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Last Updated on December 11, 2020

12 Self-Destructive Habits to Eliminate for a Positive Life

12 Self-Destructive Habits to Eliminate for a Positive Life
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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 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 sooner rather 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.

The good news is that everyone can overcome self-destructive habits and get on track toward leading a more positive life.

1. A Self-Defeating Mindset

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.

How to Fix It

Instead of focusing on what went wrong, focus on the good moments or things you learned from it. After a bad job interview, at least you can point out the things you don’t want to do in future interviews, which means you’ve learned something.

Also, try repeating some positive affirmations when you wake up each day. These can help you get into the right mindset to face challenges you’ll encounter during the day.

2. Laziness

Self-destructive people tend to be lazy when it comes to taking 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.

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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.

How to Fix It

Find the thing that motivates you. Motivation is a good antidote for laziness, but it can also be hard to find for people with self destructive habits. Identify what you want and make a goals list on things to work on to get there. The list will help you visualize how far you’ve gotten each day or week to keep you on track.

3. Forced Incompetence

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.

How to Fix It

If there’s an area where you are lacking that you genuinely want to improve, try learning before telling yourself you’re incapable. If you find math difficult, perhaps you’re just using the wrong learning style. Try various methods of learning before throwing in the towel.

4. Self-Pity

Feeling bad for yourself gets you nowhere. Everyone has shortcomings and weaknesses. Having the attitude that you were put 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 you will have wasted precious time you could have used to better yourself in some way[1]. Stop feeling bad for yourself and work on the negative qualities in your life that are dragging you down.

How to Fix It

Self-pity often comes from harmful thought patterns. Correcting those can be done through a regular meditation practice, where you have the opportunity to analyze your thoughts and change them for the better.

5. Taking It out on Others

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.

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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.

How to Fix It

Make it a personal goal to say one nice thing to someone every day. This may be a simple text to a parent or friend telling them how much you care about them. Or it could be offering a kind word to the cashier at the grocery store. Whatever it may be, offering kindness will help alter your mindset toward others.

6. Abuse of Drugs or Alcohol

Perhaps one the most vicious self destructive habits a person can get into is that of drug or alcohol addiction. You drink because you’re miserable, you wake up miserable, and yo 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.

How to Fix It

Addiction is serious and often quite difficult to tackle alone. First, try seeking support from friends or family as you start on your road to recovery. If it’s a more serious addiction, you will likely need to seek help from a therapist or a specialized program. Don’t feel bad if this is the case…we also have to ask for help from time to time, and it will ultimately be worth it.

7. Running From Emotions

Whether through alcohol and drug abuse or not, self-destructive people hide from their emotions[2]. 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, they might even be scared to find that they actually do feel happy, and start looking for things to go all wrong. If you’re always looking for the negatives in life, you’re sure to find them.

How to Fix It

Facing emotions can be scary, but they often lose their power once they are written down. Try keeping a daily journal and write down how you’re feeling and why. If that’s causing you too much anxiety, getting help from a counselor or therapist may be the next step.

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8. Social Isolation

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.

How to Fix It

Make it a point to attend one important occasion each month. This can be as simple as accepting an invitation to get together with friends for a night out or joining that big family reunion you always avoid. Once you’re comfortable going out once a month, bump it up to twice or three times and enjoy the benefits of human connection more often.

9. Refusing Help

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 after taking the first step and making 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.

How to Fix It

Start small by accepting offers of help from friends or family. Moving into a new apartment? Accept the offer when your friend wants to help you pack. Having a bad day? Accept when your sibling offers to listen for a while.

Once you’re ready (and if you need it), try making an appointment with a therapist. The stigma around talking to someone is still there, but it’s decreasing significantly as people finally recognize that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness but of extreme courage. Ultimately, feeling better means you’ll give a better version of yourself to the world, and that’s good for everyone.

10. Neglecting Personal Needs

Along with refusing to be helped, self-destructive people often don’t take very good care of themselves. They don’t eat health, go to the gym, and may not bathe or shave regularly. They may neglect cleaning their living space and live in squalor.

Sadly, all of these factors point to severe depression. If just one step is taken towards 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.

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How to Fix It

Focus on one positive change each week. For the first week, maybe you take a daily shower. The next week, try making one or two healthy meals. Within a month or two, sign up for a gym membership or develop a regular running practice. Any small step will get you moving in the right direction.

11. Unnecessary Self-Sacrifice

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 we don’t take time for ourselves. Whether by working too hard, volunteering for too many things, or going out with friends just because we 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.

How to Fix It

Delegate “me” time each day. This can be an hour right when you wake up when you go out for a walk or a jog, or it can be a chunk of time in the evening when you practice your favorite hobby. Whatever it is, carve out time for you, and don’t be afraid to say no if it’s necessary for self-care.

12. Self-Harm

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[3].

Some see it as a way to relieve stress, but it is an incredibly counterproductive way of doing so. This is the most serious problem on this list, and if you or someone you know is engaging in this behavior, it’s time to ask for help.

How to Fix It

If you can’t bring yourself to call a psychologist or therapist, ask for help from friends or family. They will likely be more than happy to help you get on the right track toward healing and finding professional assistance.

Final Thoughts

If you practice any of the above habits, it could be sign of self-destructive behavior. This can limit your potential and keep you from learning and growing to become the best version of yourself. Try following the above advice to get you moving in a better direction, and if that doesn’t work, try asking for professional help. It will be worth it in the end.

More Tips on Overcoming Self Destructive Habits

Featured photo credit: Patryk Sobczak via unsplash.com

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Reference

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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