Do you have any self-sabotaging beliefs?
You know, thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or I don’t think I can do that?
There have been times in my life where I sure have.
As I was training in the martial arts many years ago, I didn’t believe I was as good as the people I was training with. In fact, it’s the reason I nearly walked out of my first-degree black belt test. I just didn’t think I was good enough to become a black belt.
Of course, I did stay, and I did test for black belt. A few months later I found out that I had earned it along with the other students who were testing at the time.
While I was happy that I had passed, I had to learn how to accept that I was worthy of achieving that goal. Doing this allowed me to test for higher levels of black belt and eventually become a master instructor in Tang Soo Do and Hapkido.
As I found out later, that was just one of my self-sabotaging beliefs. Since then, I’ve learned how to spot these self-critical thoughts and also discovered how to deal with them.
Through my books and in person, I’ve taught thousands of people how to take control of their self-defeating thoughts and beliefs too.
This is what I am going to share with you today.
What Are Self-Sabotaging Beliefs and How Do They Manifest Themselves?
Self-sabotaging beliefs are those insidious thoughts that pop up in your mind that tell you you’re not good enough, can’t do it, or just simply aren’t worthy of a good or happy life.
These beliefs can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Some are procrastination, self-doubt, self-hate, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and perfectionism.
These can be harmful because they can prevent you from taking risks and moving forward in your life. They can also make you feel terrible about yourself.
Here are some common examples of self-sabotaging beliefs.
- You stay in a relationship that you’re very unhappy with because you’re afraid you can’t find another one.
- You don’t send your book to an editor because you’re afraid it isn’t good enough.
- You don’t look for a new job even though you hate your boss because you don’t believe you’re good enough to get a better one.
- You don’t start your own business because you think you could fail.
- You continually tell yourself that you are not worthy of a better life.
Self-sabotaging beliefs usually manifest themselves as negative self-talk, that self-criticism in your head that tells you that you’re not good enough. It’s that little voice that says you’re not worthy of success.
So how can you deal with self-sabotaging beliefs? The first step is to recognize them.
How to recognize self-sabotaging beliefs
In my books Ordinary People, Extraordinary Life: The Convergence of Mind, Body and Spirit and Mindful Mastery: Find Focus, Get Unstuck, and Drop Into the Peak Performance Zone I explain that the first thing you need to do with your inner critic, is recognize what it’s telling you.
To do this, use the 5-R process you’ll find in my books. The first step is:
You need to pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself. What kind of things do you tell yourself regularly? Do you find that you constantly put yourself down? When you’re working on a task, do you hear yourself saying that you’re not good enough or you can’t do it?
a. What are your behavior patterns?
What kind of self-sabotaging beliefs come up on a regular basis?
For example, when faced with a new task do you procrastinate? If you’re in a group having a discussion, do you stay quiet instead of sharing your ideas because you feel that they might not be good enough? Are you afraid that you might fail and decide not to take any risks at all?
b. Notice how you feel.
Your body gives you a lot of information. Do you frequently feel like you’re unworthy? Does it feel like success is always just out of your grasp, eluding you even when you’ve achieved it?
If any of these seem familiar, you have some self-sabotaging beliefs. But here’s the good news. You’ve taken the biggest step to overcome them.
Once you identify them, you can learn how to deal with them, which are the next four steps of the 5-R process.
How to deal with self-sabotaging beliefs
To move forward with your life, you must first recognize, as described above, and then deal with your self-sabotaging beliefs. This is where you use the rest of the 5-R’s.
2. Record what you’ve been telling yourself.
Record that self-sabotaging belief on a notepad or in your smartphone the moment it comes up. You don’t have to do anything with this thought at that moment, simply be aware of it and capture it.
Try to include who was there, what happened, where it happened and when it happened.
For example: 2:30 PM at my desk. When John came up to ask me a question about the project I thought “I’m not qualified to do this!”
Put in as many facts as possible.
Capturing it is the first step to remedying it.
Next, you’re going to review your notes.
3. Review what you recorded
At the end of your day, you’re going to go over the thoughts and feelings you have in your notebook and then write them into your self-talk journal.
As you write, begin to analyze this information, reviewing the who, what, where and when of the situation.
