How to End Self-Destructive Behavior

by Asatar Bair on March 22, 2013

[Photo courtesy of Sonia F]

We all have self-destructive tendencies. It seems to be part of being human.

We sabotage ourselves and we hurt our own progress; we want to get close to someone, but then we push them away. We’re trying to accomplish something but we do things that are against it.

Then there are the things we do that are destructive toward our health, we smoke, drink alcohol, stay up too late when we know we have to get up early. These are things we do out of habit, denial, and weakness, not really out of ignorance. There are so many things we know are bad for us — we know it because we have seen the ill-effects on ourselves firsthand, not because of what someone told us — but we do it anyway.

It creates a cycle of guilt, shame, and redemption — in which we feel bad, ask ourselves why we did it, then promise to do better. It’s an inner drama that absorbs energy.

So where does this self-destructive tendency come from?

I have two answers: the first concerns the spiritual, the second, the psychological.

1. Spiritual Roots of Self-Destructive Behavior

It’s because we want to go home.

In other words, we have a longing for the experience of unity. We come from the One Being; that is our true nature of our soul and spirit. Our hearts hold the memory of that perfect unity of being.

The very nature of our souls is the Infinite. When your soul only knows limitation, your soul becomes kind of beaten down, and finds a way to express that longing for perfection and infinity in some unconscious way.

Self-destruction is a big unconscious way of getting back to unity, because that is the ultimate end of destruction. To destroy utterly means to nullify, to annihilate, to go back to nothingness, which is the unity that comes before.

So spiritually, self-destructive behavior comes from our frustration and ignorance of the true nature of reality. Consciously moving toward the experience of unity is the way to address self-destructive tendencies at the most fundamental level.

Give your soul and spirit what it is you truly want: the experience that

I am one with all things

and all things are one with me.

The true nature of reality is that we are a focusing of the universe onto a single point. We need to be aware of  that one point, and yet we need to be aware that there is something greater. Our individuality makes no sense without the sense of perspective that comes from feeling the larger whole. Our lack of perspective is where most of our suffering comes from.

I have recorded two meditations for you, applications of Heart Rhythm Meditation to ending self-destructive tendencies and behavior.

Meditation 1: The Spiritual Roots of Self-Destructive Behavior (23 minutes — click link to stream, then right click and “save-as” to download)

  • how to meditate on your heart — the basics of Heart Rhythm Meditation
  • how to make your breath smooth, and what surprising benefits that brings
  • the value of sitting still
  • the value of watching your breath
  • the importance of rhythmic breathing
  • how the method of HRM works to achieve unity
  • how HRM differs from other methods of meditation
  • how to go into your body, thoughts, and feelings, using this as a portal to enter the timeless, and perfect.
  • how to ease inner resistance to your feelings
  • what to do if you feel no emotion
  • why your feelings have such tremendous value
  • how to embrace all emotions, and how this leads to self-acceptance, the key to accepting others.
  • where self-dissatisfaction comes from

Click here to listen to Meditation 1

2. Psychological Roots of Self-Destructive Behavior

Psychologically, self-destructive behavior comes from the warring between different factions within ourselves.

We have been told to be a certain way, and that way we are told to be — on account of our gender, interests, family upbringing, or role — may not be in harmony with our true nature.

For example, many women have been given the message that they should be soft, accepting, and nurturing; that they should accept the authority of men, not try to lead, and many other such messages. Some women may feel that this fits with their inner energy, but many other women do not. So there is a conflict with the way they are expected to be and the way the feel within.

The same is true for men, who are taught and expected to be assertive even to the point of being aggressive, to be decisive, blunt, in control, forceful, and so on. Men who feel their true nature is more receptive, accommodating, nurturing, and gentle are likely to be scorned. (Luckily, much of this is changing, as gender norms become more expansive.)

These conflicts — and there are many other examples — set up a situation where we feel we need to manage, ignore, and repress who we really are.

We have a part of our self that says, for example: “I want to get healthier, I want to lose weight, I want to be more fit.” And another part that says, “Life is so hard, can’t I just get a break?”

I think it is not news to say we have warring factions within ourselves. The key is how to we work with this situation? How do we make peace?

So I have recorded a second meditation specifically to work on this issue.

Meditation 2: Making Peace with the Different Parts of Your Self (27 minutes — click link to stream, then right click and “save-as” to download)

  • examples of inner conflict
  • the cycle of inner drama
  • how to discover your warring factions
  • how to make peace with the different parts of yourself

Click here to listen to Meditation 2

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share a comment below.


P.S. One powerful way to give yourself the support you need to do this on a daily basis is to take our online course 101: Introduction to Heart Rhythm Meditation. We also have a course in meditation specifically to help you sleep.

