15 Self-Destructive Habits to Eliminate for a Positive Life (2023)

Do you have any self-destructive behavior? You’re likely to say no because almost everyone of us wants the best for ourselves. But the truth is, we have been practicing some self-destructive behaviors without even noticing it.

Though some of these actions may not seem so harmful, their long-term effects on a person’s life can be increasingly detrimental if left unchecked.

The good news is that everyone can overcome self-destructive behaviors and get on track toward leading a more positive life.

What’s Considered a Self-Destructive Behavior and the Causes?

Self-destructive behavior is when people do something that causes physical or emotional harm to themselves. In most cases, people are unaware of this behavior.

The frequency and severity of such actions vary from person to person. While some behavior may be mildly problematic, others can be extremely dangerous for oneself.

The common causes that lead to self-destructive behavior in an individual are disrupted parental care and childhood trauma due to sexual and physical abuse.

Self-Destructive Behaviors and How to Fix Them

1. Have A Self-Defeating Mindset

Many people who suffer from depression or anxiety actively believe they are no good at anything they try to do. If they blow a job interview, it will take weeks for them to rebound and work up the guts to apply for another job. If they fail a test, they’ll simply give up and never learn the material they were supposed to.

Self-destructive people focus on when things go wrong in their lives rather than realizing that until the moment things went wrong, things were going just fine. Reversing that mindset is the first step toward leaving your self-destructive outlook on life behind.

How to Fix It

Instead of focusing on what went wrong, focus on the good moments or things you learned from them. After a bad job interview, at least you can point out the things you don’t want to do in future interviews, which means you’ve learned something.

Also, try repeating some positive affirmations when you wake up each day. These can help you get into the right mindset to face challenges you’ll encounter during the day.

2. Too Lazy to Improve Themselves

Another self-destructive behavior example includes laziness. People tend to be lazy when taking action to better themselves. After bombing a job interview, they won’t look back at what they did wrong and try to improve the next time; they simply blow it off and say, “it’ll never happen for me.” Of course, it won’t if you don’t learn from past mistakes.

People who are considered true success stories have lost out on job opportunities in the past, but they learned from the experience and figured out how to do better the next time. If you try, you have a chance of succeeding or failing; if you don’t try, you have zero chance of either.

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How to Fix It

Find the thing that motivates you. Motivation is a good antidote for laziness, but it can also be hard to find for people with self-destructive habits. Identify what you want and make a goals list of things to work on to get there. The list will help you visualize how far you’ve gotten each day or week to keep you on track.

3. Consider Themselves Incompetent for Everything They Find Difficult to do

The most common example of this type of self-destructive behavior is when a student (or adult, for that matter) says, “I’m just not a math person.” While some people do have a natural gift for certain skills, these gifts mean nothing if they’re not practiced. Just because you’re “not a math person” or “not very musical” doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to learn those skills.

Sure, it might be more difficult for you than others, but that’s all the more reason to be proud of yourself for working hard and achieving something. If every player in the NBA quit just because they’re not as good as Michael Jordan, there wouldn’t be enough players in the league to field a single team.

(Video) 7 Habits Of A Self Destructive Person

How to Fix It

If there’s an area where you are lacking that you genuinely want to improve, try learning before telling yourself you’re incapable. If you find math difficult, perhaps you’re just using the wrong learning style. Try various methods of learning before throwing in the towel.

4. Self-Pity for Shortcomings and Weaknesses

Feeling bad for yourself gets you nowhere. Everyone has shortcomings and weaknesses. Having the attitude that you were put on this planet to be miserable is a self-fulfilling prophecy. What good is wallowing in your sorrow?

After your pity party is over, you’ll still be just as miserable, and you will have wasted precious time you could have used to better yourself in some way. [1].

Stop feeling bad for yourself and work on the negative qualities in your life that are dragging you down.

How to Fix It

Self-pity often comes from harmful thought patterns. Correcting those can be done through a regular meditation practice, where you have the opportunity to analyze your thoughts and change them for the better.

