Recognize Your Self-defeating Patterns? Then Change the Patterns

MarilynDavisatTIERSStarred Page By MarilynDavisatTIERS, 31st Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Personal Development>Self-awareness

“If we experience any failures or setbacks, we do not forget them because they offend our self-esteem. Instead we reflect on them deeply, trying to figure out what went wrong and discern whether there are any patterns to our mistakes.” Robert Greene, Mastery

Patterns of Behaviors

Our behaviors in active addiction are very predictable – get up, use, nod out, wake up, use, use more, nod out, wake up, experience withdrawal, score and use. Some of us may add using other people to get what we need, myriad self-defeating behaviors, poor attitudes, and self-centered behaviors to our list of predictable patterns in our addiction. Unfortunately, we may continue to use these self-defeating behaviors even in our recovery.

Not Using Does Not Guarantee Changes in Behaviors

Simply discontinuing our use of drugs and alcohol does not mean that we quit the behaviors. They may have been excessive or aggravated in our use; however, these same self-defeating behaviors have often become so habituated that they form the patterns of our behaviors early in our recovery.

It is the patterns of our behavior that we need to reflect upon in our early recovery. What is the typical way you respond? What is the mechanical or habituated way you think about people and situations? How long have you operated from self-defeating behaviors? For many of us, we find that we reacted, thought and felt certain ways even before our use took over. Just as we learn and develop patterns, we can also break them.

What Are The Possible Origins Of These Patterns?

What Are The Possible Origins Of These Patterns?
• Childhood roles
• Manipulation Methods
• Self-defeating Responses and Reactions to Life Experiences
• Fears

Many of our behaviors started in childhood; we adopted others as they facilitated our use, such as manipulation ploys. A look at the typical childhood roles can help you see if you still operate from outdated and perhaps age inappropriate behaviors.

Hero or Good Child: assumes responsibility for the family
Scapegoat or the Problem Child: Identified as the cause of all the family’s problems
Caretaker: Sacrifices personal needs for the good of the family
Clown: Tries to break the tensions in the family with jokes or comical behaviors
Lost Child: the unseen, invisible child that is self-sufficient even when they do not have answers or age appropriate skills

Knowing which of these childhood roles you played may help you see the patterns in your recovery and break them. Obviously, the older we are when we get into recovery the more years we have used certain behaviors, however, the patterns can be broken.

Manipulation Methods

Nearly all of us in our addiction needed to manipulate people into doing something for us; lending us money, taking care of our responsibilities or we manipulated them simply because we could feel in control when we did this.

While pouting, whining and acting sad, lonely, unloved, or disadvantaged might get our way with people some of the time, we should be mindful that it loses it effectiveness with age. An older person, like me, just looks wrinkled and pathetic; pouting doesn't usually succeed.

Self-Defeating Responses and Reactions to Life

Each life experience gives us an opportunity to respond from an old pattern of behavior or a newly adopted positive aspect. In our active addiction, many of our reactions to life experiences created:
• Poor Attitudes
• Angry words said in haste
• Moping
• Rebelling
• Temper Tantrums
• Family Squabbles
• Quarrels

Drugs and alcohol only fuel these behaviors, they do not solely create them, and therefore, some changes in behavior will have to be made consciously in our recovery. Carrying these into your recovery will mean that you will probably not get much help from others who are more knowledgeable in their recovery. If you think about this realistically, why would anyone want to help anybody who demonstrated such poor behaviors? On the other hand, adopting better attitudes, patience, interest and willingness to follow directions usually gives us an opportunity to learn new behaviors as well as finding helpful suggestions from people.


Oftentimes, our fears in early recovery center on the following:
• Success and/or failure
• Feeling less worthy than others due to our past actions
• Being incompetent when we do not know how to change our patterns

These fears can also fuel the self-defeating patterns by keeping us from asking for help, incorrectly believing that asking for help demonstrates our inadequacies, and prompting us to appear disinterested in recovering.

