Self-Sabotage in Finances, Mental Health, and Spiritual Fulfillment

CPTSD Foundation
6 min readOct 10, 2023

As survivors of trauma, many people have developed bad habits that harm their financial, mental, and physical well-being. There are many causes for this harmful behavior, many unconsciously repeat patterns learned from their caregivers.

This article will focus on self-sabotage and how it can affect your finances, mental health, and spiritual connectedness.

A Recap of Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage describes things people do that block their success and prevent them from reaching their goals. This behavior affects a survivor’s professional and personal success and mental well-being.

These behaviors are caused by how our families of origin and early life experiences influence everything, including our relationships, career choices, and mental and financial health.

A few self-sabotaging behaviors include:

  • Procrastinating
  • Using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate
  • Impulsive eating
  • Self-injury

It is challenging to admit that you are self-sabotaging your life, but a few signs to look for may help. Some of these signs are listed below.

  • Asking yourself why your plans don’t go as you wish
  • Feeling unworthy and insecure
  • Thinking that someone else can do better than you
  • Often doubting your decisions

As stated, self-sabotaging behavior tends to be more prevalent in those who have experienced significant childhood and developmental trauma, such as abuse, abandonment, and neglect.

Emotional deprivation experienced in childhood is often linked to impulsive shopping. Survivors who perform this destructive behavior have an internal void where memories of good parental experiences should be. In other words, the abuse you might have gone through as a child has left you wanting, and you shop impulsively to fill the void left in your heart.

Compulsive shopping represents a search for self in people whose identity is not firmly or dependably felt. Many who compulsively shop try to compensate for low self-esteem by getting an emotional high from buying new things.

Compulsive shoppers often experience a higher incidence of mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and a tendency to self-medicate.

Unfortunately, we live in a consumer/provider society where we are bombarded with television commercials that encourage us to buy, buy, buy. So, our capitalistic society does not help those with oniomania, the medical term for the compulsive need to shop.

Procrastination as a Self-Sabotaging Behavior

Survivors procrastinate on tasks that make them anxious or cause them distress. By putting off a task, survivors avoid negative emotions and prevent them from accomplishing goals that should bring them fulfillment and happiness.

It should be clear that chronic procrastination causes enormous problems for survivors. Procrastination is not a sign of laziness; in fact, many people go to great lengths to avoid doing something. Some common reasons for procrastination are as follows:

  • Feeling inadequate about yourself
  • Feeling incapable
  • Feeling you are a failure
  • Fear of not achieving the perfect results you want
  • Fear of criticism

One disorder in which procrastination is more likely to occur is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD. With ADHD, a person might find the task to be completed boring and put it off or may procrastinate because of having a shortened attention span.

Chronically putting off solving a problem or completing a task causes anxiety.

Self-Sabotaging Spiritual Health

Note: We are not talking about religion as many are spiritual without ever stepping into a church, and I know that talking about religion is an immense hurt for some.

Your spiritual life consists of how you feel inside about yourself and your environment. Spirituality also involves how you think about yourself and how you relate to others.

Below is a partial list of spiritual self-sabotage.

You talk badly about yourself. Self-sabotage is a defense mechanism to defend yourself from you. You might find that you talk badly about yourself with a negative monologue running in your head.

If you find you are critical of yourself, it is critical to remind yourself that you are on a journey to peace of mind, not a race to the finish line. Stop saying mean things about yourself and accept who you are with all your flaws and imperfections.

Fear. Spiritual sabotage also involves self-talk that tells you that you are afraid you will succeed and change. You can see how these thoughts are unhelpful and only push you toward failure.

Internally, your ego is trying to help you survive by being afraid of change. Change brings the unknown, and the person who has survived childhood trauma might find themselves doing everything possible to stop change, even if it is good, from happening.

The above spiritual self-sabotage has kept you from making a giant leap forward in your spiritual evolution, and you have nervousness and doubt about who and what you are.

Ending Our Time Together

Self-sabotage in your finances and spiritual health may be why you have been stuck where you are. Other symptoms that indicate that you may be self-sabotaging yourself include:

  • Negative thinking that doesn’t line up with your beliefs about the divine
  • Keeping yourself from standing out
  • Giving way to mindless distractions
  • Trying very hard to be and do everything perfectly
  • Thinking negative thoughts about yourself and being disorganized
  • Experiencing imposter syndrome

(Imposter syndrome is where you think or believe you are faking and that someday “they” will know and not like you anymore.)

I, too, have had problems with financial self-sabotage. In the past, I have spent money I didn’t have and paid for it later with bills that couldn’t be paid. This behavior caused me a great deal of anxiety, and only when I learned how financial self-sabotage is a form of harming myself did I begin paying close attention to what I was spending.

I also have experienced a great deal of spiritual self-sabotage. I was afraid of god and felt led around by the nose…by religion itself. However, I hid behind religion for many years, knowing I doubted god’s existence. Only when I broke free of religion and began to embrace spirituality did I begin to grow and change.

Now, I avoid religion and have become a spiritual person, believing wholly in my ability to connect with who I am and what I want from life. Some may call me an atheist, and if by that term they mean that I am not religious, they are right. However, I do believe that humans are spiritual beings and that we all seek connection to something greater than ourselves.

Change is terrifying to survivors like me until we heal enough to understand that all things change and change is a part of life. We cannot run far enough to avoid change, so why try?

If you think you will accomplish healing in these areas perfectly, then you have missed the point of this article. Financial and spiritual growth is difficult to achieve. It is time to admit that humans are beautifully imperfectly imperfect.

By embracing your imperfections, you can overcome self-sabotage.

“More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” — Roy T. Bennett

“Forgive the past. It is over. Learn from it and let go. People are constantly changing and growing. Do not cling to a limited, disconnected, negative image of a person in the past. See that person now. Your relationship is always alive and changing.” — Brian Weiss

“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.” — Roy T. Bennett

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CPTSD Foundation

Successfully equipping complex trauma survivors and practitioners with compassionate support, skills, and trauma-informed education since 2014.