"You can't do that!" "That's way too difficult!" "If you try, you'll probably just fail anyway." These statements sound as if they're coming from a tyrannical and cruel person with a mission to destroy self-confidence. Unfortunately, all too often, we can be the tyrant and our target can be our self.
Negative self-talk is something we have all probably engaged in at some time. When it rears its ugly head on a regular basis it, it can lead to self-sabotage, and can stop us achieving our goals and dreams.
What's worse is that we usually don't recognize that it's even happening. Instead, we attribute our lack of success to inadequacy. This, in turn, strengthens the negative messages we feed ourselves, and we get caught in a self-sabotaging cycle that can be very difficult to break.
The tell-tale sign that you are sabotaging your self is when you grind to a halt when you're trying to achieve your goals, for no rational reason. The skill, ability and desire are there: it's just that something stops you moving forward.
When you feel that you can't do something you should be able to do, or that you shouldn't do something, even though you know deep down that you want or need to do it, self-sabotage is at work.
There are some common themes in self-sabotaging behavior. See if you recognize yourself in any of these examples:
Whatever your personal self-sabotaging behavior is, you MUST overcome it if you are to make the most of your career. If you allow yourself to engage in negative self-talk, you erode your self-confidence and self esteem. And with every failed attempt, you "prove" to yourself that you can't or shouldn't do the thing you want.
And as you continue spiraling down, you become more and more frustrated, discouraged, and angry with yourself. These feelings trap you and keep you from doing whatever it is you need to do to break free.
Fortunately, you can escape self-sabotaging behavior and this starts with recognizing the negative messages you send to yourself.
In order to stop self-sabotage, you first need to recognize your own self-sabotaging behavior. Ask yourself:
Ask yourself questions like these, and tune in to the situations where you may be sabotaging yourself.
Think about what you say to yourself when you engage in this behavior. Write down all your negative thoughts, however silly or unrealistic they may seem.
The ideal time to do this is when you're engaged in the behavior. As you do, monitor your "stream of consciousness" and write all the negative self-talk down.
If this isn't realistic, use imagery to recreate the situation in your mind so that you can experience the automatic thoughts, or try to recall what you were thinking last time it occurred.
When you know what your negative self-talk is, or you find yourself behaving in some way that is preventing you from achieving what you need or want to do, ask yourself:
Having identified and defeated the false rationale for your self-sabotaging behaviors, you are now free to start rebuilding your self-confidence . Ask yourself:
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 behaviors are aligned, then you have the right mental, emotional, and physical states to do whatever you set your mind to.
Then use your answers to come up with a message that inspires you to move in a positive direction, for example, "Even though I doubt that I can complete this project on time, I know I have the resources and skills I need to get me through. When I start taking tackling the project, I know I will release a lot of the stress and anxiety I have been carrying around while I've been procrastinating."
Take a look at other people around you who are doing what they set out to do and living the life they were meant to live. Do they actually have better skills than you? Have they been given opportunities that you haven't?
Probably not, at least initially. What they have is a belief they can do whatever they want to do. They tell themselves they can accomplish their goals and dreams, and then they set in place a plan to achieve this.
The approach in this article is similar to the approach explained in our Thought Awareness, Rational Thinking and Positive Thinking article. Read this to find out how you can turn your rational thoughts into powerful positive affirmations.
Turning your dreams into reality requires solid planning and lots of work and effort. To start the process, however, you need to believe in yourself and your ability to actually do it.
Self-sabotaging behavior cuts this belief off at the knees. Negative self-talk is an easy pattern to fall into and a difficult one to break out of. But by being aware of negative self-talk, you can ward off the effects of self-sabotage before it wears away your self-esteem. Start today, by tackling your sabotaging messages and behaviors, and put yourself on a path toward greater satisfaction and fulfillment.
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