Destructive cycles and how to break free.

Because life is short, follow the Happy Path for more tips and inspiration to live your happiest live.


1. Recognise you are in a destructive cycle.

Sometimes this is the hardest step. At times we don’t even notice what we are doing is hurting ourselves. We might convince ourselves our vices are helping, that they are essential, that there is no other option. Acknowledging your behaviour is not the best it could be is hard. Try asking yourself

  • “Am I the happiest I could be?”
  • “Is xxx really helping me?”
  • “If I was the best possible version of myself would I do this?”

Destructive behaviours can be obvious to some of us, drugs, alcohol, self harm they can also be less obvious eating disorders, abusive self speak, even exercising too much can all be examples of destructive behaviour.

I consider a destructive behaviour to be anything that does not overall improve my health and well-being.

2. Stop finding excuses

Once we acknowledge we are in a destructive cycle we then have to stop finding excuses not to change.

We justify how we feel and our response to the world often because of the things happening to us. For this reason we can easily find excuses to carry on responding the way we normally do. Stuff will always be happening to us, it is not a reason to allow yourself to keep repeating negative behaviour.

Rather than blaming someone or something else for our actions taking a level of accountability that we are often not comfortable with is essential. There is really no excuse worthy of harmful behaviour.

My harmful behaviour is often around food, I will use stress, or tiredness as an excuse to eat sugar. It does not really help me feel better (even the sugar boost does not last long enough to justify the benefit), but it is a convenient excuse. Yes in the moment I feel a little better for it but overall the impact to my health and well-being is not good.

3.Break the cycle

Plan a way to break your cycle before the behaviour takes hold. trying to decide on a different course in the moment is hard. Consider in advance what the destructive behaviour is, what triggers it and what alternatives strategies you could deploy. Then when the moment takes hold you are already forearmed with other options.

I am currently trying to have a drink, have a healthy snack, do something different…Rather than resort to food. I only succeed less than half the time but at least I am trying.

4. If at first you don’t succeed try, try, try again

Often our behaviours are built up over days, weeks, months, even years of your lives. You cannot expect to break a cycle over night. If you do great, but for most of us it will take multiple attempts. The important thing is to not give up trying. As long as you are trying you are succeeding.

I have had over thirty years to perfect my bad relationship with food, if it takes me that long to fix it so be it.

Be kind to yourself

I feel like a broken record on this. We are rarely kind enough to ourselves. Tackling destructive behaviours is a massive mountain to climb, if it was easy we would not fall into them in the first place.

I am learning to be kind to myself when I eat a load of junk and as a result of not beating myself up I don’t go hunting for that second bar of chocolate (well at least not as often).

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