In recovery, these self-defeating reactions will create additional problems. A better way to handle these fears is to voice them to others and see their reactions. Oftentimes, they will laugh; not at us, but at their own fears when they were early in their recovery. Typically, they will then tell us how they overcame their fears and find some solutions and got better outcomes.

Usual Outcomes: Change to Get Different Results

When you review your usual behaviors, thoughts and attitudes, an easy way to determine if you want to keep them is to think of your usual outcomes. If you like the outcomes continue with the behaviors and attitudes; however, if you do not like the outcomes, then change yourself to experience different and probably better outcomes.

Be mindful of going 180 degrees in the opposite direction however; it may be different, although not correct. For instance:
• Angry outbursts –not saying anything; running the risk of your emotions building up inside
• Sulking – acting falsely pleased at a life situation
• Defying – agreeing and doing something even if you have legitimate reservations about the request
• Being Argumentative – not voicing your opinion for a civilized discussion of differences
• Resisting - Accepting without having any of your concerns addressed

Learned Patterns Can be Unlearned

All of our patterns were learned and therefore, they can be unlearned. Discovering your individual patterns means that you can stop more than your use in your recovery and experience different outcomes in your future.

Keep the Valuable Patterns

Not all of our patterns are self-defeating however; take for instance saying, “Thank you” if you receive a compliment. That habit or pattern is one that is worth keeping. It is the ones that create problems that need to change.

How Can Your Story Help Another?

Each person has a unique perspective on addiction and recovery. Writing about your experiences may just be the encouragement that someone else needs to recover. Consider writing on Wikinut to spread the word that recovery is possible.

To read additional articles about addiction and recovery by Marilyn Davis

All images: Pixabay


Addiciton And Self-Defeating Behaviors, Patterns Of Behavior, Patterns Of Self-Defeating Behavior, Recovery, Seeing The Patterns Of Behavior, Self-Defeating Behavior, Self-Discovery, Self-Improvement

Meet the author

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
A Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, with 25 years of abstinence-based recovery. I write about addictions, recovery, life lessons and general writing tips.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Good evening, Steve - hope you are doing better. Thanks for the quick moderation and star. I appreciate both. ~Marilyn

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author avatar snerfu
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Wonderful article that uplifts and makes us at least, why one goes through all this. Life is for living and all the trouble makes it worth while. Great going Ms Davis.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Good evening, Snerfu; life is for living, thanks for that reminder. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Outstanding star page with deeply helpful psychological insights, lucidly articulated. Bravo.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Good morning, rama devi nina; thank you for those kind words. Recovery and becoming mindful opened up many opportunities for me to gain at least some personal insight, which in the scheme of things can only be expanded upon if we give what we have learned away to make room within for additional personal growth. I appreciate your comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
1st Aug 2014 (#)

great information again Marilyn...many thanks! I always had a noise follows me around wherever I I have had to come to terms with it..make it ok and now it does not bother me as much...

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Good morning, Carolina; sorry to hear about the noise issue. Glad you were able to find ways to overcome it or at least tolerate it. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Hey; great job. Sorry I did not call you tonight. Ended up taking Sean to the ER for pain meds. Kidney stone. No fun, but that's how it goes...

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Good morning Phyl, I hope he is feeling better. I understand kidney stones are quite painful. Bless his heart. Try calling over the weekend if that is good for you. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Margaret Michel
2nd Aug 2014 (#)

Great insightful piece! Worthy indeed of a star!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
3rd Aug 2014 (#)

Good evening, Margaret, thank you for those kind words. I hope it offers each reader encouragement to tackle their self-defeating patterns. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

Extremely insightful article, Marilyn. You elucidate so accurately how those who have fallen victim to drugs, alcohol or other addiction are also victims of their own long-standing behavioural patterns. Equally important is that this information helps us as friends and parents of victims to understand the turmoil that they suffer through their addictions. This, in turn, better equips us to help them regain their self-esteem and assure them that they do not have to face their problems alone and unsupported.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
4th Sep 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Mike; haven't seen you in a while. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope that my personal struggles and finding ways to overcome many of them can help not just the individual but as you so kindly mention, maybe it helps those dealing with us as well. A double win. ~Marilyn

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