What is Self Destructive Behavior?
Self-destructive behavior can be very pervasive in some people and very damaging to their well-being. Self destruction is not a condition, but an effect of a wide range of conditions. Many people who are unaware of or who are not caring for a mental illness will show signs of self-destructive behavior. A person who is self-destructing is essentially being defeated by a mental problem that is overwhelming them, even if they are not consciously aware if it. A self-destructive person will lose respect from people who originally were very impressed with them and will gain a reputation for being a “quitter” among their peers.
Signs of self destruction may include overt suicidal behavior such as deliberate overdosing, or self mutilation tactics like cutting. Or, the destruction patterns may not be as overt. They may be more subtle and ongoing, such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, food binging or smoking. They may not even be related to a substance. They could be tied up in personal behaviors and decision making, such as talking one’s self out of accepting a respectful job, inhibiting one’s self from following through on a career path or vocation, or ending a promising relationship. People act out with these behaviors because they believe, even if subconsciously, that they are destined for failure, misery or other negative outcomes. Their self-destructive behavior is reoccurring and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Self-destructive tendencies usually are a result of a mental illness such as depression or bipolar disorder. Those who are diagnosed, receive the care they need and follow through with their own self care can overcome their self-destructive tendencies. Those who remain undiagnosed or do not stay on top of their self care will likely continue to demonstrate self-destructive tendencies. If you care about someone who is clearly shooting themselves in the foot with their self destructive behavior, the best thing you can do for them is encourage them to seek help, and refuse to participate in or aid their behavior. They are likely to need considerable psychological evaluation and help in order to bring their harmful behavior to an end.