory. And I think that a lot of self-sabotage can be an unconscious thing, something that lives in your subconscious, we are not aware that we are doing it. And I have picked up on a lot of my own self-sabotaging tactics over the last like several years, I’d say, and I’m a little bit more aware.
Alyssa Scolari [10:11]:
I think for me, the issue is I become aware of self-sabotage right after I do it. So obviously the goal is to be able to identify what you’re doing before you do it. I tend not to do that. Sometimes I do, but hey, I’m a work in progress. We all are. And I think that there are stages of progression when it comes to dealing with self-sabotage, you might recognize it four months after the fact. And then you might recognize it two weeks after the fact. And then you might recognize it immediately after the fact. And then you’re going to get to the point where you’re going to see yourself, you’re going to catch yourself in it, and you’re going to be like, “Nope, not doing this because I’m self-sabotaging.” So it’s a progression.
Alyssa Scolari [11:03]:
Now, there are all kinds of self-sabotages. There’s holding yourself back from going after that degree you really want. There’s refusing to go out with friends anywhere because you don’t want to deal with the anxiety that can come up with social interaction. Things like that can be, not always, but they can be self-sabotage.
Alyssa Scolari [11:26]:
We’re not going to be talking about all the types of self-sabotage today. What we are going to be focusing on is a kind of self-sabotage that again, I don’t think many people are consciously aware of, but really can hold you back in your recovery. And that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Self-fulfilling prophecy is absolutely self-sabotage. Let me explain how.
Alyssa Scolari [11:53]:
Sometimes our thoughts are so powerful that we can think them into existence. We can think them into reality. Have you ever had to go somewhere that you really don’t want to go to and you’ve been dreading it and you’re like, “This is going to suck. This is going to be horrible. I’m going to leave feeling terrible. I’m not going to have any fun. I’m not going to make any friends.” And then you go and it was just as bad as you always thought it was going to be, or maybe even worse? Maybe it was always going to be that bad, maybe not, but maybe you talked yourself into things being that bad. Maybe you talked yourself into an argument with your partner. Maybe you talked yourself into a panic attack. I’m not self-blaming. I hope that my words don’t come off as that, so I’m going to explain.
Alyssa Scolari [12:55]:
Again, let’s go back to this event. I have this event to go to. I don’t really feel like going. I’m not going to like anybody there and it’s going to suck. So if you are going into it feeling that way and feeling very, very anxious and telling yourself, “I’m going to have a panic attack beforehand, because I can’t leave my house. I don’t like to engage with people.” You are more likely to act in ways that align with the beliefs in your brain, because the thoughts that are coming up in your head, you are not taking those thoughts and going, “Okay, that’s one possibility, but there could also be many other possibilities I could have a decent time.”
Alyssa Scolari [13:36]:
More often than not, we are not doing that because I think especially as trauma survivors, we tend to try to stay in the black and white, because that feels better for us. So we like definitive concrete answers and thoughts and beliefs. So our brain goes to, “This is going to be your reality. You’re going to go to this party. This party’s going to suck. You’re not going to make any friends. Nobody’s going to like your outfit.” And then we end up just believing that no matter what we do from now until this party, the outcome is always going to be the same and we are going to have a terrible time. But perhaps that is not the case.
Alyssa Scolari [14:15]:
Perhaps if you were able to identify those thoughts and say to yourself, “Okay, yeah, this is not ideal for me, but what if I might not have a horrible time? And what can I potentially do to make it so that I may not have a horrible time? What can I do? Can I try to pick out an outfit that I really like and feel really, really good in? Can I try to see who is going to be there and who I can connect with ahead of time so that I’m not feeling so alone? What can I do for the rest of that weekend to make my weekend very relaxing and enjoyable for me to ease the fact that I have to go to this event that I don’t really like?” Thinking of ways that you can make your beliefs about a future event, not a reality. Make it a possibility, not a factual-based reality. And there are other ways that this shows up. I’m going to give you one example.
