Human beings often engage in behaviors that are not entirely beneficial, neither for us nor for those around us. There are a number of reasons why this occurs: socialization, peer pressure, stress, to name a few. The human behaviors destructive can be learned through the home environment, training or interactions with other people.

The 10 most destructive human behaviors and how to avoid them

There are many signs of a destructive person, and if you recognize them in yourself, there are ways you can change your behavior and make your life more positive, fulfilling, and healthy.

1. Lying

People lie for a variety of reasons. It is actually one of the most unpleasant human behaviors. Sometimes the lies are little white lies and made for good reasons. Other times, people lie to boost their own self-esteem, and they tend to lie more often when they feel that other people’s perception of them is not as flattering as they would like it to be. The best way to combat the urge to lie is to ask yourself what you are gaining, and if the consequences for when the truth comes out are worth the risk. Connecting with people on a genuine and truthful level will build relationships that last longer than those built on lies.

2. Violence

Researchers believe that the need for violence has evolved with the need for survival of human beings. However, we are no longer hunters and gatherers, and our ability to dispute calmly has evolved with our ability to engage in language and social interactions on a more intimate level. The neuroplasticity, is a powerful tool to reconnect the brain to receive dopamine in response to an aggressive situation or event. Allowing yourself to not participate or seek pleasure in violence while fighting or harassing others will do wonders for you.

3. Steal

While stealing can often be an act of a person desperate to survive, human beings also steal for purely selfish reasons. Some people do it to get an emotional “high.” If you are tempted to steal for whatever reason when you don’t have to, you may be indulging in self-destructive behavior. Analyze where the need comes from, and ask yourself if the consequences are worth the emotion.

4. Being unfaithful

If you are in an unhappy relationship, or you no longer feel committed to your partner or spouse, you may be tempted to deviate from the relationship. While the act in the moment may seem justified, you are only going to be hurting yourself and your partner by destroying the trust they had in you and the relationship you built together. Open and honest communication can help heal any rift you may be feeling without having to be unfaithful.

5. Bad habits

Everyone has a bad habit that they suffer with. However, it becomes destructive when someone clings to the habit as an excuse or justification that it is too difficult to quit, such as smoking. Seeking outside help, or support from friends or family, can make a bad habit go away easier. You will feel better once you do.

6. Bullying

Children and adults engage in bullying behavior. It can be tempting to engage in this type of behavior, especially when others around you are encouraging you to do so, and it seems like the other person “deserves it.” But bullying is destructive behavior for both us and the people around us , and it feeds on nothing but negativity. Showing up against bullying can be the first step in dismantling this particular behavior and changing the situation.

7. Cosmetic surgery

Self-esteem problems are common among children, adolescents, and adults. Society often tells us that we have to find a certain way to be attractive. In the end, it can be tempting to schedule nonessential cosmetic surgery to lift the nose, or modify the jaw, or get rid of wrinkles. Unfortunately, what society considers and pushes as “beautiful” often changes within a year. Learning to love yourself as you are is the best way to combat this particular destructive behavior that can even cause addiction. It is not only destructive to our self-esteem and mental health, but also to our bodies.

8. Stress

Sometimes stressful situations happen and we can’t help it. However, sometimes we indulge in stress rather than taking steps to alleviate it. It can feel good the moment to complain and go on and on about how stressed one is, but once you’re done, you’ll feel even more stressed, and without energy to seek relief. Taking the time to figure out a plan to combat stress and self-care when this happens can make your life ten times easier, and cut through this particular destructive behavior.

9. Gossip

Human beings are social creatures, and connection with each other is the main purpose of language and social interaction. The goal of gossip is often to establish the boundaries and exclusivity of a certain group. It can be a powerful group bonding tool, but at the expense of other people who are chosen to be gossiping. Don’t gossip if you find yourself in a situation where others are. Change the subject, or questioning the validity of the gossip can break the habit.

10. The game

People love to feel strong emotions, and the game provides those emotions. It can also be seriously addictive. This addiction can cause the people who feed it to become self-destructive, as well as destructive to those around themselves, making the player much more likely to lie, cheat, or steal in order to fuel their addiction. If you have an addictive personality, do your best to limit your exposure to gambling, or seek help if you find it becomes a problem.

“If you can’t find some way to discuss what’s going on inside of you, it can come out in other ways that are self-destructive.” – Viggo Mortensen

A destructive person will inevitably end up surrounded only by other destructive people. Once you become aware of these behaviors in yourself or others, you can learn to combat them. Taking control of your life, your social interactions and your behaviors are the first invaluable steps to turn your life around or help others in the same way. It is important to recognize the destructive behaviors that we exhibit in our daily lives, so that we can work to change the way we interact with people and how we treat ourselves.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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