While many people hide their self destructive behaviors and remain in denial that they are actually struggling, there are quite a few of us who admit to these problems (at least to ourselves) and work to overcome them. Even if you have spoken out about your issues, your loved ones may not fully realize the severity of your behaviour. It is essentially up to you to overcome these behavior, so you must decide the best method for doing so.

Many self-help methods can help you overcome your self-destructive behavior, and these methods are beneficial in more ways than just one. They can help overcome the behavior while also improving your overall life. Before you can consider the ways to overcome the behavior, however, you must first understand what constitutes self destructive behavior.

What is Self Destructive Behavior?

Many behaviors constitute self destructive acts. These are any kind of behaviors that negatively impact you on a personal level. Many common ones include:

  • Continuously telling yourself negative things such as, “I will never get this done on time” or “I’m going to fail”
  • Knowing something is bad for you and doing it anyway
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Pretending to be incompetent
  • Inconveniencing yourself in order to cause harm to others
  • Purposely hurting yourself (self-harm)
  • Wallowing in self-pity instead of finding a positive way to move forward
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Alienating yourself from your friends and family
  • Avoiding emotions
  • Turning down help from those who want the best for you
  • Sacrificing happiness when you could be chasing after your dreams or goals
  • Overspending, even when on a budget
  • Physically neglecting yourself whether through lack of sleep, lack of exercise, or some other way
  • Avoiding getting the help you need for a mental illness
  • Ruining relationships by means of jealousy, possessiveness, emotional manipulation, neediness, violence, and other negative acts
  • Continuously underestimating yourself

telling yourself

Why Do These Behaviours Occur?

Typically, self-destructive acts and thoughts occur because of conscious or subconscious self-hatred and low self-esteem. Continuing along this same line of thinking, you may notice yourself exhibiting some of the signs if you are feeling unworthy or unconfident. Additionally, you may exhibit signs of self-destruction to cope with stress in any area of your life. The more stress you have and the number of events in your life that are stressful can impact the occurrence of self-destructive behaviour, as well.

How to Overcome Self-Destructive Behavior

Now that you recognize these actions, how do you self-correct?

1. Write in a journal

This may sound too simple of a task to help overcome your self destructive habits, but it is actually extremely helpful. Focus on writing about what you were thankful or happy about each day, forcing yourself to think about the positive aspects of your life instead of the negative ones.

Before you begin writing, take the time to think about the small aspects of your daily life that you enjoy, or a happy surprise that occurred that day. This helps reset your thinking, helping you see the positives in your life and work toward even more positives.

2. Start a garden

Gardening can help you overcome your self-destructive behaviour because it takes your focus off of yourself. You stop thinking all of those negative thoughts, and you can’t physically do anything negative to yourself while you’re working with plants and soil, so your energy will be placed on the task at hand. Another way that gardening will help is by giving you a feeling of accomplishment when you see the outcome of all of your hard work.

This isn’t to say that you have to go out and plant a huge garden right away. Instead, you can buy a small planter and start with a couple of herbs or vegetables and then, if you decide that this is the method for you, branch out and do a bigger garden each time.

3. Bask in the sunlight

This is hard to do in the winter months but with spring coming quickly, you will be seeing much more sunlight. Take the time to enjoy it. Sit near a window where the sun shines through, or choose to drink your coffee or eat your lunch outside.

You get Vitamin D from the sun, which is important to your well-being. Vitamin D can boost your mood and your energy levels, all while decreasing depression.

4. Watch something funny

Laughter can pull you out of the slump that precedes self-destructive behaviour. You can find comedies on Netflix, Hulu, and even on your regular cable channels. With many different varieties of comedy, you should be able to find something that makes you laugh. Some ideas include:

  • Romantic comedy movie
  • Comedy movie or TV show
  • Stand up comedian specials
  • Funny YouTube Videos

5. Adopt a pet

Adopting a pet can be beneficial in a couple of different ways. First, the unselfish act of adopting an animal can increase your mood and help you feel like you are worthy. Additionally, the actual act of caring for your new pet helps with many mental issues, including depression, self-pity, and anxiety.

destructive habits

6. Go for a walk

When you go for a walk, you are allowing your brain to produce more endorphins. This, in turn, causes a boost in your mood. Exercise of any kind has been proven to decrease self destructive signs, allowing you to find ways of overcoming those behaviours.

Walking also gives your brain a chance to think about other, less emotional, aspects of life. The fresh air will also help improve your mood. The combination of these effects has been proven time and time again to aid in this way.

7. Practice meditation

Meditation requires hard work, patience, and a good amount of self-discipline; hence the suggestion to “practice” meditation. It takes years to perfect, but it is so worth it in the meantime. Meditation makes you more aware of your thoughts and allows you to redirect any negative thoughts positively.

Not only does it help you redirect those negative thoughts, but it has also been shown to reduce mental illness. It helps boost your mood and motivation. This should help you overcome those self-destructive acts that you find yourself reverting to.

8. Volunteer

Like many of the other suggestions in this article, this can also help you overcome self-destructive behavior in multiple ways. Not only does it help you see that you are better off than many others, but it also boosts your self-esteem and self-confidence.

9. Declutter your space

Clutter and messes trigger anxiety, depression, and even paranoia. This leads to self-destructive behavior. By decluttering your space, you are helping yourself to avoid all of these struggles.

Additionally, decluttering your space can ease depression and anxiety by allowing your mind to focus on a task that offers instant gratification. This method is well-known to overcome self-destructive acts.

10. Change one small thing at a time

When it comes to overcoming your self-destructive behavior, you can’t tackle everything at one time, or you will surely fail in some regard and start the self destructive cycle all over again. To avoid this, choose one small thing at a time.

If you are wanting to start eating healthier, choose to eat one piece of fruit at breakfast time. Likewise, if you want to stop over-eating, cut out one unhealthy snack at a time, instead of cutting out every extra snack right away.

Once those small changes have become habits, then you can make one more additional change. This next change could be a more complicated one such as cutting out soda completely, including when at restaurants. Eventually, you will be making healthier eating choices all the time.

What to do When You Are Struggling to Refrain From Self Destructive Behaviour

If you can’t find anything that helps you overcome these behaviours, you need to take action in another way. You cannot continue to self destruct without serious consequences. Some more serious steps you can take if the self-help methods don’t help include:

  • see a therapist
  • talk to your doctor
  • for drug and alcohol abuse, visit a rehab center
  • ask for help from family and friends

self destructive - declutter your space

Final Thoughts on Ways to Overcome Self-Destructive Behaviour

Overcoming self destructive behavior is vital for your well-being and for the good of those around you. This type of behavior can stand in the way of your success, relationships, and essentially your life. There are ways that you can try to overcome the self-destructive behaviour on your own (and these methods generally work), but if none of those methods work for you, it is essential to seek help differently.