Self-sabotage: fight those negative thoughts


Often, we can be our own worst enemies. The biggest obstacle to achieving anything, however big or small, can be ourselves. Self-doubt, low self-esteem – these are difficult things to overcome. Figures from George Washington to George Eliot have had to battle these problems.

Of course, we cannot all be state leaders or famous writers, and the simple truth is that most of us won’t be. However, that should not trivialise the difficulties that we face, particularly in a place like Durham University, where we are constantly surrounded by achievements and successes that we feel we can never hope to replicate. I know that is how I often feel. My friends and peers often seem to achieve so much more than me, and it is from this that self-sabotage stems. I often feel that I won’t achieve anything, so there is no point in trying. This feeling was one I really struggled with in my first year, particularly when auditioning for plays and performances here. Initially I was excited by the huge array of drama on offer here at Durham – surely with so much I would get into at least one play. Initially I got a few rejections and a few callback auditions, but was not cast in a single performance. I began to doubt myself, and began to sabotage any chances I had of getting into any plays at all. I simply stopped auditioning. The self-belief I had possessed at the start of the year was gone.

I began to doubt myself, and began to sabotage any chances I had of getting into any plays at all

This continued for most of first year until early in the Easter term I noticed a play that really appealed to me. I very nearly didn’t audition again, but it occurred to me that I may as well give it a go. It is better to attempt something than not try at all, I told myself. As it happened, I did get a part in the play, and from that my whole post-exam experience was enhanced by the fun of rehearsals and the three performances. During that time I often thought about how close I was to not going to those auditions, and how different my term would have been.

Of course, not everyone acts or performs. As we can only ever really speak from our own experiences, I’m using my story as an example of what happens if we make the effort to try and overcome low self-esteem and self-sabotage. It can be hard to think clearly when we are overcome by these feelings, but the rewards of dragging yourself out to that audition or interview, of filling in that application form or making that phone call, can be immense. The positive effects they can reap are more than worth the often difficult process of just putting yourself out there. Self-doubt is a part of human nature, and it rarely disappears, but we can battle it through the simple process of trying.

Nothing was ever achieved through nothing

Nothing was ever achieved through nothing. Fight those negative thoughts. Give things a go. Try. You might well surprise yourself.

Image by Elias Sch via Pixabay

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