Alyssa Scolari [15:29]:
Many of you know I am in pelvic floor physical therapy for my endometriosis. I had surgery in late January, and I’ve been in PT for about probably since December, since before my surgery. And I go every week. And it has been really hard because it is very invasive. For those of you who don’t know what pelvic floor physical therapy is, well, it involves a lot of things based around strengthening the pelvis, but also all of the muscles in and around the genitalia. Basically, it’s like going to an OB-GYN appointment and having your internal examination last for 30 minutes. Because I do some strengthening work, but also I have to go and… I do want to include as an aside. I probably should have said this a little bit earlier, but I do want to include a trigger warning here because I am go going to be talking about sex. We’re talking about sex. So if this is something that’s uncomfortable for you, please feel free to go ahead and skip. Just want to offer a trigger warning right here and right now.
Alyssa Scolari [16:46]:
So for pelvic floor physical therapy, it involves me having to go. I have to take my pants off and she has to insert her fingers to be able to work with the muscles. She is retraining my muscles to calm down because everything is so tense because I have been in such excruciating pain for months on end. So she is having to work on all of the muscles inside of me. And as you can imagine, it is extremely triggering for somebody who has a history of sexual abuse. A few weeks back, I had a panic attack actually. And my physical therapist is amazing. I cannot complain about her whatsoever. She is super trauma informed, she is so safe, because I would not be going if I didn’t feel extremely safe around her. But I actually had a panic attack in physical therapy a few weeks ago, and she helped me through that.
Alyssa Scolari [17:47]:
I just think that you guys know how I feel about the mind, body connection. Your body holds so much trauma. Mine certainly does. And so when she will like hit certain spots, my body will have a reaction in the form of a panic attack or some kind of trauma response that I have to work through. Perhaps a memory will come up. It has been a really difficult process. So she was teaching me about something new that she wanted to do to help me and I was extremely triggered by it. Again, it was nothing that she did because she’s wonderful, but I was really, really triggered by it and I was like, “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to do this. I don’t know if I’m ready to do this. This feels uncomfortable.” And I got through the appointment okay, but I think the emotions finally caught up with me when I got home. I on the drive home felt so like short of breath almost to the point where I was like, “Wow, do I have asthma?” Because I can’t breathe.” But it was my anxiety.
Alyssa Scolari [19:01]:
And so I kept telling myself, I was like working myself up into a panic. And I was like, “Oh my God, I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t go back to physical therapy. This is too much. This is too hard.” And so I’m like working myself up and I’m working myself up and I’m like physical therapy is going to make me even more stressed out because it’s bringing up all this trauma and I just can’t do it. And so then I went home and I get out of my car. Mind you the day before I worked all day and it was a really difficult day that ended in chaos and just, it was difficult. I had to do things that I hate doing as a therapist. I had to break confidentiality. It is not fun. It was not fun. It was a really upsetting day. And so I was already stressed out. I already had a little bit of an emotional hangover. And so all of this is just like brewing inside of me and I’m in my head and I’m like, “I can’t take much more. I can’t take much more. I’m going to lose my shit if something happens.
Alyssa Scolari [20:18]:
And so I get home and I start making breakfast for myself because I hadn’t eaten yet. And I hear my dog throw up and I was like, “No.” I was praying that she threw up on the hardwood floor and not the carpet. And so I walk out into the living room and I see her on the stairs. Our stairs are hardwood, but we have these custom-made stair treads that are like carpets, little like traction carpets. And she’s standing on the stairs and she’s throwing up all over the stairs. And I panicked because I was like, “Dave is going to be so mad when he sees this. He’s going to freak out. I can’t handle this.” This was the last straw and I’m laughing at myself now. It’s not funny. I was really upset, but I just… Now that I’m looking back and I can see like the progression of events and how I just did not intervene when I knew I was getting to a bad place, I just kind of let it happen.
Alyssa Scolari [21:37]:
And so David heard me go, “Oh man.” And so he came downstairs and I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no. Don’t come downstairs. Don’t look at it. You’re going to get so mad.” And he’s not because I’m afraid of anger right now because I have been dealing with so much anger this week and I am an abuse survivor. I’ve dealt with angry men in the past and I am very triggered by it, but David is not an angry… he’s not like that. So I was already dissociated. I was like, “No, no, no, don’t look. You’re going to freak out. You’re going to freak out. And he saw, and he was annoyed. He was rightfully annoyed at the throw up on the stairs, because literally like throw up anywhere in the house… Most of house is hardwood. You’re going to tell me that you picked the most difficult spot to throw up in this house. Are you kidding me?
