Self-Defeating Behaviors: A Book Review

What is your life like?

Is it a relentless procession of empty days, an endless cycle of meaningless, frustrating work and un-relaxing sleep?

Do you repeat the same pattern of joyless days and empty nights ad nauseam?

Do you bounce out of bed eager to face another exciting day filled with opportunities for enjoyment, human contact and personal growth?

Has the memory of the irrepressible you faded into dust?

Has your life become an arduous and repetitive ordeal?

Do you keep hurting yourself, and does this recognition keep haunting you, day and night?

Are you acting on misguided choices, doing and saying things that virtually guarantee dissatisfaction and unhapppiness?


If you answered “Yes” (or even “Maybe”) to any of those questions, have I got good news for you!

The best book I have seen that specifically addresses how we can reclaim our mental, emotional and spiritual power from the traps we ourselves have built and continue to nourish is “Self-Defeating Behaviors” by Cudney and Hardy. On second reading, it is a truly phenomenal work. I have already purchased and distributed over two dozen copies. It provides a dynamic model of the way we construct, defend and nurture our self-defeating behaviors, while we simultaneously minimize the real pain heaped upon us and the people around us, and abdicate responsibility for the whole thing! We are each of us presented with a continuous stream of new moments of life, in which we exercise choices. Each of these choices can lead either to a self-defeating behavior or to a behavior that affirms and honors life. At certain times, we “learn” (i.e. we make an invalid association) that we can avoid work/pain/criticism or other fear by choosing a certain escapist behaviors or thoughts. This choice, expressed through various internal and external techniques, results in various prices that we must pay. In order to continue avoiding our fears, we proceed to minimize the prices (by saying, for example, “It’s not all that bad; I can stand the discomfort”), and finally, to disown the choice we made (“It’s not MY fault; it was my parents/teachers/bullies/social conditions/the government/ghosts/the voices/…”). That cycle, from our choices of developing internal and external techniques to avoid some (mythical) fear(s), and then refusing to pay the price, results in a full-blown self-defeating cycle, which feeds on itself, getting worse and worse, engulfing more and more areas of our lives.

Even when new techniques are learned (such as NLP!!) which appear to offer the promise of positive growth, they quickly and effortlessly become swallowed up in the seething vortex of self-defeating behaviors, making it even biggerthan ever! This black hole effect can easily escalate from disappointment to depression, food/alcohol/drug abuse, violence, murder and ultimately, suicide.Unless we recognize and terminate this vicious cycle, ALL of our other efforts can lead to naught, mired in our old habits of thought and action.