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Self-sabotage and figuring it out

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I have been in this position many times in the past. Where I have some huge goal set for myself and suddenly, I hit a wall, burn out, and start down a completely self-undermining (and sometimes self-destructive) path instead of going for the goal.

What's up with that? This is the scariest part of the cycle of motivation:

1. Phase one - active rebellion.
2. Phase two - patiently waiting for motivation to kick in.
3. Phase three, highly motivated, actively working.
4. Phase four, success and flying high, living easy and loving it.
5. Phase five, burnout starting, but still on auto pilot.
6. and something snaps, and it's back into phase one.

The trick of the cycle is to make phase one last as short a time as possible and relax into making phase two be a calm and hopeful time, rather than a self-flaggulating time of punishment/blame talk at oneself.

Another trick of the cycle is to short circuit from phase five back to phase four, by proper "gentle" self-care, and addressing whatever fears and anxieties, illnesses, or injuries, doubts or desires are driving the burnout.

I'm somewhere in phase 5 or 1... I start climbing back from 1 to 5, but then drift back to 1... and I'm trying to figure out whether I need to let go of a goal (I only have one right now), or whether I can do something that still leaves that goal in the realm of possibility without throwing myself completely off the cliff of phase one!

The problem with public goals is that it makes for a very public failure... and it's almost as though I'm trying to derail myself so I have an excuse for that failure... and I really, really don't want to go there. Sometimes success is at the bottom of giving myself permission to fail.

Just some thoughts I'm pondering as I'm frustrated with waiting for son's return and only getting through part of each day "on track" (he didn't get any further on the journey yesterday at all). Now I'm going to shut up, and try to spark a better day.

Because no matter what phase I'm in, whether I can see it in the moment or not... life is good, and worth living WELL. emoticon
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Very good analogy. Thank you!
    1975 days ago
  • MAGGIE101857
    As one who publicly posted my Disney marathon goal and then had to publicly admit I couldn't compete, I have to say that the support and encouragement offered here is worth opening yourself up and admitting you just aren't there yet. I was determined to not let my injury stop me, and I probably continued training /running longer than I should have before seeking medical intervention. A combination of stubbornness, disbelief, frustration and yes, I suppose I didn't want to let my "cheerleaders" down. But instead of disappointment, they were there to tell me it was okay and there would be a next one!!

    Ponder it, pick it apart, make the right choice for you! You are an amazing woman - you'll know what is right!!!



    1980 days ago
    Many have said it so well emoticon and thank you
    1981 days ago
    Once again, you shed light on my behavior. I don't have those phases as clearly defined as you do. I might not even have a phase 1, and my phase 2 is a dim echo of yours; but phases 3, 4, and 5 are old friends. Perhaps my phase 1/phase 2 is more, "focusing on other things and not caring," similar to phase 5 but with a failure of the autopilot.

    I suppose my goal, given slightly different phases, would be to bypass that phase 1/phase 2 part, or transition from burnout to autopilot while waiting for motivation.

    I hope you find your motivation again, before doing major damage to yourself. Perhaps get that autopilot developed to where it can see you through till motivation reappears? Because you're worth maintaining!
    1981 days ago
    We are here to support you every day. emoticon emoticon
    1981 days ago
    You sure pegged the cycles. Great blog.
    1981 days ago
    I am so impressed that you have these cycles so figured out - thank you for stating it here because it will be hugely helpful to me. It is nice to know others operate this way also. How frustrating it must be waiting, waiting for your son not being able to map it out exactly. Be kind to yourself - you deserve it.
    1981 days ago
    So many people have said such wonderfully, supportive things. I can only echo them.

    Live well in the present moment. If you mess up some of those moments, well, just start over again.

    Surely the anticipation of your son's return is messing with your emotions.
    1981 days ago
  • _LINDA
    A very excellent, well thought out way to describe a maintainer's goal setting problems. Once you have achieved the latest glorious goal and now all that is left is the drudgery of trying for a new goal, starting out, once again, at the bottom and working your way up to the next even more tougher, seemingly insurmountable goal. Therein is the difficulty of maintainers. When is the next challnege going to be simply too much? That you are asking too much of an aging body? What I say is you are not too old to attempt your next goal. You have simply been derailed by the biggest of all torments -the fear of a mother for her only child's safety. A mother who is powerless to help or aid in any way her son's future. The worst kind of stress and one that can crush any motivation or thoughts of goals or life in general until you can be absolutely sure your precious child is home safe and sound. All you can do is ride this out and try doing what ever you can to keep your mind off it. Workout, play games that take a lot of mental energy, visit friends, get out of the house, anything you can think of to give that endlessly imagining active mind of yours a rest. My heart goes out to you! The things we children do to give our parents angst :((
    1981 days ago
  • MIRAGE727
    I'm quite familiar with the cycle. I had problems with it when I was unhealthy. I'm so changed now that I get a fire going, and I want to turn it into energy! I get in gear and people just have to keep up with me or grab a chair on the sidelines. I'm posting a perfect example in my race report blog shortly.
    As for making myself accountable and in public, if I try 100%, I win no matter the outcome. I fail, I'm only concerned with how I will make it a positive OR try again IF it's feasible. Others will see and either support or not. I would hope that they learned something positive from it. If not, then they have issues that don't affect me. I'm primarily concerned with my actions. And I don't let anyone hold me back. Plain and simple.
    Barb, your bottom line truly says it all, "Because no matter what phase I'm in, whether I can see it in the moment or not... life is good, and worth living WELL. "

