And so there are so many common behaviors which are self-destructive and self-defeating, and we just don't get it. We don't realize that these behaviors are undermining life itself.
These behaviors constitute a rejection of life or a rejection of you in life.
And so many of these behaviors are day-to-day pedestrian conduct that we come across among friends and neighbors and family and colleagues, and we don't dedicate a second thought. We don't stop to say, what is this guy or girl doing? I mean, they are destroying themselves in the long run.
And yet we are so accustomed to nihilism, to self-negation, to self-loathing and self-hatred, to self-criticism. We've become so accustomed to this that we regard this as the new normal.
Well, we go to therapy because everything and everyone around us is imbued with negative psychology, and we need a kind of countervailing voice to balance us, to give us insight, to tell us that there are positive things worth living for, because we are not sure.
We are no longer sure that life is worth it. It may well be the first age in human history starting, perhaps, with the existentialist in the 1940s, that we are doubting the very value of the proposition of life itself. Is it worth living?
And so in many ways, directly and indirectly, underhanded and overt, we sabotage ourselves, we defeat ourselves, we destroy our lives. Constricted life. People who avoid things, avoid certain behaviors, avoid new experiences, anything from new food to a new club that just opened. People who are very rigid when it comes to what they will do and what they will not do, they know well in advance the trajectory of their lives. And it is a very limited tunnel vision of life itself, because life is about diversity and unpredictability and a bit of risk. And we have to embrace loss and hurt and pain and risk and danger, because these are the engines of growth and personal development and self-enrichment in terms of a rich life. And this is the spice, that gives us reason to get up in the morning, raison d'être, the reason for being.
And yet, the vast majority of people live within the confines of their comfort zones in a pod or a cocoon, doing the same things in well-established ruts and routines, terrified of looking left and right, trying to remain conformist and centered, trying to follow the herd, never engaging in critical independent thinking, never in affect agentic or autonomous.
And consequently, these people are not self-efficacious, the constriction of life, the narrowing of life is the narrowing of oneself to the point of vanishing. And so life constriction is an example of possibly the most extreme self-destructive process, and it leads inexorably to depression and anxiety, because it involves self-betrayal. You're betraying your potential for self-actualization for who you could be.
Another form of self-destructiveness is love addiction, falling in love or having sex for all the wrong reasons, to regulate your sense of self-esteem, to validate yourself to feel good, to rely crucially on the gaze of others, on the touch of others, to become totally dependent on your environment for your own core identity and self-definition, loving people for all the wrong reasons via processes of crushes, infatuation and limerence. This is a form of self-destructiveness.
It's very easy to prove this because the majority of people, after engaging, for example, in casual sex or getting constantly infatuated with people, the majority feel shame, regret and guilt. These are egodystonic emotions. They are warning signs that we're doing something wrong, and we are.
Love is the reification of life itself. Freud said it. He called it libido, the force of life. Eros is a part of libido. Love is all there is in effect, but loving people for the wrong reasons is the opposite of love. It's a form of disappearing or vanishing, merger, fusion with other people, symbiotic relationships with other people, regulating your internal environment via other people, regulating your moods, your emotions, relying on other people for your own well-being and happiness. That's not love. That's not love. That's addiction, and addictions by definition, taken to extreme are destructive, of course self-destructive.
Another way to destroy yourself very efficiently is by becoming a perfectionist, setting yourself up for failure. Loving someone 100%, that's a form of perfectionism, and you are setting your partner up for failure because no one can reciprocate, no one can love 100%. Doing anything to perfection, perfect is the enemy of good, best is the enemy of good.
Perfectionism is about self-defeat. You are procrastinating. When you are a perfectionist, you tend to procrastinate because of performance anxiety. You don't dare to try to measure up to your own standards because they are unattainable.
Perfectionism is killing you. It paralyzes you.
Then there is self-denial.
Self-denial, things you love to do, issues you would like to tackle, studies you would like to engage in, sex you would like to have, drinks, I know what, things that make your life better, happier, more energized, things that rejuvenate you, that charge you, that move you forward.
Denying yourself these things, self-denial, extreme form of asceticism, which actually borders on self-negation, on not being, on rendering yourself an absence.
Because any finite entity, human beings included, wants things. To want means that there is something outside you that you need and wish to have. That's why God cannot want. He includes everything. He cannot have a will.
But human beings have a will. And to deny your will is to weaken yourself. To weaken yourself to the point of death, of dying, mentally, if not physically.
