How to stop self-sabotage and fear of success
December 8, 2014 12:13 PM   Subscribe

For a few months I have seriously been working on getting control of my binge-eating disorder. I tend to have a binge-free streak going with weight dropping off and control over my eating - then once I start to see change and get excited about the future - I binge. This is complicated by recent changes in my social life.

This weekend I was starting to feel really good about things in my life - I recently moved across the country, not knowing anyone in my new city. I have been working on my fear of rejection and have put myself out there to make friends. I just had a good night Thursday hanging out with a new friend and had plans for Saturday and Sunday. I was excited! I was also losing weight and feeling so good about the control I was having over my food lately. I was over 24 days binge-free - the longest streak I've ever had in my life.

Then that night I binged. And the next day.

My plans with friends on Saturday ending up getting postponed and I bailed out on the plans I had with friends Sunday because I just felt like staying home and wallowing in self-pity.

This has been a common pattern in my life - I start to see results from my hard work - losing weight, making friends, etc. - and I get scared of the change. I get scared of the success. And I self-sabotage myself somehow. I binge. I cancel plans with friends.

How can I get out of this self-sabotage pattern? What are some thoughts I can ponder when I feel like sabotaging all my recent efforts? I have been practicing some CBT techniques to help with my fear of rejection and they have been working - but I need some ideas on how to change my thought pattern for fear of success/change.
posted by daisies to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
See a therapist. Be honest with them. Maybe you're also suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder that can be improved with medication, but we're not qualified to make that diagnosis. See someone who is.
posted by starbreaker at 12:15 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Agree with the "get a therapist" recommendation -- however, I would look around for therapists with experience with people with eating disorders/body image issues. In my experience, because I was never obese or dangerously underweight, some doctors and therapists didn't take the binge/food obsession/diet cycle I was in seriously and/or didn't think it was a big deal. It was. And it continues to be. Before I could work on my underlying anxiety and guilt I needed to get to a different food place. (Now I have an awesome therapist who is super understanding. She focuses on CBT therapy.)

Also, in conjunction with the therapist, consider checking out Overeaters Anonymous. It's a 12-step program modeled on AA for people with binge eating/anorexia/bulimia/compulsive exercising problems. 12-step programs have a lot of detractors and criticisms but for me OA has been a really key way to lose the guilt and shame I felt when I couldn't control my food intake and my weight was going up and down. A lot of binging is about secretly eating and feeling ashamed -- so it's pretty revolutionary to sit face to face with others and honestly talk about those secret behaviors.

In OA, I don't have a sponsor, don't have a personified "Higher Power" and am not even "working the steps" -- I just attend a weekly meeting and have been really helped by hearing other people's honest experiences with their own binge and body image problems. There are SO MANY PEOPLE like you from different ages, backgrounds and genders. You're not alone!

Good luck.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 12:58 PM on December 8, 2014

You need a therapist who is skilled specifically with eating disorders.

It helps SO much!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:16 PM on December 8, 2014

Best answer: I have a self-sabotage situation that rears up from time to time. It's a different set of specific behaviors, but the whole idea of getting close to a goal and then doing something to intentionally screw it up, but also kind of not knowing why I'm choosing to screw it up? Yeah, that used to happen a lot, and still occasionally happens sometimes.

The explanation that clicked for me is that it's a self-esteem issue. If I think of myself as unworthy of a good life, then something has to happen to resolve the cognitive dissonance between my feelings of unworthiness and the obviously good stuff in my life.

One option is to directly address those feelings of unworthiness in an effective way. Therapy has been invaluable to me in helping me see that I need to give myself unconditional love, no matter how I'm doing on my progress toward goals, and giving me the tools to actually do that.

The other option is to let self-hate fester (and currently, after much improvement, the main way that still happens from time to time is by denying that I feel any low self-esteem at all), and that's when the self-sabotage goes to work on screwing up my life just enough to match the deeply held opinion of what I "deserve."
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:32 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

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