5. Taking It Out on Others

Self-destructive people are also usually rude and abrasive to other individuals as well. While it certainly isn’t productive to be nasty to your own self, there is absolutely no reason you should take your misery out on others. In fact, being kind to others may be the catalyst that brightens up your day and puts you on the path to being kind to yourself as well.

No matter how bad your life is going, you never know what others are dealing with. Being kind to others may help you realize you don’t have it so bad after all.

How to Fix It

Make it a personal goal to say one nice thing to someone every day. This may be a simple text to a parent or friend telling them how much you care about them. Or it could be offering a kind word to the cashier at the grocery store. Whatever it may be, offering kindness will help alter your mindset toward others.

6. Abuse of Drugs or Alcohol

Perhaps one of the most vicious self-destructive habits a person can get into is that of drug or alcohol addiction. You drink because you’re miserable, you wake up miserable, and you start drinking again. Meanwhile, the world around you keeps turning, and you’re another day older without having built any sort of skills to help better your situation.

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And, of course, once this thought crosses your mind, you feel absolutely worthless, so you reach into the fridge for another bottle. If you’re depressed, alcohol or drugs are certainly not the answer to your problems.

How to Fix It

Addiction is serious and often quite difficult to tackle alone. First, try seeking support from friends or family as you start on your road to recovery. If it’s a more serious addiction, you will likely need help from a therapist or a specialized program. Don’t feel bad if this is the case. We also have to ask for help from time to time, and it will ultimately be worth it.

7. Run From Both Positive and Negative Emotions

Whether through alcohol and drug abuse or not, self-destructive people hide from their emotions [2]. They might smile and make others believe that “everything is okay,” but bottling up emotions only leads to an explosion at some point in the future.

Self-destructive people not only run away from negative emotions but positive ones as well. Sometimes, they might even be scared to find that they actually do feel happy and start looking for things to go all wrong. You’re sure to find the negatives in life if you’re always looking for them.

How to Fix It

Facing emotions can be scary, but they often lose their power once they are written down. Try keeping a daily journal and write down how you feel and why. If that’s causing you too much anxiety, getting help from a counselor or therapist may be the next step.

8. Keep Themselves Socially Isolated From Society

Whether actively or passively, self-destructive people tend to isolate themselves from their peers and society in general. This is done by either alienating friends and family by actively insulting them or generally being a nuisance, or passively by not answering phone calls or texts, ignoring invitations, or blowing off special occasions.

(Video) 5 Destructive Habits That Strengthen The Sin Nature

A self-destructive person may think that by isolating themselves from others, they’re doing the world a favor, but actually, they’re harming themselves and everyone that cares for them.

How to Fix It

Make it a point to attend one important occasion each month. This can be as simple as accepting an invitation to get together with friends for a night out or joining that big family reunion you always avoid. Once you’re comfortable going out once a month, bump it up to twice or three times and enjoy the benefits of human connection more often.

9. Refuse to Take Any Help Whatsoever

Along with isolating themselves from loved ones, self-destructive people fail to acknowledge they need help. They wouldn’t be caught dead in a therapist’s office, no matter how much they know deep down that they need it.

This is partly due to the stigma attached to visiting a therapist, but this pressure can be alleviated after taking the first step and making that initial appointment. They might be pleasantly surprised at how much better they feel after spending just one hour speaking to a professional who can help put them on the right track.

How to Fix It

Start small by accepting offers of help from friends or family. Moving into a new apartment? Accept the offer when your friend wants to help you pack. Having a bad day? Accept when your sibling offers to listen for a while.

Once you’re ready (and if you need it), try making an appointment with a therapist. The stigma around talking to someone is still there, but it’s decreasing significantly as people finally recognize that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness but extreme courage.

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Ultimately, feeling better means you’ll give a better version of yourself to the world, and that’s good for everyone.

10. Often Neglect Their Personal Needs

Along with refusing to be helped, self-destructive people often don’t take good care of themselves. They don’t go to the gym, and may not bathe or shave regularly. They may neglect cleaning their living space and live in squalor.

Sadly, all of these factors point to severe depression. If just one step is taken towards bettering themselves, they might begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A fresh shave and a change of clothes could be the catalyst that gets someone up and out of the house, moving on to the first day of the rest of their lives.

