The thoughts in your head define who you are. They steer you left or right and forward or backward on the road of life.
Constant negative self-talk floods your brain with fight or flight type chemicals and hormones, which create a sense of urgency and heightened levels of attention and distress. Within seconds those chemicals and the feelings they elicit can take you off the path of positivity and get you running around a cul-de-sac of negativity and keep you circling it until you completely run out of gas.
Don’t do that to yourself, okay?
When you find yourself mentally beating-up on yourself, interrupt the cycle by noting:
“Ooh, that sounds pretty harsh. I must be worried.”
Then ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” Let your mind wind its way through:
“I’m afraid I will be late . . . My boss will be furious . . . I will get fired.” (Or wherever your imaginary worry is taking you.) Give yourself a green light to ride it until you exhaust your thoughts and reach a dead-end.
Next, ask yourself if your ultimate feared outcome is really likely to happen. Most of the time the answer will be a resounding “NO!” (The majority of our worries are simply our imaginary thoughts gone wild!)
Now, think of at least one positive thought related to your particular situation:
“Yes, I’m late, but I really don’t think I will get fired over it.”
“Yes, I’m late, I hate this feeling, I guess it’s time to start getting up a few minutes earlier.”
“Yes, I’m late, but other than that I’m doing a great job at work. I need to figure out a way to get better at being on time.”
If you find yourself going back down a negative path, simply start over with “Ooh, that sounds pretty harsh. I must be worried”, and continue from there. DO NOT under any circumstances ask yourself WHY you are late (or whatever your current worry is), that’s a tricky little way we have of making a u-turn back onto our path of negativity. Don’t be fooled!
The key to turning negative self-talk in a new direction is to become more aware of what you are thinking. Most of us feed ourselves negative thoughts 17/7, without ever questioning them. We let our minds ramble down roads that take us away from our destination – happy town – and around curves and turns, that while familiar, truly are leading us nowhere.
Negative thoughts are a habit, and habits can be changed. Here’s a quick review of how to redirect your thoughts.
- Start with gentle awareness: “Ooh, that sounds pretty harsh. I must be worried.” (Create the perfect signature phrase for yourself, so when you are saying it, it sounds right to you.)
- Ask yourself if your ultimate feared outcome is really likely to happen.
- Then jump on the highway of positivity: “Yes, I’m late, but I’m good at lots of other stuff at work.” (Note: this isn’t an excuse, or just a cute way of ignoring the situation, it’s a way to create a new path for your mind to follow. )
- Be aware of the danger signs: don’t ask yourself “Why?” – we are not coming-up with solutions at this point, we are simply shifting gears.
- When you make a negative u-turn, start again with Step 1. (Please note: Do not misconstrue starting over as failure, you are really doing something quite brave and resourceful, you are practicing something you value and will have a positive impact on your life. You are creating change and that is courageous and impressive.)
Give it a try, the road of life will feel much less bumpy and you just might find yourself ready for a whole new journey.
If you are ready to shift gears and create a happier, less stressful life,