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10 Self-Defeating Behaviours You Need to Avoid in Recovery


self-defeatingIt would be wonderful if ending alcohol or drug addiction could be enough to ensure a hassle-free life going forward, but this is rarely the way things turn out. The reality is that you may have picked up lots of bad habits while caught up in addiction, which could follow you into your new life. There is also the risk that you could turn to new self-defeating behaviours in recovery. Your ability to find happiness in sobriety will depend on your ability to overcome the tendencies that may be holding you back. Below are 10 self-defeating behaviours you would want to look out for.

1. Demand Resistance

It is common for those falling into addiction to deal with a syndrome known as demand resistance. It is common for individuals to develop this if they grew up in an environment where they had to put up with unrealistic expectations. The person reacts to these pressures by rebelling against the expectations, with this coping strategy becoming a habit. It could mean that the individual automatically resists any type of authority or demands; it can even mean resisting the expectations put upon them self. The secret to overcoming demand resistance is to acknowledge it and get into the habit of saying yes rather than no.

2. Procrastinating

Procrastinating means putting off that work that could be done today until tomorrow. This can become a habit with the individual always delaying the steps he or she needs to take to improve things. A common reason for procrastination is fear of failure (and fear of success). The person likes the idea that their life will improve, but they fear the work involved and the readjustments that would need to be made to enjoy this new way of living. It takes courage to take the steps that would be life changing, but these steps need to be taken in order to get the most out of recovery.

3. Blaming Others

It is common for those caught up in addiction to blame others for their predicament. There may have been individuals who negatively affected your life, but the problem with blame is that it is very disempowering. It would be much better to focus on the things you could do to improve your situation rather than blaming others for why you cannot improve it. The problem with the blame game is that it can be self-serving and, ultimately, self-defeating.

4. Having Unrealistic Expectations

Sometimes people have unrealistic expectations for recovery because they are looking for justification to relapse. By setting the bar too high, the person will always have a ‘get out of jail free’ card. This type of self-sabotage can occur consciously or subconsciously and is a very dangerous game. It takes time in recovery for things to get better, which is why it is important for newly sober people to understand that recovery is a process and not an event.

5. Spending Time with the Wrong People

Humans are influenced by those they spend most of their time around. If you are still spending time with those who are abusing alcohol or drugs, it is likely to have a negative impact on your sobriety. It is also important to avoid individuals in recovery who are engaged in stinking thinking – not everyone who is physically sober is getting better. If you are serious about building a strong recovery, you need to surround yourself with inspirational people who will support, advise, and encourage you.

6. People-Pleasing Behaviour

Doing things to please others is not the same as people pleasing. This is where you put the needs of others ahead of your own to such an extent that it is harmful to your own life. This type of behaviour is not so much about being compassionate and nice but more about having low self-esteem. The real danger with people pleasing is that it means the person will always live a lie because this behaviour means trying to live the life of somebody else. The only way for you to find happiness in life is to find your own path, doing the things you need to do to make your life better. Of course, taking care of others is also important, but it should not have to involve not living your own life.

7. Reacting Badly to Failure

It is very hard to achieve anything life without experiencing at least some failure along the way. You could treat failure as a blow to your self-esteem or as an opportunity to learn and grow. Those who are most successful in life tend to treat failure as their friend rather than their enemy. It is also important that you keep in mind that the only real failure in life is giving up. As long as you are trying to learn from your failures, you will always be moving forward towards your goal.

8. Being Too Goal-Oriented

If you do not enjoy the work involved in achieving a goal, it means that you are goal-oriented. This could mean that you spend most of your life waiting for the good stuff to happen. It is much better to have a process-orientated approach to life whereby you actually enjoy the work involved in achieving a goal. This means that you will have something to look forward to every day of your life. Those who are too goal-orientated tend to struggle more as their happiness is always somewhere in the future.

9. Refusing to Ask for Help

If you believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness, you may struggle to achieve a strong and lasting recovery. None of the successful people in the world has arrived where they are because of their own efforts only – the idea of the lone-wolf entrepreneur is a myth. The secret to getting ahead in life is surrounding yourself with the right people. It usually takes courage to ask for help, and it is refusing to do this that is the real sign of weakness.

10. Holding on to Resentments

Holding onto resentments is a bit like drinking poison in order to punish your enemies – the only person who is really going to suffer is you. It is understandable that you may feel anger at the hurt others have caused you in the past, but holding on to a resentment means these individuals are continuing to hurt you today. Even if you feel unable to forgive people for what they have done, it should still be possible for you to let go of the resentment. By doing this, it can feel like you are lightening your load in life. It does not mean that you are letting the other person ‘off the hook’ because it is unlikely to make much difference to them if you hold a resentment or not.

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