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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Stop Self-Sabotage and Learn to Be Positive Again

How to Stop Self-Sabotage and Learn to Be Positive Again

The following quote is one of the best descriptions of what self-sabotage is all about and provides a clue as to how to stop self-sabotage in its tracks.

“Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.” -Alyce Cornyn-Selby

If you are in the habit of self-sabotage, you are actively getting in the way of your own goals and dreams. The reasons one may do this can be complex, but there are ways to learn how to stop self-sabotage.

Why Do We Sabotage Ourselves?

Self-sabotage is when we do something that gets in the way of our intent or of our biggest dreams or goals in life. We want something, but somehow we never accomplish it.

Many of us are engaged in self-destructive behaviors that have become habits. We allow these behaviors and habits to undermine our right to success and happiness, often without even realizing it. These destructive thoughts and behaviors are part of our life, and we accept that.

Your brain is built to reinforce and regulate your life, but what many people don’t realize is that, just as your brain is built to regulate your physical self, it also tries to regulate your mental self.

Your subconscious mind is the gatekeeper to your comfort zone. The subconscious is wired to see self-sabotage as a way to protect you, prevent pain, and keep you safe. When we want to step out of our comfort zone or do anything that challenges us, our subconscious starts to work on stopping us.

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If we allow a self-sabotaging mindset to control us, over time our inner voice becomes an inner critical voice that holds us back from seizing new challenges and living life to our fullest potential. This is why it is so important to learn how to stop self-sabotage in its tracks.

How to Recognize Your Self-Sabotage Habits

The first step to breaking the cycle of self-sabotage is becoming aware of these behaviors. Once you know which self-destructive habits, thought patterns, and mindsets are holding you back, you can then start to take action to manage the negative influence they have on your life

In her book, The Healthy Mind Toolkit, Alice Boyes[1] helps the reader self-diagnose their sabotaging thinking and habits that are holding them back in life and in love. She also provides simple, practical tips for overcoming these patterns.

Alice Boyes identifies the three common self-sabotage behaviors that most people have:

1. Procrastination

Instead of completing goals in a timely manner, you allow yourself to take your time or find excuses to extend the timeline. You agree with your inner voice’s numerous reasons as to why you have to wait for the right time to start or even finish a project or achieve a goal. Nothing will be achieved, and you end up frustrated.

2. Negative Self-Talk / Negative Thinking

Your inner voice is constantly critical, and you keep blaming yourself for your past mistakes. Regretful thinking dominates your thoughts. Your self-belief and confidence are at an all-time low.

3. Perfectionism

You tell yourself you can’t take action until it is the right time or believe you need to perfect your skills before you move forward. Perfectionism is impossible to maintain in your life, and you will not move forward in any part of your life if you cling to this[2].

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traits of perfectionism in self-sabotage

    Once you understand what self-sabotage means for you, and you recognize your behaviors and thought patterns, you can take action to learn how to stop self-sabotage.

    How to Stop Self-Sabotage

    Here are 4 steps that you can take immediately to stop self-sabotaging your success and to start living a more positive life.

    1. Look at Your Self-Worth

    For many of us, our self-sabotage behaviors and beliefs are rooted in our feelings of self-worth. Figuring out what is causing you to self-sabotage will help you to focus on the specific changes to stop these behaviors.

    In her book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, Dr. Valerie Young provides an in-depth study of the Imposter Syndrome and the Five Personality Types[3].

    Our subconscious is where the Imposter Syndrome and self-sabotage plays. One of the five personality types of Imposter Syndrome is the Perfectionist. In her book, Dr, Valerie Young provides practical strategies on how to stop the Imposter Syndrome from ruining your life.

    If perfectionism or any self-sabotage behaviors are impacting your life, then reading Dr. Valerie Young’s book would be a great start for you to start working out which of the strategies she suggests to fix this problem.

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    2. Take Time For Reflection

    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

    Taking time out to understand why you keep shooting yourself in the foot is important. Self-reflection enables you to think through your choices, decisions, and actions. It gives you space to dig deep within yourself to gain more insight into your underlying emotions and desires.

    Only through self-reflection will you gain the necessary insight, perspective, and understanding to begin the process of change and personal transformation.

    You can engage in this type of reflection through journaling, meditation, or talk therapy. Find what feels best for you and give it a try.

    3. Face Your Fears

    “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face….We must do that which we think we cannot.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

    The first step to overcoming procrastination is to take action to stop self-sabotage. We procrastinate mainly because we are afraid, and the best way to deal with our fear of failure is to face it. You won’t ever be able to live a positive, full, and happy life and feel good if you are always fearful.

    Ask yourself if you really want to engage in self-sabotaging behavior and stop your chance of living a full and happy life. Hopefully, the answer is no, and now you can write down all the negative feelings, fears, or random thoughts that come up as to why you shouldn’t achieve your goals or dreams in life. Keep going until there are no more negative thoughts left.

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    Then, look at every negative fear or thought you have written down and, beside each one, put an X next to the ones that are potentially life-threatening. Hopefully, there will be no X’s, and you will realize that you have nothing to fear.

