Self-destructive behaviors occur when the logical side of your subconscious mind (the side of you that says you need to eat right and save your money) is at odds with the other part of your emotional subconscious mind (the side that says that when you are stressed to eat chocolate donuts or purchase a new model flashy car which may bring temporary happiness). The emotional subconscious mind is sometimes the critical inner voice that holds you back and sabotages your efforts.
Self-destructive behaviors involve behaviors or thoughts that keep you away from what you desire most in life. It is that internal thought gnawing at you, saying “you can’t do this.” or “you’re not good enough”.
This is really your logical subconscious trying to protect you, prevent pain, and deal with deep-seated fear. But the result of self-destructive behaviors is that we often hesitate instead of seizing new opportunities. In the end, we know we missed out, but we do not always understand why. Sometimes it is easier to blame others than take responsibility for our own actions.
So, what can we do to stop the self-destructive behaviors? Below are steps you can start taking immediately to stop self-destructive behaviors and achieve more success in your life and business.
The first step is to seek to understand your behaviors
Many of us are engaged in self-destructive behaviors that have become routine habits. We allow these behaviors to interfere with personal growth and happiness. In most cases, individuals do not openly recognize what or why they are doing certain bad habits. Self-sabotage is when we do something that gets in the way of our intent, or bigger dreams and goals. We want something, but somehow, we never accomplish it. Why? Because somewhere deep in our subconscious we are fighting against that goal in many cases because of fear of failure.
Your subconscious may see self-destruction behaviors as self-preservation and maintaining the status quo. It is a way to safeguard and protect oneself. Some of our self-destructive behaviors are very subtle and easily not recognized. In many cases, we fail to recognize how our actions are hurting ourselves, and many times, the ones we care about the most.
Much of the time, we are overthinking our decisions, leaving us paralyzed with inaction. We do not realize that our reactions to problem situations end up causing bigger problems down the road because of a lack of action.
Recognize your self-destructive habits
The first step to breaking the cycle of self-sabotage is becoming aware of these behaviors. Try looking at your behaviors as an outsider. Ask the question: “What self-destructive patterns and mindsets are holding you back?”
Here are common self-sabotage habits to be aware of:
- Procrastination: Instead of tackling an important project in a timely manner, you allow yourself to dawdle to the last minute. It is hard to shine when you do not give yourself time to fix mistakes or do a thorough job. It is helpful to start setting deadlines and mini deadlines to work toward your objective.
- Negative self-talk/negative thinking: Your inner sub conscious is constantly critical. Are you beating yourself up for past mistakes? Are you thinking you are not good enough? Be both patient and kind to yourself. Work to build up your confidence by gaining more experience.
- Perfectionism: You tell yourself you cannot act until the right time, or believe you need to perfect your skills before you move forward. These are forms of self-doubt. Perfection is an impossible standard that keeps many from moving forward.
Identify the root cause (the bottom-line issue)
Many of us develop unhealthy ways of coping with stress and uncomfortable situations. We repeatedly drop the ball on commitments, fail to take adequate care of ourselves, or we take our relationships for granted. We allow ourselves to react adversely to situations. But sometimes these things are so subtle that we cannot see how self-sabotage is at the root of many of our problems.
Often, self-destructive habits are embedded into our own feelings of self-worth. You do not feel like you deserve to be successful. You are plagued with feelings of inadequacy, even when you are trying to overcompensate by setting high goals for yourself. Some may even use self-sabotage as a twisted form of controlling their own fate.
It is better to be in control of your failure than having unknown circumstances or bad luck blindside you. Work on identifying and acknowledging what is causing you to sabotage yourself, and then start adjusting stop those destructive behaviors.
Schedule time for self-reflection
It takes serious self-reflection to understand why you keep shooting yourself in the foot in the first place. Taking the time to peel back the layer of issues can lead to a deeper awareness, as well as providing you with insights into yourself and your underlying motivations and desires.
The most successful people are those who take the time to think through their decisions and actions. Successful people learn from their successes and failures. They then adjust their course of action by taking a different approach. Only through self-reflection will you gain the necessary insight, perspective and understanding to begin the process of change and transformation.
Fear of failure is often at the root of what holds us back. We start to worry that we do not deserve happiness, are not tough enough or simply do not have it in us. It is time to put aside those harsh inner voices of “I can’t” or “I’m a failure.”
That negative internal dialogue is a pattern of self-limiting thoughts. Start replacing that critical inner voice with positive, encouraging thoughts.
Once you start seeing the areas and ways in which you are limiting yourself, you can start effectively countering that behavior. You can choose to not engage in self-sabotaging behavior. You can start building positive behavior and create an affirmative, confident voice to guide you.
Start with one change
Changing our negative behaviors is a fundamental step if we are to limit our self-destructive behavior. In every moment, we are taking action that either moves us toward or away from the person we want to be and the life we want to have. The behaviors you keep permitting yourself to do are the ones that are keeping you from what you most desire.
Consider how the actions you are taking and the thoughts you are thinking conflict with your happiness and hold you back from your true potential. Then look for ways to replace old patterns with new ones that are more helpful in achieving your goals.
At first, we may need to learn to change our behavior by avoiding certain situations such as negative people or challenging circumstances that cause us to react in negative ways. If there is a stressful situation that triggers you to react in a negative way, look for ways to bypass or deflect while you learn better methods of handling the situation.
Strive for small and meaningful changes
Once you identify the changes you want to make in your life or business, choose one thing that you want to change. Start small, do not overreach, do not try to make a change that is unrealistic or unattainable. Big changes are difficult and hard to achieve sometimes. A big change can cause you to easily give up your goal and become disillusioned. Begin by making small, meaningful changes. This method will allow you build slowly and can create larger changes in your life or business.
If you realize you are limiting your success by constantly missing appointments, are fearful of whether you can manage taking on a large customer, not following through with customer leads or simply being disorganized, take a step back and look for one small, meaningful change that you can make to set you up for future success. Small successes over time build confidence faster than one giant goal. Confidence is the key to knowing you are going the right direction in changing your habits. Also, accountability is key to motivation. Sharing your goals with a confidant provides a level of support, better to let a trusted friend or loved help you to achieve your goals.