Self defeat is a lot like those roaming backyard city-invading critters we all love to hate....raccoons. We tell ourselves 'Aw, they're cute ..." Yeah, right...cute until they take over and ravage your house, lawn, garage, bird feeder...In Japan, someone got the idea raccoons were cute and began importing them as pets. Before long, it was discovered that it was impossible to tame them and raccoons could become combatant in the home. The raccoons were released into the wild. Today Japan has an epidemic problem with raccoons in the wild. The raccoons in Japan have no natural predators and are apparently destroying ancient and historic buildings and sites.
Self-defeating behaviour is identified in some instances as having a psychological history with roots and patterns of behaviour traceable to childhood, even genetics. I'm not a pyschologist so I won't go there. But I DO know self defeat. I can see it and hear it.
A friend began beating herself up a few days ago about what I sensed she knew was an old recurring negative and unbelieving thought pattern of self defeat. She wanted not to think this way, but she was so good at sideswiping self defeat (or so she thought...) she had a solution: rather than diving into the old 'setting oneself up to fail' pattern, she would just skip that part, tell herself this kind of work wasn't for her anyway, and not even try! I heard her going through this saving herself from the possible pain of failure or the fear of failure. Over the years I knew she had probably chalked up countless episodes of similar self-sabotage. Everyday common happiness had been robbed. She might have failed to admit it, but upon closer inspection she knew she had a whole set of rather harsh rules for herself about life and living. Which was why she tried so hard and often went overboard giving others far too much leeway when it wasn't necessary or even deserved. She had become the "I'll take the rap..." person too many times. Life had unwound itself into an untidy ball of self blame, low self worth and consistent patterns of failure...There seemed no way out.
Like all of us out there...I too am a student of life. I have lived with a self-defeating mind set. I know the damage it can bring. For me, it may have started with a grouchy grade school teacher I had who put a dunce cap on my head one day and said I was stupid because I kept asking questions. I had only wanted to get a better grip on mathematics which wasn't my thing. But after the duncecap day, I became terrified of math. I was forever scared to ask questions. That tiny moment in my life launched a history of learning to 'shut up' and to do things on my own without daring to ask for or expect assistance or direction from others -- especially authority figures. Whew! What a tough haul. It was many long years before I realized the school teacher had been oppressed by alcoholism. I was finally able to forgive.
Perhaps self-defeating behaviour has more roots in wrong teaching and wrong ideas than anything else, but it can get complex. Psychologists attest that self-defeating behavior is common in society today and involves different levels of 'diagnosis'. I'm not surprised. Perhaps society is one of the culprits that stirs and feeds self defeating behavior in the first place. Self defeating behaviour sneaks through the fence and enters into systems and patterns of behavior or belief which reinforce negative patterns in social contexts and leads to self-defeat...But let's get past all of that. I figure, self defeat has had its day...and then some. It's time to tell the horrible "I'm Baaaack!" of self defeat to take a hike!
The most positive action and solution I know for dealing self-defeating behaviour a death blow is God's Word. Healing from self defeat can be found continually by spending time with and getting to know God. Being with others who care and take time to listen and pray through life issues with us is also valuable. But #1 --- is talking with God. Get connected to Him. Get to know and understand His perspective. It's all there in His Word, which is His amazing 'letter' on life. Once you know and have studied God's thoughts, start agreeing with Him. Begin to take hold of His thoughts and promises...which are your inheritance. God's thoughts and promises are invaluable resources.
Before long, instead of listening to the horrible "I'm Baaaack" of self defeat, you will find yourself living the 'alleluias' of life. It's time.