how to stop self destructive behavior

No matter how much you want to change, sometimes it’s hard to know how to stop self-destructive behavior.

Are you prone to self-sabotaging, to pretty much setting fire to any good aspects of your life? If so, you likely struggle with self-destructive behavior. Being self-destructive is a symptom of a deeper emotional issue. On the outside, it may appear to others that you just don’t care about yourself. On the inside, it may be a much different story.

Being self-destructive isn’t some deep, hidden character flaw. Rather, you have likely endured some painful events in life that have left you with low self-esteem. When you see it through this lens, it isn’t hard to see why someone might want to do things that cause them harm.

To get to the root cause of self-destructive tendencies you need to dig deep. With the help of a therapist, you can unwind the pain points that may have led to the behaviors. You will explore if a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, is present but not yet diagnosed. Along the way, you’ll learn how to value yourself and become your biggest fan, versus your own worst enemy.

What Causes Self-Destructive Behavior?

There are two main causes of becoming self-destructive. One is rooted in adverse life events. These might include childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse, or loss of a loved one. The other cause might be a mental health disorder. Mental health disorders associated with self-destructive behavior include:

Depression. Symptoms of depression include:

    • Feeling sad or hopeless.
    • Trouble paying attention.
    • Changes in sleep habits.
    • Changes in eating habits.
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of interest.
    • Slowed thinking and movements.
    • Feeling guilt and shame.
    • Suicidal thoughts.

Anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety include:

    • Irrational fear, worry, and sense of dread.
    • Irritability
    • Insomnia
    • Chronic headaches or stomach problems.
    • Sweating
    • Racing heart.
    • Shallow breathing.

Trauma. Symptoms of trauma include:

    • Nightmares, sleep disruptions
    • Replaying the trauma over and over.
    • Feelings of detachment.
    • Substance abuse.
    • Isolating
    • Mood swings.

Schizophrenia. Symptoms include:

    • Confused thoughts.
    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions
    • Lack of emotion.
    • Isolation
    • Strange movements.
    • Aggression
    • Trouble speaking or conversing.

Eating disorders.

Symptoms of eating disorders differ by the type of disorder but involve an unhealthy relationship with food. This can get tied to feelings of self-worth.

Personality disorders.

Each personality has unique symptoms, but some common features include thoughts, feelings, and behaving not aligned with social norms.

What Are Self-Destructive Traits?

While all of us sometimes show self-destructive tendencies, it becomes problematic when there are a cluster of such behavioral traits present. These might include:

  • Expecting failure. Negative self-talk and a pessimism result in a self-defeating mindset. Even when you achieve a goal or succeed in some way, you will still put yourself down. You are critical of yourself and refuse to accept any sense of pride for achievements.
  • Sabotage their relationships. On a deep level you believe you are not worthy of love. This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as you undermine the relationship by causing strife or stirring up drama.
  • Not standing up for yourself. Self- destructive people don’t defend themselves when they are harmed or abused. Instead, you just accept the abuse rather than defend yourself, like you somehow deserve the mistreatment.
  • Substance abuse. For a self-destructive person, a substance can provide two functions. First, they provide an escape from any emotional pain. Second, the substance itself is toxic and can cause harm to the mind and body. Substance abuse reflects a lack of concern for your health and wellbeing.
  • Compulsive behaviors. Other self-destructive behaviors involve engaging in compulsions that can cause harm to you in some way. These include gambling, over-eating, shopping addiction, and sex addiction.
  • Self-harming. Inflicting harm on your body is an outward sign of self-destructive behavior. Self-harm can involve cutting, pinching to cause bruises, head banging, burning, and breaking your bones.
  • Antisocial behaviors. To further prevent people from wanting to spend time with you, you might sabotage your social life. By repelling people through rude, bizarre, or socially inept behaviors you wind up alienating your peers.
  • Neglect health. When someone doesn’t place value on themselves, they stop taking measures to maintain health and wellbeing. They may eat poorly, don’t exercise, get inadequate sleep, and stop seeing their doctor.

Shift Away from Self-Destructive Behaviors by Seeking Treatment

It takes some time and patience to shift away from the thought distortions that drive self-destructive behavior. These reflexive behaviors have been in place for a very long time—for some a lifetime. The way you process stimuli will have to change, and that involves a treatment program.

An inpatient program offers the best setting for working on changing your mindset. This is because it offers the support and therapy needed to slowly adopt new ways of thinking. Daily sessions using evidence-based treatments help you acquire new ways of thinking. Some of these therapies include:

  • CBT. CBT helps you become aware of maladaptive responses to stimuli. You learn how to shift your negative thoughts and self-destructive behavioral responses toward healthy ones.
  • Mindfulness based cognitive therapy. MBCT combines mindfulness with CBT. It helps you focus on the present moment, and become aware of thought ruminations that lead to a negative outlook.

If you want to learn how to stop self-destructive behavior, help awaits you. Take the first step toward gaining a more positive view of your own value and self-worth.

Mental Wellness by Ken Seeley Provides Treatment for Depression and Anxiety

Mental Wellness by Ken Seeley is a residential mental health program that combines evidence-based treatment with a holistic approach. If you are struggling with self-destructive behaviors, the team at MWKS will guide your journey to wellness. Learn to be loving and supportive of you. Call MWKS today at (888) 312-4262.