Self-Defeating Behavior

Most of us have engaged in self-defeating behavior at one time or another.  Many behaviors such as self-critical thoughts, negative self-talk, procrastination, avoidance, and addictions and can fall under the concept of self-defeating behavior.  The following is an example of self-defeating behavior.

  • Erin struggled with feelings of low self-esteem and self-critical thoughts.  She believed other women were better looking and thought she was unattractive.  One reason for this pattern was that Erin thought if she used self-depricating thoughts, if or when others said negative things to her, she would feel less hurt because she already “put herself down”.  But in many ways, Erin was analogously putting a nail in the tire of her car before even driving on the road.  Is it possible she might get a nail in her tire?  Yes.  But it is a low probability.  What would someone say if they came along and saw Erin hammering a nail into her tire?  What would they say if Erin said, “I’m afraid of running over a nail so I decided to just give myself a flat tire and get it over with”.

Don’t be like Erin and hammer a nail in your car tire.

It is important to identify and gain insight into self-defeating behavior such as self-critical thoughts.  Then try to replace them with more self-enhancing and functional behaviors.


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