It happened again.
You were about to do something scary but good.
And then, you didn’t.
And you’re thinking, “This is what I do. Just when I’m on the brink of accomplishing something amazing, I psych myself out.”
That’s why you’re here — to learn how to not psych yourself out.
Because you know your life could be better than it is.
And you’re not afraid to learn how to make that happen.
What Does It Mean to Psych Yourself Out?
According to The Free Dictionary, psych + out means to “unsettle, upset, disturb, intimidate, cow, daunt, put someone off, agitate, unnerve, [or] make someone nervous.“
If you’re doing this to yourself (and so many of us do), the main source of your problems is the thing between your ears — or, let’s be fair, how you use that thing.
We’re not judging; we know how easy it is to undermine your self-confidence and talk yourself out of moving forward or taking action.
The good news is you can stop the psyching out process where it starts and build up your confidence in the process.
You’re about to see how.
11 Ways to Stop Psyching Yourself Out
Most of us (if not all) have moments when we psych ourselves out of doing something that could change our lives for the better. But if this has become a habit, the following tips can fortify you for the next challenge.
1. Get clear on what you want most.
Write about it in clear, unmistakable language and vivid detail. When you know what you want and write it down, your goal takes on a life of its own within you. And you’re less likely to be dissuaded from it by doubts and negative self-talk.
If pictures are more motivating for you than words, consider creating a vision board that represents the challenge you want to overcome — and shows what benefits are on the other side of that challenge.
The more clearly you see it in your mind, the more real and attainable it becomes.
It’s critical that you remember, too, that sometimes your inner voice will tell you to stop. The crucial thing is knowing when it’s that inner voice speaking and not self-doubt. Knowing what you really want can help you tell the two apart.
2. Consult your peers.
Share your thoughts with people whose judgment you trust and get some honest, unfiltered feedback.
Aside from gaining other perspectives on your ideas, this gives you a chance to get out of your own head (which is where those doubting thoughts live).
It can also help to talk to those who’ve been where you are and who’ve learned how to shut down the negative thoughts that used to hold them back. What helps them could also help you. But it also helps to know you’re not alone.
If you don’t have someone in your life who can help you with this, find a therapist (everybody needs one) who can help you work through the thoughts that have held you back.
3. Get familiar with your challenges (and triggers).
Some paths will get you to where you want to be more efficiently than others. Find those routes and anticipate whatever obstacles you’re likely to face.
If you know what to expect and how you’ll deal with it, you’re less likely to psych yourself out before you reach the finish line.
This is where knowing your triggers comes in; knowing the things that have held you back before is essential to your seeing how to take back your control.
When you’re familiar with the thoughts that go through your head when those triggers come, you can consciously change your response and psych yourself up instead.
4. Address the triggers.
You can manage some triggers that stall your progress by anticipating them. But other triggers have deeper roots and a stronger hold on your ability to take action.
If you’ve experienced significant setbacks or traumatic events, it’s much more challenging to push past your fears without escalating them. Everyone has internal roadblocks, and some are more powerful than others.
Consider hiring a therapist or a personal coach to partner with you as you work toward your goal and support you through the triggers and challenges. This could be the perfect time to heal some of the wounds from the past that continue to impede you.
5. Clear your mind.
The fear of trying something new or taking a risk can create havoc in your mind. It’s difficult to make sound decisions when your thoughts are screaming all of the possible ways you could fail.
The more defeating thoughts loop in your mind, the more entrenched they become — convincing you that you should back away and do nothing.
You need clarity of mind as you proceed, not carnival box of scary clowns. One way to clear your mind is by practicing daily meditation, even for just ten minutes. Meditation cultivates a calm mental state so that you can act with intention rather than fear.
You can also clear your mind by walking in nature, practicing deep breathing, and listening to calming music.
6. Practice affirmations.
If you want to reinforce your efforts and psyche yourself up rather than out, affirmations are useful tools that are easy to practice.
Affirmations are statements that reflect the mindset or outcome you want. You speak the words in the present tense as if they reflect your state right now. When you practice speaking positive affirmations, you can alter negative thought patterns and feel more empowered.
You might repeat affirmations like:
- I am confident and capable, and I can handle any challenge that comes my way.
- I see the life I want and nothing can stop me from creating it.
- I act despite feelings of fear or insecurity. My actions make fear fade away.
7. Remember that thoughts aren’t fact.
A life-changing insight is the realization that your thoughts rarely reflect fact — or at least all of the facts. You may think you aren’t capable, or you’re too scared, but have you put that to the test?
Thoughts are powerful because they produce uncomfortable (and sometimes debilitating) emotions. But once you challenge a thought, you realize what a smokescreen it can be.
Practice writing down your limiting thoughts in a journal. Pretend you’re an investigator, seeking evidence that challenges your thoughts. You’ll find plenty. Write down the evidence next to each negative thought, and refer to this journal whenever you feel psyched out.
8. Make steady progress.
Do something — every day — to get closer to what you want to accomplish. Don’t worry about how far away it still feels. Think “snowball effect” and keep rolling.
Everyone who takes action faces failure along the way, but what those failures teach you can help you grow and make more progress than you ever dreamed of making.
Just keep moving in the direction of the life you want and the person you want to be. Don’t worry about how it will happen. Focus on learning what you can from every step forward and everything you trip on along the way.
Failures should be the making of you — not your undoing.
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9. Document your progress.
Keep a journal to document your progress and your thoughts along the way. Use it to mindmap, make lists, or do whatever helps you layout your goals and break them down into smaller, check-the-box tasks.
Make it a priority to check in on yourself every day to see how you’re doing — mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. All of it matters. Because you do.
When you’re going through something, write about it. Or, if it’s more comfortable for you, record yourself talking about it. Then edit the transcript without cutting raw content out of embarrassment or shame. Give the real you a chance to speak and be heard.
10. Give yourself a break.
Going all out for a sustained period will drain your energy, so find a way to replenish it. Listen to your body when it needs a breather. Give yourself mental breaks so you can get back to your project refreshed and better able to focus.
Keep your goals in mind, but don’t trick yourself into thinking you have to sacrifice basic self-care until you reach them.
Be honest about what you’re feeling and whether you need help with something. It’s not weakness to need help or support from someone or something outside yourself; you’re human, and humans aren’t made to be alone.
You don’t have to prove your independence to anyone. Your health matters more.
11. Put things in perspective.
Articulate your fears and then answer them by looking at the bigger picture and realizing your life is about more than this one accomplishment.
The world won’t end if this doesn’t happen for you. And something better might lie just beyond what seems, in the moment, like a failure or a crushing loss. You are more than your list of accomplishments.
It may be you need something in your arsenal before you can take on a particular challenge.
Assess where you are in the big picture of where you want to be and what you’ve learned.
And don’t let unrealistic (or toxic) standards bully you into silence or conformity when you know there are some things more important than visible success. You deserve better.
Now that you know how to stop psyching yourself out, which tips stood out for you? And what will you do differently this week?