For many people, self-defeating behaviors are the cause of most negative aspects in life. There are reasons that motivate every action we take in life, and substance abuse is no different. Thus, reflecting on our lifestyle can reveal previously unrecognized facets of our behavior. In turn, these revelations can deter you from falling into the trap of self-sabotage.
Here are 8 things to consider when examining your behavior.
1. Question your lifestyle choices.
What is it that you really get from self-defeating behaviors and actions? Is it negative attention? A reason to go back to using drugs and alcohol? What is the payoff?
The answers to these questions will reveal the root of your addiction. If you can’t answer these questions or find it difficult to, chances are you realize the consequences of your actions.
2. Avoid situations that trigger extreme emotional reactions.
Volatile situations can provoke extreme emotional reactions. As a result, recovering addicts may relapse back into addiction because of their inability to handle emotional stress. If you can't avoid a stressful situation, at least try to get a realistic perspective on it. Ask yourself, “How important is it really?” You may find that you have more control over certain situations than you previously realized.
3. Take a brief look at your past.
It is quite normal to revisit the past—everyone does this from time to time. Just don't get stuck there. Try to identify the cause of your self-defeating behaviors. Once you have identified where those defeating attitudes came from, let go of them. It’s okay to acknowledge the past, but don’t use it as an excuse to continue your destructive lifestyle.
4. Reclaim your true identity.
Again, in recognizing the past we're not denying that bad things happened to you. On the contrary, try reclaiming your true identity by using your experiences as a source of strength. The process of healing in addiction recovery is about regaining self-empowerment. Remember, not everyone has gone through what you have and survived.
5. Stop blaming people.
Playing the victim and blaming others often breeds a sneaky, self-destructive attitude—an attitude that rejects the need to change. Recovery is all about change. But, if everything is always somebody else's fault, why do you need to change? With a victim mentality, it’s always “Poor me, look what they’ve done to me, I couldn't stop it from happening.” Due to this negative mindset, you will avoid taking action and perpetually be the “victim”.
6. Ask yourself, “What’s really going on here?”
My sponsor used to tell me this all the time. People who self-sabotage have to accept that they are never upset for the reasons that first come to mind. First thought wrong.
My sponsor used to tell me this all the time. When upset or abusing substances, we need to look at the underlying issues and ask, “What's really going on here?” Under these circumstances, we tend to take negative thoughts and make them come true by doing something really destructive. Essentially, we create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
7. Change the way you perceive yourself.
Stop doubting yourself, and start thoroughly uncovering where your beliefs and perceptions are coming from. Don't judge yourself as you're doing this—be willing to let go of those negative thoughts. Stop defending your right to be wrong. Us recovering addicts must change the thoughts we have about ourselves in order to truly embrace recovery and sobriety.
8. Answer this question: Am I done suffering yet?
This question is a key motivator to move on from addiction and into recovery. Therefore, the answer can spark a change in our self-defeating behaviors and actions. Nothing changes if nothing changes. As such, how much longer are you willing to keep stepping on your foot, tripping and falling down? Maybe, just maybe, it's time to stop the cycle of pain.