Not on purpose, not with intention
But I can't help it!
For people who are nice, taking on too much, into perfection or ...
"There is no 'inner saboteur'!
There are simply erroneous beliefs that conflict with useful beliefs, with the biggest believed benefit winning. And you are the one in charge of all that. No falsely created 'little saboteur' is responsible for any of this. It's only up to you, period."
Self destructive behaviors are not mysteriously cropping up and taking over.
You simply have bad habits from repetition of what doesn't work, but which does become automatic. But this automatic default behavior is up to you - you can make a decision, a thoughtful choice, and override the default - and then create a new habit through repetition and full installation of the whys, the benefits, the commitments.
The self destructive behaviors simply result from wrongly learned programs that don't work in the long run. Therefore, they must be replaced, and never allowed to be the ruling entity.
NOT ON PURPOSE, NOT WITH INTENTION
In a way, self-sabotage sounds like it was done to sabotage ourselves on purpose.
But that is never true, as we always do the best we can to survive or do better (and seek pleasure). The "secret" is learning more so that our best is much better.
When one learns how the mechanics of the brain works, one realizes how the relative "stupidity" of the primitive brain can, when frightened, seem to operate against us. However, it is always doing what it thinks is best for us, in its own primitive view.
When we do behaviors that hurt ourselves, at some level we know that it is harmful but we often (erroneously) think that it is a force that “just overcomes us” or, the most famous one, “that is just the way I am” (usually followed by “take it or leave it”, which is really not what the speaker actually wants…).
Some people attribute it to our “dark shadow”, which actually is a total fabrication and just a metaphor. Others use "ego" as the culprit. Some say we “sabotage” ourselves (with people thinking it is “on purpose” - which is totally not true!) or, the biggest hoot of them all, our minds are intentionally sabotaging us. Or “man is basically sinful” and/or “we cannot control our impulses/desires,” etc. All are not true! (This paragraph is an excerpt from Anger, which is worthwhile reading also.)
What is actually true is that we simply use what we have in order to do the best we can to survive, based on what we know (which is typically far less than what is necessary for a great life – yet we persist in refusing to recognize this, not learning what would tremendously benefit us).
What looks like sabotage or lack of self control is simply the dumber brains, following the software (programming) that was installed, implementing strategies to make ourselves safe. (However, you might notice that there are no predators out there any more trying to eat us and that we are essentially very safe almost all the time.) We simply need better programming to more appropriately handle our anxieties and challenges in life.
BUT I CAN'T HELP IT!
No, that's not true.
What is true is that your dysfunctional program is believed to work to get you what you want by default, believing that that is more powerful than the other known option. Essentially, the scales of choice, where default is chosen here, tip to the side that is passively decided to have more net benefits.
We simply have to lighten the one side that is harmful or not as workable and then deepen the weights on the side of the better alternative.
Since the original dysfunctional program was learned and developed and reinforced in the first place, we can do the same but with a functional program. This is why we need to develop a good basic life decision making skill, so we can gather the evidence and the options and then choose what we will do, reinforcing the troops as much as we can - and winning more and more of the wars.
We spell out the evidence against the dysfunctional program, naming all the ill effects and balancing those against the believed payoffs that prove so illusory over time. Essentially, when we have a persistent complaint about getting the same old undesired behaviors we are running a Racket on ourselves. So we need to apply the Worksheet For Rackets (and, when they are light and quick, we can use the simplified one page worksheet). Don't sell yourself short on the process - for this is about you getting the results you want in life - and you can't get them without going through the process to get them, which includes removing the barriers (such as rackets) first.
Then we add more to positive side of the scales - the whys, benefits, strategies, plans, commitments, coaches/helpers/partners, supporting statements, full reasoning, etc.
FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NICE, TAKING ON TOO MUCH, INTO PERFECTION...