Self-destructive behaviors can be difficult to identify and address, with the very definition of self-destructive behaviors encompassing a wide array of thoughts and actions. However, their ubiquity also makes them dangerous to those in recovery. Self-destructive behaviors can compromise one’s mental health, motivation, and recovery strategies. Being able to identify self-destructive behaviors and avoid them is instrumental in establishing a healthier lifestyle and mental state. No matter whether one is taking their first step into detox or continuing through residential and outpatient care, identifying and addressing self-destructive behaviors allows for the prioritization of effective sober goals. 

What Are Self-Destructive Behaviors?

Self-destructive behaviors are anything that an individual does that contradicts, contrasts, or otherwise prevents them from accomplishing other goals or otherwise acting in accordance with their values. Self-destructive behaviors can negatively impact one’s daily tasks as well as one’s overarching goals for health and sobriety. These behaviors can be active, directly and physically engaging in things that work against one’s larger goals. Self-destructive behaviors can also be less outwardly visible acts such as self-defeating thoughts or using language that is detrimental to one’s emotional health. 

While some behaviors can be overtly dangerous and destructive, other self-destructive behaviors are seemingly innocuous. In fact, an individual may even be fully unaware that they are engaging in them at all. Others may be aware that their actions or thoughts are actively detrimental to their goals, but will still feel compelled to engage with those actions or thoughts. 

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Examples of Self-Destructive Behaviors

Self-destructive behaviors take many forms, and each of these forms can have a uniquely detrimental impact on one’s physical and mental health. For some, these behaviors can stem from mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Others may manifest as a result of factors such as guilt or doubt. Regardless of how they manifest, they can continue to negatively impact one’s health. 

For those suffering from addiction or in recovery from their use of drugs or alcohol, these behaviors can be exceptionally dangerous. These behaviors can not only compromise one’s mental health, but they can also actively detract from one’s recovery efforts. 

Some of the more overt self-destructive behaviors include:

  • Engaging in self-harm, such as cutting, burning, etc.
  • Unhealthy dieting or eating disorders
  • Risk-taking behaviors, such as reckless driving tendencies or unsafe sexual encounters
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Self-isolating
  • Avoidance of personal responsibility
  • Refusing assistance
  • Using drugs or alcohol

However, self-destructive behaviors can also affect an individual in less outward ways. Some of these more “invisible” behaviors include:

  • Persistent doubt in personal abilities
  • Self-deprecating language
  • Self-derogatory thoughts and beliefs
  • Self-pity
  • Pushing down feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, etc.
  • Suicidal ideation

Belittling thoughts, such as believing one isn’t “smart enough,” “good enough” or “pretty enough,” are dangerous. Even if they are never spoken aloud, these thoughts can be harmful. These mental and emotional trials are dangerous to one’s mental health and sobriety, and it is necessary to identify these thought patterns in oneself. Even the language one uses can be very telling. For example, there is a major difference between thinking “I can’t do this,” and “I’m not sure if I can do this.” Sometimes, speaking in negative absolutes can compromise efforts to overcome an obstacle before one has even tried. 

The Effects of Self-Destructive Behaviors on Sobriety

Recovery is already a trying time filled with change, transformation, and challenges. There is nothing easy about overcoming an addiction of any kind. However, self-destructive behaviors can make this time even more complex, and an individual may begin their sober journey already believing that they are going to fail. Self-belittling language and risky behaviors can compromise one’s motivation to pursue a sober future. Self-destructive behaviors can also compromise one’s confidence in their ability to accomplish their goals. The behaviors may also lead one to refuse assistance and responsibility, making it difficult to embrace the transformative mindset optimal for a sober future. Making the most of one’s time in a treatment or recovery program means challenging one’s behaviors and beliefs, and identifying and avoiding self-destructive behaviors is crucial for the most transformative efforts. 

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Identifying and Avoiding Self-Destructive Behaviors

There is a lot that goes into overcoming self-destructive behaviors, especially if one is unaware that they are engaging in them. Keeping a journal of one’s thoughts and actions each day can be a great first step toward identifying these dangerous behaviors. For some, this can illuminate how often one is engaging in risky behaviors. Meanwhile, others can identify the language being used as unhealthy and detrimental. Looking back into journal entries can provide an individual with a great deal of perspective for challenging self-destructive thoughts and ideas. 

Self-care is also essential in the battle against self-destructive behaviors. It is crucial to take time to detach, practice mindfulness, and otherwise engage with personal hobbies. This crucial aspect of recovery allows one to embrace a positive mindset and be open to the idea of change with confidence. Prioritizing and scheduling time for personal care is necessary for tacking self-destructive behaviors and tendencies, thus paving the way for an optimal experience in recovery

Self-destructive behaviors can impact each individual differently and identifying how these behaviors affect your mental health and sobriety is the first step towards overcoming them and establishing a positive and sober daily life. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we understand the complex nature of addiction recovery as well as the need for a transformative experience that doesn’t just address your relationship with drugs and alcohol, but the emotional, social, and cultural factors that affect your sobriety. Your time with us can be personalized to fit your unique needs and goals, working with professionals each step of the way to identify and overcome self-destructive behaviors and create a positive outlook on yourself and your sober goals. For more information on how we can help you take your first step towards our effective treatment center in Hawaii, call us today at (866) 390-5070.