Overcome Self-Defeating Thoughts: Words Have Power

PinExt Overcome Self Defeating Thoughts: Words Have Power

cover mouth Overcome Self Defeating Thoughts: Words Have Power Are you unknowingly sabotaging your goals with self-defeating thoughts?

Words are very powerful.  In our politically correct world, we are usually very careful about what we say to others.  However, we may not be as selective with our inner dialogue.

The words we use to talk to ourselves can have a powerful effect on our attitude and motivation toward the things we want to accomplish.

Understanding this connection and consciously choosing the words we use will go a long way toward overcoming these self-defeating thoughts.

An Example of Self-Defeating Thoughts

Recently, I’ve been working on a sizeable writing project.  It was bigger than anything that I’ve done in the past and it was a little intimidating to me.  I had a deadline that I was working toward.  This added to my internal pressure to keep making progress.

When I feel overwhelmed by something, I tend to procrastinate on it.  I think this is a pretty common reaction.  Unfortunately, it is also self-defeating.  It was going to keep me from meeting my goal of finishing the writing project on the timeline I had established.

At first, I kept telling myself things like:

  • I should be working on my project.
  • I need to be getting that done.
  • I have to get busy if I want to finish on-time.

Every time I had some free time available to work on it, I’d start telling myself these things.  This added to my anxiety and therefore made me avoid doing anything on it.  It was a vicious cycle.

The Cause of the Self-Defeating Behavior

I stopped and asked myself, “Why do I avoid working on this goal?”

I realized a big part of the problem was the words I was using.  Should, need and have are words that imply an obligation.  Essentially, I was trying to bully myself into writing.

I immediately changed my inner dialogue and things improved dramatically.  I started saying:

  • I want to work on this project.
  • I want to get this done.
  • I want to get busy so I can finish on time.

It might seem like a small, subtle change, but it made a big difference.  The words I used when thinking about working on my project defined my attitude toward it.

When I felt forced to work on it, I refused, but when I appropriately told myself that I wanted to work on it, my lizard brain quieted down and I got busy.

Apply This to Overcome Your Self-Defeating Thoughts

My example is just one specific instance that demonstrates how uncontrolled thoughts can unwittingly work against you.  Your situation may be a little different, but you can likely apply the same strategy to overcome similar mental barriers.

You might want to eat better or lose weight or stop smoking or declutter your home or improve your job performance or get on a budget.  How you talk to yourself about these things can have a huge influence over how well you progress toward your goal.

We tend to avoid what stresses us or makes us feel inadequate or leaves us feeling confused.  During these times, we fallback on old habits.  We procrastinate on moving forward and instead start backsliding.  Again, this is self-defeating.

Ask yourself, “Is my own thinking undermining my efforts to achieve my goal?”  Examine the words you use in your head carefully to determine if you might be falling into the same trap I was.  If so, then try changing the language you use and see if it works for you.  You’ll likely find that it works wonders.

Photo by Ali Leila Photography

PinExt Overcome Self Defeating Thoughts: Words Have Power

11 thoughts on “Overcome Self-Defeating Thoughts: Words Have Power

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Overcome Self-Defeating Thoughts: Words Have Power | My Super-Charged Life -- Topsy.com

  2. Right on the money with this post Jeff. In my working life I’m a sales guy, so the rejection I face daily is more than enough without a negative talk track going on in my head. I have learned that if I catch these thoughts and turn them around a bit, I’m more likely to move forward and get things accomplished rather than dwell on the not so positive thinking. And taking no action…

    A good reminder here!
    Joe D.´s last [type] ..ItalianAmerican- Sylvester Stallone

    • Joe, I think it is easy to lose sight of just how powerful even small words can be in our inner dialogue. I imagine this is especially true for salespeople like yourself. It is very important that we all remain vigilant in keeping our minds focused on the positive.

  3. That is true and interesting what you said about self defeating thoughts whenever we feel overwhelmed or overly stressed. It’s difficult to work on something that feels almost impossible to complete.

    The 80/20 rule is helpful here. Instead of thinking you have to finish a huge project, tell yourself that you will get 80% of the task done. When you get to that point you often find an increased motivation. Also, even if you do 80%, it still may have been more than if you felt too stressed to even start.
    Bryce Christiansen´s last [type] ..The Best of Balanced WorkLife 2010

    • Bryce, When I’m really stuck and procrastinating on a task or project, I tell myself that I’ll just get started and work 30 minutes on it. Usually, this helps me to overcome the mental obstacles that are holding me back. Finishing is often just too big of a mountain to even attempt, but starting and working for a short period seems to quiet my mind and let me make progress.

  4. Pingback: Roundup and Link Love: Dental Plans Edition

  5. Once we change the way we speak to ourselves. We change internally. There is a saying that goes, ” the scripture on the inside matches the scriptures on the outside.” What have you been writing? Have a great day Jeff.

  6. Pingback: Rise and Grind 4: Inspiration to Conquer the Coming Week | Shake Off the Grind

  7. hi jeff .i indeed suffer from exactly the same problem that yo have come across.its a depressing vicious cycle..i will apply apply your method to overcome it.im very confident that it works.thankyou so much man.thanks a lot:)

  8. Jeff,

    This really hit home with me. I have procrastinated in working on a blog that I started over a year ago. I know there is an audience out there and yet I hesitate. I tell myself that I’m not the one to do this(a Self-esteem issue obviously). As so I let the ideas sit in my head instead of putting them out there and allowing the blog to grow, and me along with it.

    • David, that’s too bad. I’m sure that a lot of people would benefit from what you have to say. You should give it a try. Blogging is a great way to help others. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge