Self-Destruct Mode Activated: When choices trigger a downward spiral

Self-Destruct Mode Activated: When choices trigger a downward spiral

When it was time for the annual performance appraisal, I knew I was nowhere near the pass mark. Often being called the most “driven” and a great team player, my contribution to the profitability of the organisation had started on an all-time high and now ending on a dreadful low.

I do not know when it really started but I had stopped rowing and the organisation’s boat was no longer moving as expected. I held a very critical position at the time. As I set waiting for my turn, I started to prepare my answers. Everything lay in the blame game; someone had to take the fall. The walk to the managing director’s office felt like trudging through quicksand. As I entered, his stern expression confirmed my fears. Excuses would not fly and my currency of self-pity was not going to exonerate me, not this time.

Life in the fast lane of ambition, as I was now painfully aware, is fraught not just with calculated risks and strategic decision-making but with potential self-destruction. My choices had led me here but like many of us, we do not want to dance to our music when the ugly tune starts to play. I had unknowingly sabotaged my ascent.

Often sugar coated, these destructive choices fuelled by unchecked impulses, anxieties, or ingrained habits, erodes professional standing, financial security, well-being and drain positive energy. How does one recognize when they have hit “self-destruct mode,” and more importantly, what strategies can help one regain control and course-correct?

The first step to dismantling self-destruction is acknowledging its presence. Here are some red flags to be on the lookout for:

  • The Financially Reckless Rainmaker: Living paycheck to paycheck, despite a lucrative income stream, or leveraging excessive debt to fund an unsustainable lifestyle that leave one vulnerable to economic downturns.
  • The Chemically Imbalanced Closer: Turning to substances to manage the pressure cooker often times leading to health problems, missed deadlines, and tarnished reputations.
  • Trapped in a Toxic Tango: Leaning on substances to cope with the pressure cooker, often leading to health issues, missed deadlines, and a tarnished reputation.
  • The Procrastinating Perfectionist: Habitually delaying crucial decisions, setting unrealistic goals, or succumbing to self-doubt can lead to missed opportunities and a plateauing of growth.
  • Chronic Stress and Anxiety: Feeling overwhelmed by the weight of expectation, clouding judgment and leading to rash decisions.
  • The Hermit Hustle: Disconnecting from mentors, peers, and advisors, leaving one isolated and without a support system.
  • Burnout and Physical Neglect: Ignoring sleep patterns, neglecting exercise, or resorting to unhealthy eating habits.
  • Diminishing Returns: A noticeable drop in productivity, missed deadlines, or negative feedback from clients or investors.
Website-Banner-2-8-1024x448 Self-Destruct Mode Activated: When choices trigger a downward spiral

Self-destructive behaviour is not a random occurrence; it often stems from underlying issues. Here are some common causes:

  • Underlying Mental Health Conditions: Chronic depression, anxiety, or unresolved trauma can lead to self-destructive coping mechanisms as a way to manage difficult emotions. People may use substances, engage in self-harm, or isolate themselves to numb emotional pain.
  • Unhealthy Relationship Patterns: Low self-esteem or co-dependency in relationships can make individuals more susceptible to self-destructive behaviours. For instance, staying abusive relationships or enabling an addict’s behaviour.
  • Environmental Factors: A stressful work environment or social isolation can contribute to feelings of hopelessness and self-destruction. Feeling constantly pressured or lacking social connection can make it difficult to cope with challenges in a healthy way.

Reclaim Your Narrative

Everyone desires freedom. Self-destruction is not a mark of failure; it is a behavioural pattern that can be disrupted. Overcoming self-destruction requires self-awareness and a commitment to change. Where do you start? The following are a few recommendations to get us started.

  • Pinpoint Your Triggers: What specific situations or emotions lead you down the path of self-destruction? Identifying these triggers empowers you to develop avoidance or mitigation strategies.
  • Build a Support Network: Confide in trusted advisors, mentors, or even a therapist. Sharing your struggles can provide invaluable accountability and emotional support.
  • Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Learn to manage stress effectively through exercise, mindfulness practices, or creative outlets.
  • Set SMART Goals: Establish Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals to build momentum and celebrate progress.
  • Seek Professional Help: Do not hesitate to seek guidance from therapists or addiction specialists if you are struggling to manage on your own.

Dorothy Rudo Nyagumbo

Dorothy Rudo Nyangumbo is an associate consultant, client relationship expert, published author, and the My Afrika Magazine Copy Editor & Columnist.

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