How often do you have a great idea or encounter a terrific opportunity and then somehow end up talking yourself out of actually doing something about it?
Many of us have been there at least once, and for some of us, this is business as usual. One minute, we’re excited about a new prospect, about positive change, accomplishment, a better life, and then the next minute, everything seems out of reach, the opportunity may not seem as attractive or doesn’t have as good a fit with us, our mood plummets drastically, and there are a million excuses not to even try pursuing it.
For a lot of people, though, what happens between those two/five/ten minutes is a blank. There isn’t a lot of awareness of what is going on. What is there is an overwhelming feeling of life passing you by and of coming up short continuously. Failure and not deserving to be happy.
If this sounds familiar, you can now start recognizing a thought/behaviour pattern, and one that is preventing you from truly living. Start paying attention to what happens when another new idea or opportunity comes your way. Once you can do that – to observe yourself as you are in the process of something – you’ll discover something fascinating, a little sad, and a little scary. What you’ll find is a series of ‘automatic thoughts’ or thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere and are beyond our control. And these thoughts are negative and very self-defeating. Examples include: I can’t, I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, they won’t want me, I don’t have enough experience, they’ll see me for what I am… and the list goes on and on and can be specific to the person and situation.
Once you’ve been able to notice this pattern and have both scared and saddened yourself, realize that you can change. It takes time, and it takes an effort to interrupt yourself when you see the pattern starting up. The word I have used with myself, is “STOP”, but you can use anything that gets your attention and tells you that what you are doing is sabotaging yourself. And with time, doing this becomes really effective. You’ll notice less self-pity and fewer negative moods. You’ll notice with small things, that suddenly you pursue them, whereas before, you would have talked yourself out of them. With more practice and time, you will push yourself to do bigger and bigger things.
What is key, however, is consistency. Changing a deeply entrenched behaviour, especially one that you were not aware of for years and years, requires you to attack it in the same way every time. Use that powerful word – “NO!” or “STOP!” – consistently and with conviction.
Also key is knowing that interrupting something that has been hurting you for most of your life is in no way impolite. Consider it doing yourself a favour that you can thank yourself for later.