I have been seeing a major trend lately that has nothing to do with the pandemic. The problems is self-defeating behavior which is preventing people from going after what they want in life, whether that is their career, their business, or life in general. I have been interacting with many business owners from around the world, and it is sad to see how pervasive this type of behavior is.
We tend to think that most opposition comes from around us—a complaining spouse, a controlling boss, a road-raging driver—but rarely do we acknowledge the truth of the matter: we are often our own worst enemies. It’s the past stories that we tell ourselves that lead to this way of thinking; they lay the basis for fear and anxiety that keeps people ‘stuck.’
If this sounds like you, then here are a few ways to stop self-defeating behavior.
#1: Let go of victory. It’s nice to win, but you don’t have to win all the time. The lust for victory can often lead a person to keep chugging along a path of stupidity, wastefulness, and recklessness. On the other hand, sometimes it’s good to admit defeat and win a lesson instead. Letting go frees you from these chains and you won’t have to try so hard.
#2: Stop trying to please everyone. You cannot make everyone happy all of the time. Rushing around and trying to make other people happy is a huge cause of self-defeating behavior. Whether you’re doing it at work or in your personal relationships, trying to make everyone happy all the time can cost you your health and peace of mind. When you overly please others, you wind up not pleasing yourself, which can lead to resentment and being a victim.
#3: Accept imperfection. If you seek perfection, you will never find completion. Can you imagine great artists like Michelangelo continuing to work and work on the Sistine Chapel, because it wasn’t exactly the way he wanted it? Nothing would ever get done! Imperfection is part of being human, and most of the time, you’re the only one who will notice your mistakes anyway; it’s emotionally exhausting to have to be perfect all the time, and no one will ever live up to your standards which can lead to failed relationships and careers.
#4: Eliminate bad habits. These days, most people have bad habits that relate to technology, like obsessively checking our email or social media accounts. Take stock of how you spend your time. Make a detailed log of the minutes and hours, and see how much time you might be wasting with various pursuits. Ask yourself what you are gaining by keeping them – the answer might surprise you.
#5: Overcome fear. Fear is something that holds most people back from living a higher purpose. You can’t fly if you don’t jump, and you can’t jump if you’re afraid. Fear doesn’t necessarily have to be a direct sense of trepidation. It might be disguised as laziness or avoidance. Fear presents itself in all of the other ways presented here; but fear is created in the mind, usually based off a past event so a fear is our interpretation of that event. Challenge your thoughts to move past any fear; who controls whom?
#6 Drop the guilt. Allow yourself to enjoy life, even if your past is checkered. People can change and grow, so you don’t have to let your past hold you back. Most of us are raised with a mentality that we have to slave away for someone else and only enjoy the weekend, but you can break free from this thought prison. Guilt serves no purpose but can keep one in a cycle of despair. Learn to forgive yourself for past mistakes and see how much you have grown since.
#7: Stop being a lone wolf. Everybody needs help sometimes, even lone wolfs. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help when you need it, because a severe, self-imposed sense of independence could actually be doing you more harm than good. Whether it’s in business or personal life, make friends, accept help, and seek help when it’s needed. Hiring a coach is a great way to resolve past issues and learn new, better ways of thinking and doing.
Self-defeating behavior is a form of self-sabotage which, fundamentally, you don’t believe you can have the very things you desire. You can stop the cycle by following the steps above; be sure you talk lovingly to yourself and give yourself major kudos every day for showing up. You can turn this around!
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