Alyssa Scolari [22:36]:
I get it. He had every right to be annoyed. He didn’t start screaming. He wasn’t stomping. He wasn’t throwing things, but I panicked. I was like, “I’ll clean it up. I’ll clean it up.” And so he actually was just like, “No, I’ll clean it up. No worries, because I don’t do throw up. I will if I have to, but it makes me really sick.” So he’s like, “I got it,” but he was annoyed. And I am… This is so embarrassing to say, but I lost my shit and I started like scream crying. I was like, “I told you I would clean it up because you’re mad and I can’t handle you being mad.” Ironically, I was the one who was mad. I was mad at him for being annoyed, for being rightfully annoyed.
Alyssa Scolari [23:30]:
So I brought this on myself and then I think he was a little like not triggered, but maybe ticked off at me because I’m yelling at him. Why am I yelling at him? I should not be yelling at him. I’m just crying and I’m like, “I told you I would clean it up so you don’t get mad.” And he was like, “Sweetie, what is going on?” Because I just like I walked in the door and fell apart. And so he was just like, “What is happening?” And I didn’t even know what was happening.
Alyssa Scolari [24:05]:
You might be asking like, “Okay, how in the hell is this a self-fulfilling prophecy?” And basically it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because it’s a chain of events. So let’s talk about the physical therapy. I was like telling myself, “I’m going to have a panic attack. I can’t handle this. I literally can’t today. I cannot do this. This is a horrible day. I don’t know how I’m going to go on.” And then within minutes of that conversation in my head, I ended up having a panic attack. I ended up crying and yelling and freaking out and I could not get regulated. I could not get regulated. But then I also came home and I was like, “David’s going to be so mad. He’s going to be so mad that this dog threw up and I can’t handle it. If he gets mad, I’m going to freak out.” Well, he wasn’t mad. He was not even mad, but I made him mad with my strong reaction because I’m yelling at him for doing nothing wrong, nothing wrong. So I actually made him mad.
Alyssa Scolari [25:16]:
And then when I could see that he was frustrated with me, I was like, “See, I knew it. I knew it. I knew he was going to get mad. I knew this was going to happen. I can’t handle this. I’m running away.” It was like truly I am running away moment. Like I need to get on a plane and I need to go on an island because I am not doing well right now. So it was a catastrophe for me, but I also talked myself into a catastrophe.
Alyssa Scolari [25:48]:
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that mental health is as simple as that. I am not saying that we can talk ourselves out of depression or panic attacks or trauma responses because we cannot. And if you have been listening to this podcast for a long time, you know that is not how I feel. But what I am saying is my morning did not have to be nearly as bad as it was if I had been able to stop myself from the self-sabotage and the self-fulfilling prophecy, because I am the one with my train of thoughts that induced my own panic attack because I didn’t intervene. I am the one that caused David to feel angry because here I am yelling at him because he got a little bit annoyed at the dog. He wasn’t mad at me. He was a little annoyed at the throw up, understandably so. I did that. I sabotaged myself by saying, “I can’t handle this. I am at the end of my rope. This isn’t going to work out for me today.”
Alyssa Scolari [27:01]:
Well, guess what? I still had a full day ahead of me. I still had to work. I had things I had to do. I had to go grocery shopping. I had to make doctor’s appointments. So the more I told myself “I can’t,” the worse I made myself feel because the truth of the matter is that it’s not like I could have taken the day off and not done anything. I mean, I guess I could have, but I wasn’t planning on it.
Alyssa Scolari [27:28]:
And so me just saying, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” was setting myself up so that I literally couldn’t do it. If I had changed that dialogue and I had said to myself, “This is horribly unpleasant. This is horrible. I was triggered at work last night. I had a hard day at work. I had to do things as a therapist that I really don’t like doing. I had a really hard morning at physical therapy and now my dog is throwing up. It’s just not my week, but I am making it and I have made it. I’ve still been able to show up for my clients and be the best therapist I can be. I’ve still been able to feed myself. I’ve still been able to drink water. I’ve still been able to be present with my dogs.” After the horrible week I’ve had, it wouldn’t have been so bad if I could have talked to myself a little bit differently.
