By Thrive Waco Therapist Katherine Moore, MA, LPC-Associate
WHAT ARE SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS?
While harmful to your well-being, self-destructive behaviors often develop as means of coping with your stress triggers and struggles. It can be helpful to acknowledge this and extend kindness to yourself as you seek to replace damaging behaviors with non-harming habits that will foster your physical, mental, and emotional health. Just as a tree sheds its leaves to prepare for new growth, you too can let go of what no longer serves you to create space for personal progress.
Some common self-destructive behaviors are:
- Engaging in negative self-talk, such as self-criticism and comparison to others
- Withdrawing and social isolation
- Disregarding self-care
- Neglecting or avoiding responsibilities
- Refraining from establishing healthy boundaries
- Turning to substances such as alcohol as a means to escape
These behaviors can provoke symptoms of anxiety and depression, including:
- Low self-worth
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Challenges within relationships
HOW TO ADDRESS SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS
Often, self-destructive behaviors may actually be motivated by an urge to protect yourself. When addressing harmful behavior, honor the purposes of the behavior in your life, while also mindfully considering different habits that could promote your well-being more holistically.
You can consider the function of unhealthy behaviors in your life by asking yourself:
- How does this behavior serve me?
- Is there a feeling that I am attempting to change or avoid by engaging in this behavior?
- What needs of mine would or would not be met if this behavior was not in place?
- What am I afraid would happen if I gave this behavior up?
HOW TO INCORPORATE NEW HEALTHY HABITS
By reflecting on your responses to the questions above, you can identify the core need that your unhealthy behavior is attempting to fulfill. From there, explore alternative habits that directly address the need while also aligning with your values.
Some healthy habits that can replace self-destructive behaviors include:
- Practicing self-compassion. Body-positive affirmations can be a great way to begin.
- Spending time within your community or wherever you feel a sense of belonging
- Participating in intentional self-care.
- Practicing mindfulness and self-awareness. Mindful movement can offer an ideal opportunity to connect with yourself.
- Establishing healthy boundaries.
You may have to experiment several times before you find the most effective replacement habit. Approach this self-betterment practice with an attitude of curiosity and non-judgment towards yourself and draw confidence from your courage to grow as a person.
THERAPEUTIC SUPPORT FOR SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS
Therapy can provide an unbiased perspective on behaviors that may be compromising your physical, mental, and emotional health, while also offering professional guidance on replacing them with non-harming habits. At Thrive you’ll find compassionate clinicians ready to help you along your personal development journey. Reach out to us to learn more.
About the Author
Thrive Waco Therapist Katherine Moore, MA, LPC-Associate
Katherine’s areas of clinical focus include mood disorders (such as depression and anxiety), adjustment, identity, self-esteem, life transitions, relationships, as well as grief and loss. She’s passionate about facilitating growth, providing empathy, and forming genuine connections with clients. Katherine believes that we all have stories that shape us and make us who we are, and she feels honored to create a safe space where an individual’s story can be shared. She hopes that all clients feel seen and heard during sessions with her and that through the process of therapy they discover new insights, awareness, authenticity, and self-agency.
Katherine earned her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor as well.
Quality time is one of Katherine’s top love languages, and when not at Thrive she can be found sharing that time with those she cares for, browsing bookstores, watching the same shows repeatedly on Netflix, exploring the outdoors, and traveling.