“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi studied law in London, but in 1893 went to South Africa, where he spent 20 years opposing discriminatory legislation against Indians. As a pioneer of Satyagraha, or resistance through mass non-violent civil disobedience, he became one of the major political and spiritual leaders of his time. Satyagraha remains one of the most potent philosophies in freedom struggles throughout the world today.
Your thoughts are self-defeating when you focus negatively on something you’ve said or done or when you put yourself down. Self-defeating thoughts often begin with sweeping statements like:
|I should never have…|
|I’ll never be able to…|
Putting yourself down leaves you feeling discouraged and doesn’t help you cope with problems or come up with solutions. A more effective approach is to re-frame the situation using one or more of the following suggestions:
- When you catch yourself thinking something like “I’m a failure,” look closely at the thought and be more specific. For example, did you fail or did your plan of action fail? Did you make mistakes that you could correct next time? If you tell yourself you’re a failure, you are less likely to try again. If you see your plan as the failure, you are more likely to change the plan, try again and succeed next time.
-Change negatives to positives.
Learning to re-frame negative thoughts and feelings takes time but as with most other skills, the more you practice, the better you get.
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