You want something so badly and it’s all you can think about, but, somewhere from deep within, there’s a rising surge of fear and apprehension. What if you can’t achieve it? What if you fail? It’s called self-defeating behavior but wait, there’s a mindfulness solution. Read on.
Mindfulness and self-defeating behavior
It doesn’t take much to put us off our goals. We plan big but, one little obstacle falls across the pathway to success and suddenly, you find your resolve falling by the wayside. Little self-deprecating thoughts enter your mind and you think maybe, just maybe, you were not meant to succeed anyway. Sound familiar?
Self-fulfilling prophesies have a habit of coming true. This is not because you have psychic abilities and can predict the future, but because somewhere deep within, you feel unable to meet your true potential in life. You may want to do well in life and progress, but, sometimes, it’s easier to not try. If you do, there’s always the risk of failure. So, you may allow negative thoughts and feelings to rise to the surface and this becomes a vicious cycle of trying, failing and stopping. You can see the obvious outcome.
In most cases, negative cycles occur through having irrational beliefs and these are often formed when we are young. Your beliefs may be that you don’t deserve to do well. It may be that as a child, you were told this over and over and after a while, you started to believe it. Children are sometimes called stupid, and, of course, they are not. Parents become frustrated and utter these words when they are tired, and their children have acted in a ‘childish’ way, well, yes, children test boundaries and push the reaction button. Most parents would admit they would take back those words vented in frustration if they knew that those words were taken seriously.
You can see how it’s easy to fuel these negative beliefs and in time, if they are unresolved, they become ingrained within you. In fact, you may be able to recall a time when you realized you had lost your confidence and started to doubt your abilities. It’s a painful wake up call. Even though parents and other important authority figures say things they do not always mean, those words can wound, and these scars can last a lifetime, unless, you do something about it.
Negative self-talk is where you talk yourself out of a situation that might be really good for you. Core beliefs are incredibly strong and when they formulate in negative self-talk, they lead to a series of self-depreciating thoughts. Here’s an example – you want to go for that all-important job interview and you desperately want to be given the role as it would change your life, but then, suddenly, negative words start to form in your mind and you panic. You can’t do the job. What were you thinking when you applied? You obviously won’t get it. There will be others far more suited to the role. How stupid you are for trying.
Then, you start to think that there is little point attending the interview. Whether you do or not, those damaging thoughts are already there. It’s worth noting that negative thoughts can lead to even stronger emotional states. So, you may suddenly feel guilt – perhaps by not attending the interview you know that you have let yourself down or others, because the extra money had you been successful would have made a big difference to your family. You may feel depressed or angry with yourself. Perhaps, you were unprepared when you went into the interview. These fluctuating emotions may lead to social withdrawal, aggression or avoidance.
Guilty or not-guilty?
Sadly, many people are completely oblivious to the type of harmful self-talk that occurs. They don’t know that they hold themselves back in life. They may have low confidence levels, their self-esteem may be fragile, but, even so, they may still try. However, if they do not achieve success, they often feel that it was inevitable. But, that’s not true at all. If you find yourself setting yourself up for failure, stop it. Think to yourself, why not you? Why shouldn’t you achieve all that you want in life? When you ask yourself this, do you hear a negative voice within? Lots of people who have fallen foul of this self-depreciating cycle do just this but often, don’t realize it.
So, what’s the solution to self-sabotage?
In mindfulness, it’s all about being present. It’s about generating awareness and tuning into any self-talk, negative or otherwise. Mindfulness is an excellent way of paying specific attention to any damaging narratives that may be playing in your mind. When you finally detect these negative vibes, challenge them. Don’t listen to these words, or believe in them, and most definitely, do not identify with them. It’s worth reminding yourselves here that negative thoughts are not reality. In fact, you may act or believe something to be true but that doesn’t make it so. You can change how you think and feel at any point. Mindfulness will help.
Making important changes
When you realize that you are self-defeating your own successes in life, commit to change. It’s a hard first step but a worthwhile one because it will make a huge difference in your life. You need to have a starting point though. Think about one aspect of your life that you need to change. Maybe you want to work on your self-esteem and you are fed up of this negative chatter that goes on in your mind. Consider this fully in a mindfulness way. Let go of all other thoughts and tune in just to this desire for change. Then, write it down. Focus your attention on it. After this, tell two other people that this is your goal. It’s much harder to give up on it if others know.
Now, say the words out loud (whatever you have written) it works best if you have written it as a statement. Say it out loud and emphasize the words. Now, consider how you feel. If your self-esteem for example is very low, you may feel the effects on a physical level. You’ve made a commitment and that could be terrifying. Over the following week, every time you feel negative thoughts about yourself, change those thoughts to positive ones. You can use affirmations for this and it works well.
- I am a good person and deserve success
- I believe in myself
Write your own affirmations and say them in a positive way. The more you can remind yourself of your goals and intent, the more that it will become ingrained into your subconscious mind.
Swap negative thoughts for positive ones with mindfulness
Each time you feel negatively about yourself, challenge those words, and change them to something good about yourself (of which there will be many things). If you struggle to maintain a positive outlook during this time of transition, then, know that the outcome will be worth this hard work. Just tap into mindfulness and reminder yourself that you are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings, and you can do anything you want in life. You deserve it. Mindfulness helps you to clear your mind. It helps you to shut out external distractions and with practice, it helps you to offset internal distractions.
Mindfulness – it works
Mindfulness is far from being just a buzzword. It’s far from being the latest, popular concept. It really works. Instead of worrying about the past, or fretting about the future, mindfulness enables you to remain fixed within the present. Couple it with meditation and you can offset stress. You can also remain grounded but open to change. It helps you to determine fully what you want to achieve and to open your mind to new possibilities. Mindfulness gives you a starting point and mindfulness provides you with the foundations of change.
When you start to feel negative thoughts, you chip away at your self-esteem. You chip away at your confidence levels and you put your life on hold. When you approach your life in a mindful way, you do so with intent. You do so with clarity. There is no place for muddled thoughts or feelings, only clear, concise intent. Of course, mindfulness may not resolve deeply-rooted issues, it cannot wipe the slate of your life clean. Counselling is important if you realize unresolved issues are festering away and are putting the brakes on your life. You can still embrace mindfulness because it will help you to face any situation with a clearer perspective.
Gain greater clarity
You may have let go of opportunities that would have been perfect for you. It is possible that the opportunities would have been perfect as stepping stones towards the future that you have so desired. If this is the case, seeking to resolve issues that may have lain dormant throughout childhood, gradually increasing their power in adult life is paramount for your future happiness. One door may close, but another will open with the right attitude. Mindfulness enables you to strip back and clear the fog of confusion that affects many peoples’ lives. It can be the catalyst towards seeing life with new clarity, with a renewed perception and this alone will be incredibly empowering.
Mindfulness is a tool. It’s a resource and a way of life. Use mindfulness to combat doubts, inner fears, faulty behaviors or current thinking processes. It is the best starting point you will have.