How to Fix It

Focus on one positive change each week. For the first week, maybe you take a daily shower. Sign up for a gym membership within a month or two or develop a regular running practice. Any small step will get you moving in the right direction.

11. They Are Friends With People Who Bring Them Down

Self-destructive people often surround themselves with other self-destructive people. Sadly, in most cases, the friends they have are often the ones to help them along their journey in a negative way. It would be difficult for a self-destructive person to be friends with someone who would motivate them to do the right thing.

How to Fix It

Slowly limit your contact with friends who demotivate you and make friends with people who are motivating and always try to see the positive side of everything.

12. They Spend Money on Wants, not Necessarily Needs

People can also be financially self-destructive. These people often spend money on items they want, such as designer clothes, fancy cars, and the latest technological devices. However, they often neglect the things that are really important, such as bills, a home, and food.

How to Fix It

It’s best to make a monthly budget and ensure you remain within it while keeping track of your spending. Put money aside for bills and pay them on time every month. Try to save some money for the bad days as well.

13. They Have an Unhealthy Diet

In combination with the bad habits they develop – drugs and alcohol abuse – they often forgo making other healthy decisions. They don’t eat foods that are good for them if they even eat, and they definitely don’t consult a physician when they aren’t feeling well, even if it could be something serious.

(Video) 11 Bad Habits That Damage Your Brain

How to Fix It

Move to a healthy and well-balanced diet. Go to a physician and get yourself examined for any deficiencies. Be more mindful while choosing something to eat. Also, maintain a decent amount of exercise in your routine.

14. Unnecessary Self-Sacrifice to Make Others Happy

This probably hits home to more people than any other section in this article. Some of us are so intent on making others happy that we don’t take time for ourselves.

Whether by working too hard, volunteering for too many things, or going out with friends just because we feel like we have to. Many times, it’s best to put yourself first and let others know it’s nothing personal; you just need time to recharge.

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How to Fix It

Delegate “me” time each day. This can be an hour right when you wake up, when you go out for a walk or a jog, or it can be a chunk of time in the evening when you practice your favorite hobby. Whatever it is, carve out time for yourself, and don’t be afraid to say no if it’s necessary for self-care.

15. Sometimes Involved in Self-harming Activities

If you’re involved in this type of self-destructive behavior, I implore you to seek professional assistance immediately. Those who physically abuse their bodies are unhappy with themselves and their lives, to the point that they actively want to disfigure their own being. [3]

Some see it as a way to relieve stress, but it is an incredibly counterproductive way of doing so. This is the most serious problem on this list, and if you or someone you know is engaging in this behavior, it’s time to ask for help.

How to Fix It

If you can’t bring yourself to call a psychologist or therapist, ask for help from friends or family. They will likely be more than happy to help you get on the right track toward healing and finding professional assistance.

Final Thoughts

If you practice any of the above habits, it could be a sign of self-destructive behavior. This can limit your potential and keep you from learning and growing to become the best version of yourself.

Try following the above advice to get you moving in a better direction, and if that doesn’t work, try asking for professional help. It will be worth it in the end.


Don't have time for the full article? Read this.

15 Self-Destructive Habits to Eliminate for a Positive Life (1)

Eliminate a self-defeating mindset by focusing on the good and learning from past mistakes.

Some subtle indicators of self-destructive habits include keeping negative people around, isolating from society, and spending on wants rather than needs.

Finding motivation can help change self-destructive habits.

Get support from family, friends, or a professional if you find yourself struggling. Remember, it’s natural and ok to ask for help.

(Video) Learn How To Be Set Free From Self-Destruction with Rick Warren

Featured photo credit: Patryk Sobczak via unsplash.com

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What are bad destructive habits? ›

Physical neglect

Getting poor sleep, refusing to exercise, eating unhealthy food, and failing to maintain the general well-being of your body are all classic signs of common self-destructive behavior.

