We as human beings are great at doubting ourselves. It’s hard to stop negative thoughts from overtaking our brains.
Whether it be in our professional or personal lives, we experience fear and self-doubt on an almost daily basis.
I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve had a crisis of confidence when it comes to running.
Even though I’ve been a runner for over 10 years, to this day I still find myself doubting my abilities and capabilities as a runner.
These negative thought patterns can be incredibly destructive if left untreated or ignored over time.
The negative self talk slowly consumes you and you start to believe every single word you tell yourself.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways to combat the self-doubt and negativity and become a happy and successful runner.
Related: How to practice mindful running
How to stop negative thoughts: What is self-sabotage and why do we do it
Self-sabotage occurs when your logical, conscious mind (the side of you that says you need to go for a run and eat healthily) is at odds with your subconscious mind (the side of you that puts off going for a run and stress-eats chocolate). T
he latter self is your inner critic – that little person (or monster) on your shoulder that holds you back, feeds you toxic thoughts and sabotages your efforts.
Whilst it might feel like your inner critic is stopping you from leading your best life, believe it or not it’s actually your subconscious mind’s way of protecting you, preventing pain and dealing with deep-rooted fear.
Unfortunately for us, the result is that we don’t seize new challenges and opportunities and we stay firmly within our comfort zone.
When it comes to running, every day may seem like a constant battle between your conscious and subconscious mind.
These self-destructive habits slowly erode our confidence and tell us that we’re not capable of running a 5k, a half marathon, a marathon – or whatever goal you have set yourself.
The sad thing is that many people don’t even recognise they’re doing it – it has become so second nature to them and they accept it as their fate.
You want to run and train for a race, but you put up obstacles and blockers in the way so you never accomplish it.
Ultimately, your subconscious mind sees self-sabotage as self-preservation. It is defending and safeguarding you, even if it’s no longer needed.
There are ways to deal with self-sabotage. If practiced regularly, these tips and techniques will go a long way in helping you to boost your confidence and self-esteem and help silence those negative thoughts.
The key is not to silence your subconscious mind completely (that’s not possible as it helps your body in other ways), but to bring it under control and tell it that everything is ok.
How to stop negative thoughts: Find your positive inner voice
Fear and fear of the unknown is often what holds us back and makes our inner critic ever more powerful.
All those negative thoughts whirring around your head: “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t do this” and “I’m a failure” are all the work of your inner critic – that little monster on your shoulder.
Start replacing your inner critic with your positive inner voice.
Put aside the negative self talk and practice positive affirmation: “I am good enough”, “I can do this” and “I will succeed”. The more you create a positive, confident internal dialogue, the more your mind will start to believe it.
How to stop negative thoughts: Change your behaviour
Changing negative behaviours is essential if we are to stop sabotaging ourselves.
In every moment, we’re taking action that either moves us toward or away our goals and the life we want to lead.
The behaviours you keep permitting yourself to do are the ones that are keeping you from what you most desire.
When it comes to running, like with any activity or sport, your attitude and behaviour can make or break your training plan or race.
Consider how the actions you’re taking and the thoughts you’re thinking conflict with your training plan and hold you back from reaching your true potential.
Then look for ways to replace old patterns with new ones that are more helpful in achieving your goals.
For example, if you’re training for a race and you’re used to just taking yourself off on a run without a plan or strategy, consider investing in a solid training plan that is fit for your goals and fitness levels.
Or if you struggle to motivate yourself to go for a run, consider joining a local running group or athletics club to get that added dose of accountability.
How to stop negative thoughts: Identify root causes
If you find yourself coming up against the same challenges over and over again, it might be worth taking some time to reflect on those challenges and identify the root causes.
For example, if you’ve hit a road block in your training plan and can’t seem to push past that wall, reflect on your training plan and what you could change about it to help you reach your target mileage.
I know lots of runners who found they were able to run for longer once they had switched up their training routine.
Instead of focusing just on running for miles and miles each week, they started to incorporate other activities like cycling and weight training into their routine.
This improved their running no-end and meant they were able to focus on pushing their body in different ways.
Believe it or not, your body can get bored of doing the same routine. It needs to be tested in different ways in order to grow, improve and become stronger.
Related: 6 tips to keep running fun
How to stop negative thoughts: Set goals and make plans
As a runner, when you think of plans you immediately think training plans.
Whilst it’s important to stick to a training plan when building up to a big race, it’s almost important to keep your goals in the forefront of your mind.
The mistake many runners make is setting vague goals in an attempt to achieve them.
The problem with this is that they don’t hold you accountable and they’re so vague that you’re not really sure what the goal is asking of you in the first place.
When setting goals, make sure they’re SMART – Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.
For example, instead of saying “I want to run 5k”, switch this up to read “I want to run 5k by the end of September 2019 in under 30 minutes or less.”
The latter goal gives us much more information to go on in terms of achieving your goal.
The fact that you have specified a time in which to achieve the goal can then help you select a training routine and training plans.
Why is goal setting important when helping to stop self-sabotage?
Because when you achieve your goals, you slowly gain confidence and credibility, which is a great way to counteract your inner self-critic.
Basically, your negative voice hates anything positive and when you show it that you can do something, it slowly starts to shrink.