Definition of sabotage
1: destruction of an employer’s property (such as tools or materials) or the hindering of manufacturing by discontented workers
2: destructive or obstructive action carried on by a civilian or enemy agent to hinder a nation’s war effort
3: an act or process tending to hamper or hurt: deliberate subversion
Now, you read that and might think “sheesh, who does that kind of stuff?” Well, a lot of people do it just not on a larger “military” or “business” level. Self-sabotage happens all the time in relationships. It can be romantic, a friendship, or with a family member. It can manifest in any type.
It’s one of the hardest things to watch or deal with someone who is sabotaging relationships. And if you happen to be on the receiving end of the sabotage, talk about hurtful and confusing. A long time ago I had the awesome privilege of being on the receiving end of someone who couldn’t handle really close relationships. It took me a long time to figure out what was going on, and by then I was pretty hurt. The good news is that God taught me a lot about relationships and about myself!
I don’t believe anyone sets out one day thinking, “Hmmm, today looks like a good day to sabotage my relationships. Who needs those people anyway!” Self-sabotage usually takes place unconsciously without knowledge of the person. That’s because it is a behavior that is manifesting from a wound in that person’s life.
That wound can be anything really, but it usually comes from one or both of these roots:
Low self-esteem: This can also look like shame or a lack of identity.
“I just don’t deserve anything or anyone good in my life.”
“I don’t know who I am or what I really want.”
God’s truth about feeling that way:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
Fear: This can stem from past experiences or be irrational.
“What if they really get to know me and they reject me?”
“They will leave me like everyone else.”
“What if things go bad?”
“What if they hurt me?”
God’s truth about feeling that way:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
Living with those wounds is horrible. It’s not the way the Lord has intended for us to live. He wants His children whole, and well.
Second He wants us to have deep and meaningful relationships with others.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Jesus died on the cross so we can live without fear and live in confidence of who we are in Christ. And it’s in that place of love and identity that we grow in our earthly relationships. But that doesn’t always happen when we don’t deal with our junk. We all have gone through stuff and experienced pain.
We can’t be ok with that or tell ourselves it’s all good. We have to deal with that stuff and the good news is that we don’t have to do it alone. Before we dig more let’s look at some signs you’re sabotaging your relationships.
14 Signs They Are Sabotaging Your Relationships.
Making up excuses – You will use anything to make sure that the relationship keeps a safe distance. These excuses may seem legit to you because you are trying to protect yourself.
Always looking for a red flag – You focus on the negative aspects of the relationship, even if they are minor. These things are the bricks to build a wall to make sure that person can’t come close.
Looking for an exit sign – No matter how awesome the relationship is you are always looking for an exit sign just in case. That’s why you are looking for red flags to validate why you need an exit.
Takes things personally and plays the victim – Acting overly sensitive and pointing the finger when things come up is a sign of an underlying root issue.
Dwelling on the past and comparing them with people who have hurt you – Constantly rehashing old hurts and thinking it will happen again will destroy any growth or trust to be built in a relationship.
Backing out when things get close/intimate – One of my pastors always says intimacy can be defined as “In to me you see.” If low-self esteem or shame is an issue you want no one to get close enough to see what you think is the “real you.”
Don’t feel good enough for the relationship – Low self-esteem will cause you to question your relationships.
Not listening to anyone’s advice – Has anyone told you how lucky you are to have that person in your life? Or encourage you to get to know or spend time with someone? But inside of you, it’s always a “NO.” You might mention a “red flag” or “make up an excuse” that way you don’t have to take their advice.
Leaving people in limbo or not committing – It’s easy to walk away when you are not committed to people. If you leave it vague then you won’t get hurt and can leave whenever.
Looking for perfect – We all have an idea what a relationship should look and feel like. And if it doesn’t match your ideal fantasy then you are out!
Saying “yes” when you mean “no” – This is usually a way to avoid conflict and not deal with issues.
Your relationships don’t take priority – When it comes to your time and energy you are number 1 in your book. This is usually because you consider yourself safe and others can hurt you.
No direction in your life – When you don’t really know who you or what you want in life you will always live life in limbo. No one truly fits in place because you don’t know where you fit.
Repetitive behavior – We can all do one or two of these signs and not be sabotaging the relationship. The real key is if these signs are repeating themselves in your relationships. If you always thinking and doing these things when dating someone, or every time you make a friend and you hang out once or twice then ditch them. It could be that you are always pushing family members away. Those would be repetitive behavior. When there is repetition pay attention!
These are all signs that can point to a relationship that is being sabotaged. But keep in mind it’s not “sabotage” that is the problem. It’s what I mentioned earlier in the post. It’s dealing with a root of fear or lack of self-esteem.
I love the quote from, Stephan Convey, “You can’t change the fruit without changing the root.” If you want to see a change in your relationships then you will need to deal with those roots.
Ways to Deal with your Roots
Here are some tips to help you be victorious!
Realize you need to deal with this: If you keep things hidden and in the dark, they will never get healed.
Spend Alone Time With God: Do what you gotta do… worship, pray, forgive those who hurt you, ask for forgiveness for living in fear or not valuing yourself. Get in God’s presence!
Confide with a friend or your pastor: Talking it out with some one and asking them to keep you accountable can bring a huge transformation to your life. Have them pray with you and help you deal with those roots.
Bring healing to your relationship: Saying you’re sorry or sharing what you are going through with the person you know you have tried to push away can bring a lot of healing.
Face your fears: To do those 4 things will take a lot of courage, but you are able to do it and come out of it victorious.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Josh 1:9
Leave me a comment below and please share your thoughts with me.
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Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…