How to Overcome Self-Loathing and
Stop Destructive Behaviour
Self-destructive behavior can be planned or impulsive, intentional or subconscious. It's a way of life or an action that can cause psychological or physical harm. It's a behavior that provides pleasure or relief in the short-term – but over time, causes negative consequences.
Many people use self-destructive behavior to "mute" uncomfortable or painful emotions. In extreme cases, this complex dysfunctional behavior can spiral out of control and lead to death. If you grapple with self-destructive behavior, you've probably tried to stop engaging in this behavior many times. A proper treatment plan can help to prevent these behaviors from ruining your life.
There are many reasons why people use self-destructive behaviors but, more often than not, its to cope with feelings and emotions such as:
- Inner conflict and anxiety
- Bitterness and anger
- Hatred towards others
- Shame or self-pity
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Social isolation
What Causes Self-Destructive Behaviour?
Self-destructive behavior is a response to a traumatic event, pain, loss, rejection or failure, often occurring early in a person's life, that negatively affected their self-worth. These traumatic experiences can be anything like losing a parent, physical or sexual abuse or simply growing up with emotionally unavailable parents.
- Inadequate psychosocial development during childhood
- Dysfunctional childhood family and social conditions
- Autism and other behavioral disorders
- Anxiety disorders and depression
- Personality or psychiatric disorders
- Impulsivity personality
- Major medical conditions, like HIV/AIDS
Self-destructive behavior can show up in various forms like self-harm, irresponsibility, neediness as well as addictive, compulsive and anti-social behavior. If indulged, it will become worse.
Habits of Self-Destructive People
Self-destructive behaviors affect you negatively on a personal level. People with these types of tendencies typically share some of the same habits. The most common ones are:
- Continuously telling yourself things like "I'm going to fail" or "I will never succeed"
- Excessive lying to create a mask of being in control
- Explosive emotions when losing control of a situation
- Gambling or overspending on your budget
- Sex addiction and precarious sexual behaviors
- Eating disorders like overeating or anorexia
- Cause harm to others even if it means inconveniencing yourself
- Suicide attempts
- Self-harm or purposely hurting yourself (scratching, burning, carving or picking skin)
- Wallowing in self-pity
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Distancing yourself from family and friends
- Avoiding your emotions
- Pretending to be incompetent
- Declining help from the people who care about you and want the best for you
- Physical neglect through lack of sleep or ignoring health needs
- Continuously underestimating yourself
- Impulsive risk-taking such as driving at high-speed
- Ruining your relationships because of possessiveness, jealousy, emotional manipulation, abuse, neediness or other negative behaviors
How to Stop Self-Destructive Behaviour
While there is no magical cure, there are some things you can do that will help you cope and learn to deal with uncomfortable feelings and emotions.
Spending Time in Nature
"I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order" John Burroughs
Getting outside in the sunshine when you just want to steer clear of human contact, is one of the best things you can do to curb self-destructive behavior. The exercise will release 'feel-good' endorphins while the healing qualities of nature can work its magic.
Focus on Self-Love and Self-Care
Even though you don't want to take care of your body, feed it with healthy food. Stop overeating, smoking and abusing alcohol or drugs and focus on getting your body back to a healthy state. Not only will you feel better physically, but taking care of your body will help you to start loving yourself again.
Write down Your Feelings
Journaling is an excellent outlet that can help you deal with your feelings of shame and self-hate. You can't control your feelings or emotions but you can control how you react to them. If you put them down in words, you allow them to surface but exercise the power to let them go the moment you close your journal.
Meditation is an ancient practice used to clear your mind and increase your focus to gain clarity on life. Meditation changes your brain by activating specific areas. Meditation can be used to 're-train' your brain to help you cope with stress and self-destructive feelings more effectively.
Get Professional Help
There's no shame in seeking professional help. Executive coaching by a professional can help you deal with underlying issues that are causing your self-destructive behavior and offer guidance on your journey of self-discovery and self-love.
It's essential to ask for help early from friends and family if you engage in self-destructive behavior. Don't hesitate to seek professional help if you can't stop or struggle to cope with underlying problems and risk factors. Get help before the problem spirals out of control and increase the risk of accidental or intentional death.