Do you have days when you’re just plain upset with where you are in life?
Sure, you can get through the day. But the negative feelings in your mind just keep expanding like lava.
You start to think of all the things that really suck in your life. But then you stop. You realize that it’s not other things or other people causing the upset. It’s you.
You’re the reason your life seems so depressing. So unfulfilled.
I had one of these moments a while back. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, no one wanted to be around me during that time (Hey, I’m a nice guy, but I am a Taurus. When I’m ticked off I can turn red and charge at you like a bull).
The thing about that moment though was that I reached such a definitive low that I could go no lower. I was forced to finally come back up and that’s when I began to realize that external factors weren’t the cause of my negative feelings – it was me!
That was my “Aha!” moment.
Once I was able to accept this, I busted out my pen and notebook and wrote down everything I was doing to hurt myself. This led to a list of 5 life-changing steps I developed to instantly stop my own self-sabotage. A plan that stemmed from all the research on psychology I had done over the last few years and from my own life experiences.
The best part about it? The plan really worked. And it still does, over 8 months later.
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are in life. I’m sure you realize when it comes to certain things in life you actually are your own worst enemy. The good news is you have the power to change that. Instantly.
Follow these simple steps to finally end your misery of self-sabotage once and for all:
1) Foster an Attitude of Gratitude
Interview highly successful entrepreneurs, celebrities, and athletes and most of them will reveal the one secret to their success: gratitude.
Choosing to be consciously grateful for things in your life is a sure shot way to increase your level of happiness and in turn, stop self-sabotage. When we feel gratitude for things we already have, our mind develops an instant state of happiness and calmness. This state helps us to decrease stress, solve problems more easily, and react to situations in a more positive and confident way. When your mind develops this state daily it will quickly become your permanent positive state of mind throughout life.
Regardless of how painful your life challenges are (something we all experience), you will stop being the person who complains, who puts yourself in victim mode leading to more self sabotage, and you will finally begin to move forward in life to chase the things you really want: happiness and success. It is true, the more grateful you are, the more reasons you will find in life to be grateful.
I started doing this in my own life by writing down 3 things I’m grateful for every single day. You can do this on your smartphone, laptop, or on a piece of paper. Make sure you can access this space everyday. Write them down, then read the 3 things back to yourself and take a minute to feel the gratitude. If you have to close your eyes and really feel each statement after you read it, do it. Smile, smirk, breathe deeply – do what comes naturally, but really and truly feel the gratitude set into your body.
Your realization can be as deep as being grateful to wake up healthy this morning or as simple as being grateful for the yummy meal you just had. This will help to finally get your mind off the stinky ‘self-sabotage train’ and onto to the awesome ‘positive mind expressway’.
2) Take Responsibility
The next step to stop sabotaging your own life is to take responsibility for your life and your actions.
You must start taking responsibility for your life…starting now. Far too many of us get caught up in the cycle of blaming others, the economy, the government or our bosses and managers for our unhappiness.
You must realize that you are responsible for the things that happen to you in your life.
“I’m responsible for everything that happens in my life?”
Yes, you read that. You are. There are some unavoidable circumstances that we do face in life, but guess what? We still have the power to choose how we respond to those circumstances. You see, every human on earth is dealing with unexpected problems or circumstances in their daily life. So how is it that some are still able to succeed and constantly get ahead while others get completely knocked down by them?
It doesn’t have to do with the circumstance. It has everything to do with the individual’s response to the circumstance. How are you dealing and responding to things that happen to you? Is it how a positive and successful person would respond? Or do you make yourself the victim, allow yourself to feel self-pity, and complain to others allowing the problem to only get bigger?
The difference between the types of people who overcome challenges that are thrown at them and those who cannot cope is dependent on whether or not they see themselves as holding responsibility over each situation. The winners realize that they are responsible for how they respond to everything. They know they have the ability to take the action required to solve the problems before them and move on.
If you’re not happy with your relationship, then communicate openly with the person and work on fixing it. Doing nothing about it is not going to ever help you and may just make things worse. If you’re working somewhere that you don’t like, work on changing your job or talk to your employers about what you would like to change. Now I understand those are not easy things to do and I’m not suggesting for you to quit your job today and sit at home with bills piling up and no game plan in sight.
