Stop the self-sabotage!

Get ahead by getting out of your head

By Aidan Mouellic, Contributor

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, the world is made up of people who achieve what they set out to accomplish and those who don’t. It might be making it through college, entering a respectable career, being a great athlete, having sex with who you want, or all of this; some people just seem to have an edge over those of us who are constantly on the fringe.

The truth is that Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and Angelina Jolie are no different than you and I. They’re people. They were all children once, and they’ve all had challenges in their lives. The only reason they reached their positions in society is because they thought they could.

That seems like a pretty obvious statement, but a lot of people think it’s ridiculous to put Obama and themselves on the same level. It’s not. He’s just a person whose power was appointed to him by other people. Perhaps the most important reason he’s the President is that he thought he could be, and this intense belief led him to take the steps to make his belief become reality. This belief in one’s self is perhaps the most crucial factor in achieving greatness, yet it’s something many of us lack. Too often we tell ourselves that we can’t do it, or that we’re inferior. Oftentimes the only thing that stops us is ourselves.

Psychiatrists often prescribe, along with medication, a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for people suffering with depression or anxiety. At its core, CBT addresses and tries to improve the thought processes that are often faulty in people suffering with mental illnesses. But CBT can benefit everyone because a lot of us who aren’t mentally ill are sabotaging ourselves and our chances of success everyday. For a long time I told myself that I was a poor student and that I was poor in the sciences. When I started wondering what would happen if I believed in myself and worked hard, I actually started to think that I could do well in courses I’d never done well in before. Sure enough, I’ve improved. CBT teaches its students that thoughts create feelings and that feelings create actions. We are our thoughts. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true.

For the next two weeks, I challenge all readers to be extra self-aware, take notice of what you think, and even write it down if that helps. When you notice yourself thinking along the lines of “I won’t register in that course that I will likely fail” or “She looks like a model and won’t give me her number,” stop yourself. Then turn those thoughts around and kick the crap out of them. Tell yourself that you’ll try that course—it may be hard, but with work you can master it. Tell yourself that you’re awesome, go up to the gorgeous girl, ask her if she believes in ninjas, make her smile, and ask her out. The worst that could happen is that she’ll say no.

We need to stop this self-sabotage and begin to view the world differently. Start viewing the people “up top” as people like us, not as some genetically superior race that holds their secret to success in a safe that only a cat burglar can crack. Our minds are tremendously powerful. We humans have done amazing things: cities, airplanes, and modern medicine have all been created by people. Yet we label these people “geniuses” or “innovators.” Perhaps these people just believed in themselves enough to pursue their ideas until they saw the light of day. So I say start believing in yourself; it’s the most important thing you can believe in.