“All forms of self-defeating behaviors are unseen and unconscious, which is why their existence is denied.” Vernon Howard
Do you recognize a negative pattern in your thoughts, behaviours and emotions? I would say most people have had issues with their self esteem at one point or another. It seems that just when everything is starting to fall back into place after regaining my energy, I have found myself falling back into the vicious cycle of negative thoughts and emotions. But I don’t do it consciously. In fact, if I had to openly express my perception of myself it would be a really positive one. These negative emotions stem from our subconscious which is why we’re not always aware of these self-defeating behaviors.
I’ve always been big on self improvement and delving into the depths of my subconscious mind to see what resides there. It’s not easy and it is without a doubt one of the most uncomfortable feelings. However, if you persevere and have a positive outlook it can be so rewarding. I personally feel that through embracing my ‘dark side’ I can learn how to accept EVERY part of myself and not just the more desirable parts. Learning about myself in this way and becoming really self aware has brought me so much confidence and inner happiness which has reflected massively on my external environment.
“The reason we hang on to self-defeating behaviors is because it’s easier not to take responsibility.” Wayne Dyer
6 of the most harmful self-defeating behaviours:
This involves avoiding scenarios or people with the ideology that it will also avoid causing pain or harm to yourself or others. This could play out as delaying doing things “I will just do it next week because…” and there is an excuse that you have consciously thought of to justify the avoidance in the first place. This is why it is subconscious. Your brain tries to disguise it with a legitimate excuse. So you genuinely believe it’s for ‘that’ reason.
This involves trying to do absolutely everything perfectly ALL of the time. Even though logically we all know that is not possible. Most of the time this can be a major vicious cycle as it’s the low self esteem in the first place that causes the need for control and perfectionist behaviour, which in turn causes major amounts of disappointment and always feeling like you ‘just aren’t enough’ thus leading to low self esteem.
This involves being afraid or embarrassed to show the real you. Hiding parts of yourself you deem to be less unacceptable or things that may not allow you to fit into social norms. Essentially having the desire to be more liked therefore sacrificing who you are as a person. This can be when someone exaggerates certain things about themselves to make themselves look better.
This involves being too shy and reserved to stand up for yourself or your core beliefs, staying clear and shying away from any form of confrontation. Neither taking a side, always on the fence. You may feel your opinions don’t matter as much as other people’s or you may feel unworthy. What lies at the heart of this is a fear of rejection. Staying quiet in conversation, agreeing with everything or apologising for no reason.
This involves the need need for validation and approval. People might go out their way to get it which can sometimes even be dangerous, as they can go to extreme measures. Relying on others this much for reassurance can be very unhealthy and result in loss of personal value or self respect.
This involves acting out in ways to disguise their low self esteem. Very reactive. Uncontrollable anger or other emotions that could be equally aggressive. Bullying others, patronising people, being condescending all in an attempt to boost their own self esteem.
These examples are common to some extent in most people. And just because you may display traits of one or more doesn’t mean it should instantly be considered a problem. I think it’s an issue when it becomes constantly disruptive to your happiness. Or sacrificing who you are at the core due to a poor self image and self confidence.
Self awareness is the first step to improving your self esteem, and ultimately finding internal peace. Life is a journey and I believe that the awareness of who you are is a huge part of it.
Written by Abbey Stirling.