I once had someone tell me I had a self-destructive personality. All in all, this simple observation changed my life. It changed the way I accommodated and acknowledged such “comfortable” behaviors. I did not magically wake up one day and change. It is something I struggle with on a daily basis. Self-destruction is a fine line. You can simply call yourself “stubborn” or simply acknowledge your behavior is keeping you locked tightly in the safe shell of “who you think you are.”
1. You are chronically lazy but regret wasting all that time.
Everyone deserves a little downtime; everyone deserves a lazy Sunday on the couch or a day of the week where they simply choose to do nothing. Yet, the heart of self-destruction lies in knowing you “shouldn’t” but still “doing.” I’ll admit, I am somewhat lazy. I like to lounge around and “think.” But, when my days of being lazy outnumber my days of hard work I have to wonder — why am I doing this? My career field is very self motivated. No writer has ever published a great novel without hearing a “no” at least one hundred times. I am terrified of failure, I’ll admit that, but being lazy keeps me comfortably safe where I am. Obviously, I will find myself staring at the wall or mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed. But, I jolt myself out of this “safe” behavior by writing a poem, going for a walk, cleaning the house, and really doing things I do not want to do. It is easy to get lost in the simplicity of not doing when you know you should be doing.
First, acknowledge that the not doing is easier then the doing. But then, accept that the doing is more satisfying then the not doing. Second, say goodbye to your shell. Get in touch with your fears, your dreams, your wishes, your goals and how to accomplish them. It really helped me to write out a ten-year timeline in which I went backwards year-by-year from my ideal goal to right now. It wasn’t as outlandish as “I want to be a famous author,” but I kept it subtle, and honest, by saying, “I want to be a college professor.” Outlining the amount of hard work and dedication I actually had to do showed me that staying where I am and staying in my habits will get me NOWHERE. You must break free of the monotony.
2. You place your happiness and worth in external factors.
How many times have we placed our happiness in some hypothetical ideal? If I get that job, I’ll be happy. If I fall in love, I’ll find myself. If I move to another city, things will change. NO. NO. NO. It’s not so much self-destructive people who do this, but to an extent, everyone. At some point or other we have gotten what we wanted, yet found ourselves still miserable, still unsatisfied. We are fed this notion that happiness lies in a great job, a loving partner, and a lavish lifestyle.
Happiness lies in a morning walk where the sounds of birds chirping and a bustling stream dose clarity into your thoughts. Happiness is found in finally signing up for that yoga class you’re terrified to take. Happiness is found standing on the precipice of failure and somehow, strangely, jumping into success. Happiness is found in living out your goals and passions whilst being you. Happiness is found in accepting that YOUR OWN happiness is subjective.
Yes, happiness can be found backpacking through Europe. Yes, happiness can be found in buying your dream car. Yes, happiness can be found in finding your “soulmate.” But, all of these superficial ideals of happiness come from shedding the skin of our comfortable routine and throwing ourselves into the terrifying pit of effort.
Think about it backwards. Backpacking through Europe-obviously you had to save, to plan, to find the courage to go. This happiness derives from hard work, courage, risk and dedication. Buying your dream car. This happiness derives from hard work and long hours. Small paychecks that turned into medium paychecks that turned into something grander because you were willing to last through the hard times and the shitty entry level work. You achieved this “material” happiness because you believed in yourself enough to persist. Lastly, finding your soulmate. Unlike those few, rare exceptions that find love in high school, most of us will have to endure several broken hearts before we find the love of our life. We will have to be with the wrong one to know what is right. We will have to be honest with ourselves in what we want out of a relationship. Most importantly, we have to be honest with ourselves about who we want to be. We have to mold ourselves into the best possible version of ourselves before we find the best possible person for us. See, all of these “external” satisfactions only come from finding acceptance, peace, and perseverance internally.
3. Excuses, excuses, excuses.
Excuses are a fun little game that prevents us from actually putting ourselves out there, from putting ourselves at risk. You really can make an excuse for anything.
Bad habits? All my friends drink and smoke, so it’d be impossible for me to quit. Bad job? I’m just waiting to figure out what I really want to do with my life. Not accomplishing that goal? I’m not sure if it’s the right time to go back to school, to write that novel, to ask for a raise. Yes, some excuses are there for good reasons. But, where there is a will there is a way, and most successful people will tell you they never took no for an answer.
Habits are essentially just that: habits.. They are little ways of living we have become so accustomed to we have confused them for bits and pieces of our personality and who we are. Just like you can’t imagine your morning coffee without a cigarette, I bet a year after you quit, you’ll gag just thinking about smoking a cigarette with your morning coffee. We go in and out of habits based on where we are in life. But, we have to break the habits that are bogging us down if we want to break out of a self-destructive routine.
I believe that refusing to acknowledge you’re not being true to yourself is the biggest sign of being self-destructive. That little voice exists for a reason. That strange hunger in our soul that wants to take a risk, to jump, to break free of our comfortable routine. You know that voice, you talk to that voice, YOU ARE THAT VOICE. Acknowledge what you want. Don’t let yourself stay in what is easy. Ten years from now you will wake up and think, I really should have tried, I really should have listened to myself. Trust yourself to know what is right. Trust yourself to know you can achieve your dreams. Trust yourself to know that if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting forever.