There’s no way of sugar-coating it. To unlock your best life – to be successful and happy – you must learn how to eliminate self-destructive behaviors and replace them with healthy ones.
Shame can make eliminating self-destructive behaviors challenging.
It’s easy to sink into shame when we mess up. Instead of realizing that we made a mistake or did something terrible, it’s easy to label ourselves as someone bad or a failure; we internalize our shame.
Shame isn’t the same as guilt. Guilt is a response to behavior, but shame is a negative feeling of self.
The Role Shame Plays in Self-Destructive Behaviors
At the root of most self-destructive behaviors is shame.
Often, self-destructive behavior is an attempt to correct the painful emotion(s) you’re dealing with. And all it does is lead to even more shame, triggering a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior.
Shame makes you withdraw and isolate; shame breeds shame.
Sometimes we struggle with hidden shame, which might manifest in self-destructive behaviors like addiction, rage, and avoidance.
Poor behavior, silence, and secrecy fuel shame.
Adults shame children into compliance. In children, you create shame by harshly judging, criticizing, and scolding them. It can also be created by physical or sexual abuse and abandonment.
Disrupting The Shame Cycle
Stopping your self-destructive behavior requires a new vision for your life and decisive action.
Start changing a self-destructive behavior by replacing it with an affirming behavior, and then reward it!
You begin rewiring your brain by rewarding and celebrating the new affirming behavior.
You repeat this until a new neural pathway is created and a new way of living has taken hold, creating a new and higher standard for your life.
But you must also deal with the shame.
Pride (the good kind, not arrogance) is one way to start healing feelings of shame.
Make choices and engage in behaviors that generate self-respect and pride.
Shatter the secrecy of destructive behaviors by sharing your journey with a counselor, therapist, or other people you can trust deeply and who will understand and accept you.
Challenge Your Self-Talk
Negative self-talk makes it so hard to break self-destructive behavior.
Realize that your negative self-talk is lying to you because that’s no longer the person you choose to be!
Identify the negative self-talk when it comes, correct it, and replace it.
Don’t be embarrassed about reaching out for help. Having people on your side is a powerful resource. Rely on them for support when breaking free from self-destructive behaviors.
The Journey Isn’t Over…
It’s just beginning. A mistake doesn’t mean your journey is over.
Failure is a chance to learn, grow, and move on.
You can’t change everything overnight; it’s a process. But you can travel in a new and better direction every day! How you decide to respond to failure determines your destiny.
Know Your Triggers
Do you know what triggers your self-destructive behavior? Learn what triggers you so you can avoid those situations or at least have some coping strategies in mind when things don’t go the way you hoped or planned.
Prepare and plan for difficult situations because you know that your self-destructive behavior manifests in certain situations. Have a plan ready to deal with those situations so you respond intentionally instead of reacting mindlessly when they arise or take you by surprise.
Ultimately, it will take time and effort to overcome your self-destructive behaviors. There is no fast track here – you must commit to change, but unlocking your best life is ultimately worth it. So live with tomorrow in mind and the person you have chosen to become!