Trending News

Blog Post

Emotional Wellness

What Is Self Destructive Behavior And Self Sabotage? 

What Is Self Destructive Behavior And  Self Sabotage?

We all have bad habits, but sometimes those bad habits nestle under our skin and end up having more control over our choices than first anticipated. Self-sabotaging tendencies are defined as habits that obstruct the path towards a long-term goal or that may cause problems for the individual. The range of toxicity that your self-destructive behavior could release into your life depends on the nature of the particular behavior and its probability of surfacing.

Living with the worst habits you’ve accumulated throughout your years of life is a heavy burden. The toll that self-destructive behavior can have on the mind and human psyche is strong enough to ruin or damage important aspects of life. It’s crucial for one’s mental well-being to divert the energy expended on self-destructive behaviors to much healthier alternatives.

Self-destructive behavior differs from individual to individual. Understanding the way your self-destructive habits appear, as well as its relation to you, is the first step towards channeling that negative energy into healthier coping methods.

Categories Of Self Destructive Behavior

There are two categories of self-destructive behavior classification that can aid in understanding your harmful behavior: interpersonal and intrapersonal self-destructive tendencies. Similar to interpersonal or intrapersonal conflicts, these two categories relate to the personality of the individual. Interpersonal self-destructive tendencies involve multiple people to be present for the behavior to emerge. This category applies to you if an outside source, like a place or a person, is present and that evokes negative behavior from you.  

Whenever my manager talks to me in an undermining tone I lose all emotional restraint and match his rude attitude,
I shouldn’t let him get to me or at least I should be able to keep my emotions in check because I won’t be able to act this way in future jobs. But when someone’s being so blatantly rude to me I can’t help but lash out right away.”

says Jenelle, a 22-year-old undergraduate researcher, when I asked her if she had any self-destructive tendencies.

While on one hand I fully understand and feel that Jenelle’s feelings were justified, I also couldn’t help but wonder if this harmful behavior happened to arise in other aspects of her life. It can’t be easy trying to remain composed constantly when emotional reaction plays such a deciding factor on mood and response. Jenelle’s self-proclaimed destructive habit is an example in the interpersonal category.

There is also intrapersonal self-destructive tendencies. These situations occur strictly within an individual. With that said, these aren’t observable as it is all a psychological battle within a particular person.

Self Destructive Behavior: habits that obstruct the path towards a long-term goal or that may cause problems for the individual.
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

I think my biggest problem is getting involved with guys that I know are wrong for me and that can’t meet my expectations but I’ll do it anyway”
I go into every relationship or even friendship knowing inside that I will get hurt because they’re a toxic person, but still going full speed ahead completely not caring about my own emotions or feelings, I guess you could call it self-negligence.”

says Lelia, a 26-year-old graduate student.

Lelia’s proclaimed “self-negligence” is an example of self-sabotaging behavior.  So after identifying the type of destructive habit you find most prominent in your life, what are you to do?

Identifying Self-Sabotage

Being able to identify when your self-sabotaging behavior starts manifesting itself will enable you to enforce the healthy alternative of your choice. The alternative of your choice will create an outlet or system that’ll allow you to slowly grow away from being self-destructive. Depending on your personality or preference, your healthy alternative could be physical (i.e. yoga, hiking, swimming, etc.) or mental (i.e. meditation, taking deep breaths, listening to music, etc.) or even both. This all depends on if you seek release in a calm environment or enjoy physically working out all tensions. A healthy regimen of the two options in an alternating manner could also be a potential alternative for those that need to keep things in moderation.

For example, a healthier alternative for Jenelle would probably be a combination of both a mental release through deep breathing exercises, as well as a physical release, such as working out or yoga. Lelia’s healthier alternative would border on spending her time and energy on a personal project or mastering a craft rather than sacrificing her mental health for relationships with toxic people.

Other healthy alternatives to consider:

  • Having a creative outlet (i.e. cooking, theatre, poetry, etc.) 
  • Getting involved in your community (i.e. joining an organization, book clubs, local farmers markets, etc.)
  • Rewarding yourself for not sabotaging yourself (i.e. movies, pampering, shopping, etc.)
  • Pick up an intramural or community sports team

With all of this in mind, being conscious of your self-destructive patterns is a tool made to help you. In no way should you grow nervous about your thoughts/actions or bury your feelings. These alternative are meant to be methods of growing past self-sabotaging habits in a healthy way rather than just passively living with them. Never let your bad habits call the shots of your life.

The content found on is provided for informational and educational purposes only. Absolutely no content to be found on is intended to serve as a substitute for the diagnosing, examining, and/or treatment performed by a qualified health professional. To learn more about our policies, please click here.

Related posts

Leave a Reply