5 Essential Lessons on Defeating Your Self-Defeating Thoughts


“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” ― William Shakespeare

Is there a certain area of life where you’re experiencing doubt right now? Maybe you doubt whether your current relationship will work, or you doubt that the big opportunity you’re working toward will ever come to pass. Maybe you doubt that your circumstances will ever get better or that you can really live a fulfilling life. No matter who, what, when, or why you doubt, remember that it’s normal to have doubts. When things aren’t going well or when we’re doing something for the first time, there will be fear, concern, and uncertainty. With this in mind, the goal is not to remove doubt altogether but to move past it when it appears – to not let doubt keep you from moving forward. Doubt and uncertainty will be there, but you don’t have to listen to it. What does the “voice of doubt” say to you? “Am I really capable of doing this?” I am really ready to take this step? “What if I fail?” “What if it doesn’t turn out how I imagined.” “What if this is a mistake?” Next time voice of doubt speaks up don’t let it hold you back. It’s time to get out of your own way and drop the self-defeating patterns. Here are five ways to stay focused on what matters when faced with doubt and discouragement.

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.” ― Mark Twain

1. Worrying is worthless

We all worry at times, and some worry is helpful to get us moving so we can take care of our concerns. But like any good thing too much of it can cause problems. When we’re always worried about something it leaves us feeling stuck and overanalyzing what to do. Instead of envisioning what we want and discovering how to can create it, we focus on all the things we don’t want to happen. This is a very disempowering way to think.

“Worry is a misuse of the imagination.” ― Dan Zadra

If you’re going to focus on all the “What ifs..?” at least try to put a positive spin on it. Hey, “what if” you could have everything you wanted?

2. See the bigger picture

There are many reasons that we hold back from doing what we really want, but one reason in particular is that we are afraid to risk our current security. We are looking at the immediate future instead of the bigger vision. We will have to go through challenges and take risks to get where we want to be. This is why the bigger picture can include long-term success and require short-term failure and risk. Oh yeah, and once you get to wherever you’re striving for, this process starts over again.

“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.” ― Albert Einstein

3. Ditch the negative influences

I’m sure you know someone who is cynical and always assuming the worst. These are people who have lost their inspiration and now live a cynical life. (This was my reality about 6 or 7 years ago.) They point out all the reasons why an idea won’t work and they discourage you from following your passion. These are not the people to seek support from when you want to make a powerful life change. You don’t have to exile these people from your life, but you do need to find a supportive and inspiring partner or group of people.

4. Problems are meant to be solved

If you’re like me you struggle when you encounter setbacks and obstacles. You start to doubt whether it’s possible or whether the idea will work. In order to move forward realize that problems are meant to be solved. Obstacles, challenges, tests and learning curves are all a part of life.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ― Winston Churchill

So, to drop some of the self-defeating habits, stop expecting to not have problems! You will have crap to deal with, and you WILL be able to deal with it.

5. Let go of the “How” and focus on the “What”

Sometimes we hold back when we don’t have all the answers. We try to avoid uncertainty and create a crystal clear path toward our desires. Unfortunately we won’t always know what to do or how to create what we want. A common part of coaching is people getting stuck on the “How to”. They feel unsure about how to do something so they don’t do anything at all. Don’t get stuck on how to do something. Focus on what you want and start experimenting and testing. You will uncover “how” along the way.

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Remember that there is no perfect choice or decision. Get out of your own way and move toward a more fulfilling and passionate life. Don’t let doubt hold you back!

Your turn: How do you handle doubt and negative thinking? Where are you dealing with this currently?