How to Stop Self-Sabotage and Avoid Negative Thinking For Good
When it comes to reaching your goals- whether they be personal or work related- there is nothing that can get in the way of reaching them that is more frustrating than self-sabotage and your own negative thinking.
Negative thinking and sabotaging behaviour is common and something that most people do on a regular basis. However, every time you think negatively and sabotage yourself, you limit your ability to reach your goals. To understand better how to avoid sabotage and negative thinking, let’s look at the common ways most people sabotage their efforts so you can stop making these same mistakes yourself.
You may know what you want and know how you have to go about it, but you can’t seem to get started. Perhaps you have signed up to compete in your first half-marathon or a triathlon, for example. You know the date for the event, and you have researched and set up a plan for your training between now and the event date. But you just can’t seem to get started. Each night you plan to start your training the next day, but it just never happens. It becomes frustrating and your inner battle is like a personal tug-of-war that makes you even more stressed until your lack of action becomes a downward spiral to failure and not success.
This is basically about not believing in yourself and your ability to succeed. You keep seeking validation from friends, family and colleagues rather than knowing that you do have what it takes to succeed. With every day that you wait for someone to tell you that you will do great racing the half marathon, instead of just going within and doing what it takes to get started, you continue to demotivate yourself, until it starts to affect your self-esteem and you feel completely unworthy and incapable.
Changing Your Goals
If you find that you can’t commit to your goal, always changing the path you want to take, then this becomes sabotaging behaviour. Maybe you keep changing the date for the event you will compete in, or you don’t commit to your gym sessions, changing your routine each week. This will just mean you end-up bouncing from one thing to the next and will never reach the goal you truly desire.
Being Busy But Not Productive
This can happen when you fill your time doing “stuff” for the sake of it, but don’t get any closer to reaching your goal, or when you get distracted by being busy but not productive. This is a bad illusion to be under and you can lose sight of your priorities and never get to where you want to be. This might be if you do an activity every night, but not the specific ones you know you need to do as part of your training routine. You might do a yoga class one night, then pilates on another night (which are great classes to be going to!), but are they going to help you with gaining the strength and endurance you need to run a marathon? This behaviour can also manifest as telling yourself you don’t have time to train at all, yet instead of going for a run, you stay at home, browse Facebook and watch TV.
The reason you might try and fill your time unproductively is because you have a hidden fear that it is not safe to accomplish your goal and the success or failure is too scary to face. Staying busy keeps you in a safe place but also makes it easier to avoid the high priority tasks that will result in the successful accomplishment of our goal.
In order to overcome these ways of thinking and these negative behaviour patterns there are a few things you can do to help move your thoughts in the right direction.
Understand Why You Sabotage
The reasons for negative thinking and self-sabotage usually stem from one of four things: negative self-beliefs, fear of success, lack of confidence, and fear of change. Our thoughts become a mechanism that we use to overcome our internal fears, struggles, worries, shame and unworthiness. When it comes to self-image or self-belief, perhaps you have always lacked confidence in your appearance, or you might even be worried about what will happen if you do lose weight and look and feel differently. Maybe you are worried what others might think or feel by the new you. This might seem strange but is actually more common than you think! Once you know why you sabotage and have identified the areas of your life where you think negatively then you can focus on that area and try to stop the defeatist behaviour before it kicks in.
A good way of better understanding yourself and where you often sabotage is to journal. Get a special notebook which you can use to jot down the ways you think and feel about the things happening in your life. This will lead to a journey of self-discovery that will allow you to change. If the idea of journaling is not one that appeals to you, know that there are no rights or wrongs. You can write as much or as little as you like, it can be note form or long prose, whatever appeals to you. Know that it is only you who will read the words so you can be free and open. You could also use the journal to draw, doodle, write down quotes that inspire or lyrics to songs you enjoy. Anything at all that will allow you to deepen your self-inquiry and allow you to change.
When it comes to making changes to your life (which are often scary!) it can be useful to have anchors that you refer to when you feel the negative thoughts kick-in or notice you are sabotaging your goals. These can be physical objects that remind you to keep focussed. It might be a perfume you can wear to remind you throughout the day to keep on-track, a piece of jewellery you can look at and touch, or even a photo or quote that you use as your screensaver to remind you and ground you whenever you see it.
Negative thinking comes from negative self-talk, or the mental chatter that goes on in your mind every day. This self-talk is built by your thoughts, and often relates to your worries, fears and anxiety about the past or the future. Try and shift your focus so that you concentrate on what you want, and enjoy what you already have. Live in the moment, not in fear of what could happen in the future. Think about what’s going right and what’s working and be sure to acknowledge and be thankful for it. If you think in this way, you will attract more of what is working. The more negative your thinking, the more your hope is destroyed and it reinforces your beliefs in yourself that you are unworthy and not capable which then also affects your self-worth and self-esteem. You need to try and replace your negative thinking with positive thoughts. Stop and notice how many negative thoughts you have each day and when you recognise them, turn them into positive thoughts- it won’t be easy but it will be worth it when your confidence in yourself grows.
Believe in your own worth
To do this, you need be your own best friend and to treat yourself and think about yourself the same way you would a loved one. Find time to do things that you love and really begin in a journey of self-love and discovery. It is only when you trust and believe in yourself that you can unleash your potential by putting an end to sabotage and being free from negative thoughts that only hold you back.