What I am saying though is to start looking into different options of other ways you can make a living while doing something that you are more passionate about. While you are coming up with this plan you can set a goal date of when you’ll give your job your official notice for resignation. As scary as it may sound to some, it is necessary for you to take responsibility for your own unhappiness by taking a leap of faith. You owe it to yourself. But it’s not going to happen until you take 100% responsibility for your own life and the choices you make.
3) Get Moving
Ever hear of the line, “Get moving!?” I cannot emphasize this one enough. As someone who wasn’t very active or athletic myself as a child due to severe asthma, I learned later in life how not being active only leads to more self-sabotage and unhappiness. That’s because the state of your body has a direct effect on the state of your mind.
Regardless of what your medical condition may be, after consulting with your doctor you can always find healthy ways to exercise and get movement in during the day. You’ll be surprised at how much your body adapts to physical exercise over time and as you continue to practice and push yourself. I went from being the kid who could barely run a lap in middle school gym class before I needed my inhaler to the man who can now do 25 sets of lifting heavy weights or do nonstop cardio for an hour at the gym. Point is, you have to start somewhere. You have to keep pushing yourself.
After I’ve been in the gym pumping iron or doing cardio, my days always go better. I get more done and I am a happier, more confident man. It leads to me wanting to eat better and being more careful before I put those French fries or chocolate cake in my mouth. We have become a society that is fixated on quick fix diets, and an extreme focus has been placed on health and fitness over the last decade. But how many of you are actually one of the folks posing on Instagram with the six pack abs? If you are, kudos to you! But for the rest, you all want to be there, no, not on Instagram, but at your peak level of fitness because you know if you were how much better you would feel about yourself and how much better your life would be.
You know, one of the most self-sabotaging thoughts I kept feeding myself was, “It’s okay if I’m a little overweight, I don’t have to be lean or have a certain body type just for myself to feel good or for others to like me. Others should like me for who I am, not for the way I look. I know tons of girls who do and that’s the kind of girl I’m going to be with.”
You know what’s wrong with that type of thinking? It’s loser mentality. It’s a sad and pathetic excuse for self-sabotage. Now I’m all about thinking everyone should love themselves right now for who they are and how they look. I do. Loving yourself starts with today, even though you may not be in your best shape. I also believe that you need to reach a point where you do not crave external validation or approval from anyone. The only validation you should ever need should come from God(if you believe in a Creator) and from yourself. However, aside from all of that, refusing to improve because you’re telling yourself that you want others to accept you “even if you are not your best” is a very self-sabotaging way of thinking. It is making an excuse to yourself that stems from your insecurities, from being stubborn and just being plain lazy.
Our body is a part of who we are. It does define us and our values in life to a certain extent. Now, I’m not saying we should judge others based on their appearance, because this isn’t about others, this is about you. If you are not doing something to improve your health and body every single day then you are harming no one but yourself.
When your body is healthier and looks better it makes your life a lot easier and happier. It’s a no brainer. Whether your single or coupled, your potential or current partner will always appreciate it too. Just think about your partner right now or a potential partner if you’re single. If you’re with someone right now who you love more than anyone else, wouldn’t you be even more attracted to them if they were doing something everyday to become healthier and have a better body? Would it hurt your relationship? No. But could it help? YES. Does it mean the your partner has to do this to please or impress you? No. But does it mean by doing it, it will add more excitement, passion and sex appeal to your relationship? YES.
Take those questions about your partner and apply them to yourself starting today. Whether you’re single or coupled, you’re doing it for you. Become the best version of you. Then making your future or current partner happier in the process is just icing on the cake. And who doesn’t like icing?
I cannot emphasize how important exercise is to stop self-sabotage. What you put into your mouth is equally important to live a healthy life; however, just getting some exercise for 20 minutes a day is extremely essential for your mental health. Exercise releases endorphins and other positive chemicals in your brain that automatically make you happier and enables you to be more productive and less prone to self-sabotage.
Personally, I exercise for 20-30 minutes daily, with an occasional rest day once a week. Whether its as light as going for a walk around your neighborhood, stretching or yoga or more intense such as playing a competitive sport, lifting weights or running at the gym, get some movement in every day. If you are a beginner, try getting some movement in just 20 minutes a day for just three times a week. Do that consistently for 4 weeks no matter what. After a month you will be addicted to this amazingly positive habit and it will end your self-sabotaging ways of living!
