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Do you have a pattern of Self defeating or Self sabotaging behaviour?

and if so

Here is what you can do about it ...

When you are in the trance you can’t see it.

When you can see the trance you are not  in it

When you can see and name the trance it’s not inside you

1. Ask yourself whether over many years you have continued to experience the same kind of pain or discomfort or unpleasantness from many different people (and many different kinds of) people or in many different situations?. Or, alternatively are you experiencing the same kind of shame, fear, pain, guilt, devastation or discomfort over and over again from the same person?

2. Identify for yourself the most significant features of your pattern.


(NOTE:  If you are doing something functional like standing up for your rights or setting good boundaries those are not self-defeating behaviours. Keep on doing them even if people threaten you with the loss of their ‘friendship’. They are not true friends.)

Remember these repeated patterns can be totally unique for each of us who suffer from RSDP. It's important not to think this is a complete list

IMPORTANT! Is your pattern is one of the darker ones where you keep attracting  seriously negative, abusive, illegal or criminal negative energy which other people openly direct towards you ?  The advice below will still help you but be sure also to read the page  The darker side of RSDP.

What is causing all this?

The usual causes of RSDP are the ones listed on the first RSDP page including negative core beliefs; an Inner Patriarch (in women) or an Inner Matriarch (in men); a "disowned" inner self in another person; getting stuck in a repetitive negative bonding pattern or an Inner Child too fearful of change or being blamed for doing something wrong.

However there are also some deeper causes and the more trouble you are having with RSDP the more likely that these are involved.

It’s Time - if you are Ready

You can do lots to overcome self defeating behaviour or self-sabotage. The first step is  recognising it.

It's time to face the fact that somehow, something, even though it looks as though other people are doing it to us, something is perhaps actually being set up by unconscious patterns inside us. There is a hidden purpose called a ‘payoff’  behind whatever it is and although it seems like other people are doing it to you perhaps you’re unconsciously helping to set it up so that payoff  happens again and again. This may seem crazy but it’s important now to accept the reality that  your troubles are at least in part self-induced as part of your RSDP pattern.

The reality is that most of us are  attracting or even helping to recreate our own unique RSDP pattern. This is just part of the nature of RSDP.

If you can accept that possibility here's the next question

Is it possible that something I am doing (unconsciously of course) might be continuing to bring these same unpleasant (shame, fear, pain, guilt, devastation or discomfort ) experiences to me?

The good news

Once you can accept this, the good news is because it's inside you there's so much more you can do to change it compared with the situation if it really was totally outside of you.

Now it’s time to share with you something that I have been keeping from you while you were coming to this point of understanding and self-awareness.

Identifying your repetitive pattern of self defeating behaviour is not bad news, it’s actually very good news!

The fact that you can name it proves that you are becoming more aware of it. You can see it happening. That means you’re already starting to move outside the RSDP trance. The more time you spend outside it is the easier it becomes to deal with it.

When you are in the trance you can’t see it.

BUT When you can see the trance you are not in it

When you can see and name the trance it’s not inside you

Develop a conscious self-awareness of your pattern, what you think when you are in it, what you feel when you are in it and what you do and say when you are in it. Then you will be able to see it more clearly.

The third thing I want to share with you is more serious.

RSDP patterns are telling you something vitally important about you, usually about some form of childhood trauma. One of the payoffs when you go into the pattern is that it helps you block past memories of trauma that has never been fully recognised or processed.

Once you can clearly name and identify your RSDP pattern you can begin looking at that deeper side of your past. Psychotherapists know that the hidden function behind the RSDP pattern is that it helps us avoid looking at our past trauma. That explains why it’s repetitive, why it keeps happening over and over again. It did have a purpose after all!

Despite all the losses and difficulties that your RSDP have caused you on the surface it was also deep down inside protecting you from another kind of pain, shame or grief about things that happened in your past.

It was doing this because your self-awareness system was not strong enough (until now)to deal with those memories.

More good news

If you have got this far down the page  you are ready to look at the pattern, and the old “payoff”. It means you’re getting ready to dig deeper. Your self-awareness is now strong enough to begin tracing the source of your RSDP pattern. That in turn will empower you to make many positive changes in your life including freeing yourself once and for all from those old RSDP patterns.

However, it’s important not to rush too fast looking back into your childhood. Nor is this something you can do working alone or over the Internet.  But there are some steps you can take right now by yourself.

After you have taken these steps, if you are still finding yourself stuck in the same old RSDP pattern it will be time to take that understanding to a professional. If you can choose someone who has experience working with inner children and self-awareness rather than a main-stream professional who doesn’t have experience working in these areas.  The average university or college still hasn’t got round to teaching  much about RSDP.

When you are in the trance you can’t see it.

BUT when you can see the trance you are not in it

When you see and name the trance it’s not inside you

Here are some of the things you can do now to make a start:

I acknowledge with the deepest gratitude the understanding I have gained as a member of a Twelve Step group.