How to self destruct yourself? ›

  1. Self Destruction. (Image credit: Morguefile) ...
  2. Eat Junk. (Image credit: Byron Solomon / Stock.XCHNG) ...
  3. Smoke. (Image credit: Stockxpert) ...
  4. Watch TV. (Image credit: Dreamstime.com) ...
  5. Stress Out. (Image credit: Ingrid M?/ Stock.XCHNG) ...
  6. Drink a Lot. (Image credit: Gregor Buir / Stock.XCHNG) ...
  7. Drive a Lot. ...
  8. Have a Lot of Sex.
Nov 22, 2006

What is the root of self-destructive behavior? ›

Conclusions: Childhood trauma contributes to the initiation of self-destructive behavior, but lack of secure attachments helps maintain it. Patients who repetitively attempt suicide or engage in chronic self-cutting are prone to react to current stresses as a return of childhood trauma, neglect, and abandonment.

What triggers self-destructive Behaviour? ›

Childhood trauma via sexual and physical abuse, as well as disrupted parental care, have been linked with self-destructive behavior. Usually, behavior like this results from the lack of realization of healthy coping mechanisms.

What are the 20 bad habits? ›

20 bad habits you need to quit now
  • #1: Nose picking. ...
  • #2: Binge drinking. ...
  • #3: You do not sleep for even 7 hours. ...
  • #4: Being negative. ...
  • #5: Wearing earphones for many hours. ...
  • #6: Being a couch potato. ...
  • #7: Wearing heels. ...
  • #8: Carrying a heavy bag every time.
Nov 17, 2017

What are the 7 toxic habits? ›

There are seven toxic habits that you should quit today. Stop comparing yourself to others, letting your past impact your present and future, not taking your own advice, expecting the worst, not taking chances, not sharpening your saw, and being too hard on yourself.

What are the six bad habits? ›

6 unhealthy habits to break right now
  • Smoking. This may be the most obvious one, and you are likely well aware of the side effects of cigarette smoking. ...
  • Not getting enough exercise. ...
  • Not getting enough sleep. ...
  • Drinking mindlessly. ...
  • Not drinking enough water. ...
  • Eating late at night.
Jun 4, 2021

How do I stop sabotaging myself? ›

5 ways to stop self-sabotaging
  1. Develop self-awareness.
  2. Write it out.
  3. Create a plan — and do it.
  4. Practice mindfulness.
  5. Communicate.
Apr 12, 2022

How do you break the shame cycle? ›

Steps to Break the Shame Spiral
  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings. First, you have to recognize what you're feeling. ...
  2. Talk to Yourself Like a Friend. ...
  3. Get Grounded. ...
  4. Get Support from Someone You Trust. ...
  5. Take Action by Serving Someone Else. ...
  6. Be Kind to Yourself.
Dec 21, 2021

How do you know if you're self-destructive? ›

Self-destructive behavior signs include:
  1. depression.
  2. avoidance of responsibility.
  3. repeatedly avoiding social interaction with others, leading to isolation.
  4. emotional sensitivity or mood swings.
  5. numbness to events.
  6. addictive personality.
  7. lack of self-control.
  8. loneliness.
Nov 3, 2021

What is the self destruct button? ›

A self-destruct is a mechanism that can cause an object to destroy itself or render itself inoperable after a predefined set of circumstances has occurred. Self-destruct mechanisms are typically found on devices and systems where malfunction could endanger large numbers of people.

What do you say to someone who is self-destructive? ›

Show compassion by letting them know you see the struggle they are grappling with, and how challenging it can feel to let go of something they experience as helpful in the short-term. Tell your partner that “they deserve support” rather than “they need help” when attempting to connect them to resources.

How do you know if you have self-destructive behavior? ›

Self-destructive behavior signs include:
  1. depression.
  2. avoidance of responsibility.
  3. repeatedly avoiding social interaction with others, leading to isolation.
  4. emotional sensitivity or mood swings.
  5. numbness to events.
  6. addictive personality.
  7. lack of self-control.
  8. loneliness.
Nov 3, 2021

Is Self-Destructive a personality trait? ›

This is one of the reasons why there have been wars throughout history and in all cultures. It's also the reason why many people develop self-destructive behaviors. However, these behaviors are permanent personality traits only in some cases. Usually, this occurs when there's a lot of bottled up anger.


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