behaviourism, Counselling, over eating, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

29. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 5)

Self Defeating Behaviours: Treatment (person-centred counselling)

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Person-centred (PC) counselling was developed and introduced by Carl Rogers. PC counselling focuses on how we feel in the “here and now”, and helps people to take responsibility for their actions. The PC approach assumes that human beings have an innate capacity to heal themselves whilst the counsellor can offer help to eliminate any blocks preventing this process. The person’s subjective experience (including attitudes, beliefs etc.) is important. The counsellor’s empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard are also vital to the success of this approach.

The person often employs ‘defence mechanisms’ (similar to minimising the effect) where they deny or distort their perception to “fit” with their perception of themself. Once the person feels understood, accepted and safe, they are able to gradually open up and go deeper within themselves. They can then face attitudes or beliefs that were previously concealed thus becoming more aware of their true inner feelings.

Once the person is able to “own” their behaviour, valuing themselves in a positive light, they will be able to take responsibility for their own actions. They will soon realise that they are capable of coping with life independently without the necessity of employing any defence mechanisms and will be able to adopt new strategies instead of Self Defeating Behaviours. Next time, I will look at how a counselling session might be if the focus was on a self defeating behaviour.

For more information on person-centred counselling, search for person centred approach/ person centred therapy, or client centred therapy. There is a lot of information on the Internet about this.

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. I would love to hear from you!

 

References

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

Rogers, C. R. (1951) Client- Centered Therapy, London, Constable and Company Ltd.

 

behaviourism, Counselling, over eating, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

28. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 4)

Self Defeating Behaviours: Perpetuating the cycle

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I know that this behaviour is not good for me but why am I still doing it? The cycle of adopting self-defeating behaviours (SDB) is often perpetuated through another self defeating technique of ‘minimising the effects’. This involves rationalising the SDBs, i.e., defending your behaviour against any alternative healthier option. There are many minimising techniques including: making a joke of it, hiding from it (‘ostrich syndrome’ –sticking your head in the sand to not see it); self anaesthesia (numbing the pain either through drugs, alcohol and other external sources, or internally, i.e., depression, leaving you unable to ‘feel’ anything – neither sad nor happy); keeping busy (you believe that you are so busy that there is never enough time to ‘face’ up to it); ‘self made Messiah syndrome’ (you believe that you must not feel pleasure and should only be suffering, proving how good you are and that, for example, you deserve to go to heaven); ‘passing the buck’ (putting all responsibilities onto others, believing that you can do it better than anyone else could); and ‘there’s no point anyway’ syndrome (very common amongst teenagers where the nihilistic viewpoint of ‘we’re all going to die anyway’ comes in very handy to excuse putting in any effort to try anything).

The cycle of SDBs is perpetuated through a fear of change which involves making excuses and (unintentionally) ‘lying’ about such behaviours. A smoker, for example, will have many excuses up their sleeve, a common one being “I only smoke a few a day”. The smoker lies to everyone (including themselves) out of fear of change, fear of how they could possibly cope in life without smoking, fear of failure (i.e., failing to give up), and even the fear of successfully giving up (i.e., they might have to face many other challenges, change of friends, change of habits). Next week, I look at how we can help or change self defeating behaviours.

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!

 

References

  1. 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.
  2. 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
Counselling, over eating, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

27. Self-defeating behaviours (part 3)

Self Defeating Behaviours: other factors

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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!

References

-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

behaviourism, Counselling, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

26. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 2)

Self Defeating Behaviours: the origins

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Self Defeating Behaviours (SDB) originate often, for example, during childhood with overly critical parents where the child is not allowed to talk or have a different opinion, leading the child to eventually feel like he is always doing/saying the ‘wrong’ thing and is always in the ‘wrong’. Thus, in adulthood, the person, believing that they are always in the ‘wrong’, is likely to have adopted several SDBs that they subconsciously believe have previously helped them to ‘cope’. For example, they may live with ‘ostrich syndrome’ where they continuously have their head in the sand to avoid facing situations that they believe are too challenging for them to cope with. They may even believe subconsciously that their presence will ‘only make matters worse’.

