Some people really do see the glass as half empty. They routinely look at what is happening in their life, and they impose the worst possible explanations as to why. They often feel overwhelmed, victimized, and lack efficacy.
This is an example of a positive feedback loop with negative consequences, or perhaps more aptly, a vicious cycle. When an unwanted behavior creates yet another undesirable behavior and there is no one to apply the brakes, things can get out of control. This can become a hotbed for anxiety and depression.
It’s sometimes necessary to take a step back in order to gain a broader view that can reveal the relationship between the patterns of a person’s thinking and the consequences in their life. Herein, we’ll do just that by analyzing the relationship between self-sabotage, negative beliefs, and a negative mindset.
What constitutes a negative belief? A belief is a certainty that something is true. So, a negative belief is a certainty that something unpleasant, harmful or depressing is true. Unsurprisingly, the more negative beliefs we possess, the more likely we are to be unhappy.
In an article for Psychology Today, Robert Evans Wilson Jr. discusses the difference between core beliefs and limiting beliefs. Core beliefs are formed in childhood and are often operating on an unconscious level. Limiting beliefs branch from core beliefs and lead to increasingly large problems if left unaddressed.1
For example, a person who was abused by an adult when they were a child might develop the core belief that elders, authority figures, or persons of the abuser’s sex are untrustworthy. This assessment might create limiting beliefs that cause them to act out, defy authority, avoid relationships, have low self-esteem, poor stress management, anxiety, depression, etc.
To eliminate these limiting beliefs, it is first necessary to identify them. Once you establish what they are, you can begin to replace them. However, you must create replacements that are actually believable to you, or they won’t last. So, take it slow and don’t expect immediate results. Remember, a mountain is climbed one step at a time.
A mindset is an established set of attitudes or beliefs. Therefore, a negative mindset is a fixed state wherein negative beliefs are determining a person’s outlook and are not being examined. This is clearly a more advanced state of struggle as a negative mindset is the solidification of negative beliefs.
According to the Harvard Gazette, a positive outlook is linked to healthier, happier lives.2
With this in mind, determining how to cultivate a positive mindset, seems not only logical but potentially lifesaving.
If negative beliefs have concretized into a negative mindset, self-sabotage is essentially inevitable. What this means will vary from one person to the next and have different manifestations across different segments of life.
For example, on the relationship front people who are very insecure might be hyper-critical of their partner as a defense mechanism. In terms of career, that same person might be prone to procrastination, or perfectionism.
Fortunately, there are ways out of this cycle. In an article for PositivePsychology.com Christina R. Wilson, Ph.D. describes eight ways to break out of self-sabotage. These are: Fostering self-awareness, engaging in positive self-talk, journaling, promoting self-regulation, practicing radical self-acceptance, cultivating self-compassion, writing messages of self-forgiveness, and finding a therapist with whom you resonate.3
As should now be clear, there is a deeply linked relationship between our beliefs, our mindset, and our likelihood of sabotaging ourselves. To reverse these mechanisms and claim a healthier life you’ve already taken the first step: awareness. Now that you’re tuned in, gently take the steps necessary to lead you to a worldview that is kinder to you.