    4. Listen to Your Inner Positive Voice

    “For me, it’s always been about preparation, and the more prepared I can be each week, the less pressure I feel and the more confident I am. As your confidence grows, it’s only natural that the pressure you feel diminishes.” -Aaron Rodgers

    Fear tends to be the main cause of what holds us back. We fear that our inner critic is right; we believe that we don’t deserve happiness, aren’t tough or bright enough, or we just don’t have it in us to be a success in life. These thoughts and self-limiting beliefs are not helpful, and your negative dialogue needs to become a very slight whisper that you can hardly hear.

    To live a positive and fulfilling life, your internal dialogue also needs to be positive. You can learn how to stop self-sabotage and negative thoughts by focusing on sending more positive and encouraging thoughts to your inner self.

    Affirmations, practicing gratitude, showing appreciation, and doing acts of kindness are very practical actions you can take to having a more positive mindset.

    Final Thoughts

    Once you identify why you are exhibiting self-sabotage behaviors, you can then take action to learn how to stop self-sabotage and rise above it. The four practical actions above are realistic steps that will enable you to take control so that you can live your life to your fullest, where you are not afraid or lacking in self-belief.

    Your inner self-critic no longer holds you back with its negative impact. It is your inner positive voice that encourages you and supports you to grab those opportunities and chase your dreams. That is what living a positive life is all about.

    “Don’t wait until everything is just right…Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful.” ­-Mark Victor Hansen

    More on How to Stop Self-Sabotage

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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    Kathryn Sandford

    Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2021

    What Is Positive Thinking and How to Always Think Positive

    What Is Positive Thinking and How to Always Think Positive

    In order for you to change your life, you must first change the way you think. If you are new to self-improvement, this is something that you must understand. Looking back at the various figures who have made dramatic changes in their life, there was a point where they had to shift toward positive thinking.

    This concept isn’t as simple as it looks on the surface. Much like any habit, there are particular ways to go about tapping into the power of positive thinking and to be thinking positively on a daily basis.

    What Is Positive Thinking?

    Positive thinking is precisely what it says. It’s a series of habits and thought patterns that make you see things in a more positive light. One common example is seeing the failures you experience as lessons and opportunities to grow.

    Positive thinking encompasses a number of things and impacts our lives in big ways. Positive thinking can create changes such as:

    • The way you talk to people both online and in person.
    • The people you attract.
    • How you inspire and encourage other people both directly and indirectly.
    • Your productivity methods and overall working capabilities.
    • Your stress level and how you manage it.

    From this description, you can say that thinking positive is much like a lifestyle. The more positive you are, the more good things will appear around you, even in situations where you experience setbacks or challenges.

    Another way to look at positive thinking is the addition of good thinking habits replacing bad ones. For example, how many times have you said “I can’t do that task” or “I’ll never achieve this goal of mine”? By definition, thinking this way will guarantee that you’ll avoid that task and put less effort toward that goal. On the other hand, by thinking “I can do that task” or “Someday, I’ll achieve that goal,” you’ll be motivated to work towards those objectives.

    How Does Positive Thinking Change Your Life?

    For those who have been in the self-improvement world, you can tell from the points above how your life can be impacted. Things like improved productivity, being more approachable, and more can create ripple effects throughout your life.

    Getting into more details, these things can translate to larger things in your life. Some changes that positive thinking will do to your life are things like:

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    • Being able to achieve goals consistently when you set them.
    • A dramatic change in your attitude.
    • Using money in a more intelligent manner to the point you’ll be earning more.
    • Having more like-minded friends.
    • Being more generous and kind to others.
    • Living a longer life.[1]

    Positive thinking from this viewpoint can sound like it’s too good to be true, though this is no simple task. It’s not a matter of flipping a switch, and suddenly you’ve learned how to think positive. That said, these are good incentives to be working towards, and there is research behind these things being true.

    How to Tackle Negative Thoughts

    Another key aspect to positive thinking is that positive thinking isn’t about eliminating all negativity from your life[2]. Our lives do have negative events; you’ll make mistakes, fail, and have setbacks. However, it’s important that you strike a balance between being aware of reality and accepting your surroundings and thinking optimistically.

    There is no right or wrong method to pick from, but being able to limit negative self-talk in various areas of your life comes down to a few simple techniques. Here are some examples.

    Follow a Precise Guide to Cultivating a Positive Mindset

    The guide involves looking for feedback, paying attention to your thought patterns, and rearranging them to accept negative emotions. Other guides will bring you through the process by getting you to believe you can change your attitude all the way to avoiding toxic positivity.

    Learn About Your Thinking Style

    Are you a logical thinker or an emotional one? Do you focus on the short-term or the long-term? Do you naturally sway toward the positive or the negative? Identifying all of these things can help you get a handle on how your mind naturally works before you go about changing it.

    One way to tap into your thinking style is to learn about how you are motivated. Check out Lifehack’s Free Assessment: What’s Your Motivation Style? One you know your motivation style, you’ll begin to understand yourself and how you think on a daily basis.