Similarly, an individual who has been badly treated or raised by a violent father may, as an adult, be attracted to violent partners who are going to mistreat them in a similar way. This is common in children who are raised to believe that they are incapable of doing anything properly. The child then becomes so dependent on another person believing that only someone else can carry out tasks properly and thus, this is what is subconsciously required in finding a partner. Their lack of self esteem will contribute further to this, believing that they don’t deserve to be treated any better.

Preservation of SDBs

The preservation of these SDBs is due to the underlying mechanisms of the mind, which is, of course, at the centre of everything. As one experiences life in general and the variety of (often very emotional) events that occur, ‘coping’ strategies, which have been helpful during a previous similar experience, are stored in one’s subconscious. This enables the conscious mind, at any subsequent similar situation, to quickly ascertain the best course of action to be taken by the individual to ‘survive’ through it in the ‘best’ way possible. The conscious mind does this through considering both internal (e.g., psychological reasoning) and external methods (e.g., eating chocolate) where the subconscious can be relied on to adopt stored coping strategies that were previously successful and the conscious mind attempts to manage behaviours etc. that are appropriate in response to any novel circumstances. This is usually very effective. For example, after you burn your hand in the fire, your subconscious stores the strategy of avoiding touching flames (!) but when a new type of heating equipment is brought into the house, your conscious mind aids in the process of not getting burnt by being extra careful…to begin with at least. I will continue on this next week.

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!

 

References

1.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.

2.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

3.Rogers, C. R. (1951) Client- Centered Therapy, London, Constable and Company Ltd.

 

behaviourism, Counselling, over eating, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

25. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 1)

Self Defeating Behaviours

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Self Defeating Behaviours (SDB) are things that we do when we are feeling, for example, low, fed up, sad, nervous, anxious or have another kind of undesirable feeling that we find hard to handle. So, the behaviour makes us feel better, or at least, we believe the behaviour makes us feel better! It is a “comfort” behaviour, which helps “soothe” us when we don’t like having the feeling.

Why is it self defeating? Often, the SDBs are not very good for us or are unhealthy and when they are repeated more often, can actually be damaging to our health. Common SDBs include, for example, eating junk food, overeating, smoking, drinking alcohol. Think of all the things you do when you need comfort. Can you think of a few things that you often do to comfort yourself or make yourself feel better?

Baumeister & Scher (1988) defined self defeating behaviour (SDB) as “any deliberate or intentional behaviour that has clear, definitely or probable negative effects on the self…(and that) the behaviour must be intentional although the harm to self (does) not have to be the intended or primary goal of the action.”[1]. Furthermore, according to Brownson and Hartzler (2000), a SDB is “a repetitive pattern of behaviour in which the individuals’ goal-directed attempts to fulfill a basic human need, result in unintended and harmful consequences”. Brownson and Hartzler (2000) continue that the “definition places no constraints on the particular problematic situation or behaviour. Rather, the focus is on the process whereby patterns are initiated and perpetuated”.

People who repeat the cycle of unsuccessful attempts to satisfy a basic, “core” need (e.g., love, control, connection with others) with SDBs are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety, and social isolation in later life [2]. This may be further exasperated because the negative consequences of the SDBs eventually contribute to even more undesirable feelings which lead to more SDB… and so on.

From a ‘counselling’ perspective, it must be noted that although a SDB is never the best choice of behaviour, for that individual, the SDB has been helpful on a previous occasion as a strategy to cope, i.e., when the individual felt at high risk of being very hurt or feeling emotional pain. This experience is then stored in the subconscious allowing the individual to resort to the chosen SDB in subsequent times of angst, for example, unaware that they are carrying out behaviour that is NOT actually helping the situation nor helping them to cope. The ironic part of using a SDB is that the SDB eventually provokes the very eventuality that the individual is trying to avoid in the first place.

Some examples of such self defeating behaviours include: smoking, overeating, procrastination, not accepting responsibility (blaming others), not listening, pleasing (other) people, not allowing yourself to enjoy fun or pleasure, always being right, making excuses, e.g., for being late, forgetting an appointment, perfectionism, exaggerating, bearing a grudge forever, self-sacrifice (followed by self pity), being the victim, always being attracted to the same type of person even if not apparent at first, and avoiding change.

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!

References

1.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.

2.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