Do you ever feel like life is working against you? What if someone told you that it was really your own thoughts that are sabotaging you at every turn? We all have negative, self-sabotaging thoughts that work against us. And most of us don’t even realize the extent of the damage our thoughts can do.
Whether you realize or not, your thoughts are the driving force behind your actions. Even when you feel like you’ve tried, a nagging feeling that you’re not good enough can hold you back from getting it right.
The following are some common self-sabotaging thoughts that could have a negative impact on your life:
I’m just not good enough
This is probably the most common and definitely the most damaging negative thought around. We all have doubts, including self-doubts, that make us think we can’t do something.
We all have strengths and weaknesses, but no one got to the top without practice. Good old trial and error is what will help us become our best. Whenever you’re trying something new, think about it this way: You’re certainly good enough to try.
You’re almost never going to be the best right out of the gate. You’re good enough to give it the first go, and from there, you can only get better.
So-and-so is better than me
Have you ever been obsessed with some dude’s Twitter feed? We won’t call it a man crush, but you haven’t missed one of his tweets in the past 24 months.
He’s funny in that sarcastic way everyone loves. But when you try your hand at that brand of humor, you end up with hate mail. He’s got a job at Google while you’re still sweeping floors at your parent’s convenience store. He’s got millions of followers, and you have twelve (seven are your relatives, and the remaining are clearly bots).
Thinking someone is better than you didn’t start with social media and it doesn’t end there, but our collective technology addiction definitely fuels the fire.
Since we only see what other people choose to show us, it’s easy to think someone else has it all together. Everyone else has it all figured out, so why am I still struggling?
In truth, this person is probably comparing themselves to you. And even if they don’t know you exist, you can bet they’re comparing themselves to someone else.
Not only can these self-defeating thoughts keep us from trying new things, but they can also cause unnecessary stress and anxiety.
These thoughts will occur without prompting, so it’s not easy to simply will these thoughts away. However, when you feel like someone is better at something than you, remind yourself that there’s no point in comparing. Even if someone is better at one thing, you have strengths that make you who you are. We can’t all excel at everything.
I’m just a screw-up
If you’re not where you want to be in life, it’s easy to focus on the negatives. Maybe you made a misstep or two that got you to this place. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed to make mistakes for the rest of your life. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re stuck dealing with the ramifications of those mistakes. Sure, some mistakes have permanent consequences, but it’s important that we realize that the past is the past. You can learn from prior mistakes and move forward.
Someone else is to blame
Even when you’re pointing your finger at someone else, those negative thoughts are self-defeating. Although it’s important that we move on from past mistakes, we must first take responsibility for those mistakes.
You probably won’t hear a successful person say, “just my luck” or “why me?” This is because they understand the control they have over their own destiny. They don’t believe their misfortunes have to do with the luck of the draw.
When you take responsibility for your life, amazing things happen. It can be scary at first, but it will soon feel empowering. If you’re responsible for your life’s failures, you are equally responsible for turning them into successes. There is no mystical force working against you. You are the one in control.
But what if…?
What if I try and fail? What if my plan gets derailed? What if I succeed? Am I ready for that? This type of anxiety keeps many of us from moving forward. And they are completely natural. Everyone worries about doing things that are out of their comfort zone. The only difference is that successful people understand the importance of stepping out of their comfort zone.
The only way you’re going to get ahead is by doing something different. And the problem with this is that different can be scary. Try to think less about the “what ifs” and more about the experience. Whenever you do something outside of your comfort zone, you’ll learn a lot about the experience and yourself. Instead of focusing on success or failure, try focusing on the journey.
People will laugh at me
This self-defeating thought is so damaging because it may be grounded in truth. Maybe you had people in your life who would laugh if you failed or scoff when you thought you could do something amazing. When children are exposed to this type of negativity, it can be especially damaging.
As an adult, the most powerful response you have to laughter is this: “So what?”
If laughter is the worst possible outcome, you’re in good shape. So what if they laugh at you? You tried, and they didn’t. You learned something, and they didn’t. You took a step in the right direction, and they didn’t.
As you go through life, you’ll find that the people who will laugh at you for trying are the same people who will never accomplish anything themselves.
How to Stop letting thoughts sabotage your success
When you find out that your thoughts are so damaging, your instinct may be to stop thinking. Not only is that impossible, but it wouldn’t help anyway.
It’s not easy to change negative thought patterns that we’ve lived with for a lifetime. But it is possible with work.
Meditating can help. Meditation offers a way to quiet the mind and live a more intentional life. What does this mean? You’ll be more aware of your thoughts, so you can choose which ones impact your life. You may also be able to reduce the frequency of negative thoughts that run through your mind.
Think of your mind like a muscle that you can exercise. Meditation is the treadmill. When you meditate, your mind gains strength to fight negativity.
You can also try becoming more conscious of your thoughts overall. Whenever you’re thinking about quitting something, ask yourself why. Force the honest answer. If it helps, write it down on a notepad. In most cases, the honest answer for quitting is that we’re afraid. In this case, figure out what you’re afraid of and try to work through that.
This isn’t something that’s likely to change like the flip of a switch. Changing negative thought patterns takes time and effort. You may fail at things you try in the meantime. Try looking at every failure as a lesson. Armed with your life lessons and a new positive outlook, you’re bound for success.