    Create a Curiosity Around Negative Thoughts

    Looking at negative thoughts as something interesting instead of as something damaging is a good step toward giving them less power. When a negative thought comes around, try writing it down and contemplating it for a few moments.

    Why did that thought come about, and why are you looking at that particular thing in a negative way? How can you change that thought into something positive?

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    10 Simple Habits to Practice Positive Thinking

    The methods mentioned above are ways to nullify the impact of negative thoughts. There will be times where you will still think negatively, but the impact will lessen. This is especially true when you incorporate various habits into your life to improve your positive thinking.

    Here are some things to consider to help you cultivate a positive mindset.

    1. Do One Act of Kindness Daily

    Making someone smile has as much of an impact on them as it does for you. Doing good things feels good, which is why many of us feel compelled to make donations to non-profit organizations. The act of charity warms our hearts.

    But you can make more of an impact by doing something nice for someone else. Smile and say hello to someone, give someone a compliment, or help them out in a small way if you see them having issues.

    2. Laugh More

    Along a similar vein, positive emotions cause us to shift our attitude, and laughter is another big one to consider. Laughter shouldn’t be forced though, so make a point of being around people who can make you genuinely laugh. This can be a comedian, a friend or family member, or anyone who can get you to chuckle.

    3. Read More Positive Material

    Our social media diet is one of the largest influencers of our mood. That, along with television or other video content. If you’re watching or reading content that makes you angry, negative, or hateful, that behavior is going to project onto everything else you do and get in the way of positive thinking.

    To change that, you must change how you are consuming content and what you gravitate toward. Make a point of reading some positive news and developments. Another option is to read or watch videos that focus on things that you’re passionate about.

    4. Set Goals

    Another solid method is to set goals and work to achieve them. This can tackle a lot of negative thoughts as people often set goals and give up due to negative thoughts most of the time.

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    Setting goals and striving to achieve them on a regular basis allows you to build the framework to overcome those negative thought hurdles. You’ll eventually stop making excuses and focus on the task at hand.

    5. Have a Strong Morning Ritual

    In general, what you do first thing in the morning determines the energy you put toward the rest of your day. We all have our usual routine in the morning, and many times that routine doesn’t put people in a space that’s conducive to positive thinking.

    My recommendation is to mix up your morning ritual to include some positive things. Examples are doing some exercises, showing yourself some self-love through gratitude and positive affirmations, or maybe doing something you enjoy, such as completing a puzzle or writing a poem.

    6. Ask the Proper Questions

    Negativity is something that we have to accept, but how we change the impact of it can be through questions. The catch is that you need to be asking the right kind of questions first.

    For example, if you’re a pessimist, the questions you’ll be asking yourself are negative. “Why did this happen to me?” “Why do bad things happen to me whenever I try something?” These are negative because you’re painting yourself as a victim, and it does nothing for your mindset but slow you down.

    Instead, start asking questions like:

    • What’s one good thing about this situation?
    • What is it that I can learn from these events and circumstances?
    • What is one small thing I can do right now to start fixing this?

    By asking these questions, you’ll start to give your brain some tasks to ponder over to solve this situation and gain something from these experiences.

    7. Create a Positive Environment

    Consuming positive content is one way of creating a positive environment, but there are other things that can influence it. In general, creating an environment where you can be positive is key to development. This means:

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    • Do the things that bring joy and energy into your life.
    • Be around positive people who lift you up.
    • Continue to strengthen that environment by reinforcing standards for what’s acceptable for you and what isn’t.

    8. Meditate

    Meditation is another morning activity to consider and one to do overall if you want to practice positive thinking. Meditation provides a number of benefits when done on a regular basis.

    Meditation provides you with an opportunity to look inside yourself and see what makes you tick. It helps you to look at thought patterns and to begin rearranging them. It’s a powerful method because it adds perspective to who you really are and what you truly think[3].

    From there you can make drastic changes by simply meditating.

    9. Write Down Your Thoughts and Tackle the Issues

    Similar to meditating, consider jotting down the thoughts that come to mind whenever you feel stressed. During these periods, you’ll see that when you’re stressed, you’ll be writing down things that cause you to feel stressed. It could be something extreme, or it could be a series of small things you need to do that have piled up.

    The idea is to write out those thoughts and the next day begin working on fixing those problems to make room for a more positive outlook.

    10. Read Positive Thinking Books

    The last method to boosting positive thinking is to be reading more books on the subject. Positive thinking is a subject that has been researched heavily, and there is a lot of information on it. You’ll find a lot of it overlapping or having similar elements, but it doesn’t hurt to pick up a few books and read what the author has to say on the subject.

    While reading articles is great, a book has more room to add more details and perspectives that aren’t otherwise there when reading an article.

    Final Thoughts

    Positive thinking is not something that can be done overnight. It’s something that takes time as it involves rewiring your very way of thinking and reinforcing habits. It’s not an easy path, but it can lead to many avenues opening up to you in various ways. The road to success and to great change is through a positive and developing mindset for better physical and mental health.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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