    I support you with positive waves no matter what! Take it to the bank, Sister!

    1981 days ago
  • DALID414
    Thanks for the layout if the cycle phases. Knowing is half the battle.
    1981 days ago
    Thank you for this great blog!

    I think you shouldn't worry about any public goal not met.
    Spark Friends are here to support you, not to judge,
    and the goal is there to motivate you, not to cause frustration.

    Your active and healthy lifestyle is an inspiration,
    and I want to be like you!
    1981 days ago
    Life is good and worth living well! You know it!!

    I think your cycles are a very astute way to describe the phenomenon and accurate along with your description of moving through them. Bet this theory could be a best sellling book when fleshed out!

    That said, I think a full marathon is too much for me. I think running 5Ks, 10K, and HMs is good, especially if I add a lot of strength training and cross training. I suspect my highest level of health and fitness lies short of a full. (Warning: I may change my mind because there is such a great social group of women my age running full marathons around here. ) I am still considering a sprint tri; I know you've already accomplished that.

    Wishing you the best in finding the best goals to work toward. I have a magnet on my fridge that says, "A goal well set is half met." There's some truth to that.

    And don't forget small steps. If the goal is too big, choose a smaller one and build to success!! I know you can do whatever you set your mind to do, although it may be easier once your son is home with you. Take care. Be very kind to yourself. You deserve it.
    1981 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I feel for you, Barb. I totally understand but you have gotten so much farther than I ever have that I am banking you can pull out of this!
    1981 days ago
    One of the reasons I don't like to write out goals and put a date on them.
    I can't always reach for my goals, but I can always take one small step toward my ultimate focus.
    Is there a small step you can take today?
    1982 days ago
    I've never heard the cycle defined so well. Thanks for giving me more tools of understanding.

    I hope your waiting will turn into a joyous reunion soon!
    1982 days ago
  • DEBRA0818
    It is really scary that this is the wheel we seem to be forced to go around. I have so much rebellion in me it's a wonder I ever progress at all. But, you know, there's something wonderful about being to talk about it, write about it, share it with others: it seems to lessen its absolute hold over me. There's always a part of me (and I think of you too) that quietly goes about healing and hoping for one more day of sanity.

    God bless.

    1982 days ago
    You have much insight to a problem so many of us share. I hope your son gets home soon and gets to stay awhile! I grew up in a military family and know what it is like to have a father away as well as living away from all the family we loved. I give thanks to your son and you.
    1982 days ago
    Love your description of the "cycle": so helpful, so perceptive.

    You remind me a bit of the cycle of abuse in domestic violence -- which (generally) prevents the woman from leaving the husband until there have been many many incidents of violence etc. !

    I think KNOWING about this cycle and understanding it's probably been triggered by the acute stress of waiting for your DS's return . . . will help. You're waiting not just for his return but also for the reboot of your cycle to a good place.

    Maybe this cycle will be the last -- because you understand it.
    1982 days ago
    Self Motivation-Self Control and Spark people is all you need to jump start yourself. emoticon
    1982 days ago
    Waiting is the worst. You imagine all the things that can derail the process and that's when the negative thoughts come in to play. It is hard to practice patience and stay focused. Think kind thoughts and clear your mind. I can only imagine what you are going through. HUGS!
    1982 days ago
    My dear, we both know it's hard to WAIT WAIT WAIT for something as important as your son's homecoming. Absolutely frustrating and nerve wracking! Hang in there my dear.

    You have identified where you're at, and working at getting that moho back. You can do it! One foot in front of the other.