All addictive behaviour is repetitive and self-defeating. Repeated Self Defeating behaviour Patterns have many characteristics that are similar to addictive behaviour. The link seems too clear to ignore.  The most effective ways of reducing RSDP (steps 1 to 10 below)  are similar to the most effective ways of reducing addictive behaviour as developed by Alcoholics Anonymous and other Twelve Step groups. They work.

Unawareness is one of the main reasons people stay stuck in addictions and RSDP patterns. Self-awareness is the tool kit which in both cases empowers you to overcome them. Belonging to a support group of people walking the same path is part of the power of the any recovery program, far better than trying to do it alone. Being part of a group of fellow RSDP players provides a a powerful boost to self awareness. See points  5, 6 and 7 below

1. Start by giving your own RSDP pattern its own name or a label.

2. Keep naming the pattern  (saying its name  out loud to yourself. Each time you do this you are reducing its ability to run your life unconsciously. You’re dragging it out into the open where you can see it clearly.

3.  Practice using one or more of the most powerful of all the phrases in self awareness work   ... “I can see you!”;  “I can hear you!”; “I can name you!”; “I’m on to you!”; “I know what you are doing”; “ I am watching you”  (even “I can smell you!”)  Do this as well as saying its name out loud to yourself.

  Each time if you notice yourself slipping back into your old automatic RSDP pattern say it again to get yourself back to conscious control.

4. Notice how each time you do this how it is getting easier and easier to free yourself from your RSDP trance. The more you empower your self awareness the easier it is to stay out of the self-induced or addictive trance.

5. Find a mentor, someone who knows about RSDP or better still someone who has been in an RSDP trap and has worked their way through it and out of it.  When you feel you are stuck in an RSDP pattern or about to slip back into it again phone your mentor. Talking to them about what is happening inside you will help to keep you from slipping into the trance. If there is no one available to act as your mentor see the next point.

6.  Form your own RSDP  support group. Members are not hard to find. Two, three or four people who are each struggling with RSDP can act as mentors for each other. Here is the secret. The more people who know you and know about your RSDP (or any addiction trance for that matter) and who regularly talk with you about it, the less power it has over  you. In a group each one helps the other in this way. Everybody wins. It is best if you meet in person but not essential. Use the phone.


7. Talk about your pattern as often as you can (but only with safe people)

Naming your own pattern regularly and talking about it with other people is one of the fastest ways to increase your self-awareness and your self-empowerment levels. The more you talk about it with other safe people, the less its power over you and the less likely that you will repeat it again.

But do choose the right people to talk to about it. People at work, especially superiors, your own clients or customers may not be safe. Family members, even partners are not safe unless they are able to give you 100% support and will never use what you tell them to shame or blame you.

8. Make amends or mend something you harmed while in your RSDP trance

Making amends is a wonderfully positive way of honouring your release from your old RSDP pattern.

This can include talking with people you have hurt or harmed while you were in an RSDP trance in the past,   identifying what you did or said, owning it and then offering to make amends. Note: Saying “sorry” or apologising is not the same as making amends. Making amends means you do something to mend the situation or fix up whatever you broke or harmed.

9. Start looking for whatever it might be deeper inside you that is your hidden “payoff”?

What might your RSDP trance have been working so hard to keep you from seeing inside you or from remembering?  I explain how I did this in my own case on next page The Darker side of RSDP

10. Start to treat it all as a joke.

RSDP is a very serious problem but only while you are trapped in it. Once you are aware of it, it loses its power over you.

Yes, amazingly, once you can laugh about your own RSDP you have it licked. It doesn’t make sense and it never will.  Laugh about it, laugh at yourself and what you have done in the past. Celebrate your new freedom. Laughing about it with true friends or in a support group is even better.

Now if you are ready, you might like to have a look at The Darker side of RSDP

If you are lucky that darker kind of RSDP won’t apply to you. If it does, welcome to the club. I have been through the darker  side of RSDP and learned how to free myself from it by following the same steps explained above. You can read my story there and find out how I finished up laughing about it.

NOTE: If these suggested methods for reducing RSDP are not working it is time to get professional help.

Contact me John Bligh Nutting  if you need  help or a mentor

Do you have a touch of RSDP?

and if so

What you can do about it ... Now


There are always some risks associated with do-it-yourself identification of anything as deep as RSDP. Please be aware that this page is not recommending any form of self medication or self treatment for any form of diagnosable psychiatric condition.

The suggestions on this page are offered only as self-awareness processes and should you choose to follow the suggestions you do so at your own discretion, which is your personal right.

Identifying your own RSDP patterns and then going deeper and discovering the causes behind these patterns can be a powerful and rewarding self-awareness process.

However it can often involve you in recalling painful memories. As explained below one of the hidden purposes behind most RSDP patterns is the blocking of memories of painful, terrifying or shaming childhood experiences, events that were too difficult for you to deal with as a child, so they were pushed away into your subconscious.

Unless you feel comfortable and fully prepared to now look at these memories it is recommended that you do not follow any of the steps listed below. Should you decide to begin this journey it is important to recognise if or when it is time to take your understandings to qualified psychotherapist, counsellor or psychologist for additional work in resolving these.

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