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Independence week!

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

It’s a proud moment of glory as India completes 75 years of independence. This Independence Day, as we celebrate the glory of our beautiful nation, let’s focus on gaining independence on an individual level from the problems within—our negative thoughts and behaviour.

“It doesn’t matter how hard I worked because he/she got better results…”

“I’m not good enough…”

“I am not feeling mentally okay but I have to focus on other important things...”

Do you find yourself practicing self-defeating behaviours? Or do you find yourself having negative thoughts about your capability to achieve your goals? Or do you keep on engaging in unhealthy behaviour patterns despite knowing that they are holding you back?

Self-defeating behaviour is a behavioural pattern that gives contradictory results to the actually desired outcome. Suppose you are attempting to achieve some objective, but at the same time your actions make it more difficult for you to arrive at that objective, then that is you engaging in a self-sabotaging behaviour. 

Self-defeating thoughts can act as an enemy as the negative thoughts replay over and over in the head and make us engage in self-sabotaging behaviour as these thoughts and this behaviour pattern doesn't allow us to develop a healthy mindset in order to focus on a solution which inherently makes us dislike ourselves and regret our decisions. 

Some common examples of self-defeating behaviours include:


People often procrastinate as they fear they are not "good enough" to do the task, or because they feel they must be "perfect" all the time and are afraid they might not be able to deliver quality work, and end up procrastinating till the last minute. To cover their procrastination. one may say they work best under pressure, but what they don't factor in is the amount of stress that they subject themselves to.


When an individual doesn't achieve their desired results, instead of taking responsibility they tend to find an explanation as an excuse for their shortcomings. In reality, it's a lie that you tell yourself to reduce the guilt and save your self-esteem; but it ultimately prevents you from improving and growing.


When you evade specific individuals and circumstances to prevent getting hurt, you engage in avoidant behaviour. Avoidance is considered a self-defeating behaviour as you may be scared of losing or getting hurt and end up missing out on a huge opportunity and can't win if you don't attempt at all.


People with low self-esteem often engage in perfectionist behaviour as they believe that their perfectionism make everything okay, but on the contrary being a perfectionist brings a ton of anxiety and stress, bringing down their self-esteem even more as being perfect all the time is impossible.

Stowing away or Hiding 

Individuals with low self-esteem try to feel like they fit in with everybody, and in order to do so they end up hiding who they truly are or parts of who they are such as their sexuality, their appearance, their personality as they feel embarrassed to show their actual self; and ultimately end up feeling like they have lost themselves in the process which brings about a lot of stress and dissonance.

More self-defeating behaviours include:

  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse 

  • Physical/mental neglect

  • Refusing help

  • Overspending

  • Self-injurious behaviours

  • Relationship sabotage

  • Comparing yourself to others

  • Over/Undereating

Why does one engage in self-defeating behaviours?

Many researches propose that self-defeating behaviours act as a defence mechanism, tricking individuals into believing that they are adapting to pressure, stress, social demands, etc.; or self-defeating behaviours aid an individual in remaining in their comfort zone because they are afraid to step out of it; but ultimately people engaging in this behavioural pattern end up focusing only on the short-term consequences, and ignore or underestimate the long-term consequences of their behaviour.

How should you stop yourself from engaging in self-defeating behaviours?

  • Begin by recognizing the behaviours exhibited by you that you feel are stopping you from achieving your goals. Insight plays a vital role in changing your behaviours.

  • Don't engage in self-destructive talk. Being excessively negative of yourself or believing that you are "not good enough" leads to a negative self-concept, which in turn reduces self-esteem and confidence.

  • Practice self-reflection. Maintaining a journal or keeping a daily log of your actions and their outcomes can help a lot in introspection.

  • Practice mindfulness. Focus on the present, it can assist you in recognizing your feelings and behaviours that are preventing your growth.

  • Get professional help. Consulting a counsellor or a psychologist can help a lot in changing behaviour patterns. A therapist can assist you with recognizing triggers that motivate or reinforce your self-defeating behaviour and guide you on how to replace the behaviour patterns with healthier ones.


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1 comentário

17 de ago. de 2022

This article is so relevant!All of us have some or the other self defeating patterns.Thank you for this write up Muskan:)

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