Self-defeating Behavior: Stop Shooting Yourself in the Foot


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September 1, 2011
Tracey L. Chavous
Health and Wellness Writer
Healthy Living

The abundance of intrusions of media keeps Americans on a 24/7 news feed of headlines:  trillion dollar deficits, irregular stock markets, global warming, unemployment rates, foreclosures, inflation and corporate mergers.  The crises are endless. One wonders how the average person maintains positive focus and a work/life balance. These dynamics lead to performance anxiety and often cause individuals to stop before they start, or sabotage their efforts without giving themselves a chance to succeed.  More and more people seem to be developing self-defeating patterns that are getting in the way of moving forward.  Any behavior you engage in that is self-defeating or sabotaging, that takes you away from what you want or distracts you from your goals is behavior that is self-defeating.

Most people have a fear of failure more than likely based on their past experiences (loss of a job, divorce, low performance, mismanagement of funds, etc) and resulting in a negative spiral of second guessing themselves and self-doubt.  However, Tina Su of states that “we may not be able to control the thoughts our mind throws at us, but we can choose to remain conscious and observe these thoughts rather than instantly reacting to them. It is so easy to get caught up in the artifacts of our own mind. Our mind’s job is to keep us the same, and thus to instill fear in us to pursue goals outside our comfort zone.” In reflection, that would mean that you have to realign your mind’s mindset. Turn off the “fear feed” if you will and move forward, but how? An contributor offers six key points that can potentially lift the doldrums of self-defeating thoughts and actions such as:

  1. Taking responsibility for your own life and outcomes. Let go of blaming other people, circumstances, fate or even luck for your problems and your choices; to do so is self-defeating because it releases you from taking responsibility for your own thoughts and behaviors.
  1. Learn to view constructive criticism as a way to move forward, rather than viewing it defensively, in anger, or in defeat. If someone makes you aware of a negative action you have done or repeatedly do, ask for further information about it, rather than denying it and shutting them out.  Use this input as a teaching tool and form of reflection.
  1. Be a risk taker. Upgrade your knowledge, skills and abilities beyond the familiar and comfortable, you keep yourself from finding out the possibilities of what you’re truly capable of.  If things don’t turn out the way you planned, at least you tried something new and won’t be as fearful of taking risks in the future.
  1. Ask for feedback from other people who you know can provide you with good insight of your setbacks and how you can overcome them. Interact with a wide range of people, such as peers, superiors, friends and family. Let them know that you are trying to develop skills to overcome self defeating habits and ask if they can think of things you may do or say that creates setbacks or bad impressions that lead to your self defeat.
  1. Finish what you start. Leaving tasks, projects and goals unfinished tends to wreck the way you feel about yourself which leads to self defeating habits.  Accomplishing success will be difficult to experience if you don’t know your true capabilities.  Accomplishment, no matter how small it may seem, is the greatest way to develop a positive attitude, strong self esteem and to overcome self defeat.
  1. Problem?  What problem? Denial is usually a defensive maneuver against a painful reality they don’t want to face.  Continue to develop skills by listening to advice and criticism with an open mind to seek solutions to the problem(s).

Many people struggle with professional, relationship and personal desires intentionally or unintentionally work against their best interests.  Do yourself a favor and limit your interactions with negative situations and people, turn off the 24/7 media distractions and begin to visualize what you want your life to look like and take it from there.  Your happiness and productivity are counting on you!


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