Self-defeating habits are those behaviours and thoughts that hold us back from achieving our goals and living our best lives. They are often automatic, unconscious, and counterproductive, and they can harm our relationships, health, and well-being. In this article, we will discuss the top 10 tips to better understand your self-defeating habits and how to overcome them.


Identify what self-defeating habits you have

The first step to overcoming self-defeating habits is to identify them. Pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that are holding you back from achieving your goals. Do you procrastinate, self-sabotage, or engage in negative self-talk? If so, you might be acting as your own worst enemy. Once you have identified your self-defeating habits, you can begin to work on changing them.


Understand the underlying beliefs and emotions

Self-defeating habits often stem from underlying beliefs and emotions that we may not be aware of. A study on golf participants found that those who spoke negatively of their ability and their game were likelier to perform worse than those who engaged in the self-affirming language. 

For example, you may have a belief that you are not good enough or a fear of failure that is holding you back. It is important to understand these underlying beliefs and emotions so that you can challenge and change them.


Practice self-awareness

Self-awareness is key to overcoming self-defeating habits. How can you work against something that you don’t know exists, much less understand. Grab a pen and paper and take time to listen and record what’s going on in your mind. 

Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours throughout the day. Notice when you engage in self-defeating behaviours and what triggers them. This can help you to better understand your habits and begin to make changes.


Use mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can help you to become more self-aware and present at the moment. When we auto-pilot with self-destructive tendencies, the results should not be surprising. 

Being present, and staying in the moment, can give you far more information on why you do the things you do. Using mindfulness techniques can help you to break out of automatic, self-defeating patterns and make more conscious choices about your thoughts and behaviours.

Challenge your negative self-talk

Negative self-talk is a common self-defeating habit that can hold us back from achieving our goals. Pay attention to the messages you are giving yourself and challenge negative thoughts with evidence-based positive self-talk. 

For example, if you are telling yourself that you will never be successful, challenge that thought by reminding yourself of times when you have been successful in the past. 

Sometimes we struggle to pull up information to challenge these intrusive thoughts, if that’s the case, then set aside time to sit down and list out some accomplishments or positive experiences that you’ve had throughout your life so that you might have a better frame of reference moving forward. 

Set realistic goals

Setting unrealistic goals can lead to feelings of overwhelm and self-defeat. You want your goals to be challenging, but not impossible. Setting realistic goals that are achievable and aligned with your values and priorities is important. 

Break larger goals down into smaller, manageable steps and celebrate your progress along the way. As you begin to reach your smaller goals, you’ll develop more self-confidence in your abilities. This self-belief will go a long way in challenging self-defeating habits. 


Practice self-compassion

Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness, care, and understanding, especially in times of difficulty or failure. It is important to practice self-compassion when working on overcoming self-defeating habits. 

These habits have a tendency to make us overly critical and pessimistic about ourselves. When are you the hardest on yourself? Acknowledge that change is a process and be gentle with yourself as you work towards your goals. 


Build a support network

Overcoming self-defeating habits can be challenging, and it can be helpful to seek support from others. Talk to friends, family, or a therapist about your struggles and ask for help and encouragement along the way. 

Having a positive network not only allows others to pour into you, but also you to encourage and support them. The act of helping others can often be a powerful way to notice pain points in our own lives. 


Replace self-defeating habits with positive behaviors

Replacing self-defeating habits with positive behaviors is a key step towards lasting change. For example, if you tend to procrastinate, set a timer for a short amount of time and work on a task for that amount of time. 

Then, take a break and reward yourself for your progress. This can help you to break out of the self-defeating habit of procrastination and replace it with a more productive behavior. If you can do this, behavior by behavior, then you’ll have a much larger chance at success. 


Practice self-reflection

Finally, practicing self-reflection is key to understanding your self-defeating habits and making lasting change. Take time regularly to reflect on your progress, successes, and challenges. Consider what is working for you and what you still need to work on. It’s recommended that you keep a journal. 

Along the way, make note of your highs and your lows. What habits did you see and what worked best in counteracting them? As you see patterns form, you can utilize them to your advantage. This can help you to stay motivated and committed to your goals.


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