Telling a little white lie or taking something without permission isn’t a good choice, but they won't hurt you, right? Wrong. Eating until you make yourself sick is uncomfortable, but it's not really that big a deal, right? Wrong again.
These are examples of self-destructive behavior: Behaviors people knowingly do that will cause them to fail or bring them to trouble. They’re some things some of us may be struggling with on a regular basis. These behaviors can affect your relationships with family and friends, as things that seem minor now could affect the rest of your life if they become patterns of behavior that are difficult to change if left unchecked.
Do I Have Self-Destructive Behavior?
The term “self-destructive” can take on a variety of meanings. So long as you could be doing damage to yourself — physically, mentally or even your reputation — you may be engaged in self-destructive behavior. There is usually some problem with handling or expressing feelings when a person becomes self-destructive. The following are among the most common forms:
No matter the reason, taking something that doesn't belong to you is always wrong — whether it's from a store, a friend or your family.
With today's security technology, there's a very good chance that you will eventually get caught. Getting caught is really embarrassing, and the chances of getting off with just a warning aren't very good. As you get older, this self-destructive behavior can include a big fine or even jail.
Everyone tells little white lies from time to time. You may do it to spare your friend's feelings about her unflattering new outfit. A small lie can seem harmless. But what about lying to your parents to stay out of trouble? What about lying to impress your friends? When lying starts, trouble usually begins and the lying can continue. Things can get really complicated once you start trying to keep track of what you said and to whom.
Getting caught in a lie is the fastest way to lose people's trust. And those same people that you fought so hard to influence with your lies may never look at you the same way again. Before you even think about telling a lie, think about whether it’s worth it.
Indulging every now and then isn’t the problem. The problem occurs when you eat the entire bag of cookies and the whole quart of ice cream to keep from dealing with what's happening in your life. This is self-destructive behavior. You literally stuff down your feelings with food.
Overeating can seriously affect your health. There's the risk of diabetes and heart disease, even in young people. Some overeaters may purge (by throwing up, for example), leading to other medical problems.
Smoking is not cool and doesn't make you more attractive. In fact, it does just the opposite. It causes yellow teeth, yellow fingernails, bad breath and wrinkles.
Smoking is one of the worst things that you can do to your body. It's an addiction that's hard to stop, and it can have serious short- and long-term health risks like cancer.
Self-mutilation can include cutting into your skin, obsessively picking at your face or pulling your own hair.
Injuring yourself is very dangerous physically and mentally. Cutting your skin exposes you to the risk of serious infections and permanent scarring. Punishing yourself means that you can't emotionally handle some of what's going on in your life, and you need help to deal with it.
Self-mutilation is your way of asking for help. There are other ways to cope with difficulties. You can get help to learn to cope with what it is causing you so much pain. You need to speak with someone to help heal the wounds you can see and those that are invisible. Talking to a trusted adult and asking for the help you need is the first step to healing. This adult can help you get in touch with a mental health professional to start your healing process.
Justifying Your Actions
You may even be unaware the behavior is self-destructive. You may tell yourself that you don't have a problem, that you deserve a treat or that you can stop what you're doing at any time. Telling yourself these things will keep you from getting help. This, too, is self-destructive behavior.
Getting help for your problems may seem scary, but continuing your self-destructive behavior is scarier. It's frightening to be out of control.
Where to Get Help
You shouldn't feel ashamed if you have a problem or engage in self-destructive behavior. You should be proud of yourself for realizing that you need help and can ask for help.
Talk to your parents, a school counselor or other trusted adult. You probably won't get in trouble if you tell them you have a problem and need help. (You may get into trouble if you get caught doing self-destructive behavior).
An adult will be able to help you decide if this is something that you can stop on your own with their help or if you're going to need professional help.
The sooner you get help, the sooner you'll start to feel good again.