P.P.S. The Invincible Heart 2013 Tour continues this weekend with a stop in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

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Jack March 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Hi Asatar,

I got chills reading this post because it resonated so strongly with me. Through my life I’ve struggled with a series of self-destructive behaviors that I’ve only really started to get ahandle of in the last 12 months.

Thank you for writing and sharing this, I can’t wait to try the meditations.

I wanted to ask you and the university of the heart community- would you or someone at the university of the heart have interest in coming on for a skype interview for my youtube channel? It currently has 10,500 subscribers and is focused toward helping gamers live healthier lives. I’ve heavily promoted meditation to the gamers as a tool to better their lives and one of the top questions I get is if I can make a simple tutorial on “how to meditate.”

I thought bringing on an expert would be a great way to fill that need, and University of the Heart strikes me as the perfect place to find such an expert. Please let me know if this is something that would be feasible, and here is a link to the youtube.

Thank you once again for sharing this post!

Asatar Bair March 22, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Hi Jack,
Thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad this post resonated with you.
Sure, I’d be happy to do an interview. You can email me at
warm regards,

Isa March 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I experience self destructiveness as inertia.

Asatar Bair March 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Hi Isa,
Thank you for this observation. Once a habit becomes engrained, it does have its own inertia that can be hard to break. But good habits have inertia, too.
warm regards,

Rose March 22, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Asatar thank you for this post!
I now very strongly realize that I have never had a period in my life where my strong, taking charge, self-focused self has been able to live with my receptive, gentle, and giving self. The first is more natural to me and the second is something I consciously developed almost four years ago (actually around the time I found HRM!). I poured more and more of my energy into that part of myself then turned away from that, after going too far and letting people manipulate me and hurt my ability to achieve my life goals. I turned away from this part of myself roughly six months ago and there have been many inner-struggles since. I stopped meditating, starting having a “doing for me” mindset. Like everyone, I have responsibilities in work and relationships, and to attend to these relationships you can’t have an “all about me” mindset. As I was turning away from my “giving” self, I realized I was doing things that hurt others and hurt myself, but my self that said “do for yourself, not others!” kept on chiming in. The result has been this endless struggle cycle that has recently manifested in verbal fights with people close to me. Within this “me me me” period I did sometimes turn back to my “giving” self but I always got burnt out. Your post is unbelievably healing and helpful because it gives me insight on how to marry both of my selves so I’m more effective in the world in all the different ways my heart desires. Thank you so much. I will start meditating again and I think much can be improved in my life with this new insight. Sincerely, Rose

Asatar Bair March 22, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Dear Rose,
Wow, I’m not sure I follow all parts of your comment, but I am certainly delighted that you have found your way back to meditation and that a way seems clear to harmonize parts of your self. Meditating on your heart really is for you *and* it also enables you to give back more to others and the world.

christiane March 23, 2013 at 3:54 am

Hi Asatar,

thank you for sharing the meditations and insights around the nature of our self- destructive habbits. The split between the ‘I and the ‘All’ is a bit of a twist at times. peeeww!
greetings from the Alps,

Asatar Bair March 23, 2013 at 6:32 am

Dear Christiane,
I know what you mean. Thank you so much for reading and for your comment. It’s wonderful to hear from you.

Ahmed Tarell March 24, 2013 at 3:32 am


This meditation and stream of thought has the potential for so much healing in so many
communities. It touched on a deep secret within that is extremely liberating.
I have emailed you with some other thoughts

In love Ahmed

Asatar Bair March 24, 2013 at 8:02 am

Dear Ahmed,
Thank you so much for your comment. I’m glad the meditation was helpful. I agree that it seems like an area that could really be developed.
take care,

julia March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am

Dear Asatar,
i liked your article. it explains a lot. unfortunatelly 1st type of meditation isn’t for me. when i was a child i had an atopic asthma, so i couldn’t breathe and nowadays when i try to think about my breathing process that scares me so much,that i start breathing so fast and cant come down. i wish i could, but… If you know how to overcome that fear i ll be very grateful.

Asatar Bair March 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Dear Julia,
Thank you for reading. I have not had asthma myself, but my father, Puran Bair, the founder of IAM Heart and the IAM University of the Heart, had asthma as a child. He healed it completely by learning meditation. He has an upcoming webinar called Heal Your Lungs: Meditations for Allergies and Asthma that might be of interest. We have had many students work with this issue in our school. There is no magic cure, but paying attention to your breath over time works wonders. Work with the fear gently; just become aware of your breath first, don’t change anything. Then gradually work on making it deeper, a tiny bit at a time. If fear comes up, pay attention to the fear, and just keep breathing. Gradually you will be able to deepen your breath, which will help you integrate the experience of your childhood.

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