Ask yourself, “When did this thought rear its ugly head? Was it a certain time of day, after a conversation with a certain person like your boss or a co-worker, or after doing a certain task?”
As you do this, what you’ll discover is many of these same thoughts and feelings pop up during the same situations, again and again.
Look through your journal and ask yourself, “Does this thought come up regularly? How often?”
What you’re doing is making yourself aware of your triggers. Being aware of your triggers is how you can prepare for them in the future.
This is what you’re going to do next.
4. Relace your self-sabotaging beliefs
Now that you have analyzed your self-critical thoughts it’s time to learn how to control them.
To do this, go through each item on your list and ask yourself, “Is this true?”
For example, if you tell yourself that you’re not good enough, ask yourself, “Why do I believe this? Do I have any evidence to support this belief?”
Chances are, you’ll find that there is none.
But here’s the problem. Even though your rational mind understands this isn’t true, your zombie mind is still telling it to you.
There is no way to simply remove these self-critical thoughts. You need to replace them.
You do this by reminding yourself of your past achievements and successes.
For example, let’s say you made the goal on Monday to improve your sales volume by fifty percent this quarter.
Your Wednesday analysis finds that you entered the thought, “Who are you kidding? You’re not good enough to increase sales by fifty percent!”, into your journal seven times in just the past two days.
Now it’s time to put on your detective hat and search for a sales success that you’ve had in the past.
Since you’re in the business of sales you’ve obviously had some successes. Maybe you closed the company’s biggest deal two years ago or improved your annual sales by twenty-five percent last year.
This is where you remind yourself of your past success and then use that image of success to replace your self-sabotaging beliefs.
Staying with our example, your analysis might be, “Last year I increased sales by twenty-five percent. I can use my experience to double my success this year!”
From this you can create a replacement phrase or positive affirmation. In this case you might use, “I am an excellent salesperson! This year I’ll double my sales!”
Now you’re ready for the final step, repeat.
5. Repeat your positive affirmations.
In this last step, you’re training your mind to focus on positive thoughts instead of your self-critical ones.
You do this by replacing your negative thoughts with your positive affirmations.
This is why you tracked your triggers. By knowing what your triggers are, you can be ready with your positive affirmations when they appear.
For example, let’s say your boss is one of those terrible bosses. You really want to find a new job, but wherever you start to do a job search, you find you have the thought, “I’m not worthy.”
To counter this self-sabotaging belief, as you begin your job search, you tell yourself, “I am worthy of success,” and then go to work finding that new job.
Maybe you find that as you set a healthy weight goal, the thought “I can never achieve my healthy weight,” appears.
Immediately you say your positive affirmation, “I can achieve my healthy weight goal. ”
What is key here is you say your replacement phrase every time the self-critical thought appears.
This is how you train your mind to focus on what you want.
Use the 5-R’s to Develop a Healthy Mindset
You can prevent self-sabotaging beliefs from taking over your mind by using the 5-Rs to develop a healthy mindset.
This is a mindset that focuses on learning and growing instead of perfection. You will never move forward in life if you wait for everything to be perfect.
Life will bring failures. This is okay. Failure is normal!
No one in the history of the world has gone in a straight line to success. Every successful person has run into detours and barriers along their way.
What made them a success is they learned from their mistakes and moved on. They accepted themselves as they were, flaws and all, and did their best to improve.
They also surrounded themselves with positive people.
You should too.
Find people who build you up. People that see the good in you. They will help you stay motivated and focused as you pursue your goals.
Remember to Take Action!
No matter how positive your mindset is, nothing will get done until you take action.
For example, if in the past you’ve had a self-sabotaging belief that you could fail if you start your own business, take some small steps that can move you towards your goal.
Maybe you start by researching businesses in your field.
Perhaps you could attend networking events with people who have started their own businesses.
Maybe you start selling some small items on the internet.
The key to just do something. This is how you prove to yourself that your self-sabotaging beliefs are wrong.
Use This Process to Overcome Your Self-Sabotaging Beliefs
Self-sabotaging beliefs can hold you back from living the life you want to live. But you can deal with them using the 5-R process.
Use this process to develop a healthy mindset, surround yourself with positive people and then take action.
By taking these steps, you’ll put yourself on the path to living a more fulfilling and successful life.