How Not To Sabotage Your Thoughts and Actions

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A great post from Paul Lyons of Mental Toughness Partners.

We have all been there and, if you’re anything like me, quite possibly today when I caught myself, red handed, in the act of self sabotaging.

“I can't do that.”  “I haven't got the skills.”  “What if I fail ?”

They were my first responses to an opportunity, albeit beyond my comfort zone, but well within my capability.

If someone else had told me those things I would have reacted – or preferably responded – with some vigor. However those limiting thoughts were self-directed and had I not been alert to what was happening I could have closed the door on an exciting opportunity.

Does that sound familiar?

Negative self-talk can get in the way of us achieving our goals and dreams and often it is happening subconsciously so that we don't even recognise it's happening. We’re so busy thinking negatively that when we falter or fail we just attribute it to our lack of ability, which in turn strengthens our negative mindset, ready to sabotage our efforts next time as well.

Common signs of self sabotage

There are some tell tale signs that you are sabotaging yourself:

You are procrastinating

  • This comes when you should be working on something but you keep finding excuses to put it off again and again.
  • Sometimes projects are started but you never quite finish them.
  • You feel demotivated and lethargic and unable to proceed, even when there are lots of exciting opportunities.

You daydream but don't act on it

  • Often you visualise or daydream about your eventual success but fail to do anything to make it happen.

You worry and stress

  • You worry about small things that really shouldn't matter.
  • You fear failure and what other people will think of you.
  • You doubt yourself and your skills and abilities even though you "know" you are capable. (This was my issue this morning.)
  • When faced with trying to achieve something that is important, you become over stressed and anxious that you won't be able to perform as you normally would.

You feel under-valued and worthless

  • In your mind you exaggerate other people's achievements but diminish your own.
  • You take unfair or misguided criticism to heart and let other peoples’ opinions bring you down.
  • Letting others put you down.

Breaking the Self Sabotaging Cycle

Since the way we think determines the way we act you must overturn this negative thinking if you are to build your self-confidence and self-esteem and prove to yourself that you can extend your capbaility beyond your comfort zone. It's not easy especially if it is ingrained thinking but here are some practical tips:

1. Recognise your self sabotaging routine

In order to stop your self-sabotage, you need to recognise your own self-sabotaging routines and negative thinking which you can do through asking yourself the following questions:

  • What goals have you had for a long time but not been able to accomplish?
  • What are your consistent or regular failures, especially those where there is no obvious reason?
  • Are there particular circumstances or situations where you consistently find yourself procrastinating or putting off making a decision?
  • Are you suffering from lack of motivation with regards to do something that you really want to do?
  • Do you find yourself becoming unreasonably angry or frustrated at situations.
  • Are there situations where your colleagues are consistently frustrated with you?
  • Is there something in your life that causes you dissatisfaction because you know you could do it better?

2. Monitor your own negative thinking

When you catch yourself thinking negatively record on paper what you say. By writing down all your negative thoughts when they occur you become very aware of the extent of your negative thinking and self sabotage.

3. Challenge your negative thinking

Once you know what your negative self-talk is and the circumstances when it appears then you need to dig deeper to ask yourself:

  • What deeper reasons lie behind these negative thoughts?
  • Are these thoughts rational, and based on any clear facts?
  • Are past unsuccessful attempts unnecessarily preventing you from making a positive change?

4. Reframe your negative thoughts into positives

Having identified and defeated the false rationale for your negative thoughts you need to reframe your negative thoughts into positives by asking yourself some searching questions:

  • What can you say to yourself that is positive or encouraging?
  • What options do you have? Is there more than one way to achieve your goal?
  • Can you build self-confidence by setting and achieving much smaller goals, on your way to achieving the big ones that you've not achieved in the past?

Turn your assumptions around and put them in the correct perspective. Align them with positive beliefs about what you can accomplish. When your skills, beliefs and behaviours are aligned, you will have the right mental, emotional and physical states to do whatever you set your mind to.

By understanding and recognising your self sabotaging ways, followed by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones will build your confidence and self belief and enhance your performance.