Denying yourself food is an eating disorder. Denying yourself sex, not because you don't like sex or you're in a section, but because it's a way to punish yourself. Any form of self-punishment via self-denial is self-destructiveness.
You've been told, perhaps as a child, that you're not good enough, that you're not worthy, that you're a bad object, that you should always strive for more. You can never satisfy these internal voices. They never let you go. They always criticize you and put you down.
And so you would rather not be.
And this is, of course, a great description of depression. Depression is the ultimate form of self-annihilation, of self-negation, of self-destruction, of self-defeat. Depression is about giving up, giving up on the future, giving up by remaining stuck in a sempiternal present. A present that has no bounds and leads nowhere. Depression is about inertia. It's about objectifying yourself, becoming an object.
Depressed people are paralyzed in more than one sense, even if they are hyperactive and many depressed people are actually very active. They're not there. They're not present in their own lives.
Depression and anxiety are toxins. They're poisonous. They destroy you from the inside, corrode you.
Many people react to depression and anxiety by numbing themselves, emotional numbing, reduced affect display. That's not a solution. Numbing yourself, turning off your emotions, turning yourself off in effect. That's hardly a solution.
Numbing, not being there, is suicide, is death by another name. Numbing is mental death. Numbing is placing yourself in a coffin, irrevocably and irretrievably, never being able to exit.
Numbing is like an external skeleton, an exoskeleton that encases you and then distorts your limbs and ruins you.
Numbing is closely associated with dissociation, association, amnesia, depersonalization, derealization.
There is no defensive process more destructive than dissociation. Dissociation is slicing off pieces of memory, thereby ruining your ability to form an identity and to feel yourself, to feel the eye.
You are undermining, by dissociating and numbing, you're undermining your subjectivity. You're no longer there in any sense.
And all these processes, of course, involve objectification, self-objectification. That's why many people who are self-destructive abuse substances and then go on, proceed to sexually self-trash, allowing other people to treat them as sexual objects, or they undermine their accomplishments, their careers, their relationships, because they are not there subjectively. They are there as inert bodies, but nothing much more.
Self-destructiveness and self-defeat are a form of masochism.
Masochism is not about self-hatred necessarily.
A lot of the masochistic impulse is actually grandiose. It's a victim's stance. It's martyrdom.
I am being tortured, discriminated against, mistreated because I'm superior morally or otherwise. It leads to passive aggression, for example, in covert narcissism.
Masochism is a choice. It's a way of viewing others and the world. It's handing over control to the outside and external locus of control. And it goes hand in hand with alloplastic defenses.
There was nothing I could do. I couldn't help it.
People are vicious and envious. The world is decrepit and corrupt. I am its victim.
But to uphold your grandiose masochism, you need to truly become a victim.
You need to victimize yourself. You need to self-victimize, re-traumatize yourself. You need to destroy yourself via endless repetition compulsions.
You keep repeating the same behaviors, doing the same things, hoping for different outcomes in theory, but in reality, praying for identical outcomes.
Because that's what you know best.
Disintegration, falling apart, ruining yourself had become a vocation. You are a gifted amateur at failure and defeat.
There comes a point where you're proud of your failures and defeats.
Self-destructiveness becomes an art form and you are an artist.
All these people have insecure attachment. They cannot bond with other people safely. They don't feel safe. And they don't feel safe because they have an internalized enemy. They have a bad interject.
How can they feel safe and secure when they can't rid themselves of a Trojan horse or a fifth column out to exterminate and eliminate them vehemently and with full conviction? How can they cope with other people when they can't cope even with themselves, when they have no self-love, when they're hell-bent on leaving nothing behind except a wasteland. This is a scorched earth policy.
Of course, these people cannot get securely attached to anyone. They never feel secure and they never get attached because they anticipate, those days, they catastrophize. They expect a scenario of hurt and pain and loss that is inexorable.
There's very little they can do about it. It's all about learned helplessness, impotence as an ideology.
And most of these people end up with an ideology of twilight of the gods, Goethe, the German phrase, aptly.
So look around you. Most people are busy, destroying themselves, trapped in dead marriages and dead end jobs, perfectionistic, self-denying, depressed, anxious, numb, dissociative, masochistic, falling in love and having sex for all the wrong reasons, unable to form attachments, ending up atomized, alone, dying, within their pods, never to be seen again, even by themselves.