HEALTHY LIVING
08/20/2014 08:36 am ET | Updated Aug 20, 2014

4 Ways To Stop Self-Sabotage In Its Tracks

Atsushi Yamada via Getty Images

"I can't do it." "I'm just going to do this one more time, then I'll quit." "I'm not ready for this."

Chances are we've all thought statements like these a few times when we've been given a new responsibility or tried to quit a bad habit. We have a natural tendency to question our own abilities, and, as a result, we count ourselves out before we even begin. If self-sabotage were an art, we'd be Picasso.

However, just because we've so wrongly perfected this craft doesn't mean we can't break away from it -- all it takes are a few tricks. Below are four ways to stop self-sabotage in its tracks.

Be aware of your thoughts.
mindfulness

Mindfulness -- or supreme awareness of your thoughts in the present moment -- can be your first defense against self-deprecating thoughts. After all, the essence of the practice is designed to kill those negative ideas and transform them into something more positive.

"By cultivating mindfulness, we can learn to identify the negative thoughts that keep us trapped in feelings of self-doubt and shame, and learn instead to embrace the peacefulness that stems from living in the present moment," licensed psychotherapist Courtney Gregory writes over at Greatist. In other words, tuning into our thoughts can help us halt those self-sabotaging phrases so we can address them in a more positive manner. The next time you find yourself discrediting your own abilities, ask yourself why you feel this way. Chances are you're more capable than you think -- you just don't believe it right away.

Start developing self-acceptance.
teen girl happy

As Buddha once said, "You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." And it's time we start believing it. Research shows that self-acceptance could be paramount to a happier life, but we rarely practice it. Studies also suggest that the more optimistic we are about our ambitions, the more likely we're able to pursue our goals -- even in the face of difficulties. With all of that on our side, you know what there isn't room for? Self-sabotaging behaviors.

Slowly expand your comfort zone.
comfort zone

Part of the reason we're so reluctant to try new things is because they lie just outside of our boundaries. We don't want to take on that project or quit a certain habit because we're familiar with the way things are right now. One 2010 study found that people have a tangible preference for things that have been around longer; we're hardwired to favor what we know. By challenging yourself to change, you're opening yourself up to new possibilities, and, as a result, you'll doubt yourself less when it's time to do something different.

Remember that you're in control.
control

Self-sabotage, whether it's ruminating over a negative thought or just giving into your snooze-button habit, is all controlled by you and you alone. But that also means you have the power to put an end to it. As licensed psychologist Eddie Selby, Ph.D. explains, you are the master of your own feelings -- and you do have the option to respond to them positively. "Acknowledging that we feel sad and at the same time forcing ourselves to do something productive or think about the situation in a different way will help us feel better sooner," he wrote in a Psychology Today blog. "The way that we respond to the emotion will influence the 'life-span' of that emotion."

This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

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