4) Take Action. Especially when you don’t want to.
Another way we often self sabotage is by sitting on our butts thinking about what we should do, but not doing it.
You have to realize that taking action is the antithesis to self-sabotage. It’s the complete opposite. When you take action towards something that you know is good for you, even when you don’t want to do it, you are automatically cutting self-sabotage out of your life.
What does it mean to take action? It means to finally get up and do the things you know are good for you. It means taking control (refer back to Step 2: Take Responsibility) of your life and doing things that you know are going to benefit you in the long run.
Why is it so hard for many of us to take action? Well, there are 2 main reasons.
The first is that we have gotten too darn comfortable being in a self-sabotage cycle and it’s become way too comfortable now for us to leave it. The idea of change for a lot of people is scary and uncomfortable. Although many won’t admit this, most people will stay lazy and unhappy all their lives because it’s much easier to stay complacent and not do anything than it is to actually take action and create change for happiness. I don’t know a lot of people who do like change, but if you want to move ahead in life you have to learn to break out of the cycle and take action.
Another reason why people don’t take action is because they don’t feel like doing it. I am inherently a feeler and I’m a strong encourager of using our feelings to help guide us in life. However, the one time I will tell myself and you to ignore your feelings is when they are stopping you from doing something that you know is good for you.
When I don’t feel like going to the gym because I’m thinking about how tired I am or how I just want to lay in bed or on the couch browsing the internet, that’s when I have to ignore the negative feelings and force myself to get off my butt and go the gym. It is only after I take the action that I feel amazing. When I’m done with that workout and look at myself in the gym bathroom mirror I think, “Hell yes! Look at that sexy beast! You did it man!! You did it!!” All right, maybe that’s too much personal information, but you guys get the picture.
Similarly, you avoid taking action by not having difficult conversations with people you care about or by not addressing issues that bother you because you don’t feel like doing it.
You let the fear of taking action keep you where we are and away from moving forward for weeks, months, and sometimes, even for a lifetime. This creates a self-fulfilling cycle of self-sabotage. It is only when you ignore these feelings and force yourself to have that uncomfortable conversation that you are finally able to break through. You feel powerful afterward for being courageous and finally stepping outside of your comfort zone. Even if the conversation doesn’t turn out exactly how you wanted it to, you at least realize you had the courage to take action and do something. That, in and of itself, will make you feel a lot better and will enable you to continue to take action in all areas of your life until there is nothing you come across that you are not able to face and conquer.
5) Get out of your own head and help others.
I have found one of the best and most valuable ways to stop self-sabotage is to get out of your own little bubble and to do something for someone else. Be there for someone else. Help someone else.
When you are overly immersed in a “me-me-me” attitude it is very easy for you to become obsessed with the negative talk going on in your head either about yourself or other people.
Mastering the mind to turn these negative thoughts into positive ones is what I teach through my coaching, but before learning these valuable techniques, it is important for you to remember one of the best ways to reduce negative thoughts and self-sabotage is to really get out of your own head and to help others.
Helping others doesn’t mean you have to go out of your way with some huge gesture or monetary aid. It can be as simple as saying hello to someone, smiling, asking someone how they are doing, listening, lending advice, or offering to be there for someone.
The idea of helping others and living a life of compassion is actually one of the six steps I teach others on how to breakthrough to achieve lasting happiness and success. Scientific research studies show that doing things for others makes us much happier than just doing things for ourselves. That’s not to say that we should take care of others before we take care of ourselves(something else I discuss in my 6 Steps Model), but it means that compassion and helping others fulfills one of our basic human needs: connectedness. When we do not fulfill this human need we start to focus too much on ourselves and this leads to many selfish and negative self-sabotaging thoughts.
When doing things for others we are also able to forget about our own problems for a while which helps to take us out of our negative state. Further more, we are able to see that there are others who have much bigger problems than we do and this allows us to really feel gratitude for our blessings and see how amazing our lives are in comparison.
When we help others we also feel a sense of confidence and power within because we realize we have the ability to make a difference for someone else. This helps us to see that we are action takers and creators of change and happiness. When we realize we possess these innate strengths we are able to take positive action in our own lives, seek the help we need with our own problems and are finally able to stop self-sabotage for good.