Have you ever found yourself doing something despite knowing it is not good for you or even harmful?
Self-destructive behavior is a topic most of us want to avoid because we feel uneasy discussing it. But in some dark corners of the mind, we know for sure that we are prone to these negative traits.
Should we circumvent the topic or face it head-on? This article helps you to understand self-destructive behavior and what you should do about it. You will find here the harmful side effects of your destructive behavior and how to stop being self-destructive.
What is self-destructive behavior?
When you do something that you are sure is harmful, it can be termed self-destructive behavior. This includes both physical and emotional abuse. While some destructive behaviors are easy to spot and classify as such, others are not so obvious.
Binge eating, alcohol abuse, drug addiction, self-inflicted injuries, sex addiction, and suicide attempts are all obvious destructive behaviors. Compulsive activities such as gaming, shopping, and gambling also come under this category.
However, the list of hidden self-destructive behavior is vast and varied. Here are the common ones among them.
- Self-deprecating behavior
- Refusal to believe or have trust in self
- Giving too much importance to what others think or say about you
- Transforming yourself to make others happy
- Comparing yourself to others
- Pessimistic behavior
- Preventing yourself from voicing your opinion
- Unable to accept compliments
- Creating limits and boundaries for yourself
- Clinging to someone who is not interested in you
- Anti-social and aggressive behavior that alienate people
The intensity and frequency of these behaviors may not be the same in everyone with self-destructive tendencies. As long as you are aware of your negative inclinations and taking steps to keep them under control, it is good. Otherwise, you need to step in and take action to avoid serious problems later on.
Are you at risk for developing self-destructive behavior?
If you have experienced any of the conditions mentioned below, you belong to the high-risk category for exhibiting destructive behavior.
- Abuse, trauma, neglect, or abandonment in childhood
- Alcohol or drug use
- Abuse of any kind, any time in life
- Low self-worth, self-belief, and confidence
- Introvert and lonely
- Social ineptness and isolation
- Having friends who are on a path of self-destruction
If you satisfy more than one condition mentioned in this list, your chances of developing these negative behavioral tendencies go up exponentially. There is no age bar or gender disparity for this malady, though youngsters are considered more prone to this.
Having certain mental health conditions can aggravate this problem. Such as,
- Eating disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
7 Ways to stop being self-destructive
Not all self-destructive habits can cause harm in the same way. The need for treatment and the kind of treatment needed is based on each case. The symptoms, their severity, and frequency are the main criteria to decide the kind of attention and treatment that this affliction demands.
The first step is to identify the self-destructive thoughts and actions in yourself and their intensity and frequency. As a person with destructive behavior is low on self-esteem and confidence, you need to be careful at this point. If you are not seeking the help of others at this stage, make sure that this knowledge is not making you slip into further depression or worsening your existing condition.
You need to take steps to boost your self-confidence by telling yourself that you are just being human and these are all human frailties. You are neither broken nor beyond hope. It is okay and you are going to get better.
Ensure that you are not blaming yourself for this. Tell yourself that you did not deliberately choose to be self-destructive. You are just a victim of circumstances. You merely happened to have it.
You need to make sure that you have an optimistic mindset towards the problem. Acknowledge and accept the existence of the behavior but remain positive about the future.
There is no magic pill to overcome self-destructive behavior. There are numerous things you can do to overcome this or at least keep it under control. As this involves altering the mindset, the prime requirements are patience, willpower, and consistency.
1. Maintain a journal
It is important to keep track of your self-destructive behavior whether you are dealing with it by yourself or seeking professional help. Keeping a daily journal can act both as a record and as a reminder of your experiences. Becoming aware of your problem holds the key to recovery.
Related: How to Write a Manifestation Journal
2. Practice mindfulness and meditation
These offer alternative ways to raise your level of self-awareness. When you are fully aware of your feelings, thoughts, emotions, and actions, you will be able to predict your self-destructive behavior. This offers you a chance to stop yourself.
Related: Mindfulness Exercises for Adults
3. Do some spring cleaning of the mind
If you care to dig deep enough, you may find that your self-destructive behavior stems from past trauma or abuse. You ignored it and left it unresolved. Now, you can go back, face it, and find a resolution. If the reason is your limiting belief, take refuge in affirmations and get rid of them as early as possible.
4. Love yourself unconditionally
Show kindness and compassion towards yourself. Make sure that you are not over-critical or too hard on yourself. Take steps to forgive your mistakes. You may have made mistakes before. Let bygones be bygones. Give yourself a chance to change and reform.
5. Pay attention to self-care
You also need to take good care of your physical and emotional needs. Eat healthily, sleep well, stay fit, and take care of your basic comforts. When you are in pain, it is hard to be happy and content and to love yourself.
6. Change your mindset
After all, it is all in the mind. Now, you are thinking in a certain way that is creating all these troubles for you. Banish the negative thoughts and emotions and fill the mind up with positive thoughts. When the way you see yourself and the triggers change, the result will also change. Shifting perspective can transform you into a new person.
7. Get professional help
As the first step, it is alright if you want to deal with your problems yourself. However, if your effort is showing no evidence of success or if your condition is worsening, do not hesitate to approach a professional for help. Being knowledgeable and experienced, they can find solutions for your behavioral problem faster and efficiently.
Both talk therapy and behavioral therapy are effective in the treatment of self-destructive behavior. If you have an underlying mental health condition, addressing them is vital for the treatment of the negative behavior.
Self-destructive behavior can be intentional or may happen unawares. Whichever way, it will end up destroying your happiness, health, and peace of mind. To treat this behavioral problem, you need to heal the deeper wound that is acting as a trigger.
The most important point to remember when dealing with self-destructive tendencies is to remind yourself that you are not alone, it is not your fault, and you are not to be blamed. With self-awareness, self-love, empathy, and forgiveness towards self, you can manage to free yourself of this affliction.