For those in recovery, thinking about using alcohol or drugs or returning to use is the ultimate self-defeating behavior. Self-defeating thoughts, emotions, and behavior create a block on the road to success even when there is no rational explanation of why a person cannot accomplish their goals.
Moreover, is it not a lack of motivation or effort that keeps people from achieving goals. Instead, it is when their internal self-dialogue intends to complicate an issue that should be straightforward and slithers back into feelings and behavior that is destructive to themselves and others.
Self-Defeating vs. Successful Behavior
The following are some characteristics of self-defeating behavior:
- Having a lack of personal responsibility instead of accepting personal responsibility
- Having a lack of awareness instead of taking the initiative to be educated or informed
- Exercising poor communication skills instead of positive, healthy communications with others
- Negativity instead of defining and working towards objectives
- Poor choice-making instead of making positive living choices
Self-defeating behavior can quickly lead a person down the road to relapse, making them feel frustrated, discourage, and enslaved. Everyone makes bad decisions occasionally, and no one yields the desired results every time. However, self-defeating feelings and behavior can develop and become problematic when they become a vicious cycle and not a one-time issue that can be overcome.
How to Tell if You Have Self-Defeating Behaviors
The following are some examples of the attitudes and behaviors that are characteristic of self-defeat.
- Honesty with oneself and others is often difficult
- Continuing engagement in unhealthy habits such as smoking, drug or alcohol use, or other overindulgences
- Near-successful events are sabotaged somehow
- Goals are set but not achieved, procrastination ensures, and potential is not fulfilled
- Having feelings of superiority or inferiority
- Making excuses for poor choices or behaviors
- Having continual self-doubt
- Having unrealistic expectations
- Anxiety and worry are significant issues
- Having feelings of anger, shame, or resentment
- Embracing nihilistic thinking, such as that life is meaningless
- Self-sabotaging physical, emotional, or financial stability
- Thinking one is trapped in certain situations and believing escape is impossible
- Feelings of self-pity and constantly being misunderstood by others
- Debasing oneself and others in one’s life
- Staying trapped in abusive or toxic relationships
How to Stop Self-Defeating
1. Ask yourself, what is your reward for your suffering?
Moreover, what are these behaviors doing for you that helps you in any way? Is it a reason to relapse or engage in substance abuse? How long are you willing to suffer or cause emotional damage to yourself and others?
2. Avoid triggering situations, persons, and places.
Avoid things that may trigger an exaggerated emotional response that could prompt a relapse. If you can’t avoid these situations, try to gain a more realistic perspective on them.
3. Examine the past, then move on.
Attempt to identify the origins of your belief system, from where they originated, and then let them go. It is perfectly fine to recognize the past for what it was but not to use it as an excuse to continue unhealthy behavior into the present.
4. Quit playing the victim.
Again, in acknowledging the past, we do not deny that bad things may happen to you. Instead, try reclaiming your power by reframing your experiences as a source of strength. Not everyone has experienced what you have and survived. The growth process in recovery is all about reclaiming self-esteem and self-empowerment.
5. Stop blaming others for your circumstances and your mistakes.
Being the victim and blaming or shaming others results in a dishonest, self-destructive attitude that change is not necessary. Wallowing in victimhood and contending that your suffering is solely the fault of others and remaining powerless means that you have no responsibility to take action.
6. Change the thoughts you have about yourself.
Stop the negative self-talk and begin investigating where your beliefs and attitudes are coming from and acknowledge them, but don’t judge them. Instead, become willing to let go of those destructive thoughts. Don’t act as if it is your right to be wrong.
Getting Treatment for Substance Abuse and Addiction
While overcoming self-defeating behavior and substance abuse may be achieved independently with a solid support system, undergoing a comprehensive inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment program is recommended to help prevent relapse and foster improved coping mechanisms.
Just Believe Recovery features a multifaceted approach that addresses not only addiction itself but all aspects of a person’s health and wellness. We offer behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, relapse prevention strategies, and various other corrective services and activities.