Beat Self-Defeat


Dear Enchantress,

How do you stop doing things that are self-defeating? Confidentially, my boyfriend says he does this at professionally important times. I know it’s important for him to help himself, but he complains to me, and I see how he’s self-sabotaging and it’s not only hard to watch, his feeling bad, impacts me and our life together. Got any suggestions?


Dear Sally Support,

Big question. I like it, and many of my clients have this, with different details, but how to help a partner who is self-sabotaging is a challenge. Especially if you live together, you might be watching him actually take the self-defeating actions, and it might be hard to not speak to it, which may add to the stress. It’s true, it’s best if he looks for help or support on his own. If that is not happening, here are some communication tips to use in a stress-free moment.

In this stress-free moment, you can begin by getting consent to open this conversation:  “Can I ask you a question about a work/business something you shared that stuck with me?” As in, “is now a good time for you?” (You’ll feel the “perfect” time in your body). It should be a moment when there is no time pressure for anything.

Next, I would recommend taking your questions and dialogue slowly. This is not advice-giving, or here’s what I think... If he says, “yes,” refer to that original conversation when he shared about being self-defeating at professionally important times.

“Remember when you shared about.... well, it stuck with me, and because I love and care about you, I see what seems like stress for you about this.” Then pause and tune in to what that’s like for him to receive.

Then to close, tell him, “This isn’t easy for me to bring up, because I think it must be hard for you... and I’d like to know if there is any way that you know of that I can support you to get support?” It’s optional and if you sense he is open, you can share, “I have a couple of ideas, and I would love to share them when you are ready to hear.”

So overall: 1. Take this slow; 2. Make no demands; 3. Stay open and curious as to where he is on receiving support from you, or from any of the ideas you have.


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