Like it or not, our self-destructive behaviours have been effective for us up until now. They have done what they set out to do, which is to get us through the moment in front of us.
Unfortunately, self-destructive behaviours are… well… destructive.
And in the moment they may be what relieves the pressure, but long-term they are a menace. They can affect every aspect of our lives, in ways we didn’t even imagine. And in some cases, they can lead to physical pain, illness, and even death.
It’s a bit of a bittersweet pill that we have to swallow. And oftentimes even knowing how destructive our behaviours are, and their long-term effects aren’t always enough to force us to find less-destructive ones.
For myself, I honestly didn’t know what I would do without my coping methods. And yes, they were most definitely destructive, and I am dealing with the side effects of them to this day. I imagine there are some side effects (conditions/illness) that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.
And as much as I hate that, I know that those methods kept me going. They allowed me to survive. As backwards as that seems, it got me to this day.
But back then, when I first started on the road to healing, I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to give them up. What would I do? Who would I be? How would I cope? How would I survive?
One of the things that helped me realize that they were much more destructive than I was willing to see or admit, and I actually did want to change them, was identifying what they were and what they were doing for me, for good and for bad.
The knowledge at first meant nothing to me. I had no idea how to cope in non-destructive ways. And frankly, I wasn’t sure there even was a way to cope without being destructive.
But writing it down, seeing how it served me, and how it didn’t, helped me to know what I was dealing with. Knowledge is power, even if you’re not sure what to do with that power when you get it. Yet.
|Behaviour: binge eating||Positive||Negative|
|Short Term||I feel better in this moment; I don’t have to deal with what’s in front of me; It distracts me; it soothes me; It’s easy; It’s fast||I feel sick; I miss meals; I eat way more food than I need; It feels awful when I’m done|
|Long Term||It works every time; I don’t have to do to much;||It’s messed up my weight; It’s messed up my eating; I don’t have regular meals; It’s messed up my blood sugars; It doesn’t feel that great|
The information you put in the boxes might be the same from long-term to short-term, positive and negative, for you as well, and that’s okay. No judgment. You are on a fact-finding mission. You need to see before you how this method is serving you and how it isn’t. Knowing what you are dealing with is the first step to finding less destructive ways to cope.
At first, if you’re like me, you will have no idea how to find less destructive ways to cope, and, also like me, you may not be ready to move on from them just yet. That’s okay too.
There is no timeline for working with this. Right now, you just would like to know. Distraction, self-soothing, and grounding tips/techniques/tools can be helpful to start with if you are ready to move on from using the destructive methods and now seeing what they are.
If you find yourself using the same destructive methods even knowing of less destructive methods, or even after you’ve used the less destructive methods for a while, and that is okay.
Your coping method has been serving you for a long time by now, and it has been ingrained and marked by your brain as an effective coping method. Your surviving brain doesn’t bother with the details of side effects and long-term effects that can result from it.
This coping method has helped you survive, it has gotten you through those moments to this moment, and it will take practice in order to re-train your brain to go another route.
If you have several destructive coping methods, as I did, you can do Pros and Cons for each one. Be patient with yourself. It take practice to move the brain to a new method.