Self Defeating Behaviours: other factors
Why am I still using self defeating behaviours (SDB)? In the last blog, I mentioned how ‘coping’ strategies, which have been helpful during a previous similar experience, are stored in one’s subconscious. This helps the conscious mind, in the next similar situation, to quickly ascertain the best course of action.
Alongside the mind, other systems within the body are intrinsically linked too to produce a coherent, whole response. There are systems involved with emotions, drives, survival instincts, hormones, and needs, which are also influential on the response. With all systems working in harmony, this provides us well for our everyday life decisions and actions. However, if a strategy that was once successful but is subsequently harmful (as a strategy for the individual) is stored in the subconscious, this becomes problematic.
For example, if a child, sitting alone in her bedroom listening to her parents shouting angrily at one another, feels anxious but feels comforted by eating cake, then she may resort to eating cake when the situation arises again to ease her anxiety and pain. She possibly observed (externally) her mother eating cake in painful situations and knows that when the ‘chips are down’, cakes and sweet foods are presented to “make everyone feel better”. This ‘coping’ strategy is then likely to extend to eating anything (when there is no cake to fill the physical feeling of emptiness) and may be adopted in other situations that cause anxiety or pain. The SDB is also likely to perpetuate because not only is she believing (internally) that the behaviour is giving her comfort, but she also witnesses such behaviour (externally) that this behaviour ‘gives comfort’ in painful situations. The SDB becomes so habitual that the individual believes that it is just a part of them and who they are which makes it a difficult thing to change.
More on SDBs next time! If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!
-Baumeister, R.F. & Scher, S.J. (1988) Self-Defeating Behaviour Patterns Among Normal Individuals: Review and Analysis of Common Self-Destructive Tendencies. Psychological Bulletin, 104 (1), 3-22.
-Brownson, C., & Hartzler, B. (2000) Defeat Your Self-Defeating Behavior Understanding & Overcoming Harmful Patterns (T1 082). The clearing house for Structured/Thematic groups and Innovative programs. Texas, USA. Accessed 6/1/19. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=BAECD64A429CAC98207F80C0FE3868CF?doi=10.1.1.434.2963&rep=rep1&type=pdf