Self-destructive behavior refers to actions which are harmful to our health and general well-being. This could be compulsive shopping, excessive drinking, smoking or overeating. So how do such behaviors develop? In many cases, it begins with a negative self belief. You might tell yourself ‘I’m not intelligent enough’, ‘I’m not beautiful’ or ‘I’m not worthy of love’. Such beliefs can be communicated to us directly and indirectly by society, peers or parents.
Self-destructive behavior allows us to experience short-term relief from negative emotions. For instance, if you feel unloved, you could start drinking alcohol to cope with the situation. Though the alcohol is ruining your health, the instant relief it offers outweighs any long-term repercussions. With time, such self-destructive behaviors turn into habits and you end up losing control.
So how do you go about overcoming self-destructive behavior?
1. Forgive yourself
First and foremost, you need to forgive yourself for engaging in self-destructive behavior. If you keep feeling guilty and hating yourself, you might only end up engaging in even worse behavior, which will lead to more self-hate and guilt. Forgiving yourself allows you to break free from this cycle. In addition, stop comparing yourself to other people who seem to have no problems. It is possible that they are only hiding their faults.
2. Uncover the underlying causes
In most cases, our self-destructive behavior is merely a mechanism for coping with deeper issues that we are afraid of confronting. At times, we might not even be aware of the underlying causes. Therefore, the first step is to understand the actual reasons behind your self-destructive behavior. You might realize that you are overwhelmed by the demands of life or that you are stuck in an unhealthy relationship. If you cannot figure it out, talk to your friends or family. They might be seeing something that you are not aware of. Identifying the root of your self-destructive behavior will make it easier to deal with it. At times, it would even be advisable to get professional help.
3. Create the right environment
Having the right environment is very important for overcoming self-destructive habits. For instance, if you want to change your eating habits, throw away all the junk food in your house. If you have a problem with alcohol, avoid going to places where it is sold or hanging out with people who drink. To make this easier, get someone to hold you accountable to ensure that you don’t get yourself into the wrong environments.
4. Replace bad habits with good habits
It wouldn’t make sense to replace one destructive habit with another one. For instance, quitting smoking and then beginning to overeat is counterproductive. Therefore, make an effort to replace all your destructive habits with constructive ones. If you used to spend time at the bar drinking, you could begin going to the gym instead. Or you could join a club which will help you develop your talents.
Have you ever struggled with self-destructive habits? How did you overcome them? Please share with us in the comments section below.