Breaking the Cycle of Self-Destructive Behavior

Psychotherapy can be an effective way to understand the origin of self-destructive behaviors and learn to manage stress and cope with challenges in a healthier way. Sessions can be one-on-one with the therapist, with family participation, or in a group setting. Self-destructive behavior is any behavior that is harmful or potentially harmful to the person participating in the behavior. It can occur in many forms, and sufferers are often unaware of how much harm their self-destructive behavior is causing to themselves or others.

Long-term drug abuse through self-destructive behaviors can cause mental illness, such as depression and anxiety. Constantly speaking negatively about yourself and isolating yourself from others can also cause negative mental health effects. Self-destructive behaviors can also destroy a person's social system, which can further isolate a person and perpetuate the cycle of self-destructive tendencies. The reasons someone develops tendencies to self-harm are personal and vary on a case-by-case basis. However, there are broad reasons that are common among many people.

Adolescents and young adults are the age groups most likely to develop tendencies to self-harm. If a person exhibits a type of self-destructive behavior, they are more likely to develop a secondary type of destructive behavior. Self-destructive behavior can be caused by childhood trauma. Poor hygiene, bruising and scarring, and substance abuse are examples of self-inflicted injuries. Financial hardship and unemployment can be due to self-destructive behavior, as can deteriorating health.

Divorce or loss of a relationship is another effect of self-destructive behavior. Unless we rewrite them, we spend our lives recreating conditions that reinforce them. But we can't rewrite stories that we can't even name. If you, or someone you train, have struggled to change chronic destructive behavior, anything from angry outbursts to freezing in high-risk moments, to asserting excessive control under stress, discovering your origin stories can help you break through and work your way where other approaches haven't.Self-destructive behavior reinforces itself and can easily turn into a “death spiral”, in which subsequent disregard for oneself leads to more self-destructive behavior. For example, when it comes to the negative emotions and aggressive behavior of potential friends of physical abuse or other self-destructive people, there is a need to consciously rethink social life and one's life as a whole so as not to be overwhelmed by the behaviors of friends, partners, or family. Therapy, such as talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, is generally recommended for people who have self-destructive tendencies because, rather than simply managing symptoms, it can get to the root of feelings of shame and guilt likely caused by harmful behaviors in the first place.