Although the meaning of life has been debated since the beginning of time, perhaps the most valid reason we have for existing on Earth is simply to do just that: exist. Human beings, like all living creatures, are meant to thrive. It’s a wonder, then, that so many of us unfortunately practice habits that are self-destructive. Think about it: if all humans practiced all of these behaviors 100% of the time, our species would cease to exist much sooner than later. Though some of these actions may not seem so harmful, the long-term effects they have on a person’s life can be increasingly detrimental if left unchecked. Most self-destructive people practice many, if not all, of these in some way throughout their daily life:
Many people who suffer from depression or anxiety actively believe they are no good whatsoever at anything they try to do. If they blow a job interview, it will take weeks for them to rebound and work up the guts to apply for another job. If they fail a test, they’ll simply give up and never learn the material they were supposed to. Self-destructive people focus on when things go wrong in their lives, rather than realize that, up until the moment things went wrong, things were going just fine. Reversing that mindset is the first step toward leaving your self-destructive outlook on life behind.
Self-destructive people also rarely take action to better themselves. After bombing a job interview, they won’t look back at what they did wrong and try to improve for the next time; they simply blow it off and say “It’ll never happen for me.” Of course it won’t, if you don’t learn from past mistakes. People who are considered true success stories have lost out on job opportunities in the past, but they learned from the experience and figured out how to do better the next time. If you try, you have a chance of succeeding or failing; if you don’t try, you have zero chance of either.
The most common example I can think of to illustrate forced incompetence is when a student (or adult, for that matter) says “I’m just not a math person.” While some people do have a natural gift for certain skills, these gifts mean nothing if they’re not practiced. Just because you’re “not a math person,” or “not very musical,” doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to learn those skills. Sure, it might be more difficult for you than it is for others, but that’s all the more reason to be proud of yourself for working hard and achieving something. If every player in the NBA quit just because they’re not as good as Michael Jordan, there wouldn’t be enough players in the league to field a single team.
This goes along with the past three entries. Feeling bad for yourself gets you nowhere. Everyone has shortcomings and weaknesses; everyone does. Having the attitude that God put you on this planet to be miserable is a self-fulfilling prophecy. What good is wallowing in your own sorrow? After your pity party is over, you’ll still be just as miserable, and will have wasted precious time you could have used to better yourself in some way. Stop feeling bad for yourself, and work on the negative qualities in your life that are dragging you down.
Self-destructive people are also usually rude and abrasive to other individuals as well. While it certainly isn’t productive to be nasty to your own self, there is absolutely no reason you should take your misery out on others. In fact, being kind to others may be the catalyst that brightens up your day, and puts you on the path to being kind to yourself as well. No matter how bad your life is currently going, you never know what others are dealing with. Being kind to others may help you realize you don’t have it so bad, after all.
Perhaps the most vicious cycle a self-destructive person can get into is that of drug or alcohol addiction. You drink because you’re miserable, you wake up miserable, and start drinking again. Meanwhile, the world around you keeps turning, and you’re another day older without having built any sort of skills to help better your situation. And, of course, once this thought crosses your mind, you feel absolutely worthless, so you reach into the fridge for another bottle. If you’re feeling depressed, alcohol or drugs are certainly not the answer to your problems.
Whether through alcohol and drug abuse or not, self-destructive people hide from their emotions. They might put on a happy face and make others believe that “everything is okay,” but bottling up emotions only leads to an explosion at some point in the future. Self-destructive people not only run from negative emotions, but positive ones as well. Sometimes, self-destructive people might even be scared to find that they actually do feel happy, and be looking for things to go all wrong. If you’re always looking for the negatives in life, you’re sure to find them.
Whether actively or passively, self-destructive people tend to isolate themselves from their peers, and society in general. This is done by either alienating friends and family by actively insulting them or generally being a nuisance, or passively, by not answering phone calls or texts, ignoring invitations, or blowing off special occasions. A self-destructive person may think that by isolating themselves from others they’re doing the world a favor, but in actuality they’re doing harm to themselves and everyone that cares for them.
Along with isolating themselves from loved ones, self-destructive people fail to acknowledge they need help. They wouldn’t be caught dead in a therapist’s office, no matter how much they know deep down that they need it. This is due in part to the stigma attached to visiting a therapist, but this pressure can be alleviated if they take the first step and make that initial appointment. They might be pleasantly surprised at how much better they feel after spending just one hour speaking to a professional who can help put them on the right track.
Along with refusing to be helped, self-destructive people often don’t take very good care of themselves. They don’t eat healthy; they either eat too much, or too little. They don’t go to the gym. They don’t bathe or shave regularly. They usually live in squalor. Sadly, all of these factors point to severe depression. If just one step is taken toward bettering themselves, they might begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A fresh shave and a change of clothes could be the catalyst that gets someone up and out of the house, moving on to the first day of the rest of their lives.
This probably hits home to more people than any of the other sections in this entire article. Some of us are so intent on making others happy that they don’t take time for themselves. Whether by working too hard, volunteering for too many things, or going out with friends just because they feel like they have to, so many of us neglect ourselves in favor of others for absolutely no reason. Many times, its best to put yourself first, and let others know it’s nothing personal; you just need time to recharge.
If this applies to you, I implore you to seek professional assistance immediately. Those that physically abuse their own bodies are clearly unhappy with themselves and their lives, to the point that they actively want to disfigure their own being. Some see it as a way to relieve stress, but it is an incredibly counterproductive way of doing so. This is the one part of this list that I have absolutely no personal experience dealing with, so I will not pretend to be able to give you advice except this: Please, if you ever feel like hurting yourself, please seek professional help.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com
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