Alyssa Scolari [28:25]:
And then with David, right? He’s going to be mad. He’s going to be mad. He’s going to be mad. I talked myself into that reality because if I had just said, “Okay, I’m feeling triggered right now. David is not the enemy. He is not the enemy. And he’s going to see this throw up and he is going to be annoyed. And that is going to be okay. He is allowed to be annoyed. He is allowed to have his emotions. His annoyance doesn’t mean that I’m in danger. He is a safe person.” I can bet you that I would not have had an absolute breakdown in that moment. I can bet you that things would’ve turned out differently. So I do this. Now, I noticed it right after the fact. I was in the middle of crying and I was like, “What am I doing?”
Alyssa Scolari [29:09]:
I literally just talked myself into this breakdown with all the can’ts and talking myself into like, “David’s mad. He’s going to hate me.” I was like, “Oh my God, he’s not going to want to be married to me anymore.” Where did that even come from? The dog threw up. How did I go from the dog throwing up to David is divorcing me? I laugh about it now because you can see how the logic just isn’t quite adding up. But when we are in the moment, there’s no room for logic in our minds, but we have to make space for the logic. Because when we talk ourselves into something and when we talk about how we already know something is going to be horrible, we already know that we aren’t going to be able to handle something, sometimes we manifest that reality.
Alyssa Scolari [30:03]:
Listen, that’s not to say that sometimes we truly can’t handle stuff because sometimes that is the case. Sometimes I look at my schedule and I go, “Nope, not today. Today I need to take care of myself.” And that’s okay. That’s not necessarily self-sabotage. That’s self-care. It’s really hard to find that middle or that middle ground. What is self-care? What is self-sabotage? But I think you have to look at it from a non-emotionally dysregulated state. So from a state of more emotional regulation. If I am emotionally regulated and I am looking at my schedule today, and I’m saying, “Nope, can’t do this. Can’t do this today. I am calling out of work.” Or, “You know what, I know I have this activity and I can’t go because I have just had too much going on and I really need to take care of myself.” Perhaps that is self-care, perhaps that is self-care.
Alyssa Scolari [30:59]:
But if we’re looking at an event that we have to go to, or we’re looking at our schedules for the day and we’re filled with almost like… I guess it would be like emotional dysregulation. So much anxiety, so much dread and all these racing thoughts of, “I can’t, I can’t. It’s going to be horrible. It’s going to be horrible. What are people going to think of me? I don’t know what to wear. I can’t trust myself. I’m not going to have any for friends.” That’s when it’s like, okay, we need to really look at this here and I need to get myself regulated before I can make any decisions, before I have any interactions with somebody so that I don’t risk self-sabotaging.
Alyssa Scolari [31:38]:
People do this in relationships all the time, where sometimes we are so afraid. I do this with David. I don’t necessarily do it as much anymore, but when I was first with David in my earlier years of really working on my trauma recovery, I was so afraid of David just being so angry. And he’s not an angry guy. Anybody who knows Dave, knows he is not an angry guy, but what I would do is I would subconsciously push his buttons and push his buttons and poke and prod. And then when he would get angry, I would be like, “See, you’re angry.” Well, yes, yes, of course. Now it took me a little while to realize I was doing that and sometimes I would do that with having to go out. “I’m going to be really anxious about this. I don’t know if I can go. I’m going to be really anxious. I’m going to be really anxious.” And then the day of the event gets here and I’m like, “See, I’m anxious. I can’t go. I can’t do it.”
Alyssa Scolari [32:38]:
Well, yes, of course I am because I’ve been literally telling myself to be anxious about this for days. I have been telling myself that my partner is not safe. I have been telling myself that I hate my job.” These are examples. I actually don’t hate my job, but these are just examples of things that you might be telling yourself that could be self-sabotage.
Alyssa Scolari [33:05]:
Now, listen, this might sound a little bit like a mindset is everything mentality. And I don’t fully agree with that. Yes, it is about mindset, but it is also about self-awareness, being aware of what you are doing and being able to see things from an objective space. So yeah, my husband and I just got into this fight or my partner and I just got into this fight. How did we get there? How did we get there? Okay. Well, I can see that last week in therapy, I processed how when I was younger my mother was really, really angry and my mother was abusive. And then I’d been thinking about it all week and I noticed that I had been pushing my partner’s buttons. And then all of a sudden my partner became really angry and really annoyed. And therefore I confirmed my worst fear. I created a self-fulfilling prophecy. I sabotaged my relationship.
