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Self defeating behaviours and how to work on them

Self Defeating behaviours can hold us all back but they can worked on...

Many people develop self-defeating behaviours within their personal and working lives or their relationships with others, but how do any of us know we are using self-defeating behaviours, that can potentially hold us back in our lives?

Self-defeating behaviours can happen at any point in a person’s life and more than one self-defeating behaviour can be experienced at once.

Do you ever wonder why you seem to always meet the wrong men or women in relationships constantly?

Why is that? Self-defeating behaviour is behaviour which is either unwittingly or deliberately self-sabotaging. An example, if you are sub consciously frightened of committing to a relationship, then you could find yourself behaving in a particular way in relationships to prevent commitment. When you meet potential partners, you may select unsuitable partners, so the relationship fails and then you can prove to yourself that you were right all along about becoming involved in a relationship and that relationships always fail.


Self-Defeating behaviours hold you back in life

Self-defeating thoughts such as; “I have never been able to do that…I’m just no good at it.” or “It’s just too much like hard work, I won’t bother!” or "I’ve already made too many mistakes — I’m too old to change.” are common in people with self-defeating behaviours.

There are lots of different forms of self-defeating behaviours:

Some people will develop behaviours based on the belief that if they don’t do something completely and entirely then they have failed and there’s no point in doing it any longer.

This kind of pattern is common in people with weight issues

After mistakenly eating something off plan for example, the automatic thought is often one of total defeat; “Oh well, I’ve blown my diet entirely, I may as well finish off the cakes.” The client feels like a failure, but this can be linked to low self-esteem and sometimes, pre-existing beliefs about themselves or learnt behaviour that they ‘fail’ generally.

This self-defeating thought forms a pattern, and then a new negative behaviour is learnt. In this example, the person is unable to diet because they think they will always fail.

Self-defeating behaviour can also be classified as ‘Primary self-destruction’ which is when people deliberately seek to harm themselves.

Examples of this type of behaviour could be alcohol abuse and self-harming.

It can also be classified as ‘Trade-off’. This is when the person knowingly makes a trade-off in a situation. An example of this is when a person smokes; they know the relative risks involved, but they make the decision to trade off the risks against the perceived pleasure they get from smoking.

In the trade-off example, people will deliberately choose to do something that they know will harm themselves, so if they fail later, they are able to blame their failure on the bad choice they previously made.

There can be “counterproductive strategies” that are part of Self-Defeating behaviours. This is where the person intends on doing something to help their situation, but unintentionally creates an even worse situation. For this to be classified as a self-defeating behaviour, it has to have become habitual; something that the person repeatedly carries out despite getting the same negative outcome.

Sometimes emotional behaviours that are self-defeating are harder to spot. For example, a person may have extreme perfectionist tendencies, but this may not be evident immediately. It is the job of a therapist to try and work out the issues/self-defeating behaviours.

Other emotional self-defeating behaviours could be over confidence, under confidence, being incredibly defensive, aggressive or hostile or even avoidance.

So how do we treat these potentially self-limiting and damaging behaviours?

Self-defeating behaviours can be treated with Hypnotherapy or Counselling and it is possible to change behaviours, even behaviours which have been with you for a while. A Hypnotherapist or Counsellor will try to find out when the self-defeating behaviours first started and what event triggered them to happen. Then hopefully, help with changing these negative behaviours and go forward with new positive responses to life.

And the first important thing to remember is, always seek out a qualified and accredited therapist when dealing with any kind of issue in your life.

Don’t let your old negative responses hold you back in life.
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