Why do I refuse help from people who have my best interests in mind? Why do I continue unhealthy habits that I know will eventually incur permanent damage?
These thoughts, and various others, have been circling slowly through my mind recently. The subject of self-destructive behavior is a very daunting topic, something dark that lurks in the corners of existence which we usually train ourselves to overlook. Don’t believe me? Look at all the smokers outside of office buildings, or the endless stream of failed relationship stories illustrating the covers of magazines.
If you’ve come to this article, you probably suspect deep down that in some way you are a self-destructive person. If you are wanting better clarification or even confirmation that you are indeed a self-destructive person, keep reading.
The Darkest Habit Of All
I’m not the first, but I certainly won’t be the last person to admit that I’ve been (and in some ways still am) a self-destructive person.
From pushing away people I love and housing self-defeating mindsets, to repeatedly self-harming in my teenage years … I’ve been down this dark alley more than once. As I’ve grown, however, I’ve realized that self-destructive behaviors are expressions from our Shadow Selves, springing from low self-esteem and even self-hatred.
While psychologists speculate that self-sabotaging behaviors could be coping mechanisms (e.g. for stress, pressure, social demands etc.), others consider self-destructive behavior as ways of maintaining comfort zones due to lack of confidence or feelings of unworthiness (e.g. staying at the familiar bottom of the social ladder).
Symptoms and Habits
Self-destructive behavior comes in many guises, some extreme, some not so extreme. But in order to continue to internally evolve and improve your life (as well as those around you), it’s really best if you look at your devils right in the face. Symptoms and/or habits of self-destructive behavior include the following:
1. Housing self-defeating mindsets.
This is an unconscious form of self-destructive behavior because it results in self-fulfilling prophecies. Examples include thoughts such as: “I’m going to fail, I just know it”, “I’ll never get out alive”, “This will completely destroy me”, etc.
2. Failing to take action.
This is a passive symptom, but still self-destructive in nature. When we know something is bad for us, but fail to take any action or steps to remedy the issue, we are essentially setting ourselves up for, and guaranteeing, failure.
A nasty habit that results in many long-term health issues.
Many under-eaters fool themselves into thinking they’re benefiting themselves. Truth is that under-eating is usually a band-aid for serious self-image and other psychological issues.
5. Forced incompetence.
This means portraying oneself as unintelligent or incapable of successfully achieving something. Forced incompetence usually stems from a lack of confidence in one’s abilities and can function as a coping mechanism, e.g. academically.
6. Going out of your way to harm others.
What goes around comes around they say, and the negative influence you have on others, whether by words or deeds, will eventually manifest itself in your own life (e.g. sicknesses, tragedy, legal issues, isolation).
An extreme. Self-harm is a sign of self-hatred and is mentally and physically destructive.
This is an unconsciously manifested form of self-destructive behavior. Self-pity is destructive because it encourages us to remain inactive (i.e. wallowing in our misfortunes), rather than encouraging a proactive approach towards life.
9. Drug and alcohol abuse.
A self-evident form of destructive behavior, drug and alcohol abuse creates endless misery in the lives of addicts and their friends and family members.
10. Social suicide.
Not always committed consciously, social suicide is the act of deliberately alienating yourself from your peers. This could be through a variety of irritating, repelling or antisocial behaviors.
11. Hiding from emotions.
Failing to acknowledge negative (and sometimes positive) emotions creates a host of mental, emotional and physiological illnesses. This is another form of unconsciously manifested self-destructive behavior.
12. Refusing to be helped.
Pushing away advice, refusing to go to rehab, avoiding the psychologist … not wanting to be helped cries “I don’t care about my well-being!” and screams “self-sabotage!”
13. Unnecessary self-sacrifice.
Some people are in love with their misery because that is all they have known for a large portion of their lives. Unnecessary self-sacrifice is a good way of making one feel “noble” and “altruistic” while masking the actual act of self-sabotage: giving up on hopes, dreams and passions that make one truly happy.
14. Spending too much.
Whether through chronic gambling or constant eBay purchases, overspending may seem unusual to have on this list, but is nevertheless a form of self-destructive behavior that limits ones freedom and peace of mind.
15. Physical neglect.
Getting poor sleep, refusing to exercise, eating unhealthy foods, and failing to maintain the general well-being of your body are all classic signs of self-destructive behavior.
16. Mental neglect.
Refusing, avoiding or failing to confront our psychological health issues (e.g. stress, anxiety, depression, paranoia, OCD, etc.) delays the healing process, resulting in significant long-term issues.
17. Sabotaging relationships.
This is a complex one, and involves a large variety of destructive behaviors such as jealousy, possessiveness, emotional manipulation, neediness, violence and so forth. When we don’t feel worthy of love, we unconsciously manifest this in our relationships through the way we choose to behave.
The self-destructive person exhibits both conscious and unconscious behaviors that sabotage their own health, happiness, and long-term fulfillment. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Like me, you probably can identify with a couple or even more symptoms and habits on this list.
To stop being a self-destructive person is not at all a simple task. However, you may benefit from reading the following articles, which will help get you started:
- Shadow Work: How to Let Your Demons Guide You (Without Going Crazy)
- 11 Self-Awareness Exercises For Spiritual Seekers
- Everything You Need To Know About Overcoming Self-Pity In 3 Minutes
- How To Become Your Own Best Friend
- 6 Mental Traps That Ruin Your Life
I’d love to hear your stories below!