Alyssa Scolari [34:12]:
Hopefully this is making sense, and hopefully this is something that you can take and say, “What am I doing? Am I doing this? How am I doing this? How is this showing up in my life?” Because self-sabotage can show up in all of our lives, because for people who have experienced some type of trauma, we are familiar with things not going well. Trauma is familiar to our brains. So sometimes our brains are actively seeking out trauma. And so we look for ways in which perhaps our partners are unsafe or our friends are unsafe or our workplaces are unsafe. Sometimes we can do this when we have friends. Let’s say you have a really, really a good friend, but you need help one day and you reach out to a friend and that friend can’t answer. And that friend’s like, “Hey, look, I’ve had a really, really bad day. I really can’t talk. I love you, but let’s catch up another time.”
Alyssa Scolari [35:16]:
Sometimes we go into this head space of like, “Ah, this person sucks. They’re not a good friend. They’re never there for me. I don’t know what I’m doing talking to them.” And we kind of negate all the good things about them. All we can see is the bad. And then before we know it, we’re pulling away from the friendship, we’re closed off all because we have told ourselves that this person is not a good friend based on being triggered. That is self-sabotage. You are distancing yourself from a person because they made you feel some type of what way that is related to trauma. Everybody who makes us feel some type of way that is related to our trauma, isn’t necessarily bad or toxic. Sometimes we feel this kind of way because we have lessons to learn, because we are still so deeply wounded from abandonment and want to hate people and push them away if they can’t show up for us.
Alyssa Scolari [36:23]:
And so we tell ourselves, “Oh, I’m so alone. I don’t have any friends. I’m such a burden. Nobody wants to be there for me.” But in reality, that’s not true. That’s our abandonment stuff coming up. And we are self-sabotaging by saying that we are alone in this world. When we say we are alone, then we make ourselves alone because we close ourselves off from the rest of the world.
Alyssa Scolari [36:50]:
All of these things I have done in my life, and I have had to work extra hard to make sure that I do not self-sabotage and that I do not complete these self-fulfilling prophecies. Here is what helps me the most. And that is becoming my own detective. When I notice that I am really starting to self-sabotage or when I’m really dysregulated and have a feeling about somebody, a partner, a friend, a colleague that is like bringing up my trauma. I will number one, if I can, wait to make any decisions that are going to affect my career, my financial stability, my relationships with other people, things like that. Always wait to make any decisions.
Alyssa Scolari [37:50]:
But most importantly, most importantly, you have got to look at the facts. So let’s take my day yesterday or a few days ago where I came home and I was distraught after a hard day at work, after pelvic floor physical therapy, after the dog throwing up, after being so tired, being withdrawn from my Klonopin that I’m still struggling with. Although I’m doing much better, as an aside, it is so good to be completely off that medication. I am sleeping better, but it’s just like the emotional component of the withdrawal is always so bad for me and takes a few weeks. So I am doing well, but let’s take all of that whole day as an example. What is the evidence that I had that I was overtaxed, that I could not go on with my day?
Alyssa Scolari [38:52]:
Well, I did have some evidence. I was very, very tired. I wasn’t feeling great. I was feeling a little panicky in my chest, but what was the evidence that I simply could not go on? Where is the evidence that I could not get myself into a state of regulation so that I can move on with my day? Where was my evidence? Where is my evidence that my husband is a big, mean, scary man who’s going to freak out and punch a hole on the wall if he sees that the dog threw up? Where is my evidence? And truthfully, I didn’t have any. I didn’t have any evidence because the fact of the matter is that I had a really easy day afterwards. Yes, I still had to work. Yes, I had to do some grocery shopping, but it was nothing that I felt like I truly couldn’t do, or I didn’t want to do. I wanted to go to work. I love work. Work is a really big…
Alyssa Scolari [39:52]:
Listen. Of course, sometimes my job can be stressful, but I knew the kind of day that I was going to have with work. And I knew it was going to be an easy-breezy day. So there was really no evidence that I could not move on with my day. I had no evidence that my husband is a big, mean and scary man. He’s never gotten violent. He is not a violent person even when he is at his angriest. I’ve seen him angry before. I know the extent of his anger. I have zero evidence to show that he is anything less than a compassionate and supportive husband.
