How to Put a Stop to Self-Destructive Behaviors
Self-destructive behaviors can take various forms and can develop in people of all ages, from pre-teens to the elderly.
These self-harming tendencies can be deliberate or planned, but they are also sometimes subconsciously or impulsively done.
The severity of these behaviors can range from simple or less risky, such as procrastinating and frequent binge eating, which the right anxiety treatment in Dubai can lessen or correct, to severe, such as abusing alcohol and drugs and cutting oneself.
The complexity and extensiveness of self-destructive behaviors mean you should never ignore or take lightly any person showing signs or traits that they are already or close to harming themselves.
You should also be aware of any self-harming traits you may have and unlearn and let go of them as soon as possible.
Common Self-Destructive Behaviors
Some self-harming behaviors are more noticeable, while others are more subtle.
The ones easy to notice and usually more harmful traits or signs include:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Suicidal behaviors
- Constant hair pulling, cutting oneself, and other forms of self-injury
- Binge eating
- Being too aggressive to or confrontational with others
- Engaging in compulsive activities, such as gambling and gaming
Examples of more subtle self-destructive behaviors are:
- Avoiding responsibilities and procrastinating
- Changing oneself in an extreme manner to please others
- Self-isolation or alienation
- Making extreme sacrifices to earn approval
- Proclaiming one’s deficiencies or inabilities frequently
Causes of Self-Destructive Behaviors
Understanding what causes you to engage in self-destructive behaviors is an important step to knowing how you can stop doing them.
The most common reasons behind the start and continuance of self-harming behaviors include:
- A history of physical and emotional abuse
- Childhood trauma
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Mental health conditions, such as eating disorders, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety
People who want to let others know without telling them verbally that they are lonely, struggling, feeling guilty, or overwhelmed with upsetting feelings and thoughts also tend to self-harm repeatedly.
Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors
If you are exhibiting one or more self-destructive behaviors, there are several ways for you to stop doing them.
The earlier you unlearn and let go of these tendencies, the higher your chances of avoiding severe complications, such as debilitating physical injuries or accidental suicide.
Moreover, you’ll start feeling better about yourself and avoid spiraling down, thereby enjoying good mental health again.
Below are some of the most effective ways of putting a stop to self-destructive behaviors:
1. Identify your stressors and find healthier ways to deal with them.
Certain triggers can cause you to engage in self-destructive behaviors. A good way to reduce these tendencies is to know what these stressors are and to find different outlets for them.
If you find yourself isolating yourself from other people or opening a large bag of chips or a bottle of wine, think about what caused you to do this. Keep a diary so that you can write the dates and times these happen and what triggered them.
As you keep your diary, you will start noticing a pattern and identifying the triggers. Once you’ve figured them out, you can look for alternative outlets for your coping mechanisms.
Look for healthier ways to deal with your stressors. For instance, if you feel like ordering a large pizza or smoking, go for a walk, work in your garden, or speak with a friend instead.
2. Learn distraction techniques.
Some simple distraction techniques can help you stop or minimize your self-harming behaviors.
Although some of these methods are uncomfortable and you might feel embarrassed doing them, they are not dangerous and harmful and, thus, better than your current self-injuring ones.
Some of these simple distraction techniques are the following:
- Placing an elastic band around your wrist and snapping it when you feel the urge to hurt yourself
- Drawing, scribbling, or writing on a piece of paper
- Using a stress ball
- Holding an ice cube in your hand
- Talking with a friend or family you trust
3. Wait for 30 minutes before acting on an urge.
People engage in self-harming behaviors because it provides temporary relief and is already a habit.
You can overcome these tendencies by learning to be patient.
When you feel stressed and need to relieve it, wait for 30 minutes until you act on your urges. Write the reasons you shouldn’t engage in your usual self-destructive habits and read your notes repeatedly.
You can also fill in these 30 minutes by watching your favorite TV show or videos, reading, listening to music, and exercising.
After 30 minutes of being preoccupied or doing something else, your desire to self-harm will probably fade away.
Making this a habit will go a long way in helping you overcome your self-destructive tendencies.
4. Seek professional help.
To overcome serious self-destructive behaviors, it is best to undergo therapy.
One option is cognitive behavioral therapy, a talk therapy that can help you change the way you behave so that you can cope with and manage your problems better.
Behavioral therapy is another treatment you can consider. During your sessions, the therapist will help you identify and be aware of your stressors and share strategies on how you can respond to them in less disruptive, harmful ways.
If stressful situations are your triggers, you will benefit from brain training for stress management in Dubai.
This type of therapy trains your brain to stay calm, relaxed, and focused even when you are in extremely stressful situations. As a result, you will be able to stop yourself from engaging in self-destructive behaviors when you feel stressed.
Self-destructive behaviors should never be taken lightly. If you or someone you know has these tendencies, take steps to overcome them. And don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Explore our therapy options to know about the various ways we can help you.
Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, a Neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain's true potential.