Photo credit: Clifford Jones

The Psychology of Self-Destruction

Why We Do Terrible Stuff to Ourselves

I don’t know about you, but I used to say and do horrendously self-destructive things to myself as a younger man. I didn’t know why because I didn’t know much about myself. But over the last sixty-two years, I’ve learned some things that might help others end the self-destructive thinking and behavior cycle.

The phenomenon of self-destruction, wherein we consciously or unconsciously inflict harm upon ourselves, has perplexed psychologists and neuroscientists since the emergence of our pre-frontal cortex. That’s the part of us that dogs, cats, nor turtles have; the ability to be self-aware.

When we learn to master our awareness, our consciousness, by observing ourselves and all that is, we detach from the suck of life that can take us to the darkest places of the human psyche; fear, anxiety, false pride, guilt, shame, remorse, depression and so on.

In changing our self-view and judgment of people, places, and things that bother us, we transcend any attachment to outcome, much like the Zen archery master who always hits the mark.

What Sin Is

Sin is nothing more than missing the mark unless we find ourselves in the quagmire of orthodox fundamentalism created by mankind to control the minds of the masses. We get attached to having enough money, a big house, a fancy car, prestige, power, and all sorts of external and material things. That’s why a monk knows when to sell his Ferrari. He becomes self-aware, or what Christians would call born again, living in His Grace.

Most of us walk through life asleep, saying and doing things to ourselves we would never let others do to us. We feel guilty, shameful, and hurt when we miss the mark that is nothing more than a false ideal. We get programmed early, and the programming binds us to worldly things. When we are too attached to hitting a mark and miss it by holding ourselves to a false ideal, we set ourselves up for the cycle of self-abuse.

Our psyche (mind) reveals a complex interplay between the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious minds, shaping behaviors and actions contributing to self-destructive tendencies. According to renowned psychologist Sigmund Freud, our mind is…



Clifford Jones - The Art of Human Transformation

I write about and coach successful professionals in the art of human transformation because when we find clarity, meaning, and purpose we live a wealthy life.