Kathi Whitten, LCSW - Individual, Couple & Family Psychotherapy

Most people understand what “self-defeating behaviors” are, but it’s often easier to see them in others than ourselves!  You know, those repeated patterns of thinking, actions, feelings that come so automatically they’re already happening before we know it, until we suffer the negative results.

A few typical situations may be (but certainly are not limited to):

* Wishing we could stop always winding up in relationships where we get rejected or hurt

* “Somehow” discovering we’re being fired–again–for being late

* Needing to stop out-of-control spending—but forgetting to leave credit cards at home

* Wanting to cut back on drinking—while arranging to meet friends in a bar

* Excessive anger or reactivity hurting our friendships but not being able to prevent it

* Being too bossy or controlling around others, alienating them, yet not knowing how to stop doing it

We all have behaviors that work like that and often can stop them once we realize the damage they do in our lives. Using tools such as defining what is happening, monitoring its occurrence, discovering triggers, considering more rewarding, positive behaviors to develop instead, using visualization, mindfulness skills and behavioral rehearsal all help.

Occasionally, though, changing—sometimes even recognizing—such patterns is very difficult. No matter how often we suffer the consequences, we continue to do them again and again. We strive to change the behavior or feelings, but our brains are so efficient, that they cause us to do many things “automatically.”  After repeatedly trying to do things differently, if these patterns still seem too strong to change alone, and are negatively impacting your life, professional assistance may be helpful.

Kathi Whitten Copyright 2010