Alyssa Scolari [40:30]:
I have zero evidence to show on days where I maybe have an interaction with a friend and some of my trauma stuff is brought up. I don’t really have a whole lot of evidence to show that this person is no good for me, because I feel hurt in this moment. And where’s the evidence that this person had a malicious intent? Or where’s the evidence that this person… Did this person really want to be mean to me? Does this person not care? Or did this person set a boundary with me?
Alyssa Scolari [41:02]:
Those are things that I think I used to struggle with probably several years ago when it comes to friendship stuff, not so much anymore. And I’m really proud of myself for this because I’ve been such a good detective. Instead of feeling like I’m at the mercy of my emotions, I’m like, “Okay, I can see what I’m feeling. I’m going to put those emotions in a box right now and I’m going to put on my detective hat.” This person told me that they can’t be there for me right now. So what does that mean? Does that mean that this person is malicious? Does that mean that this person doesn’t care about me? Or is it possible that this person is having a really, really bad day and just simply cannot show up for me? And is that okay in friendships?
Alyssa Scolari [41:46]:
And I was really able to do that. Like my detective work where I’m looking at the evidence like, “Okay, what has this friendship looked like in the past? Has this person been able to show up for me in the past? Is this person a good friend? Do I feel safe and secure around this person?” And if all the answers to that are yes, then it’s likely that there is no need to let your brain jump to the conclusion that, “Oh, I have to end this friendship. I’m so alone. I’m a burden to people.” So that is the best way to go about this, is to give yourself space to be your own detective.
Alyssa Scolari [42:23]:
Think about times in your life where you may have been self-sabotaging and be your own detective. What is the evidence I have to support my beliefs? My beliefs that I can’t get through the day, my beliefs that my partner is maybe a bad person, or my beliefs that my partner doesn’t love me. Is that based in reality or is that based on trauma? What are my beliefs and what is the evidence I have to support this belief right now that I’m alone in the world and don’t have any friends? That is the most helpful thing.
Alyssa Scolari [42:58]:
Now I will say this. It is really, really hard to do that while you’re still in a state of extreme dysregulation. So if you are extremely emotional, do not, do not try to look for evidence because honestly, all the evidence that you look for, you’re not even going to like give it any kind of weight because your brain in that moment is going to want to believe what it wants to believe. So before you become your own detective, you’ve got to get yourself regulated. And that might mean in taking some time, that might mean what I needed to do is I needed to put my phone away. I needed to put my computer away and I took a hot shower. And I allowed myself some time to calm down because I was so ramped up and I was so ready for an argument or a panic attack or whatever was going to happen. So I put everything away and I took a hot shower.
Alyssa Scolari [43:53]:
You might need to take a hot shower. You might take a bath. You might need to go for a walk. You might need to just sit down and read a book. You might need to have a cup of hot tea or go out and grab a cup of coffee. Whatever helps you get some space so that you can get a little bit more regulated is going to keep you from self-sabotaging.
Alyssa Scolari [44:19]:
I hope that this was helpful because we all do it. We all do it so much. And you know what? We even do it with our therapists sometimes. Sometimes our therapists will give us tools and tips and tricks and evidence to support… All the evidence in the world to support the reality that we live in. And sometimes we can still take all of that and be like, “No, no, you’re wrong. You’re wrong,” to the therapist. Or, “Oh, well, I tried these skills. I tried them. They didn’t work for me.” Did we try them? How often did we try them? Did we try them once and never again and then write them off because it was too hard? All of these things are just self-sabotaging.
Alyssa Scolari [45:09]:
It’s not that we’re difficult. It’s just that we are self-sabotaging because sometimes we’re afraid to heal. Sometimes we don’t know who we are without our pain and our panic attacks and our anger. It’s hard to let go of anger. It’s hard to let go of anxiety when it’s who we in our whole lives, but ultimately doing so paves the way for healing, a level of healing which is absolutely worth it. I can promise you that.
Alyssa Scolari [45:47]:
I hope that this was helpful. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to find me on Instagram. We can chat. I look forward to seeing you next week. I am holding you in the light, take extra good care of yourselves and don’t self-sabotage.
Alyssa Scolari [46:11]:
Thanks for listening everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com, or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram we are @lightaftertrauma, and on Twitter it is @lightafterpod. Lastly, please head over to patreon.com/lightaftertrauma to support our show. We are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So please head on over. Again, that’s patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you and we appreciate your support.
Alyssa Scolari [46:48]: