Have you ever said any of these sentences?
“I can’t do it!”
“That’s way too difficult!”
“If I try, I’ll probably fail anyway.”
“ I always fail. Why bother?”
If you have, you’re far from alone.
Unfortunately, many of us sound like this at one time or another. It’s called negative self-talk, and it can do you great harm. After all, what can be worse than an enemy that lives inside your head?
If these thoughts and sentences start to come on a regular basis or more often than in the past, your inner saboteur is hard at work. This destructive force can stop you from achieving your goals and deter you from being successful.
Suddenly you’re so worried and fearful about all the things that can go wrong that you don’t even give yourself a chance. The overthinking, the pausing, the uncertain stuck feeling? That’s the saboteur.
It tends to appear when you stretch outside your comfort zone. It’s drawn by fear, and the longer you let fear remain unresolved, the longer the saboteur will stick around.
Fear tries to tell you it is doing you a favor by holding you back where it’s safe–but you can’t linger in fear if you want to move forward.
Instead, you need to learn how to move around and through the saboteur and find ways to achieve success. Here are three basic principles:
Start with awareness
The first and most important key is recognizing your self-sabotaging behavior. Awareness is like the sun–when it shines on things, they cannot help being transformed. Awareness will allow you to get outside of yourself and observe how the saboteur keeps you stuck. We tend to see things as a reflection of our own state of mind, not as they are, so observation and awareness are the critical first steps toward overcoming.
Get your mojo back
The second key is to get back your mojo–regain your confidence. the confidence where you believe in yourself, the self-esteem that will strengthen you to try new things and take bold risks. If you want to try great new things, start by thinking of all the positive outcomes that are possible. Try to maintain a positive mindset to conquer your fears. Then create a series of small steps, each of which will give you a small win. With each one, you’ll regain a little of your mojo. Don’t think of the things that can go wrong, but instead visualize all the glorious ways everything can go right.
Let go of perfection
The third key, and in some ways the most important, is giving up the belief that you have to be perfect. It’s this mindset that invites fear to creep in–thoughts like What if I don’t do it right? I can’t. Why can’t I be better? The negativity of perfection is the perfect environment for the saboteur. So turn off your ideas of having to be perfect. Align yourself instead with positive beliefs about what you can accomplish and you will have the right mental, emotional, and physical states to do whatever you set your mind to.
Listen for the voice of the saboteur. And when you hear it, know you have more control over it than it has over you. Never let it keep you from the things you want to do.
Daskal, President and CEO, Lead From Within, wrote this article for inc.com