Sometimes the highest hurdles in our path are products of our own creation. Self-destructive behaviors that keep us from thriving physically, emotionally and professionally stem from fears and insecurities in our own minds. We train ourselves to overlook these behaviors, blaming other factors for the lack of success and happiness in our lives.
Be it alienating people or setting ourselves up for failure with a self-defeating mindset; indulging in habits we know are bad for us or harming our physical selves – self-sabotaging behaviors are reflections of our dark Shadow Selves. Psychologists believe these could be a person’s coping mechanism in the face of stress or social demands. Others feel they’re manifestations of a feeling of unworthiness.
Self-destructive behaviors come in many forms, some more extreme than others. If you feel you’re caught in a web of self-sabotaging behaviors, confronting your demons is the first step to breaking the cycle. Here are some forms of self-destructive behavior:
1. Defeatist mindset
If you convince yourself of failure even before you attempt to take on a challenge, you will fall short. Thoughts such as “I’m going to fail, I just know it” and “this will completely destroy me” often act as self-fulfilling prophesies.
2. Failing to act
You know you’re doing something bad, yet you do nothing to remedy the situation. This may be a passive manifestation, but it is nevertheless self-destructive.
3. Unhealthy relationship with food
This covers both ends of the spectrum and prevents healthy living. Overeating is a quick route to long-term health problems. We know this, yet we stuff ourselves with unhealthy food. The other extreme is under-eating. Those going down this path falsely convince themselves they’re benefiting their bodies. But often this behavior is a result of poor self-image and psychological issues.
4. Forced incompetence
Lack of confidence in our abilities sometimes makes us portray ourselves to others as unintelligent or incapable, creating an unnecessary hurdle that keeps us from reaching our full potential.
5. Malicious behavior
If you go out of your way to make others miserable with words and deeds, karma will catch up. A self-destructive person will eventually find himself socially isolated, perhaps even with legal and health issues.
6. Harming yourself
This is an extreme form of destructive behavior that is a sign of self-hatred and can end up causing severe mental and physical harm.
When we spend all our time wallowing in self-pity, it’s impossible to shake off the negativity and act to improve the situation.
8. Substance abuse
Drug and alcohol abuse as a way of escaping ones troubles ends up destroying not just our own lives but also those of friends and family.
9. Pushing people away
Deliberately being obnoxious and behaving anti-socially just to push people away is another form of destructive behavior. Self-inflicted social isolation can be very damaging.
10. Ignoring emotions
Refusing to acknowledge emotions – positive or negative – can create many forms of mental and psychological illnesses.
11. Refusing help
When they see you’re struggling, people who care deeply about you will offer help or advice. But a self-destructive person turns them away, refusing to go to rehab or therapy to address the problem.
12. Illusion of self-sacrifice
Some people create an illusion of self-sacrifice, pretending they’ve given up on their ambitions for the sake of others. They need to feel noble and altruistic. In truth they lack the confidence to pursue their dreams.
13. Impulsive spending
Spending hours impulsively shopping online, at retail stores or compulsively gambling are also self-destructive behaviors because they jeopardize financial stability and shatter peace of mind.
14. Neglecting oneself
This can be physical or mental. Maintaining unhealthy habits, not exercising, eating poorly, sacrificing sleep and generally neglecting your own physical well-being is self-destructive. So is ignoring psychological issues like anxiety and depression.
15. Sabotaging relationships
When one feels unworthy, it seeps into the closest personal relationships through destructive tendencies like jealousy, possessiveness, emotional manipulation and – in extreme cases – violence. Most ties snap under the weight of such formidable stresses.
Consciously or unconsciously, a self-destructive person sabotages all prospects of his or her own happiness and success. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, acknowledging the problem is the vital first step in the process of reform and self-growth.