How to Overcome Self-Destructive Habits
For years, I engaged in self-destructive habits in cycles of distracting, avoiding, overindulging, numbing, intoxicating, and escaping in order to avoid facing the root causes of problems.
I refer to those years as a time when I was “sleepwalking through life.”
What I did in excess varied, but it was always in excess:
- Smoking marijuana.
- Drinking alcohol.
- Binge eating.
- Binge video gaming.
- Binge watching TV shows for days on end.
- Emotional shopping.
- Getting lost in all-consuming cosplay projects to compete in cosplay competitions.
- Lifting weights excessively to compete in powerlifting.
- Traveling too much.
- Purposelessly overworking myself at my desk job.
The root of the distracting habits was this feeling of lacking. I didn’t feel like “enough.”
Anything could be a distraction if I tried hard enough, and I often wrapped the intensity to which I was involved in these habits into one egoic identity or another.
Throughout those years, I used those distracting habits to hurt myself in many ways:
- I was spaced out from using too much marijuana, I could hardly remember things from one day to the next, I coughed a lot, and regularly struggled to breathe.
- I made poor choices drinking too much alcohol that often resulted in puking, being hungover, and in one instance, blacking out.
- My binge eating habits caused extreme digestive discomfort.
- My body ached from not moving and I lost touch with reality from excessively playing video games and watching TV shows.
- Emotional shopping caused me to spend too much money on things I did not need.
- I spent countless hours creating costumes, yet I mostly did not enjoy the process. I did it for the end result of receiving external validation through my appearance, and it brought me no lasting joy.
- I accumulated physical injuries from constantly pushing myself to lift heavier weights.
- Traveling was a temporary escape from my life, but reality only hit me harder when I returned from a trip.
- Working too much left me feeling completely drained of all energy and motivation.
These habits came with deep feelings of shame and regret. I regularly shared these feelings in my journals, and I used writing to make progress working through my thoughts and improving my self-confidence.
Yet, I was still seeking happiness and validation externally, and I remained stuck in the same cycles of escapism and ego pursuits.
I had my big wake-up call in early 2017 when I was a passenger in a car accident that rocked me physically. I was in significant physical pain on a daily basis. I could no longer work out like I used to. I fell into a depression, indulging in distractions even more frequently, especially food and marijuana. As I continued to live a sedentary lifestyle, I gained a lot of weight which worsened my pain. For many months I was in denial about my situation, continuing to fall into patterns of unhealthy habits. I had suicidal ideations that felt more serious than at any previous point in my life. At the end of 2017, I broke down in tears—I could not stand by while my pain continued to intensify, and I decided to take the first step towards getting better.
I began to wake up.
I began frequent chiropractics, physical therapy, and craniosacral therapy. I began getting massages every month. I started questioning everything, especially what I was doing and eating on a daily basis. I took a food intolerance test and the results motivated me to shift how I was eating. I began replacing some of my unhealthy habits with healthy ones. I started meditating and writing more frequently.
In May 2018, I got myself fired from my soul-sucking desk job and truly began life anew. I was finally free to focus on me, to start healing, to learn and do things that I’m actually passionate about.
Since then, healthier habits have become a major part of my life in moderate, consistent, sustainable ways:
- Reiki healing.
- Mindfulness work.
- Writing and journaling.
- Creating – digital art, paintings, songs.
- Playing guitar.
- Tarot reading.
- Conscious crying.
- Sleeping plenty.
- Spending time outdoors.
- Working at the standing desk in my home office rather than sitting in poor posture.
I learn with purpose and study everything that sparks my interest, including astrology, herbalism, and shamanism. I create with purpose through what I publish on this blog, Strong with Purpose.
Now, I love myself wholly and completely. My default habits are self-appreciative rather than self-destructive.
I shed the skins of all my previous egoic identities and I no longer need any external validation to feel worthy.
I’m honest with myself and I’m able to face things directly rather than engaging in a cycle of avoidance. Rather than drink about it, smoke about it, or eat about it… I’d rather meditate about it, write about it, or make art about it.
I quit taking allergy medications, began using herbal tinctures and teas, and my allergies drastically improved. I quit taking hormonal birth control and I balanced my hormones naturally. I began buying and cooking all organic foods. I healed my gut-brain connection, overcame habits of binge eating and emotional eating, and I lost 55 lbs in the process. I have maintained my current weight for the past 8 months and I feel so much better than before.
Both my internal and external environments have improved. Externally, I used to keep my house in complete and permanent disarray. Since I began this healing journey, I’ve cleaned and organized every room in my home. My home environment now remains in a state of simplicity rather than chaos. Internally, I experience more calmness and clarity.
I’ve made a lot of progress with physical, emotional, and spiritual healing in the past year, and it feels incredibly freeing and rewarding. Yet, healing is a journey with no defined endpoint. Rather, as we continue to heal, we go deeper and further towards the root cause of our pain. It’s an ongoing process and I’m still healing in all ways.
My message to anyone that has struggled with anything I mentioned in this post is this:
- Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Allow yourself to be compassionate, patient, and curious about each decision you make. If you have good intentions while doing something, it feels good to you before/during/after, and it doesn’t hurt you, then you are probably not using that habit in a self-destructive way.
- Balance is everything. Doing anything in excess can be self-destructive, but it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. You don’t have to strive for perfection. It is entirely possible to find a healthy balance with your habits. You don’t need to completely cut something out of your life if you can shift your relationship with it to a point that feels healthy and self-nourishing.
- It doesn’t have to be this way. Feeling your feelings and facing your issues directly can be challenging and painful, but it is more worthwhile than distracting, avoiding, overindulging, numbing, intoxicating, and escaping.
- Don’t wait to prioritize your health and happiness. It is never too late; you can take the first step in the right direction at any time. You can break the cycles. You can wake up and live. You are enough and you are worth it.
- All you need is one small shift at a time. Every little bit of healthy intention counts, adds up, and multiplies in time. Try making one small change at a time, and don’t give up! Healthy habits breed more healthy habits. In a year, you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come.
If any part of this post has resonated with you, I encourage you to share it so others can benefit from it as well!