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How To Recognize Self-Defeating Behavior

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What is Self-Defeating Behavior?

Self-defeating behavior can be any behavior that typically results in something the person does not want to happen. Although, even when the desired goal happens, that goal causes more bad than good; this is also self-defeating behavior.

Social psychologists have been studying and learning self-defeating behavior for the past 30 years. They have discovered numerous things that can lead to self-defeating behaviors. However, psychologists still want to learn how to reduce the effects of these behaviors.

Common Types of Self-Defeating Behaviors

  • PerfectionistPerfectionists want to accomplish things perfectly, despite it being impossible to be 100% right, 100% of the time. It is not unusual for a person with low self-esteem to show patterns of perfectionist behavior. They justify that being perfect will make everything okay. In reality, trying to do everything perfectly can bring a lot of stress and anxiety, lowering self-esteem even more.

          For example, say you are very concerned about your appearance. So, you spend a lot of time getting ready. When friends ask you to participate in sports or go to the beach, you make excuses. You fear others might look at you the way of being less than perfect

  • Avoidance – The behavior of avoidance is shown when you dodge certain people and situations to prevent uncomfortable feelings. There is logic to avoidance behaviors in the short term. If you don’t get involved, you can’t lose, however, you can’t win if you don’t even try.
  • Passive – People who show passive behavior typically believe that others around them are more worthy and do not stand up for their rights. They are the people who are hunched over in the corner of the room with their arms crossed. Passive behaviors demonstrate being quiet even when you have something to say, staying away from tension, agreeing when you don’t really, and apologizing without reason.
  • HidingWhen a person is embarrassed or ashamed to show their true self, they might demonstrate hiding behaviors. They may hide certain parts of their behavior, such as their sexuality, personality, or appearance, and try to cover it up. By engaging in hiding behaviors, people feel like they fit in with everyone.
  • Attention Seeking – When a person constantly has to seek approval from others, they are demonstrating attention-seeking behavior. This happens when they have low self-esteem and are very concerned about receiving positive feedback from others around them.
  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse – Drug and alcohol abuse is another self-defeating behavior. For addicts, and sometimes non-addicts, substance use is a trade-off. A person trades off the risks of using drugs and alcohol for the temporary benefits it brings. Typically in the long-term, the risks will outweigh the temporary benefits.
  • SuicideA person commits suicide to escape from the negativity in their life. They trade off the fear of death and the good things in life, to no longer feel their existing pain. Suicide is counterproductive in the way that ending their life will allow them to reach a certain goal, of not having problems.
  • Aggressive – Aggressive behavior is used as a defense mechanism to shield others from their low self-esteem. This self-defensive type of behavior can include physical aggression.

More self-defeating behaviors

What’s Wrong With These Behaviors?

Patterns of self-defeating behaviors are not only damaging to the person doing them, but also to the others around them. These behaviors are temporary solutions to problems and can have negative side effects in the long run.
If you want to get rid of these behavior habits, the first step is to recognize them. It is important to think about the long-term and short-term effects of each behavior.
After recognition, the next step is to pick out the one you want to challenge yourself to make a change. For instance, if you recognize that you show passive behaviors towards your friends, perhaps be the one to invite them to go out. Otherwise, say no when they ask you to do something that you don’t really want to do.

Get Help Today

Whether a person is showing self-destructive behavior with aggression, hiding, or even substance abuse, it is crucial to recognize the signs so that they can make the required changes in order to live a happy, healthy life.
If you or someone you love is battling a drug or alcohol addiction, seek help before their self-destructive behavior worsens. At Santa Barbara Recovery, our staff provides individualized treatment plans, because we know no that everyone has different goals in treatment. Call us today to get started with your journey to recovery.

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