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How to Stop Self Destructive Behavior & Change Your Life for Good

We all have unhealthy coping mechanisms that we fall on. Learn how to stop self destructive behavior and change your life for the better. You can do this!

Negativity has the power to ruin your life. Did you know that the human brain’s default setting is actually negative before positive? But you can override the default setting and learn how to stop self destructive behavior.

It all dates back to the days when cave people were running around the world, trying to avoid being eaten by scary predators with extremely large teeth. At this time, having a negative mind-set helped keep them alive. Our brains haven’t really caught on to the changes in the world since.

Of course, this negative mind-set is designed to keep us safe, but what if it could actually be endangering us too?

Do you indulge in self destructive behavior occasionally? Perhaps you indulge in it more than occasionally.

It’s normal to have the odd unhealthy coping mechanism, e.g. deciding to go for a drink when you’re feeling stressed, or overeating a little when you’re emotional. BUT, these habits are called ‘unhealthy’ for a reason. Basically they are exactly that. Not only are they unhealthy for your body but also for your mind. In that case, learn how to stop self destructive behavior by replacing these habits with healthier and more positive options.

[Read: Avoidable habits that will only change your life for the worse]

How to stop self destructive behavior: Understand why the habits are dangerous  

You won’t be able to rid your life of these unhealthy habits until you understand exactly what they are and why they’re dangerous to you. Everyone is different; therefore everyone will have a different habit they need to tackle and a reason why.

I mentioned drinking during stressful times or eating when you’re emotional, but these are just two out of a whole myriad of potential problems to address. You might have just one behavior you need to change, or you might have several. If you do have more than one, work on one at a time.

[Read: 6 big telltale excuses that get you nowhere]

These habits take away your control and lead you down a darker path. They bathe you in negativity and stop you learning lessons from life’s difficulties. By indulging in self destructive behavior, you’re making the situation worse. Some of these situations may also be extremely harmful to your health.

So, what is the first step?

Identify it. Recognize what it does to you.

Sit down and think about how you cope with situations that cause you distress, difficulty, or pain. Do you move towards eating, drinking, over-exercising, negative self-talk, drugs, or something else? Identify it. Don’t judge yourself for it. Learning how to stop self destructive behavior won’t be possible if you cast even more negativity on yourself. Be positive right now. You’re making a change.

[Read: 10 ways your negative thinking is ruining your life]

Face the problem with bravery

What it is that causes you to feel this way? Is it a single situation that recurs, or a theme? Whichever option, face that fear. Yes, it’s terrifying, but to overcome and learn how to stop self destructive behavior, you need to stare that fear in the eye.

The reason? Most fears are based on nothing more than overthinking and blowing everything out of proportion. The chances are, when you really face a fear, you’ll see that it’s not as terrifying or worrisome as you thought in the first place. As a result, that fear disappears, and you won’t need to rely upon unhealthy habits to deal with it. [Read: How to find yourself when you feel like you’ve lost your way]

The first few times, you’ll probably be terrified, but use that fear as determination and motivation. Turn it into belief that you can overcome this issue. You don’t need negative behaviors to handle it, you can do it on your own.

Effectively stopping self destructive behavior requires you to commit effort and to believe. Look at past mistakes with openness and honesty, and learn from them. What did you do that you could have done better? How can you avoid it happening again in the future? Every so-called failure can be used as a learning curve.

Don’t listen to the devil on your shoulder

Whenever you’re trying to change behaviors, particularly negative ones, you’ll find a little devil on your shoulder, whispering negative chat into your ear. Ignore it. Tune into the angel on the other side.

Negative self talk isn’t helpful, but it’s something we all seem to do. We build everyone around us up and tell them positive things, but we tear ourselves down with negativity. Turn that around. Give yourself the same kindness that you give everyone else. [Read: Are you self-loathing? How to recognize the signs and change your life]

For every negative remark you tell yourself, reframe it into something positive. The more you do it, the more you’ll notice that positivity comes to you much easier than it ever did before. Negativity seems to be muted in volume.

A good tactic is to use positive affirmations. When you feel like you’re about to fall foul of the negative behavior you normally use, tell yourself that you don’t need it and repeat your affirmation. It doesn’t matter what the affirmation is as long as it means something to you. Perhaps something like “I am strong and I will overcome” or “I move towards the light and step away from the darkness.” Go with whatever resonates with you. [Read: 14 simple mantras and sayings to transform your life forever]

Seek help and support

To stop self destructive behavior for good, you might need some help and support from those around you and even further afield. This depends on you and the behavior that you want to change. [Read: How to master positive self-talk and banish the negative]

If you do feel that you need a little help, ask for it. There is no greater strength and bravery than someone who is able to say “help me, I’m struggling.” It will be the best thing you ever do and will give you the determination and motivation to overcome your negative habits and replace them with something more positive. As a result, your future will automatically be brighter.

Some people find that support from family and friends is enough, while others don’t want to involve their nearest and dearest and prefer to speak to someone totally uninvolved and impartial. There is no right or wrong answer here, it’s simply what works best for you.

However, it’s a good idea to let your nearest and dearest in and not to shut them out. Their support will be invaluable to you, even if it’s just standing beside you and not saying a word but holding your hand when things get tough. [Read: 20 positive traits that can change your life and make you happier]

It’s entirely possible to learn how to stop self destructive behavior for good. But understand the journey ahead of you and that it will require determination. Facing you fears isn’t easy. Of course, the very nature of it is terrifying, but once you stare down into the eyes of your fear, you’ll see that it’s nothing more than a rather meek pussycat, pretending to be a lion.

[Read: How to find your purpose when you’ve lost your way]

If you think that you can’t learn how to stop self destructive behavior and it’s a lost cause, then you will never succeed. If you believe, you will get there through the power of your own strength and determination.

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