    HUGS and prayers. Waiting is interminable.
    1982 days ago
    "Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds - shine." --Buddha

    Shine, Barb.
    1982 days ago
    I think it's good to understand these cycles so when you are in one phase or another you can understand that it is only a phase and prepare for the next cycle....we just aren't perfect but the hard work we all do is so worth the good health.
    Have a terrific Sunday.
    1982 days ago
    To be a 'perfect' human being requires 'slip ups'. You would be a god if you were perfect all the time.
    1982 days ago
    1982 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Maintenance is cyclical. You go through periods where it is easy, goes well, then autopilot here you drudge along, and then moments where the sclae creeps up and you need to get serious again and work on up pounds. You are right about getting out of Phase one as soon as possible.

    I am happy your son is coming home.

    1982 days ago
    Life IS good Barb!!!---Happy to hear yer son WILL be home soon=----Bless all those people serving for us!!!Lynda emoticon
    1982 days ago
    you said it all at the end: life *is* good, and well worth living! emoticon
    1982 days ago
    I love this blog! You defined it so well. I hate being in the slump stage - the key is to keep looking ahead to pull back out. That's why I love this site - always seems to give me the big push when I need it!
    1982 days ago
    Life is good - you taught me that. But, I can't imagine the stress of waiting you are enduring now.

    Mark took the girls hunting, so it will just be you and me today, but it looks like the warm time of the day will be between 1:00 and 3:00.

    Still game?
    1982 days ago
    Heck, today I just feel like sitting in my chair in my freshly laundered robe...which I just spilled coffee on...reading Spark blogs. But that won't get the cows milked.

    What goals to you have that you need motivation for? Currently mine is to survive the family traumas, physical ailments I have lived through this year. Since that is such a huge goal I need to break it into pieces. You can't eat an orange unless you peel and section it. ( I was going to use a cow, but it got horribly Friday 13thish)

    So how about you and I take a very small piece of what we WANT to accomplish and work to make that thing

    One day, one piece at a time.

    Take a run, a walk, make something healthy for lunch. I made STEEL CUT OATS to portion out for breakfast the next 4 mornings. In containers with my almonds and antioxident dried berries they will be microwaved for eating while I read your blog.

    Besides, you are in such a high state of anticipation I wonder that you can breathe emoticon emoticon emoticon

    1982 days ago
  • ANDI571
    I love this blog Barb. I have been in these phases for some time now, just running back and forth on them. I just weighed and am still stuck on the same number and it is because I keep going from hopping from phase to phase.

    I also know what you are saying about everything being public with your goals. It is good in the fact that you don't want to disappoint those you are helping, but the pressure of being perfect to help can also flip you into another phase.

    Just because you are at goal and in the most part are on track, doesn't mean you don't have emotions that can carry you into a phase you don't want to be in. That is where we come in. We are your strength when you have none. We are ears that will listen when you hurt or are struggling and just need to vent.

    I am also in Phase 5 and I think I have been there for awhile. We will get back where we need to be. We know we are worth it and we have the tools to get us there. No turning back. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1982 days ago
    My heart is so with you ... I understood all of that perfectly. Here's my 2 cents worth ... It is not easy to set goals when you're a person who is .... well, for lack of a better word ... a perfectionist. In setting the goal, we see a clear path from point a where we're starting and point z where we're ending. But Life isn't a clear path. Nope, it's an obstacle course with lots of emotional roller coasters to take us for a ride, unforeseen sand traps to suck us in and walls that appear to be manageable until we arrive at the base and look up. Most of these elements (for me) are emotionally driven and the size of my obstacle is directly correlated to what else I'm handling in my life right then. It is not possible to stay completely focused and committed 100% to just our health and fitness goals all the time ... Life is messy ... and priorities change ... and our baggage sometimes moves right back into the house with us.

    The answer (I believe) truly lies in trusting in the knowledge that THIS is not the final stand and things won't STAY this way, even though this is what you can handle today. Forgiving ourselves for not being perfect, not being 100% Olympic training committed type athletes and making those little changes, one at a time, over and over is that journey that we sometimes overlook because we are so focused on the outcome instead.

    We're all here for you ... knowing that this, too, shall pass and you'll be making us all grumble (again) about that fabulous Barb who is putting us to shame! You will come out from under the rain cloud and shine with the light that's in you ... You won't be able to stop it! emoticon emoticon
    1982 days ago
    Maybe you don't want this goal as much as you would like. Or maybe the goal is too big and you need to break it up into smaller goals. Only you can determine which.
    1982 days ago
    So much of life is a cycle...for those of us with addiction, it is often a vicious one. You have so much of it figured out, Barb so keep pushing and riding it out on auto pilot when needed....all the while being gentle with yourself. One who tries is never a failure...failure comes in not trying (note to self). Only you know how much you really want the goal you set before yourself. You will find your way back to Phase 3 again b/c you are worth it. emoticon
    1982 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/20/2013 9:01:42 AM
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